- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell said Tuesday that Virginia can redirect an additional $480 million a year to school classrooms by cutting back on administrative spending.

Mr. McDonnell released a proposal to cut administrative education spending and increase classroom spending. Under the plan, classroom spending would increase from 61 percent of all education dollars to 65 percent by the end of his four-year term.

Under the plan, which would require significant cooperation from local governments and school boards, Mr. McDonnell said enough money would be freed up to raise Virginia teacher salaries to the national average.

“More funding in the classroom translates into better performance,” he said.

At a news conference, Mr. McDonnell said he did not know how Virginia compared to other states in terms of directing education dollars into the classroom. His campaign provided data later Tuesday that Virginia ranks 18th in the nation in that category.

Mr. McDonnell’s opponent, Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, has criticized Mr. McDonnell for proposals that he says will cut education spending to fund increased transportation.

Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold said, “When McDonnell proposes cutting education to the bone, it’s hard to credibly promise more money for classrooms.”

Mr. McDonnell cited a few instances of administrative spending that he thinks are indefensible, including one school district that pays its superintendent $225,000 a year and gives him a $14,000 car allowance. Another school district, he said, allocated $450,000 in its annual budget for travel.

Robley Jones, director of government relations for the Virginia Education Association, said Tuesday that Virginia is 37th in the nation in state support for public education, and that moving a little bit of money around is not going to have an impact.

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