ESL program budget approved after board member's controversial comments

Parents, students, and community members speak out at meeting
Posted at 11:45 PM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 23:45:46-05

VIRGINIA BEACH — VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.—We're continuing to follow a story that got a lot of people talking when Virginia Beach school board member Victoria Manning’s controversial comments saying that teaching English as a second language students is not sustainable.

Manning’s Facebook post suggested most of those students were from South America.

This comment incited the community, no matter what side of the issue they fell on. Many were upset that Manning's comments targeted what many think is an essential program in the community-yet others supported her.

More than 70 people spoke at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

The hot topic on the agenda was the evaluation of the ESL program's budget after board member Victoria Manning posted on Facebook saying that continuing to teach ESL students is not sustainable.

Ahead of voting on the budget, the board allowed time for public comment from current Virginia Beach public school students, ESL teachers, parents, and members of the community.

"To her I ask if the current path is unsustainable, what is the alternative? Schools turning away students who need ESL services?” said Aaron Arianza, a student at First Colonial High School.

"You were elected to serve all of the students of Virginia Beach,” said Joyce Franzese, an ESL teacher at a local Virginia Beach public school. “We are here to love all the children of the community."

"Vicky Manning has been nothing but supportive to all students and parents and there is real budget issues right now,” said a Virginia Beach public schools parent, Amber Thompson. “There's a million-dollar discrepancy. They need more teachers. we're also short math teachers, so with budget increases we're also decreasing education.”

The school board voted 10-1 to approve the budget tonight and continue the ESL program for Virginia Beach students.