Fixing Failing Schools

Feb 25, 2013

Virginia’s most underperforming schools would be transferred to a new state Opportunity Educational Institution thanks to General Assembly passage of a budget amendment over the weekend. 

The bill to create the new state entity had already been approved and sent to the Governor, but it would not have taken effect without the funding.  And the controversy over the bill did not end with its passage.

The bill requires schools that are denied accreditation and permits schools that have been accredited with warning for three years to be transferred to the Institution.  A new state Board, with all the powers of a local school board, would administer the statewide division.  Governor McDonnell says improving failing schools was one of his top priorities,"to create dramatic and sustainable reforms in our K-12 public education system so that every young person has a great school with a great teacher regardless of their home, background, age, or zip code," he said.

But it violates the state Constitution, says Robley Jones with the Virginia Education Association.

"The Constitution says that the school boards and in their various divisions have supervisory authority over the schools. And this bill takes the supervisory authority away from those local school boards and gives it to a state entity. And we do anticipate litigation," said Jones.

Jones says some local school boards will likely sue.  The $150,000 provided are less than the Governor requested, so he said he may propose additional funds.