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Posted at 11:21 AM ET, 12/09/2011

Virginia will spend more on education, McDonnell says

Virginia will devote more dollars to K-12 education next year, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said this week during a question-and-answer session with reporters.

But it’s not clear how that money might be divided among traditional schools and school-choice alternatives that McDonnell has championed, such as charter schools, virtual schools and vouchers.

Virginia is “way behind other states in my view in innovation in education,” McDonnell said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Fixing that might mean “funding changes and incentives” in education spending, he added.

The governor will present his proposed budget to the General Assembly on Dec. 19.

There have been other hints about education issues that may come to the fore in Richmond in 2012.

Opponents of the so-called “Kings Dominion law,” which prohibits Virginia schools from opening before Labor Day, say there may be enough momentum to repeal it this year.

“There is a bow wave coming,” Fairfax County School Board member Stuart Gibson said Monday during a meeting with Northern Virginia state lawmakers. “We hope this is the last year we will have to open after Labor Day.”

Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) says she plans to continue push for legislation requiring schools to notify parents when their children are the subject of a disciplinary investigation. That effort stems in part from ongoing controversy in Fairfax over its school discipline policies.

Finally, legislators will undoubtedly work on a new model for funding virtual schools.

Right now, the state pays a per-pupil subsidy based on which county hosts the virtual school rather than where its students actually live.

That matters because the subsidy, based on poverty levels and other factors, varies widely around the state.

The Virginia Virtual Academy, the first statewide virtual school, is hosted by Carroll County and managed by K12 Inc. As The Post previously reported, Carroll County receives $5,421 per student, according to the state Education Department. Affluent Fairfax County receives $2,716 per pupil from Richmond.

This year, 66 Fairfax students are enrolled in the virtual school. Richmond is paying the virtual school twice as much for those students as it would if they attended neighborhood schools in their own county.

“I think everybody realizes that there needs to be a better pathway to make sure that virtual schools are everywhere in the state and successful,” said Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg). “It’s just a matter of coming up with a mechanism to do that that doesn’t hurt one area of the state.”

By  |  11:21 AM ET, 12/09/2011

Tags:  state budget, virtual schools, kings dominion law

 
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