Virginia budget deal would allocate $100 million for lab schools

(The Center Square) – The Virginia House and Senate passed budget compromise legislation that would allocate $100 million for university-run and publicly funded K-12 lab schools, which was sent to Gov. Glenn Youngkin for consideration.

Lab schools would be legally defined as public schools and, per the compromise, could be run by public higher education institutions that offer bachelor’s degrees. The Center Square reached out to House and Senate leadership to ask about how the program would run, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

The plan is two-thirds of the governor’s original proposal, which was a request for $150 million in lab school funding. Lab schools would be similar to charter schools, but would be focused on developing and testing education models and studying how they affect student learning. They would be regulated differently than charter schools, but would provide more options for students and parents. Virginia has fewer than 10 charter schools at this time, and no lab schools.

Earlier this year, Youngkin established a partnership with more than 30 schools to jointly express their support for the creation of lab schools.

“Education is the gateway to opportunity,” Youngkin said in a statement at the time. “An educated Virginian has a limitless future. And we are about creating future opportunities for every young Virginian. Reestablishing expectations of excellence, funding in the largest education budget, investing in teachers, special education, and localities to invest in facilities.”

The governor set a goal of creating 20 lab schools.