Virginia committing $1B to K-12 school construction
Gov. Glenn Youngkin participated in the official grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Mecklenburg County Middle School and High School on Friday, and used the occasion to ceremonially sign legislation providing more than $1 billion in school construction funds for K-12 public education.
“These schools demonstrate how a community can come together not only to build a state-of-the-art facility but to invest in their children and transform their workforce,” Youngkin said. “And through the bipartisan coalition that unanimously advanced these bills, we are delivering on our commitment to support vibrant, 21st century educational environments across the Commonwealth. This is what happens when we put our students first; we’re getting it done together.”
HB 563, sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington, and SB 473, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, will support $400 million in grants distributed based on student enrollment and local needs, and $450 million in competitive grants for high-need school’s new construction, expansion, and modernization projects in partnership with local school boards.
SB 471, sponsored by McClellan, will provide $400 million in school construction loans and make additional improvements to the administration of the Literary Fund Construction Loan Program.
“This year the Commonwealth was in a position to assist localities with the construction and modernization of their schools,” said House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach. “We were able to leverage $1 billion which was set aside to make a school construction and modernization fund of $3 billion. This marks a significant investment in the education and future of Virginia’s children and I believe it is a good deal that we can all get behind.”
“I am thankful to have Gov. Youngkin sign my HB 563 today, and I appreciate everyone who helped to get this bill across the finish line,” O’Quinn said. “This shift in Virginia’s approach to school construction is a big deal for school divisions all across the Commonwealth, but particularly in Southwest Virginia. Having new schools built across the state ultimately means that the real winners are students.”
“The new School Construction Fund and enhanced Literary Fund loans will lay the groundwork to fix Virginia’s crumbling school infrastructure,” McClellan said. “I’m honored to have worked with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to make bipartisan progress on public school construction. I look forward to working with them in the years to come to continue to make crucial investments in the future. Our children cannot learn in crumbling schools, and Virginia’s investments in school modernization cannot wait.”
“We are thrilled to host these bill signings as we celebrate our new school and the world-class career pathways students will access here,” said Mecklenburg Superintendent Paul Nichols. “Mecklenburg students will benefit greatly from the historic budget investments in school facilities and lab schools developed in partnership with K-12, postsecondary, and employers.”
Youngkin also participated in a roundtable discussion at Southside Virginia Community College to discuss lab school efforts in Southside and the needs of the region’s students and economy.
“Southside Virginia Community College is thrilled to build upon its strong partnership with Mecklenburg County Public Schools through our plan to launch the first lab school in the Commonwealth’s community college system under Gov. Youngkin’s leadership,” said Southside Virginia Community College President Dr. Quentin R. Johnson. “By allowing community colleges and higher education centers to lead lab schools, the governor and General Assembly ensured that students across the Commonwealth can benefit from these innovative options.”
In addition, participants shared plans to launch a lab school at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center that will expand upon its Career Tech Academy through employability skills. Participants also discussed plans to expand the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research’s GO TEC middle school career connections and exploration program.
“This roundtable was a great opportunity to come together with postsecondary partners, superintendents, teachers, students, and leaders in the General Assembly to discuss what’s working—and not working—in education in the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “We must continue to work together to empower parents and students, support teachers, and foster innovation.”
“Yesterday’s tour and roundtable demonstrated that when our public schools partner with higher education and the private sector, an innovative academic model is developed providing our students with multiple pathways to obtain industry certifications in high-demand fields,” said House Education Chairman Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach. “It is clear that Virginia’s lab school initiative will provide the flexibility and funding necessary to foster this type of learning environment and provide students across the Commonwealth with an opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for a 21st Century career right out of high school.”