Five Virginia Lab School Applications In; More Being Developed

Tyler Arnold | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – As the Virginia Department of Education continues to accept applications for planning grants to create lab schools, five applications have been submitted, but many more are under development.

“We have been pleased with the great interest from higher education, school divisions, business and community partners across the commonwealth to launch lab schools,” Macaulay Porter, a spokesman for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, told The Center Square.

“By prioritizing innovation and partnership, lab schools increase opportunities for our students – especially those most in need of a different approach to learning,” Porter continued. “The budget provides $100 million for lab schools, including $5 million in planning grants and $20 million in startup costs for lab schools.”

Lab schools would be public K-12 schools run by colleges, universities or other higher education institutions. The program, which was approved by the General Assembly and signed by the governor this year, is meant to increase opportunities for students and connect them to faculty and resources for which they might not otherwise have access. More than 30 higher education institutions have expressed interest in creating lab schools.

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is one institution that intends to submit an application for a planning grant. David Matlock, the executive director of the center, told The Center Square that they are focused on Allied Health professions and intend to partner with three local school districts, two community colleges, the University of Virginia Wise, and Emory and Henry.

The planning grants are the first phase of these projects. All of the money awarded to higher education institutions through these grants will be used to create comprehensive plans on how the institution would establish a lab school. Lab school plans that receive approval from the Education Department will then receive funding to assist with startup costs.