Schools

WAYNESBORO-The Virginia House and Senate both approved Del. Dickie Bell's virtual schools bill, but it still hasn't become law. The reason is that Gov. Terry McAuliffe hasn't made a decision if he plans to veto the bill or sign it into law.

Speaking to the News Virginian on Thursday, the governor's spokesman said McAuliffe is expected to take action on the bill by next week at the latest.

Communications Director Brian Coy said action by the governor on the legislation could happen Friday or early next week. The governor could sign the legislation into law or veto it.

Bell said he is still waiting to hear what the governor does. The legislation passed the Virginia House in February, and the Senate in March.

If McAuliffe signs the legislation, a statewide virtual program for K-12 would start in the 2017-18 school year. The program, which is now available to 100 high school pilot students, would extend to as many as 5,000 students. The $4,700 in basic aid per student would be paid to online vendors offering the virtual program.

Bell emerged from a 20-minute meeting with McAuliffe and Secretary of Education Anne Holton on March 10 optimistic that the legislation would be signed into law. The delegate said McAuliffe told him during the meeting that he "supports virtual education."

Bell, R-Staunton, said Thursday that virtual education is a success for colleges and universities.

"It could work as well for K-12,'' he said.

If the legislation is signed into law, Virginia would become the 31st state along with the District of Columbia to have a virtual program available to all K-12 students.

You may contact Bob Stuart at (540) 932-3562 or bstuart@newsvirginian.com.

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