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Legislative action underway concerning Virginia's school division amendment
By Eric Veram
RICHMOND, Virginia: A constitutional amendment, HJ 693, allowing the state to take control of flagging public schools, was altered this week to increase the state's reach. The Virginia School Division Amendment creates a statewide school division with the power to supervise and administer schools that have been denied accreditation. After passing the house early this month, a senate committee amended the bill to include schools that have been "accredited with warning" for three consecutive years. Reportedly, there are four schools in the state that have been denied accreditation and another two that would qualify as accredited with warning for three years. Opponents argue that the measure does not take local citizens opinions into account. In a letter opposing the amendment, the Alexandria School Board said, "While this legislation may attempt to fix a legitimate problem of concern to all local citizens — struggling public schools — it wrongly usurps the input and authority of the local parents, citizens and taxpayers who are closest to the problem and have the most to lose if a distant state bureaucracy gets it wrong." Opponents have also pointed out that the amendment does not specify when control would be returned to the local school board.