10:35 a.m. Saturday update — Alexandria School Board Chairman Karen Graf said the affected schools include Francis Hammond Middle School 2 and 3, not Francis Hammond 1.
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4:41 p.m. Friday update — Senate Bill 1324 passed the House appropriations committee Friday on on a 17-5 vote. It will now be heard in the full House of Delegates.
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Changes to a Virginia education bill could increase the number of schools that a proposed state government body could control.
The bill, which would amend the state constitution to allow the General Assembly to create a statewide schools division to take over schools at risk of failure, was amended in a Senate committee to include schools that have been accredited with a warning for three consecutive years, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Previously, the bill only applied to schools that had been denied accreditation for a number of consecutive years.
Alexandria School Board Chairman Karen Graf told Patch if the bill becomes law, the school board would explore avenues of taking legal action against the state on the grounds that the measure is unconstitutional. Current language in the bill gives the powers of the affected School Board to an "unknown body," Graf said.
The measures, Senate Bill 1324 and House Bill 2096, create a new body that would take over consistently failing schools, and now some accredited schools, in an effort to improve them. Members of the Alexandria City School Board already have sent a letter to the state governor opposing the legislation.
Graf told Patch that the new language in the bill could affect Francis Hammond Middle Schools 1 and 2, Patrick Henry Elementary School and George Washington Middle School 2, as well as Jefferson-Houston School, which has failed to achieve accreditation.
Graf told Patch that she met with Gov. Bob McDonnell's staff last week to discuss the bill. Graf said the meeting was “contentious” and called the state’s position “inflexible.”
The bill has already passed the state Senate. The body that would be created to oversee schools would not take control until after school year 2013-14.