Governor rolls out school proposals

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Summer vacation might get shorter under a plan put forth today by Governor Bob McDonnell.

Gone would be the "King's Dominion Rule" or "Labor Day Law"...the one that says schools have to wait until after the holiday to open. This, as the governor advocates for both a longer school year and a shorter leash for teachers.

Surrounded by young school kids, Governor Bob McDonnell rolled out a plan for k-12 education that would let "all" schools in Virginia -not just those with a waiver- open in August.

"It's what's happening all over the world to make young people more competitive," he said.

He got support from top republicans, including part-time delegate, and full-time teacher Kirk Cox.

"Having that extra time I can tell you is invaluable whether you're giving an SOL test or giving a government test," said Cox.

But the plan will likely be criticized by the tourism industry, fearful of what a shorter summer vacation would mean for revenues.

"I can promise you that not everything I talk about in the next 10 minutes will make everybody happy," McDonnell said.

And the governor was right about that. The Virginia Education Association, which represents teachers, was not quick to sign off on the plan for annual contracts.

The McDonnell plan would hold underperforming teachers more accountable...and do away with continuing contracts.

"We just need more information. But on first blush we're not going to be able to support changing the continuing contract law," said Kitty Boitnott, president of the Virginia Education Association.

The governor added teachers with high standards and good records would have little to worry about.

"This is the way the private sector works. This is the way most of state government works. You perform well, you keep your job. You don't perform well for an extended period of time, you don't get a guarantee," added McDonnell.

If the Labor Day Law is repealed, schools would get the "option" of opening earlier. The plan also calls for raising standards, expanding charter schools, and investing more money in teacher incentives.

McDonnell's plan would first have to be approved by the General Assembly, where his party has a majority in the house, and a split in the senate. Lawmakers convene the 2012 session on Wednesday. 

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