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Governor includes $5.4 million in proposed budget amendments for W&M School of Education project

Plans to build a new School of Education at William and Mary got a significant boost Friday when Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced that his proposed budget amendments include an additional $5.4 million so that the College can move forward with planning and design of the project.cap

If approved by the Virginia General Assembly, the funding would allow the College to stay on schedule with planning the new facility, as well as fund any demolition work associated with constructing the academic building at the site of the former Sentara Williamsburg Community Hospital on Monticello Avenue.

“We’re thrilled that the governor shares our sense that moving ahead on a state-of-the-art education building is a high priority for the College and our community,” said William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol. “This signal investment in higher education is tribute to Governor Kaine’s leadership and that of our able advocates Sen. Tommy Norment and Del. Phil Hamilton. We’re beyond grateful to our elected leaders and the continued vision and support of our Board of Visitors.”

The funding for the School of Education was included in the governor’s proposed amendments to the state’s biennial budget. Members of the Virginia General Assembly will review the governor’s proposed budget when they open the 2007 legislative session on January 10. In addition, the budget continues to provide support for a 3-percent salary increase for both faculty and staff, which would be effective Nov. 25, 2007. The College also would receive an additional $215,000 for annual need-based aid for undergraduate Virginians. The proposed budget also includes $1.45 million for a new concrete pier at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

The College is planning to construct a new 109,000 square foot School of Education facility, to open in 2010, at the site of the former hospital. The College requested the $5.4 million as a budget amendment to the current biennial budget to fund planning and demolition costs associated with the new building.

“We are deeply grateful to Gov. Kaine and all our representatives in Richmond for the importance they have placed on funding higher education and this new facility for our remarkable School of Education,” said William and Mary Rector Michael K. Powell. “This budget supports the public contributions William and Mary will continue to make to the Commonwealth over a long horizon.”

Currently, the School of Education is located in about 26,000 square feet at Jones Hall. Because of a lack of space, more than half of the school’s classes are taught outside of Jones Hall. In addition, the lack of academic space also means that many of the school’s programs and centers are spread out in satellite buildings off campus. A study three years ago found that the school needs a facility of at least 100,000 square feet to meet its needs, said Virginia McLaughlin, dean of the School of Education.

The future $48-million facility will allow the school to expand its outreach programs in the region and enable all of the school’s classes, programs and faculty to work together under one roof. The school currently serves more than 20,000 educators and administrators across the state through training and technical assistance activities. McLaughlin said that number will only increase with a new facility.

“This new facility represents a tremendous investment into the next generation of educators and will serve as a tremendous benefit for the entire Commonwealth,” said McLaughlin, adding that the facility will serve roughly 90 faculty and staff, 150 undergraduate and 650 graduate students. “This facility will be in active use from morning to night year round. New classrooms and labs will enable faculty to model emerging instructional strategies and technologies. Throughout the building, spaces will invite collaboration among students and faculty -- a critical aspect of acculturation into the education profession.”

In 2005, College agreed to purchase the property from Sentara Healthcare for $8.7 million. During last year’s session, the General Assembly provided the College with $6 million to purchase of the property, as well as another $1.85 million in matching funds. Separate studies by independent firms have determined that the cost of building a new facility is essentially the same as the cost to renovate the existing property. Nichol announced at last month’s Board of Visitors meeting that the College would construct a new School of Education facility. The College has hired Sasaki Associates to design the building.

The College will be working with the state in coming months to secure construction funding for the project in next year’s budget, said Vice President for Finance Sam Jones.

“We are gratified that the governor chose to include this request in his budget amendment,” Jones said. “We are optimistic that our legislative leaders will agree on the importance of funding this project.”