State approves ODU as Isle Marine Trades lab school partner

Published 6:14 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

Virginia’s Board of Education voted unanimously on June 21 to approve Old Dominion University’s application to serve as the fiscal agent for the Isle Marine Trades Academy, a shipbuilding-focused lab school at Paul D. Camp Community College’s Smithfield campus.

The state’s 2022-24 biennial budget, which allocated $100 million in startup funds through June 30, had defined the K-12 workforce-tailored lab schools as “established by a baccalaureate public institution.” Despite this, the board has approved several lab school applications by two-year and private colleges, which the Virginia Department of Education’s website claims are eligible.

Five such colleges, including Camp, learned last month that they’d need to partner with a four-year school to keep millions in awarded state funding, as no additional startup money is budgeted in the 2024-26 budget Virginia’s General Assembly and Gov. Glenn Youngkin approved in May.

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The board had voted in April to approve Camp’s application for IMTA, which the two-year college plans to operate with Isle of Wight County Schools and Newport News Shipbuilding parent company Huntington Ingalls. The concept would allow up to 80 high school students to earn an associate of applied science degree in technical studies and industry credentials in either maritime welding or maritime electrical concurrently with their high school diploma.

Per the board’s vote, the IMTA is to receive $1 million in state startup funds plus $1.7 million from the state’s College Partnership Laboratory Fund spread over its first four years in operation.

The board’s June 21 vote on the IMTA requires Camp resubmit its college partnership laboratory school contract for amendment, and authorizes Board President Grace Turner Creasey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons to “negotiate and execute an amendment.”

Coons said the five colleges could potentially up to 5% in additional funding to cover the indirect cost of ODU acting as fiscal agent.

Isle of Wight County Schools plans to begin recruiting students this fall and to open the lab school by 2025. IWCS will provide students, the use of Smithfield High School and Windsor High School’s facilities and transportation to and from Camp’s Smithfield campus.  

IMTA students would enroll during their junior year and complete general education courses at Camp’s Smithfield Campus from 7:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., then travel to either Smithfield High for welding or Windsor High, which houses Isle of Wight County Schools’ electrical career and technical education equipment, from 11:45 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. Seniors would spend their mornings at Camp’s Workforce Trades and Innovation Center in Suffolk, which is under construction and slated to open in 2025.