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By Sean Gorman November 10, 2012

Sixteenth STEM academy approved

Bob McDonnell, while running for governor in 2009,  said he wanted to help Virginians become America"s "best prepared workforce,” trained in skills that would bring high paying jobs to the state.

As part of that initiative, McDonnell made this promise in an August 2009 news release:

"We will double the number of governor's career and technical academies that focus on science, technology, engineering and math and career and technical skills,” McDonnell's campaign said in an August, 2009 news release.

STEM academies -- the shorthand name given to the institutions that specialize in science, technology, engineering and math -- are local initiatives where school divisions and colleges partner to provide curriculum that prepares students for jobs in those fields.

The state approves proposals that start the academies and also provides $5,000 start-up grants for each one. The STEM programs, which are run out of technology centers and high schools, started in 2008 under former governor Tim Kaine.

When McDonnell was inaugurated in January 2010, eight such schools existed in Virginia. A ninth academy, in Richmond, received its state approval in July 2009 but opened after McDonnell's took office.

Since then the number of STEM academies in the state has been on the rise. In 2011, the state  board of education approved plans to open the Blue Ridge Crossroads Governor's Academy for Technical Education in Carroll County.

The Board of Education this year has issued a series of approvals, signing off on new STEM academies in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake as well as in Fairfax, Roanoke and New Kent Counties.

McDonnell announced last month that the state board of education approved plans for the 16th academy at the Central Virginia Community College campus in Lynchburg.

Both the Fairfax and Lynchburg academies are expected to open in the 2013-2014 school year, while the other four approved this year will start in the 2012-2013 school year.

So McDonnell has taken the steps necessary to double the number of STEM academies in the state.  We rate this a Promise Kept.

Our Sources

McDonnell for Governor, "McDonnell: Put ‘Virginia First,"”  Aug. 4, 2009.

Gov. Bob McDonnell,"Board of Education meets Governor McDonnell"s goal of doubling the number of governor"s STEM academies,” Oct. 25, 2012.

Virginia State Board of Education, "Established STEM academies,”  accessed Nov. 8, 2012.

Virginia Department of Education, "Governor's STEM academy brief,”  accessed Nov. 9, 2012.

PolitiFact Virginia, "First step taken,” April 26, 2012.

Virginia Department of Education, "Governor's STEM academies,”  accessed Nov. 9, 2012.

E-mails from Jeff Caldwell, spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, Nov. 8-9, 2012.

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