Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Sun Gazette Reports on Delegate Keam's Budget Amendment for TJ 

Budget Bill Would Permit More Students to Attend TJ

by SCOTT McCAFFREY, Staff Writer
(Created: Saturday, February 12, 2011 7:58 AM EST)
Budget legislation working its way through the General Assembly would permit local officials to slightly expand the student body at the regional Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology. The measure, patroned by Del. Mark Keam (D-35th), would augment state funding to provide for 50 additional admissions slots, on top of the roughly 1,600 currently funded by the state government. "These students deserve the best support the state can provide, so that they will continue to make TJ the best high school in the nation, year after year," Keam, a Vienna/Oakton freshman, said in a statement. The measure was included in budget amendments adopted by the House of Delegates. A finalized budget package is expected to be adopted by both houses of the General Assembly later this month. Fairfax County Public Schools operates the four-year regional magnet program, receiving a yearly stipend from the state government because TJ since its opening in the 1980s has been designated a "governor's school" by state officials. Competition for admission is fierce: For the 2010-11 school year, nearly 3,200 students from across the region competed for 480 slots in the freshman class. Students from Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the city of Fairfax are eligible to attend the school. School officials in the cities of Alexandria, Manassas and Manassas Park have opted not to allow their students to participate, in part due to fears of a "brain drain" if top students depart local high schools for the regional magnet facility. Arlington school officials for years held out against allowing county students to attend, but relented in the 1990s. School officials in Arlington for one year forced parents to pay tuition in order to attend the school, before being directed by state officials to stop the practice. Thomas Jefferson High School is located in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.
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