2017-02-01 / Front Page

Coding high school to open this fall

New regional school will accept 100 students
By Rich Griset

CodeRVA, a new regional high school with an emphasis on coding and computer science, will be located in Richmond near the Diamond.

The location was announced at noon Friday at the future site of the school in Scott’s Addition. Launched with a $50,000 grant from the state two years ago, CodeRVA comprises 12 partnering school divisions and is scheduled to open for the 2017-18 school year. The 15,310-square-foot school will be situated inside the Michael & Son Services building on Cummings Drive, the former location of A.H. Robins’ global headquarters.

“This is obviously very exciting for us,” said Chesterfield Superintendent James Lane, who was instrumental in the school’s creation. “I think that this school is the pinnacle of what the high school experience can look like.”

Renovations are expected to be complete by this summer. In September, the school will welcome 100 rising ninth- and 10th-graders, with an additional 100 rising ninth-graders added in following years for an eventual total of 400 students.

“It’s a collaborative, open workspace,” said Michael Bolling, the school’s executive director. “We will have online learning that’s supplemented by face-to-face instruction.”

Students will complete the majority of the high school courses required to graduate during their first two years, then spend the next two years transitioning to college and the workforce – working internships, earning industry certifications and completing associate degrees through partnerships with community colleges and employers. Students will take dual enrollment courses through J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and be able to complete associate degrees in computer science and coding.

Michael & Son will handle the buildout of the school, knocking down some existing walls and erecting partitions to create a large, open learning space surrounded by classrooms and flex space. In its first year, the school will have a director, an office manager, three instructors and a school counselor.

Though Chesterfield wrote the grant application and is serving as the fiscal agent for the school, Lane said the school always intended to be placed in Richmond because of its central location and proximity to Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School.

Bolling, who previously served as director of mathematics and governor’s schools for the Virginia Department of Education, said the school is accepting applications until Feb. 24. So far, Bolling said, 400 students have applied. The 100 students who attend will be chosen by lottery, and each locality pays to reserve a certain number of student slots at the school. The $621 million budget that Lane has presented to the School Board includes $281,300 to reserve 29 seats for Chesterfield students at the academy.

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