Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash will depart the administration in mid-November to take the position of Executive Assistant to the President for State Government Relations with the University of Virginia. The governor issued the following statement regarding the news.
"Secretary of Education Laura Fornash has dedicated her professional career to further improving Virginia's world-class public education system. In our administration she has overseen efforts to make Virginia's colleges and universities more accessible and affordable, while bringing positive, student-centered reforms to our K-12 system. The tremendous advancements we've made in these areas are directly attributable to Secretary Fornash's time, commitment, passion and understanding of the challenges facing public education in the 21st century.
"We ran for this office on a promise to bring innovation and fresh-thinking to public education in the Commonwealth. That's exactly what Secretary Fornash has helped us to achieve. Today, the average teacher salary in Virginia is now greater than the national average. We've increased the percentage of K-12 funding that is going to the classroom from 62% to 64%. The statewide dropout rate has fallen by more than 25 percent over the last five years. We provided full state funding of the Early Reading Initiative to help our schools have the resources necessary to ensure our third grade students are reading on grade level before moving forward, and we've brought new educational choices to parents and students. In higher education, our colleges and universities have added 14,000 more slots for in-state undergraduate students. We've re-invested in higher education, putting nearly $400 million in new resources into our schools and the past two years have seen the lowest average yearly tuition increases in over a decade. We're ahead of schedule on our promise to see Virginia's universities award 100,000 additional degrees by 2025. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the leadership of Secretary Laura Fornash.
"Now, Secretary Fornash will continue her lifelong commitment to education by joining the University of Virginia, the Commonwealth's flagship institution. It is a logical next step for someone with her record of results, and her vision for the future of education. I know Laura will do a tremendous job for UVa, and I wish her the very best moving forward. We need more individuals like Laura Fornash in public service. She is truly making a positive difference for Virginia's students."
The governor will make an announcement regarding Secretary Fornash's successor in the months ahead.