Laboratory School

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is UNCW considering creating a Lab School?

The planned laboratory school is the result of a N.C. General Assembly law passed in 2016 requiring the UNC Board of Governors to establish eight lab schools aimed at improving student performance in low-performing schools. UNCW was identified as one of the eight by UNC President Margaret Spellings in November 2016. The legislation was modified in 2017 to require the creation of nine lab schools rather than eight. The system has 15 institutions that offer educator-preparation programs.

What are the goals for the lab school?

The lab school initiative aims to provide enhanced educational programming to students in low-performing schools and to plan model sites for the preparation of future teachers and school administrators.

UNCW and New Hanover County Schools are partnering to create a lab school that will enrich the lives of the young people who attend D.C. Virgo. The lab school will also provide field experience and training for teachers and principals to address challenges in high-needs schools, and be used to determine best practices, provide educational research and foster professional development.

UNCW and New Hanover County Schools welcome community participation as we work to define the vision, mission, design and offerings of the proposed school.

Why was D.C. Virgo Academy selected as the location for the proposed Lab School?

D.C. Virgo has struggled with low enrollment for several years. Creating a more formalized partnership between UNCW and the school with an enhanced academic program may attract more students and families to the school.

When will the lab school open?

If approved, the lab school is expected to open at the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

Will D.C. Virgo remain a middle school?

The current proposal calls for an expansion of D.C. Virgo to serve students in grades K-8.

Will Virgo remain a magnet school with a STEAM focus?

D.C. Virgo will be a university-operated public school with a focus on inquiry-based instruction. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) will remain a part of the academic core.

Will D.C. Virgo still be a New Hanover County school?

No, D.C. Virgo will be a public school operated by UNCW.

Will existing students continue to attend D.C. Virgo or will they need to enroll again?

Existing students can continue at D.C. Virgo. They will need to complete an application. Interested students from anywhere else in the New Hanover County Schools district may also apply. Applications will be available by January.

Will the principal and teachers remain the same?

The principal will remain the same. All other personnel, including teachers, will have to reapply for positions. We expect many current personnel to embrace this new concept and we hope to retain these dedicated educators.

Will it be a year-round school, a traditional school or on the UNCW schedule?

Unless we hear significant opposition, we plan to propose that it remain on the year-round schedule.

What are the enrollment goals for the school? When will enrollment open?

Enrollment will be open. Our goal is 250 students in year one, 300 students in year two. The maximum capacity for the school will be approximately 450 students.

Will there be transportation and lunches?

Yes, transportation and school nutrition will be provided by New Hanover County Schools.