Unless someone has a spare $25 billion (with a “b”) hanging around, the Virginia School Boards Association plans to move forward with efforts to change the way the state funds construction of educational facilities.
That $25 billion is the estimated cost of bringing all of the commonwealth’s school infastructure up to modern standards, given that there are about 1,000 aged facilities and more than half of the commonwealth’s school buildings are at least 50 years old.
On June 2, the Virginia School Boards Association’s board of directors established a task force that will push federal, state and local leaders to provide the support needed to upgrade facilities.
“As we seek to have the best schools for our children, our facilities are a critical element,” said Teddy Martin II, president of the association.
Martin said the effort would focus on working together “to ensure our children’s opportunities are not determined by their ZIP codes.”
“While school construction and renovation have been seen as a local issue, we need state and federal support,” Martin said.
Tapped to co-chair the Task Force on School Infrastructure Needs were David Woodard, a School Board member from Tazewell County (and the state organization’s president-elect) and Alexandria Superintendent Gregory Hutchings Jr. The only other local member will be Fairfax County School Board member Karen Corbett Sanders.
Woodard declared it a “necessity for each student to attend a modern, safe school,” while Hutchings gave praise to the General Assembly, which used some of Virignia’s budget surplus on “timely” funding for grants and loans to support school-modernization efforts.