Sen. Bill Stanley announces panel to address Virginia's 'obsolete' school buildings

A state senator from rural Southside Virginia is finding common cause with Richmond in fixing deteriorating school buildings.

Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, announced Tuesday that he will create a subcommittee to address concerns about “obsolete” school buildings across the state.

“Studies clearly show the damaging impact obsolete crumbling schools have on school children in rural, suburban and urban localities,” he said.

Stanley, acting as chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee, credited Richmond for “being the catalyst” in raising an issue plaguing poor school districts.

He named Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond, a former city school board member, as a co-vice chairman of the panel, along with Sen. Dave Marsden, D-Fairfax.

Sturtevant sponsored legislation, adopted unanimously by the General Assembly this year and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, to require Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to produce a plan within six months for modernizing city school buildings without raising taxes.

 

Stanley named political consultant Paul Goldman as special counsel and policy adviser for the initiative. Goldman led the effort last year to let voters consider a referendum that would require the mayor to produce a plan addressing the issue. The ballot measure passed in November with 85 percent approval.

The nine-member subcommittee will include Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, and Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico.

Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, another member of the subcommittee, credited Stanley for his initiative but cautioned that local governments won’t be able to fix or replace obsolete school buildings without new sources of money to do it.

“I do hope the subcommittee can come up with venues for localities to access capital at discounted rates or favorable terms,” Favola said.