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School Building Fund Legislation Advances

Virginia Education Association

Lawmakers are debating a number of bills about what happens inside Virginia classrooms.  They're also considering a bill that aimed at improving school buildings.

Schools buildings across Virginia are crumbling, and school divisions are struggling to figure out a way to fix leaking roofs and broken air-conditioning.

Senator Bill Stanley is a Republican from Franklin County who wants to create a Public School Assistance Fund.  "We have so many schools that were built before World War II that are still in use, and a lot of them have flat roofs and from those flat roofs you would have rain coming in and it would come into the inside of the structure and it would affect the electronics and the HVAC and then seep into the kids classrooms."

Senator Barbara Favola is a former County Board member in Arlington, and she says Stanley's bill is a good start. But, she adds, schools need an ongoing source of funding for infrastructure. "I just hope one day we can find a dedicated source of revenue," Favola said Tuesday.  "And maybe we can even turn this into a dedicated source of revenue, and maybe we can even turn this into a low interest loan maybe in combination with a grant so we can actually get money flowing out to our school systems."

Senator Stanley's bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote, and is now on its way to the House of Delegates.

Also Tuesday, the senate approved a bill requiring schools to offer in-person learning starting in July.  But it likely faces a tougher test in the House.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.