Public Comments for: HB253 - Literary Fund; open application process for loans, maximum loan amounts, etc.
During the 2017-18 School Year, Huntington Middle School, a historic former high school for African Americans during segregation, was closed to the cost needed to repair many aging systems in the facility. This once proud educational institution with years of alumni in our community, closed without ceremony due to infestation, mold, and roof leaks. I am speaking today in support of this legislation because it will enable school divisions like Newport News Public Schools, who are not receiving even half of the requested capital dollars needed to manage infrastructure needs, to adequately meet current needs and more importantly plan for future capital renovations and new construction. Newport News currently receives on average, in a good year, approximately $10-12 million for the capital maintenance of the existing 40+ schools and offices. These dollars are quickly depleted as the school divisions manages projects such as roof replacements, HVAC Replacements, Plumbing, Paving and other school infrastructure projects. I can say with clarity that providing school boards the authority to plan and raise revenue for future construction needs as well as the ability to use unspent EOY Operating Revenue for future construction will lower the burden on local governments and allow them to work in a more productive way to manage larger projects. In closing, I would like to say that even larger urban areas such as Newport News are dealing with this problem. This is not a rural issue. I thank you for your consideration and want to assure you that this would be impactful for schools divisions for many years to come.