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Lawmaker working on plan to help fix deteriorating schools in Virginia

Posted at 5:59 PM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-01 18:05:27-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- At nearly 90 years of age, Thomas Jefferson High School's exterior commands attention.

"It's beautiful," parent Dina Weinstein said. But on the inside, "you walk in and marble is falling, there are blackboards," Weinstein said.

Weinstein, whose son is a senior at Thomas Jefferson, said the school needs work, along with many other schools in Richmond.

"It's just been neglected. It really needs investment," Weinstein added.

CBS 6 has been reporting on their deteriorating condition for years. And, according to state Senator Bill Stanley, school systems across the state face the same problem.

"Every school division has the same problem, which is decaying schools. We've got to do something about it," Stanley said.

Stanley and other members of a subcommittee formed to investigate school modernization are touring school systems throughout the state.

Their final visit will be to RPS later this month.

"Our local school divisions really don't have the financial resources to fix these schools, and not just fix the problems they have, but bring them up to modern 21st century standards," Stanley said.

To fix the issue, Stanley wants to put half of the projected 200 to 300 million in sales tax revenue collected on items from outside the state purchased online by Virginians, toward school improvements.

"What we're asking to do is to take half of that money so that we can go ahead and purchase bonds in the amount of $4 billion from Wall Street," Stanley said.

The projected revenue is currently allocated toward transportation improvements, but Stanley believes the General Assembly should support spending half of it on school improvements, and at least one parent agrees.

"It's a logical and sensible way to spend our funds," Weinstein said. "We judge ourselves on how we treat our students and our schools that is a quality of life."

The online sales tax revenue is not currently being collected. The General Assembly would need to pass legislation to collect it and allocate it toward school construction.

State Senator Stanley says the subcommittee will come up with some legislative proposals for the 2019 General Assembly session.