Bedford County high school gym proposal raises concerns

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) From the outside plans for a new competition gym at Liberty High School appear to show a modern facility.

It's the interior drawings of the building that raised concerns for school board member Susan Falls Kirby.

"When you thought about the things that were missing, which were really essential for a competition gym, it was really disheartening," said Kirby, who represents district six on the school board.

Kirby says the plans don't include any locker rooms. There are no offices for coaches, or a room where athletic trainers can help injured athletes.

"The competition gym should be able to host district and regional tournaments," said Kirby. "Right now we can not host those tournaments in that gym."

Also missing is an exercise room, where athletes can lift weights.

All of those amenities exist in the school's current gym.

"It makes me feel just a little bit neglected," said Thomas Messier, a freshman who plays sports at the school.

Messier is concerned that he and other students will have to leave the new gym and walk over to the old building to shower and change for competitions and PE class.

"In order for the gym to have shared space between the gyms, which is what the gym needs, they need to be connected," said Messier. "If they can't be connected, then the (new) gym needs training room. It needs locker rooms."

School board member Martin Leamy wants the gym to be on par with others in the county.

"Jefferson Forest and Staunton River have very nice competition gyms on their campuses and it's Liberty's turn now," said Leamy, who represents district 7 on the school board.

County supervisors have agreed to spend $44-million on both the gym for Liberty and a new Bedford Middle School.

Kirby says there's still time and money available to re-work the gym plans.

"I believe there is more than ample money there to build a good, basic quality school and a quality gymnasium that Liberty would be proud of," said Kirby.

The entire school board will hear from parents about the issue at a public hearing next Monday, May 16, at 6 p.m. in the Liberty High School auditorium.

School board members will tour the Liberty campus that same afternoon at 4:30.