Superintendent says school safety is priority of sales tax increase

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:45 PM EST
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PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The process to renovate schools in Pittsylvania County is moving forward after voters approved a 1% sales tax increase referendum by 900 votes in November.

The $50 million in revenue from the sales tax increase will go toward improvements at 14 schools.

To increase safety, mobile classrooms will be removed and additional classrooms will be constructed. Separated buildings will also be connected to each other.

“You can never be too safe,” said Superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools Dr. Mark Jones. “So, we’ll do whatever we can to bring children inside so they don’t have to go outside to get to classrooms. We can provide some barriers as visitors come into our schools. I think that’s important to be sure that that we’re providing a safe environment for children.”

“There are four separate classrooms that are a separate brick wing, as well as three mobile units,” said Kathryn Lowry, Hurt Elementary School Principal. “Students have to leave the main building as well as those other buildings to go to the gym or the cafeteria, so it’s a safety issue; children are walking from building to building out in the open.”

Parking lots at Gretna and Twin Springs Elementary Schools will also be reconstructed to improve safety.

“They were built during a time where many parents put their children on school buses. Now, a lot of parents bring their children to school so we need to do something to alleviate some of the traffic flow issues that we were having with those buildings,” added Dr. Jones.

The Board of Supervisors has to vote to pass the sales tax ordinance in December. The sales tax increase will go into effect 190 days after the vote.

“I’m very thankful that the residents of Pittsylvania County have agreed to pass this referendum and invest in our students’ futures. It’s so heartfelt and it brings a tear to my eye that our children are going to be more well taken care of,” said Mrs. Lowry.

Dr. Jones says he hopes to see renovations begin in the summer of 2024.