Stanley tries new approach in push to modernize schools

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 8:05 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia Sen. Bill Stanley (R-20) has made school modernization a major focus for the last five years.

“We have crumbling schools in inner cities and rural areas that were built before World War II,” Stanley told members of the Senate Finance Committee during a recent meeting.

And although he hasn’t secured the funding to fix the problem, a state commission has documented the deficiencies. And Stanley says he believes lawmakers are starting to get the message.

“My dad used to say you can’t eat a cinderblock in one bite, so I’ve been trying to make sure, using the school modernization commission and other bills every year, to really bring to the forefront the need for us to have this discussion and make these decisions,” he told WDBJ7 in an interview.

His latest piece of legislation sailed through the State Senate and won approval on a unanimous vote Friday afternoon.

It calls for the Virginia Department of Education to establish standards for the maintenance, operation, renovation and construction of schools. Defining what constitutes a modern school, Stanley said, will set the stage for improvements.

“We’ve now got everybody’s attention,” Stanley said. “I think we’re taking the right, proper steps to get ultimately to the policy decision in Virginia, which is ‘Okay we’ve got a problem. Let’s fund that problem. Let’s fix that problem.”

Next week will bring crossover, the deadline for each chamber to complete work on its own legislation.

Stanley said he is hopeful, his proposal will receive bipartisan support in the House of Delegates as well.