School Board considers replacing "not acceptable" schools years ahead of schedule

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va (WDBJ7) Time has not been kind to Christiansburg High School. Just ask senior Michael Wright.

"The whole outside of it looks run down, looks like a prison house kind of," he said.

And the problems don't stop there, according to Penny Franklin, who represents Christiansburg on the Montgomery County School Board.

"We have students in mobile units, we have students in classrooms that are overcrowded, and the population is just growing and growing and growing in Christiansburg," she said. "That's just not acceptable."

That's why the Board is considering a public private partnership that would allow them to renovate the school almost immediately, about five years ahead of schedule.

Under the partnership, an unnamed private financier would design and build a new Christiansburg High and Belview Elementary School.
They would then lease the schools back to the county until the buildings are paid off, stretching the payments out over years or decades. That has some concerned.

"Right now we're at our debt ceiling, because of all the construction we've done over the last few years," said Chris Tuck, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

Tuck wants to be sure that rushing ahead with construction is the right move, and won't end up costing the county far more in the long run.

"We wanna make sure we're not just pushing things down the road on other boards," he said.

But for Penny Franklin, who's seen every high school in Montgomery County but Christiansburg High renovated, the board has waited long enough.

"It's time. It's time to build new buildings in Christiansburg," she said.

And students like Michael Wright already know what they want to see.

"More windows, first off. Definitely more windows," he said.

If the board decides to move forward with the proposal, it will make the full bid public next week.