Millions in bonds for area school construction

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Several schools in Virginia are in line to get millions of dollars for school construction projects including two elementary schools in our area. Governor Kaine announced the allocation of some 71 million in qualified school construction bonds today. In all seven schools systems statewide have been selected to receive the bonds.

Two Petersburg schools made the list. Robert E. Lee Elementary School is nearly 50 years old. Pretty soon it could get a major facelift.

A six point 5 million dollar bond has been assigned to the school to fund new construction projects. The school system says the projects are shovel ready with the federal funds, an addition to the school would be built.

"A media center, two computers labs, classrooms, special education classrooms and a multipurpose room," said Cliff Davis, Petersburg Public Schools.

A similar story for Walnut Hill Elementary School. It hasn't been expanded since 1967. Walnut Hill has been allocated 5-point-8 million.

Governor Kaine says the funds will create jobs and improve the learning environment for students and that's not all according to the Petersburg public schools spokesperson.

"The children will come into the new classrooms - they'll see that we're upgrading the facilities where they go to the school every day and they'll be seeing we care about them that way and that we want the best for them," said Davis.

There's at least one more stamp approval needed in order for the two elementary schools to get the money. The city has to accept the federal funds before the school system gets a dime. The city would also be responsible repaying the funds.

In a tight economy it may be difficult for the city to take on that extra debt. Petersburg would have to give back the funds over a number of years at no interest.

If the city accepts the bonds school leaders say those construction projects will get going immediately. It's unclear at this point when the city will decide whether it will accept the no-interest bonds. We did speak with parents about expanding those schools. They say they're thrilled about the possibility.

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