HALIFAX COUNTY, Va. – On a tour of Halifax County High School earlier this year, the need for renovations was clear.
Now, the school board has decided to pay a Winchester production company $21,000 over the next six months to help raise money to cover the roughly $100 million cost of a new school.
The company's founder and namesake, Russ Potts, said he has a six-point plan, a big part of which is developing a system for people to pay for the naming rights for different parts of the school, including the school itself.
"We've been very successful in that because we've created a naming rights program for a lot of clients that we've had over the years," Potts said.
Halifax County School Board Chairman Joe Gasperini said the official vote to build a new high school is expected to happen in January.
"We're doing all we can to do what we can to try to reduce the local real estate tax increase impact," Gasperini said.
As for the naming rights, including for the high school, he said the school board will have to approve any name.
"The School Board would decide what we would be willing to name it," said Gasperini. "We would prefer to stay away from controversial names...it would be tasteful."
He believes Potts's company's help will be well worth the $21,000 the school district is paying.
"We feel like we can generate a substantial amount of money. Millions of dollars," Gasperini said.
He pointed out that when the School Board was considering renovating the high school football stadium before addressing the high school as opposed to the current plan of renovating the school and stadium all at once, $9 million was estimated as the amount of money that could've been raised from private sources to help pay for the stadium.
Another big part of Potts's six-point plan is to set up an annual fundraising event.
For example, his company has set up concerts for the Winchester Education Foundation.
"We've had Willie Nelson, we had the Beach Boys, we had Wynonna Judd, we had LeAnn Rimes, we had Merle Haggard, we had Kenny Rogers, we had Vince Gill, we had Trace Adkins," Potts said.
Gasperini said the School Board may consider extending the contract with Potts' company after the current six-month contract expires.