RADFORD, Va. – From the American Rescue Plan to CARES Act Funding, lots of federal dollars are going unto state and local organizations. And now a group of educators are hoping for some of the money to make its way into rural schools.
They’re calling it the “Crumbling School Tour,” which is shining light on the deteriorating conditions of public school facilities across the Commonwealth. Wednesday, Virginia’s Coalition of Small and Rural Schools along with other state and local leaders, toured Radford High School.
“We’re just trying to draw attention across our commonwealth to the huge infrastructure needs we have in small and rural school communities to improve our school facilities,” said the president of Virginia’s Coalition of Small and Rural Schools, Keith Perrigan.
School leaders say with an influx of federal funding, a portion of the money should be given to fix infrastructure needs at rural schools.
“What we are looking for is a little bit of help from the state, a little bit of help from the federal government to make some of these things possible,” said Radford Mayor, David Horton. “Not only because kids deserve it, not only because our families deserve it, not only because we don’t believe we can put that additional burden on our taxpayers, but because this is a great investment. By making this investment in Radford in the New River Valley, in Southwest Virginia, the sky is really the limit for all of our kids, all of our faculty to do even greater things.”
Currently, Radford High School, which was built in 1971, is not compliant, doesn’t have air conditioning in parts of the building and the sinks and Bunsen burners in the chemistry classrooms do not work. Despite all these hurdles, students and staff are still succeeding, but superintendent Bob Graham can’t help but think, “what if?”
“But imagine what we could do if we had the facility that our students could really excel in. They do an amazing job with 21st-century learning in a non-21st century learning environment, but I think the potential is huge,” he said.
Radford High School is one of eight stops on the Crumbling Schools Tour. The next stop on the tour will be in South Boston at Halifax County High School.