Montgomery County leaders disagree on how to pay for school upgrades

By Shayne Dwyer - Reporter

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. - Montgomery County leaders met Tuesday night to talk about four schools in serious need of a facelift. 

Their buildings are aging and the county continues to grow in population, which is putting more kids in classrooms. 

County leaders are in agreement that something needs to be done, but they need to figure out how to pay for it. 

Leaders don't want to raise taxes, but there was disagreement on how to balance teacher pay with building costs and how quickly it can be done. 

The debate went on for about three hours in deciding how to move Montgomery County forward. 

The board of supervisors and school board met for a joint work session to talk it over. 

Christiansburg Elementary, Primary and High School and Belview Elementary all need updating and are overcrowded. 

School leaders would rather renovate and expand each school instead of adding a new school so they can avoid redistricting. 

But not everyone is set on how quickly they can pay for it by borrowing money instead of raising taxes, while still having to pay other bills. 

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd King said, "You have to look at it as a whole, I mean it's just like your personal finances. You don't want to level yourself all the way up to your bottom credit line, you've got to save room in case you have emergencies."

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Mark Miear said, "We have a crisis in Christiansburg. The crisis is too many kids in small schools and we need to expand that capacity; we can't wait."

No matter what, about 100 elementary students will have to move to Falling Branch Elementary. The school board is set to vote on the first phase of this plan, moving those students April 2nd. 

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