Funding uncertain for repairs to Norfolk schools in ‘poor’ condition

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The school board has made their pitch to the city council for additional funding to fix up 27 of the district’s 50 school buildings in need of significant repairs.

A report released in November shows an immediate need for $124 million. In addition, more than $350 million will be needed over the next 20-25 years for repairs, the study shows.

“We have a lot of needs and we are not going to meet all of them,” said city councilwoman Andria McClellan. “Let me give you an analogy: We also have an Army Corps of Engineer budget that just came out that said we need $1.8 billion to fix all the flooding in the city of Norfolk and we have no funding for that.”

More than $100 million in repairs is needed between Booker T. Washington High School and Lake Taylor High School.

This year, Norfolk Public Schools allocates $2 million in city funding for building repairs. The report recommends a $14 million annual investment.

McClellan agrees the city needs to give the schools more money to invest in building improvements, but she says it’s not clear where the money will come from.

“We have to have some very frank conversations, because we are already starting our budget planning process $13 million in the hole,” she said.

Mayor Kenny Alexander says raising real estate taxes by six cents would generate about $10.8 million each year, but adds, “I don’t think there’s votes on the council to raise taxes at this point.”

With 28 of 44 school accredited, Alexander says the district’s priority should be on achievement first.

“Although we have made some improvements in getting more schools accredited, we still have too many schools that have not met the minimum state benchmark as it relates to passing the SOLs.”

The Norfolk School Board plans to release a report by the spring that will rank the building improvements in order or importance.