Schools help children build on their educational skills. But what if the school building itself is in disrepair?
Across Virginia, more than 50% of schools—1,040 out of 2,005 that districts reported—are at least 50 years old. That’s according to the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) 2021 School Building Inventory. If every school older than 50 on the list required a replacement, the estimate would exceed $24 billion.
Sen. Jeremy McPike, a Democrat who serves Manassas, Manassas Park, and part of Prince William County, sponsored a bill aimed toward regulating and monitoring school building maintenance. The legislation was recommended by the Commission on School Construction and Modernization, which in part determines school construction and modernization funding needs.
Senate Bill (SB) 238 would require local school boards to report the age of each school building in their district—and the estimated cost to renovate them—to the VDOE. The bill notes that districts would need to complete the task “in a timely fashion,” but gives no deadline indications at the present time.
Keeping all of the data organized and standardized, the VDOE would either select or develop a system to collect and store the information. A Jan. 26 substitute to the original bill suggests using the Department of General Services’ Real Estate and Assets Management system for tracking buildings and infrastructure maintenance status.
On Jan. 31, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed SB 238 with a vote of 40-0. It doesn’t get much more bipartisan than that.
The bill will now head to the Virginia House of Delegates. Its progress toward becoming a law is currently 50% complete.