Commonwealth leaders visit southwest Virginia for the “Crumbling Schools Tour”

Local News

RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — Southwest Virginia’s schools are aging and now some districts are pushing for the Commonwealth to pay for long-overdue needs amid the “Crumbling Schools Tour.”

“We want our children to have the same opportunities that other children have in more affluent areas,” said Radford City Schools Superintendent Rob Graham.

State and local lawmakers toured schools in the City of Radford, Craig County, and Halifax County to get a firsthand look at the conditions students and staff face each day.

The districts are pushing to get part of the $4 billion in the General Assembly’s discretionary fund. They say the Commonwealth has not invested in schools since 2009.

“Our students deserve better than that. Our students deserve to learn in 21st century learning environments, said Keith Perrigan, president of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools.

“We want to retain our students here and keep them here, but aesthetics come into play too when people are moving into the area,” said Graham.

School infrastructure has been a focus of the Coalition of Small and Rural Schools for the last four or five years, according to Perrigan. Additionally, the group would like to better broadband service in the areas and also increase teacher pay.

“Increasing teacher salary is not just a statewide issue but especially a rural issue,” Perrigan said. “Virginia lags behind the rest of the nation in how we pay teachers. Rural communities in Virginia lag behind the other communities in Virginia. Our rural teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation.”

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