Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
A bipartisan group of Virginia senators toured Fred Lynn Middle School Tuesday to learn about critical funding needs of a school division that manages to keep schools in good shape, but still needs more state money to do all that students require.
Sen. Scott A. Surovell, a Democrat who represents portions of Prince William County (36th District), was joined by Republican Sen. William M. “Bill” Stanley, Jr. (20th District), and fellow Democrat Sen. David Marsden (37th District), in gathering information to craft a measure for bringing urgently needed infrastructure funding to schools across the Commonwealth.
The senators had toured schools in other areas with chronically leaking roofs, mold, and falling ceiling tiles. At Fred Lynn Middle School, they learned that even large divisions with aggressive facility renewal plans have huge challenges maintaining safe and effective learning environments in nearly 100 different schools.
In the coming year, Fred Lynn needs a $1 million dollar replacement of heating and air conditioning systems, $300,000 in work to comply with federal accessibility and equity laws, and $500,000 in athletic field renovation. Approximately $2.7 million is also needed to replace the 54-year-old school’s original windows with various replacements to provide greater energy efficiency and the natural light that studies suggest enhances productive learning environments.
The senators heard details in PWCS needs from School Board Interim Chairman At-Large Babur Lateef, M.D., Superintendent Dr. Steve Walts, Deputy Superintendent Keith Imon, Fred Lynn Principal Hamish Brewer, Facilities Services Director John Windley, and others.
“The senators saw that schools don’t need to be falling down to have serious infrastructure needs,” said Walts. “We do a pretty good job of keeping things maintained but can still show them dozens of serious facilities challenges across the Division. We can only hope they come up with a truly bipartisan plan to help provide urgently needed infrastructure funding for every Virginia public school.”
Along with the challenges of school repairs and renovation, the senators also learned of the ongoing PWCS need to build new schools to house an ever-growing student population. Funding and political objections still hamper efforts to eliminate more than 200 learning cottages (trailers) in every corner of the Division.