Radford City Schools search for answers for major renovations

by Emily Ball–

Two schools in the Radford City Public School system needs many renovations, however, have been faced with the obstacle of funding.

Radford, Va., April 3 – New changes: The projected plans for McHarg Elementary School. The school will house students Pre-K through second grade along with a new security system making all visitors entering the school come directly into the main office. Photo: Emily Ball


Radford High School and McHarg Elementary School are in need some renovations within the school system, however, finding the funding to pay for the multimillion-dollar facelift has been hard to come by.

To date, the cost of repairs is totaled up to 34 million dollars. Which has increased by 10 million dollars in the past three years and left school board members rushing to figure out a plan before cost continue to increase.

Superintendent Robert Graham said Dr. Becky Greer, the previous superintendent, goals were to either completely rebuild or renovate McHarg. This school is the oldest in the county, dating back to the 1950s.

According to the Radford Journal, Graham became superintendent in 2015 after serving the previous five years as assistant superintendent. He did a facility study on the county schools to see what the main priorities were. The biggest safety issue the schools faced was the current status of the roofs. The school, themselves, were able to completely fund the 2-million-dollar project allowing Graham to move forward.

“Our next priorities were going to be the renovating the locker rooms and the gym, those are 50 years old,” said Graham. “McHarg needed certainly some updates and renovations and then the high school needed a facelift too.”

Once the priorities were uncovered, the school board compiled a list and headed to the city council along with a time frame for completion.

According to the Roanoke Times, City Council announced on April 3, to advertise a 6-cent increase in taxes which will go towards helping the schools. The public hearing for this opposition will be on April 15.

While this tax increase is an idea, the hopes of completing the renovations might be slower than the school board originally thought. “City council is really struggling because the City of Radford is just getting back on its feet financially,” said Elizabeth Altieri, active school board member. “Some of our frustration comes from the new council thinking they would be eager to fund the school, it just hasn’t happened that way.”

Altieri says that while this is a struggle, they have recognized that this is the first time that the city council and school board have collaborated on a project and that the willingness is there.

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