Petersburg receives $20,000 to help change Confederate-named schools

PETERSBURG, Va. – A private citizen donated $20,000 on Jan. 11 to Petersburg schools, to cover the anticipated cost if the Confederate-named schools are changed.

The Petersburg School Board has asked for community input as the city considers changing the names of J.E.B. Stuart, A.P. Hill, and Robert E. Lee Elementary schools. School leaders have said “to achieve our mission of developing 21st-century citizens able to effectively collaborate, communicate and innovate” the names must be changed.

There have already been two public meetings and the third, scheduled for Jan. 17, has been rescheduled for Jan. 24. The public hearing at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 in the cafeteria of Petersburg High.

People who wish to speak may sign up at the public hearing and speak for no more than three minutes.

If all three elementary schools were to be renamed, the estimated cost is about $18,000. This estimated cost includes changing lettering on the buildings, updating outdoor signs, replacing the top section of stage curtains, replacing doormats and removing the name from Lee’s gym floor.

An online survey is available through Jan. 24 at this link: https://goo.gl/forms/33BRsC85LXS1E5Tj2.

For members of the public without internet access, a paper version of the survey is available in the lobby of the Administrative Offices of Petersburg City Public Schools 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays through Jan. 24 except any snow days when school offices are closed.

The necessity of rescheduling the public hearing from Jan. 17 to Jan. 24 allowed the survey to remain open longer; previously, the survey was set to close on Jan. 17.

While the Petersburg School Board seeks and values public input, it is the board’s responsibility to determine the names of schools under Policy FFA. The policy states that no school will be named for anyone who has not been dead at least 10 years.

A vote on whether or not to change the school names will be held at the Feb.7 School Board meeting. Any change in school names would not take effect until July 1, 2018.