Halifax Co. High School Needs $300,000 In Renovations to Meet Accessibility Requirements

Halifax Co., VA - The state Department of Education is putting pressure on schools that aren't handicap accessible in Virginia, and Halifax County High School is one of them.

The school system must make more than $300,000 worth of upgrades in order to comply.

The Halifax County High School building has seen some wear and tear over the years, but the proposed renovations have little to do with aesthetics.

Officials say they are required by law to replace a list of amenities - including door handles, water fountains, and various bathroom fixtures - to make them more accessible.

"Some of the stuff we can do in house, some of the stuff we are going to have to bid it out," said Director of Operations and Maintenance Jay Jennings.

Even in the gym, Jennings says they'll have to revamp the seats in order to accommodate students, staff, and visitors with disabilities.

Administrators were surprised to learn they have to make so many changes, but the biggest challenge the school system will face during this process? Money.

School leaders plan to ask the Board of Supervisors for more than $300,000 for the upgrades.

"It's very important because it is the law and we want to be in compliance with state and federal law," said Frosty Owens, Director of Secondary Education/Student Services/Accountability.If they don't comply, they could face some serious consequences in the future.

"If we put it off and didn't do anything about it, worst comes to worst, I think they could shut us down," Jennings said.

But administrators say it won't come to that, because improving accessibility is something they take very seriously.

"We'll do it as soon as possible and as thoroughly so that we are compliant to make this high school as safe as possible," Owens said.

Owens says the school system has not received any complaints in recent memory about lack of accessibility.

Once they secure the funding, they hope to work with the state on a timeline to complete the upgrades - which could take a few years.