Norfolk Council to School Board: Save Maury High

Norfolk School Board backed off a vote to replace the aging Maury High School. A majority of Norfolk City Council members say they were surprised by the plans to replace the school and believe it should be preserved.

Mayor Paul Fraim said when he first learned about the plans, he was dismayed that they were considering anything but renovating Maury.

Councilwoman Theresa Whibley, a former School Board member, said the plans caught her off guard and that she supports renovation.

Councilman Barclay Winn said he was “totally blindsided” by the attempted vote.

Council members Andy Protogyrou, Tommy Smigiel and Paul Riddick also support renovation.

The City Council appoints School Board members and provides funding for school construction, ultimately the council would have to sign off on any replacement or major renovation. Maury, which opened in 1910, is the oldest high school still in use in South Hampton Roads.

The school division said it spends up to $80,000 a year to inspect and stabilize the school. Fixing the crumbling exterior walls would cost more than $6 million. A consultant told the board on May 14 that it would cost $52 million to renovate and that a new school, priced at $73 million, would likely last longer. Board members favored replacement, citing the longer life span, and they almost voted on the matter during that meeting but agreed to put off the vote until their regular meeting May 21. On May 21, the board removed the Maury vote from the agenda.

Maury alumnus Evans Poston, who is also the city’s commissioner of revenue, said he was shocked to hear about the plans. “I’m hearing lots of outrage about the perceived lack of transparency,” he said. “I’ve seen firsthand how much people love that building, love that school, love the tradition of being from Maury High.”

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