Virginia school district to spend nearly $450G on building name changes amid coronavirus pandemic

One board member says $443,000 would be better used on 'resources for students'

A Virginia school district voted to change the names of schools named after Presidents Woodrow Wilson and John Tyler at a cost nearing half a million dollars -- a sum that one board member believes would be better spent on resources for students during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Portsmouth School Board voted 8-1 Thursday night to change the names of Woodrow Wilson High School, John Tyler Elementary School and James Hurst Elementary School at an estimated cost of nearly $443,000.

Mr. Ted J. Lamb, School Board Member (from school district website)

Mr. Ted J. Lamb, School Board Member (from school district website)

The changes followed nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, but one board member believed that the timing is off.

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During a time when the coronavirus pandemic is seeing record numbers across the country, the district should be spending money on students, not name changes, the board member said.

“We are in a COVID-19 pandemic. I just think $443,000 needs to be concentrated in the resources for students," board member Ted Lamb told WAVY-TV.

Fellow board member Lakeesha Atkinson disagreed, saying that the change is about “righting the wrongs.”

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“If we focused on costs and finances we still would be in slavery,” Atkinson said.

Woodrow Wilson High School will resume using the name Manor High School, which it used prior to a merger with another school using the name of the 28th president.

Princeton University had earlier this year voted to remove Wilson’s name from its public policy school and a residential college, renaming them the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and First College, respectively.

A prominent Princeton alum at the time told Fox News that “Chris Eisgruber had until now been a rare academic leader willing to stand up against the woke leftist mobs overrunning America's college campuses.  In the minds of many, his name was synonymous with academic freedom and rigor."

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“Now he's just another campus coward, too terrified of the mob to make rational decisions. I'm furious about this, even though Woodrow Wilson was a terrible human being.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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