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Virginia school district to spend over $440,000 to rename three schools: Report

School names honoring John Tyler, Woodrow Wilson to be altered.

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Portsmouth, VA
Portsmouth, VA
(Jeff Greenberg/Getty)
Updated: December 4, 2020 - 3:28pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A Virginia school district will spend nearly $450,000 to rename three schools they say are paying tribute to racists and segregationists of years past, amid the argument that the more immediate spending need is to help students struggling to learn amid the pandemic. 

The school board of Portsmouth, Virginia voted 8-1 on Thursday night to scrub the names of Woodrow Wilson, John Tyler and former Norfolk County Superintendent of Schools James Hurst from local schools. 

Wilson's segregationist views, Tyler's support of the Confederate States of America and Hurst's reported racist budgetary practices in the 1920s all led to the name changes, local news station WAVY reports.

The name changes are expected to cost $443,000, the station reported. Ted Lamb, the lone dissenting vote on the proposal, expressed concern that the major expense was improper during the present pandemic, which has left many local governments and municipalities cash-strapped.

"We are in a COVID-19 pandemic. I just think $443,000 needs to be concentrated in the resources for students," he told the news network. 

Among the biggest concerns is providing students with laptops and internet service for virtual learning.