(VA) Fundraising short for new Justice High School in Fairfax County

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A minimum of $400,000 is needed. So far, less than a quarter of that, $75,000, has been raised.

Author: Peggy Fox

Where's the money? That's the question being raised about changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School.

Last fall, after a contentious, two-year community battle, the Fairfax County School Board voted to ditch the Confederate General name and chose "Justice."

The board also pledged to try to raise the necessary money needed, instead of using public money.

But now, just five months away from the big change happening, fundraising is coming up short.

RELATED: Va. school renamed to Justice High School reveals new logo

When the next school year starts in September of 2018, the school will be Justice High School.

Before that, signs need to be changed, as well uniforms for every sport and the marching band.

A minimum of $400,000 is needed. So far, less than a quarter of that, $75,000, has been raised. Whatever is not raised, the school system will cover.

At least one school board member is angry.

LISTEN: Fairfax County School Board Member ELIZABETH SCHULTZ Breaks Down the Fundraising Issue Surrounding the Name Change of JEB Stuart High School

Listen as Larry spoke with Elizabeth Schultz of the Fairfax County School Board regarding finances surrounding the name change of JEB Stuart High School.

"The fundraising effort has all but stalled out...Where is all of that support? I don't understand. They got what they wanted and they went away and they stuck us with the bill. And, when you have limited resources, (you) have to meet the needs of children in the classroom," said board member Elizabeth Schultz.

Schultz is also angry after finding out about a letter to former Governor Terry McAuliffe asking him to be on the advisory board overseeing the committee for Justice High School, which will be tasked with raising money for the name change.

Parent Ken Longmyer strongly advocated for a name change and never saw it as a money issue.

"It was a matter of education and principle and justice. I would've liked to see the school board itself to have taken the initiative. This took two and a half years. It was ridiculous," said Longmyer.

Between 1954 and 1963, the Fairfax County Public School system participated in Virginia's Massive Resistance effort against school desegregation.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision found "separate but equal" schools unconstitutional.

RELATED: Debate over JEB Stuart High name change continues

The following fall, Fairfax opened its "all-negro" high school, Luther P. Jackson. Prior to that, Fairfax bused black school children to Manassas to be taught.

In 1958, four years after Brown, FCPS opened a new all-white high school in Falls Church and named it after Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart.

From the start, Longmyer thought the school system should use public money to make the change, "The community was not asked to pay for the name Stuart, it came out of the taxpayers' pockets. And I think the name change should also come out of the taxpayers' pocket," but he says he will make a contribution to the effort.

Students seem prepared for the change.

"I think they have enough time to do it. And, really, all the colors are staying the same. The only things that are really changing are like the big logo on the football field, that'll take awhile, the end-zones and the signs. Other than that, the building will stay the same," said sophomore Ethan Jones who admits he's has grown to like the name Justice.

Bottom line is the name change will happen by September 2018, but who pays for it is the question. If enough private funds don't come in, the school system will cover the rest, possibly using money from a reserve fund.

School Board Chair Janie Strauss who signed the letter to McAuliffe told WUSA9 that neither the letter nor the case statement about fundraising has been sent or put out to the public.

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