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Va. Senators Aim To Expand Historic Schools Program

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Virginia's Senators have proposed legislation that would help rehabilitate old school buildings, and while the plan is getting bipartisan support, one area school district leader says the scope of the effort is more limited than he'd like.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Jim Webb (D) amends current law to allow local governments to use the Federal Rehabilitation tax credit to rebuild historic schools. Currently, the tax credit can only be used on historic school buildings being renovated for other uses, such as housing or theaters.

It would be a big improvement, says Dean Tistadt, COO for Fairfax County Public Schools, the state's largest school district. But he also says its unlikely that any school in Fairfax County would qualify, because it's still too hard to get a building qualified as historic.

"I would love to see them clarify and simplify the eligibility, and just rule any building built before a certain date as eligible for this program," Tistadt says.

Fairfax County recently applied for a historic tax credit at the state level for renovations to Woodlawn Elementary, a building that is about 80 years old, but the application was rejected.

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