Education foundation seeks to open learning center in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — The Petersburg Education Foundation is hoping to get a green light on a new summer learning center in the city.

Julian Greene is chair of the Petersburg Education Foundation and told 8News he’s optimistic the Petersburg Public Schools Board will give their MOU a stamp of approval.

The document requests access to Peabody Middle starting this summer for the next 5 years.

The foundation seeks to open the Peabody Academic Learning and Development Center at the Peabody Middle School set to close this school year.

The City of Petersburg’s budget crisis has spurred concerns about the availability of summer programs for kids.

If the learning center is approved, it would give the city’s children various choices for summer activities as well as opportunities for academic enrichment.

Rickshell Fells is a Petersburg High School student and she told 8News in an interview she’s happy that after 20 years, the Peabody Academic Learning Center may soon become a reality.

“It will be a good opportunity,” Fells said.

“We have worked on this project for some time but it really brought it to life based on the financial condition of the city and based on the lack of funding from the city to the school system,” said Petersburg Education Foundation Chairman Julian Greene said. “The school system can’t do it alone.”

If approved, the program will offer free educational and extracurricular activities for kids K to 12.

“Not only will we afford ourselves and the children the opportunity to get supportive work academically, we are going to bring back the arts as well. We are going to bring back the sports and health initiatives,” Greene said.

Jocelyn Scott is graduating in June from Petersburg High School and said she can certainly benefit from the center’s proposed career planning programs. She said teacher training components included in the proposal will benefit her brother who attends J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School.

“I think it is good. Teachers are missing from classrooms at Petersburg High School. Everyone feels like the teachers don’t care because they are not showing up to school, so I feel like that is a good opportunity for them,” Scott said.

The Peabody Academic Learning and Development is a joint partnership.

It is a partnership with Virginia State University, Southern Initiative Algebra Project, National Minority Technology, and Code VA among others,” Greene said.

The Peabody High School National Alumni Association is also a key partner with the center, ” Greene added.

Greene said the center will offer programs focusing on the entire family with vocational and health initiatives.

“We will offer career and job training vocational certifications and CDL license training to make sure that families can sustain and take care of themselves,” Greene said. “We will distribute food on Tuesdays and Thursdays to the family so they will have healthy food to feed the children.”

The center will offer full-day programs free of charge. It will be volunteer based and funded by grants and donations.

Greene said donations can be made to the Education Foundation at PO BOX 2472, Petersburg, VA 23804.

They can be mailed to taken to the Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department or the Petersburg Public Schools administrative building.

8News reached out to the City of Petersburg for information about efforts to restore Parks and Recreation summer services.

“We have heard the outcries of the citizens and we actually plan on definitely making sure that we maintain those services,” Mayor Samuel Parham said.

“All Parks and Recreation services will be the same as they have been in the past for this coming summer,” said City Spokesman, Clay Hamner.

The Petersburg School Board will vote the foundation’s request to access Peabody Middle School  Wednesday, May 17 at Petersburg High School at 6 p.m.

If approved, there will be a public meeting also at the high school on May 24 at 6 p.m.

The Peabody Academic Learning and Development Center would open June 14.

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