RPS votes to keep students, staff at George Mason Elementary

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Students and staff at George Mason Elementary School will remain in their building this fall after the Richmond School Board voted Monday night to complete maintenance upgrades and monthly air quality tests.

Richmond Public Schools says the building is safe despite the list of repairs that need to be done — but many parents and teachers are voicing that it’s still not an appropriate learning space for students.

A public meeting was held last week where parents and staff listened to a list of recommendations about what would be the best course of action for the upcoming school year.

Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz recommended leaving students and staff where they are and set the focus on a long-term solution.

“Long term, which can start tomorrow, in which we’ll build a new school,” Kranz said.  “What’s needed right now is funding for that school.”

Teachers said while its not what they wanted, it’s what they were expecting with September right around the corner.

“Our ultimate goal is a new school for our students,” said George Mason Elementary teacher Hope Talley. “It is not a move for us. It is a new school for our students and a new school for the community. I think we are due a new school.”

Parents too said they were understanding of the time constraints and the impact a move would make on other schools.

“Mr. Kranz said that the school is safe,” said parent Roderyck Bullock. “So I trust him and I trust the process that we will get a new George Mason in the East End.”

The second part of Monday night’s decision was for the administration and the board to take a look at Option 5 — a facilities plan from 2015.

“We will review it to ensue that it still meets the need of RPS and update,” said school board member Cindy Menz-Erb. “I think that’s something our current interim superintendent is very well positioned to do as the person who was leading that plan in the first place.Then we can quickly move forward on finding the funding we needed to do it.”

Option 5, with and amendments, will be discussed at the October 16th school board meeting. There will also be additional discussions about a plan for George Mason Elementary for the 2018-2019 school year.

Below is from the 2015 Facilities Needs Report Presentation:

Option 5 (Elementary): Use of lower & higher cost tools

  • Evaluate the establishment of Pre-K centers for all Pre-K programs
  • Rezone elementary schools in over/under-crowded regions to balance utilization where it does not impact the community school concept
  • Consolidate 2 elementary schools
  • Consolidate 1 elementary school into an existing elementary school with an addition
  • Combine 6 elementary schools into 3 NEW elementary schools
  • Combine 3 elementary schools into 1 NEW elementary school and 1 renovated/addition elementary school
  • 1 New elementary school, resulting in one school closed
  • Rezone so there is an equitable split in the south
  • Renovations to remaining existing buildings

Option 5 (Secondary): Use of lower & higher cost tools

  • Consolidate 4 middle schools into 2 NEW middle schools
  • Consolidate 1 high school
  • Construct new high school to meet projections
  • Consolidate 4 secondary schools into 2 existing locations
  • Renovations to remaining existing buildings

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