Richmond School Board discussing referendum to modernize schools

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Parents who were in attendance at the Richmond Public School Board meeting Monday said that they support measures to begin modernizing schools. In order to do this, parents and school board members discussed adding a referendum to next month’s election to force Mayor Stoney to develop a plan for modernization

Advocates said there needs to be something in place to get the process going.

Among the items of discussion at Monday nights meeting were efforts to modernize facilities.

Parents and advocates of the modernization referendum say it’s time to see action from school board members they say campaigned on the promise of fixing schools.

“I don’t really see where there would be a downside to a referendum like that, actually, I really don’t,” Jenny Aghomo whose children attend Richmond Public Schools said.

Paul Goldman led the campaign to get the issue on the ballot in the upcoming election.

“At some point, you have to actually commit to a plan that will fully modernize the schools for every student,” Goldman said.

Jenny Aghomo has three children attending Richmond Public Schools. She is in favor of the referendum that would hold the mayor and city council accountable for developing a plan that fixes deteriorating schools without raising taxes.

Some school board members showed uncertainty from the presentation.

“Help us understand why the language is in there in the first place if ultimately the mayor can go back and say ‘we’re going to raise taxes anyway,'” Cindy Menz-Erb, a member of the school board said.

Richmond resident Kevin Starlings agreed.

“Some of the language within that plan just doesn’t sit right,” Starlings said.

Starlings says he’s in favor of school improvements but suggests city and school board officials find a compromise.

“Forcing the city’s hand or the mayor’s hand NOT to raise taxes, I think is not the answer in how we move forward,” Starlings said.

Tens of millions of dollars are at stake with the modernization referendum.

The leader of the campaign started a petition drive garnering 1,500 signatures to make it an item in next month’s election.

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