Five Richmond Public Schools are proposed to be closed because of the budget. On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Richmond School Board Member Jonathan Young plans to introduce a school consolidation plan during the school board’s budget work session. He says closing five schools would save about $5 million.
“Bottom line we have to do this. (There are) 8,600 vacant seats across the school district. It’s not a conversation that anybody per se would prefer to have but it’s a conversation that adults and being responsible have to have.”
Young has identified five schools that could be closed because of budget and low student enrollment. However, he says it would be ultimately a board decision on the following schools that include about a total of 1,700 students:
- Fairfield Court Elementary School
- Henderson Middle School
- John Marshall High School
- Swansboro Elementary School
- Woodville Elementary School
Young says children from closed schools would have the option to attend another school in the division and they would receive bus transportation there.
The cost to maintain those five schools
The division is facing about $2 billion in costs to fix up city school buildings.
“Think of just utilities alone, you are spending all the money to heat the building for 100% and you have fewer than half of the students in the building.”
Becca DuVal, a Richmond Public Schools parent, agreed with Young. She had this to say:
“We don’t have the money to chip away at that. These buildings have gotten into terrible shape and they become an expense instead of an asset.”
DuVal suggests Richmond City Hall should pitch in with money from its rainy day fund to rehab city school buildings. She also says money earmarked for community centers should go elsewhere.
“Why are we paying to maintain two properties, two different properties that should be able to serve the same function? And as one is functional during the school day and one is functional after hours, if that.”
The current proposed school budget is $228 million, with a $35 million increase from the previous year, mainly fueled by collective bargaining wages. A final budget recommendation will come next month.
Young's proposal will be updated as it progresses. The public will be kept informed about the updates.
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