RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The debate continued Wednesday evening over how to move forward with building a new George Wythe High School in Richmond.
A power struggle between the Richmond School Board and the City has the school’s opening date up in the air.
At an Education Compact Quarterly meeting Wednesday, members of RPS, the school board, city council and city administration, including Mayor Levar Stoney, discussed how to move forward.
Last month, the school board voted to take control of school construction, even though the City had already started the design process for the new Wythe High School. The City’s plan had the school on track to open in fall of 2024.
Now that RPS has taken over, Superintendent Jason Kamras said it will take years longer. He is estimating a 2027 opening.
“That’s based just on the fact that we need to staff up to do this work,” Kamras said Wednesday.
Kamras said RPS must hire 10 to 15 more positions to get the school built. The school board instructed RPS administration to start the process of hiring for three positions at this time, which they have drafted, according to Kamras.
Mayor Stoney said a delay is unacceptable. “The City is here to work on a school that will open in 2024,” he said.
During the two hour discussion, the leaders discussed how they can speed up the process now that RPS has taken control of construction.
“The [school] board has made the decision that they are going to take the responsibility of building the school. The question at hand – are there resources that the City have that can be of value?,” asked Council Member Ellen Robertson.
However, School Board Member Stephanie Rizzi questioned why there is a rush to get a new George Wythe High School built since the school has been in need of an upgrade for a long time.
“Certainly, I want it built as soon as possible, but I want it also to represent the best we can offer those kids at the same time,” Rizzi said.
Mayor Stoney ended the meeting by saying he is hopeful that over the next few weeks, the school board and the City can come up with a compromise to open the new school in 2024 and no later.