RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Almost a year after the school’s burning, families of William F. Fox Elementary gathered together to reflect on the past and plan for the future.
On Feb. 11, 2022, Fox Elementary was significantly damaged by a fire. Officials have still not determined the cause of the fire.
Parents and community members told 8News that the Fan District hasn’t felt the same since. According to residents, the unrepaired building continues to serve as a reminder of the lack of progress made.
“I’ve always played on this playground and my nieces and nephews, my kids come here to play so it’s sad,” said former Fox Elementary student, Jessica Kern.
Kern was among many members of the community who gathered on Friday, Feb. 10 — just steps away from the new playground — to question what the next steps for the school building would be.
“My fear is that they are going to board it up and the city is going to sell it for condo space,” Kern said.
City leaders like 2nd District School Board member, Mariah White, want to put these fears at ease — despite the death of a recent bill in the General Assembly to provide $15 million in funding for the school’s reconstruction.
“My priority is to build this school,” White said.
The Richmond School Board is now looking ahead to July 1, 2023, when the district is set to receive $200 million in funding from city taxes. How much of this funding will be spent on Fox Elementary will be up to the board to decide.
“I will make a motion to give 15 million dollars to build this with the insurance money,” White said.
Communities for other schools throughout the district have continually raised concerns that the cost of rebuilding Fox Elementary could result in them being neglected, but White says “every school is a priority.”
“But we do have some priorities of our own in each district and this one is for the 2nd District,” White said.
In the meantime, the City plans to move forward with structural improvements to the school building — including the addition of a new roof by this summer.