Richmond, Va. (WRIC) — In a narrow vote, the Richmond School Board delayed a discussion Monday night over building a new George Wythe High School.
Mayor Levar Stoney sent a letter to the Board last week, offering a plan for how the City and RPS could work together to get the school opened by 2024.
Last month, the School Board voted to take control of school construction, despite opposition from Superintendent Jason Kamras. He said with RPS in charge, the school would not open until 2027.
Mayor Stoney called a delay unacceptable. In the letter sent to the School Board Thursday, Stoney and three City Council members offered a compromise, suggesting the city and RPS work together to get the school opened by the target date of 2024.
However, Stoney said they must act fast. The City said a Request for Proposals for school design and construction must be posted no later than June 1 to stay on a timeline that opens the school in 2024.
At Monday’s School Board Meeting, Member Liz Doerr proposed that the Board discuss the letter. That was voted down in a 5-4 vote.
Board Member Kenya Gibson, who drafted the original resolution to hand school construction over to RPS, said Monday’s meeting agenda was already packed. “I would hope that perhaps in New Business [portion of the meeting] we would talk about adding another meeting focused on George Wythe and school construction,” she said.
Nicole Jones, who voted to have the discussion, made it clear she was disappointed. “The community now knows we received letter from the mayor, they were willing to have a discussion with us and we are choosing to decline,” she said.
Many residents who wrote in for public comment were also hoping for a different outcome. Public comment was read after the vote to delay the discussion was already made.
“Please discontinue dismissing, delaying and denying Richmond Public School children and staff the advantage of attending a safe, well-constructed 21st century educational facility by 2024,” one resident said.
However, some other residents like Joe Kennedy urged the School Board to prioritize reopening schools safely. “I am writing to ask that [you] put the discussion of school ownership on hold and focus on getting kids safely back into schools,” the former RPS teacher and grandparent of current students said.
At the end of the meeting, Gibson made a motion to have the board meet on May 24 to discuss school construction. That motion failed 7-2.
The School Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is June 7.