RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a special meeting held by the Richmond School Board Tuesday evening, community members, students, parents and teachers voiced their opinions on the construction process for a new George Wythe High School.
“This is nonsense. We have to beg for a school that we rightfully deserve,” said Corey Stuckey, a former Wythe student.
Stuckey joined about 100 people at the meeting, which got tense at times.
Every person who spoke during two hours of public comment urged the board to build a new George Wythe sooner than the RPS-predicted 2027 opening date.
“Put aside the politics, and focus on our children and our community,” said Pastor Robin Mines.
Mayor Levar Stoney has offered the city’s help to the school board in order to get a new high school opened quicker. Last month, he opened a Request for Proposals, or RFP, for design services in hopes that the school board will accept it to speed up the process.
However, the board, which now has control over school construction, has said they will not accept that offer to collaborate.
“You don’t have a plan. The city has a plan. The mayor and council are willing to work with you all because guess what? The longer you wait, the more the construction cost is gonna go up, by millions,” said J.J. Minor, President of Richmond NAACP.
Art Teacher Jamie Weinstein gave a glimpse into what it is like to teach at the decades-old school which is in poor condition.
“This is the face mask that I wear and these gloves that I buy in bulk to clean up the rat droppings that are in my room so I can store student artwork,” she showed the school board.
There were other items on Tuesday’s special meeting agenda, but after the two hours of public comment, which is longer than the board planned for, the meeting ended.
“I’m gonna prefer to listen to our bosses, i.e. all of the voters and bosses who came out here in lieu of listening to some presentation,” School Board Vice Chair Jonathan Young said.
Young believes that many architectural engineering firms will bid on the mayor’s RFP. “I look forward to reviewing all of them [the bids],” Young said. “But to be clear, there are some differences of opinion.”
Young said that in his opinion, the city’s predicted construction cost of $140 million is too high.
The school board’s next meeting is on Monday. The board is expected to review the draft of a letter that will be sent to Mayor Stoney, rejecting his offer for collaboration. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the article to view that draft.