RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond School Board and City Council members joined community members and advocates Friday evening for a public town hall to discuss the district’s plans to build a new George Wythe High School.
Friday’s town hall, which was held at George Wythe High School at 6 p.m., comes after Mayor Levar Stoney announced the city would issue a request for design proposals for a new school. The town hall was organized by a new coalition of advocacy groups and civic organizations in the city called the Richmond Community Coalition.
Stoney’s decision is at odds with the School Board, which voted in April to seize control over construction from the city administration.
“We were prepared to release the RFP for design services in late April but the school board vote on April 12 derailed our efforts to issue that RFP,” Stoney said Wednesday. “I’m here today to share that I’m offering RPS another opportunity for diplomacy, another opportunity to join the city in a collaborative effort to get a new George Wythe High School built.”
The mayor revealed the city would request design proposals for construction plans for a new school on Thursday, giving the School Board 45 days to “come to the table” before the proposals are due.
“We need to first determine what’s the size of that building, what’s the programming, will we close and consolidate space and if not what are the implications for this new George Wythe,” Fourth District School Board member Jonathan Young told 8News Wednesday. “The $145 million estimate assumes that we will erect a 2,000-student George Wythe, but the truth is we don’t even have 1,500 students at the current building.”
The town hall was at George Wythe High School — 4314 Crutchfield Street — at 6 p.m. today. Parents, students, neighbors, alumni and other community members were invited to attend.
Around 6 p.m. there were about 40 people gathered outside of the school. The crowd included school board member Dawn Page, council member Stephanie Lynch, Richmond NAACP President JJ Minor and community advocate Charles Willis.
Stoney sent a letter to the school board on Thursday with the details of his plan for the Request for Proposals. The letter says that Stoney decided to move forward with the process after the school board did not respond to a previous attempt to collaborate and have not come to a consensus on their own.
Now that the mayor has made a request for design proposals, he says the school board still has the opportunity to build the school. “We are simply getting the process started by initiating the procurement process and identifying potential design services firms,” the mayor stated in his letter.
He says the school board can join the city’s procurement process by adding staff to the proposal evaluation panel by August. If RPS staff are not involved with the design decision then the letter says Richmond officials cannot move forward.
Stoney’s letter lists other ways Richmond is trying to speed up the school construction timeline. The City’s Operations team will start working on the new site this summer doing things like surveying, recording conditions and soil borings. Another thing that must be done before a new school is built is the relocation of a large sewer line, city agencies plan to start that design process soon.
Stay with 8News for updates.