RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond’s School Board voted to expedite the procurement process for the renovation of William Fox Elementary and to use $600,000 to replace parts of the roof of the school students moved into in May after a three-alarm fire closed Fox Elementary.
The fire at Fox Elementary, which was built in 1911 and located in the city’s Fan District, destroyed or badly damaged much of the school’s roof and top floor in February. In March, the Richmond School Board voted unanimously to renovate Fox Elementary instead of demolishing and rebuilding the school.
The city’s School Board approved a recommendation from Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras’ administration on Monday for an emergency procurement process to award a design contract for the renovation of Fox Elementary.
The path chosen by the board is expected to take two months to complete, according to the recommendation presented, which is four months shorter than the estimated timeline for a traditional request for proposal process that was also up for consideration.
The recommendation states that “time is of the essence,” citing concerns that keeping Fox Elementary open to the elements will increase the likelihood that its renovation will fail.
Kamras’ administration also pointed out that Fox Elementary was listed as one of the “most endangered historic places” in the commonwealth by the nonprofit Preservation Virginia.
Fourth District School Board member Jonathan Young made a motion for a three-month procurement process for awarding a design contract, but the proposal failed. In the end, the board voted 8-1, with Young voting against it, to approve the emergency procurement process.
The School Board also approved a recommendation from the Kamras administration to use up to $600,000 to replace portions of Clark Springs Elementary’s roof over the summer.
Fox Elementary students and staff went to virtual learning in the wake of the fire that shuttered the doors of the school, resuming in-person instruction at First Baptist Church in mid-March. In May, students and staff moved into Clark Springs.
The money for the roof replacement will come from the additional $4.5 million in capital improvement funds the district is expecting to get from the state. According to the recommendation, replacing the entire roof of Clark Springs will cost close to $1.5 million and could not be finished by the start of the 2022-23 school year.