RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Three Richmond schools, named after men with ties to the Confederacy, will soon be renamed. The school board voted 5-3 to approve the measure at a meeting Monday night.
“This name change is not something we can wait on,” said Stephanie Rizzi, board member of the 5th district. “We need to be clear on what we believe in and school names really matter.”
The schools in question are John B. Cary Elementary, Ginter Park Elementary, and Binford Middle. Rizzi said many people may not understand the history of the three men these schools are named after.
“If you read about some of these people, you’d feel the same way,” she said. “They played just as much of a heinous role in the trafficking of human beings as others. The namesake of the school does set the tone for the school.”
According to school leaders, the estimated cost of renaming each school is between $25,000 and $50,000 each, with a total estimated price of $100,000. These funds would cover new signage, sports uniforms and stationery.
However, school board members Jonathan Young, Mariah White, and Kenya Gibson, who all voted against the proposal, said the funds and time could go toward student success.
“When it comes to equity, we need to focus on making sure our kids can read right now and so while I’m sure I will be thankful to see the names change, I’m not prepared to move forward,” Gibson said.
White added that the money could be used for dilapidated buildings.
“Are we going to do anything with the facility? Is Ginter Park going to be built anew? I’d hate to put money in and not do anything for the facility,” White said. “And I’d have to agree on money into our classroom.”
Young referenced a school board in San Francisco that was recalled due to prioritizing renaming over arithmetic.
“Unfortunately, this board on Monday demonstrated that it too merits the same,” he said.
A public comment period will begin soon to take ideas for possible new names.