RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — People packed George Mason Elementary School in Richmond Monday evening for a public hearing on the school’s future.
Many are concerned about the aging building, calling the conditions a ‘state of emergency.’
For the first time, Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz gave recommendations on what he feels should happen. There were talks of moving students to other schools, but Kranz told the crowd that the best option — for now — is to leave students and staff where they are and set the focus on a long-term solution.
“We believe that a new school needs to be built on the vacant land behind us,” Kranz said. “That’s what needs to take place.”
But that long-term solution didn’t give the crowd answers as to what can be done for this school year.
“If we are getting a new building that’s great, but in the mean time something needs to be done about the air quality in this building,” teacher Pamela Jordan said.
Kranz emphasized that George Mason is safe and he wouldn’t send staff or students to a school that wasn’t.
“If I wouldn’t send my grandchildren into a building, I’m sure not going to send anyone else’s child in because these children are our most precious gift,” he said.
Many staff members, however, weren’t convinced.
“It’s reported that our building is safe, but there is a difference between being safe and being an appropriate space for kids to learn,” teacher Megan Jackson added.
Many demanded urgency, but art teacher Bradley Copelove said that while returning to the building isn’t ideal, she’s willing to accept that option if there was a plan in place.
“I would be willing to stay as long as there is a direct end date, that there is not just an expensive band-aid being put on this,” she said.
Copelove added that they’ve been promised a new school before, and this time she wants action.
“I really, really, really want there to be an expiration date,” she said. “When is our expiration date?”
A common theme at the meeting was also the issue of funding — or the lack thereof — which is a battle the school board will have to bring to the city.
As for George Mason, there was no vote on Monday. So even with the recommendation, they are still waiting for an answer. That will come at the next school board meeting scheduled for August 7.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.