INTERVIEW: Backup plan for Richmond's Patrick Henry Charter School

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A major setback for the Patrick Henry School of Arts of Science. The charter school announced they're going to seek approval to start the school in a local baptist church, this after holdups with the approval of their lease agreement keeping them from making necessary improvements in the current building.

Dr. Bill Bosher joined NBC12 to talk about this.

RYAN: With the people that have children that are going to head to Patrick Henry, do you think that this is enough to perhaps derail the school from even opening at all, let alone in a different building?

BOSHER: I hope not. Ryan, what appears to be happening is it's like watching a tennis match. You watch one side volley and the other side return it. They're not on the same side of the court. Last month the issue addressed was whether or not there could be succession; siblings of young people admitted through lottery could also be awarded to the family. They said finally yes, but they had to vote on it. Now, they don't have a lease, they're being required for ADA. They can't get the work started. On the side of the city school board, they don't have the money to do it. They need a quarter of a million more to do the work.

RYAN: Is this the fault of the organizers of the Patrick Henry School and how much is obstacles put in the way of the Richmond School Board? Some of the members have been candid to their resistance.

BOSHER: The city has never been crazy about having a charter school historically. Some have been strongly opposed to it. However, they're in a jam. You've got the President of the United States saying, you've got the Governor of Virginia saying charters and a group of patrons. At some point you need to say, let's give them a try, let's see if it will work. Even in defending itself recently, the Richmond School board said, you know, we've been criticized wrongly. On the tag of that was but we're worried about them spending money that they can't defend. That this might be a misuse of resources.

RYAN: If it doesn't open in August, is it possible that everybody can take a deep breath and say let's come back in 2011 or is it a necessity for them to get the ball up and going in August of 2010?

BOSHER: I think it's critical to get up. Remember, they would open last year. Ryan, I think in the end the real test will be the clients. You have some parents now saying, well, we're looking forward to this, about 95 admitted, they want 160. I think in the end, parents will say, if this is not going to work, I'm going to do something else. They will walk away. When they do, it's over. But I would hope that it opens.

RYAN: The school board is going to vote May 3. You've got an important editorial on this show tomorrow about the situation in Petersburg. Tell us about that.

BOSHER: Editorial or not, it will come tomorrow. It's about Petersburg and their decision this week to hire Cambridge education, both the praise and the potential problems.

RYAN: We'll look for that tomorrow. Thank for being here.

BOSHER: Thank you.