RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond's new charter school crossed an important barrier yesterday when it received approval from the city school board to open in a nearby church, while rehabilitations are done to its permanent location.
While this paves the way for the school to open this August, funding issues continue to be a concern for the Patrick Henry School of Arts and Sciences. Joining us to talk about this is somebody that's been heavily involved in this issue, Paul Goldman, a former aide to Doug Wilder when he was governor and former chairman in the state democratic party.
Ryan Nobles: One of the things you have been intensive involved in is this rehabilitation process. You've got a plan in place that you think could make this a lot cheaper for everybody involved. Tell us a little bit about that.
Paul Goldman: It's a bill that's been put in by Senators Webb and Warner, our two Virginia senators, also supported by Congressman Cantor, supported by Governor McDonnell and former Governor Kaine it's a got great bipartisan support except I can't get the mayor and the local people to get behind it. You think you will because it would save the taxpayers of the area hundreds of millions of dollars. It would cut the cost of modernizing schools like Patrick Henry by up to 40%. Now, that's a lot of money.
Ryan Nobles: Right. Now, obviously you need a lot of support from across the country to get this push through. Why is it so important to get people like the mayor and the congressmen and some other people on board at the local level?
Paul Goldman: Because it's a Virginia project. If the folks -- it's based on the Maggie Walker Project that was done about ten years ago when Governor Kaine was then the mayor of Richmond. That's the only one in the country. The problem is a little glitch in the IRS codes, you know, those thousands of pages and there's one couple of lines. You change one sentence in the IRS code; you save Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield taxpayers potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in modernizing the old schools, but 80% of the schools in Richmond would qualify, and about three or four dozen schools in Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield would qualify.
Ryan Nobles: So Patrick Henry is a perfect example.
Paul Goldman: Absolutely.
Ryan Nobles: Because they need it as soon as possible, but you think it goes beyond just this, not just Patrick Henry that can benefit?
Paul Goldman: I mean sure. As I say, all these schools -- former Governor Allen, Senator Allen and I wrote an article for the New York Times which started this whole thing. We estimate 10,000 of the oldest schools in the country would qualify. I've got calls from Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, people have all over the country wanting to help; can't find anybody here in Richmond in elected office. It is true, it's great that Tom Farrell, Head of the Dominion Resources and Management Round Table have written a letter which should be coming out shortly, so the business community is behind it, but I want to see my mayor, my folks up knocking on doors in Congress, save my city hundreds of millions of dollars. I don't think it's too much to ask for.
See the video at right for the full interview.