School board concerned about charter school

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - New concerns about the city's first charter school. Richmond school board members are worried about several issues including the Patrick Henry Charter School's finances.

Students haven't had classes at the south Richmond school yet because this building is being renovated. Half a million dollars has been spent for the project and it may not be ready by the January 9 start date.

One by one students at Patrick Henry Charter School start their last day before winter break walking the neighborhood, singing Christmas carols. They currently attend classes in Woodland Heights Baptist Church. That's the building used by Patrick Henry Charter School ever since it opened in August 2010. Construction crews are hard at work on what will be the school's permanent home a couple of blocks away.

"We have so much momentum," said Kristen Larson. "We are moving into our permanent location. We're going to be there starting with school January 9th."

Larson is the vice-president of the board of directors at Patrick Henry.

"This has been three years in the making," Larson said.

The January 9 date is one of several concerns for the Richmond School Board. In a letter sent by Chair Kimberly Bridges, the board is also worried the amount of money the school is raising will not be enough. Larson says there's no need for concern.

"We've raised nearly a million dollars in grants and donations," she said. "That has gone toward the building, some of that has gone toward start up equipment because we are a new school."

The board is also concerned with the turnover rate of teachers and staff. Larson says the turnover is normal for any new school.

"We are going through the normal growing pains that any new school, especially a charter school in Virginia where it's very challenging would go through," Larson said. "We're moving in a positive direction."

The school board doesn't have a back up plan just yet if this building is not ready for kids after winter break. The school's charter is up for renewal after next school year.

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