School Board member questions adding 6th grade to Richmond schoo - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

School Board member questions adding 6th grade to Richmond schools

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Two Richmond schools that almost closed their doors are now actually adding students.

Richmond's school board approved adding a sixth grade to John B. Cary and J.B. Fisher elementary Tuesday. But not everyone on the school board agrees with this decision.

The school board voted 7-2 to add a sixth grade. While majority of the board say they're for this move, there are some with some concerns.

"It's giving parents another choice," says Brenda Phillips, principal of Cary Elementary. She says many parents and staff support the move.

The plan at Cary includes converting six classrooms into a middle school wing. At least one classroom will be a science lab.

Fisher Elementary has about 50 fifth graders. 

"I believe it gives them an additional year of course to grow to mature," said parent Raquel Lundy.

But school board member Kim Gray voted against the additional grade.  She says the plan has not had enough public input and the cost will put a strain on the already tight budget.  According to the plan presented to the board adding a sixth grade is going to  cost about $165,000.

"This is a new venture and I think in these economic times it's very difficult to go out and justify trying to create new programs to bring kids in," says Gray.

Earlier this year, Fisher and Cary faced closing their doors because not enough students are enrolled.  Gray wonders how either school will fill even more openings.

"We hope to build on each year by increasing our numbers by keeping our children for another year and at another grade level," says Principal Phillips.

Both schools hope to open up the sixth grade class just in time for the 2013-1014 school year. Gray says she believes this issue will go before the board again that's because new members will be sworn in next month.

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