Richmond parents fight back to save schools from closing - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Richmond parents fight back to save schools from closing

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Richmond parents are springing into action to save their children's schools. This comes just one day after the school board voted to fill a budget hole by closing two facilities.

Consider it an "SOS" of sorts. This time it means "save our schools."

"We feel like we keep getting slapped in the face with it," said Jasmine Stone, who has three kids at J.B. Fisher Elementary School.

The schools closing are likely to be elementary facilities, but the question of which ones is still up in the air, according to Board Chair Jeff Bourne.

"We need to figure out a way to engage the community," he told us Wednesday night. "We've got a wealth of information from the rezoning commission last year that we can start with, so we have a base of data."

The parents most on edge are the ones whose children go to schools considered in that rezoning study. Some, like those at Bellevue, fearing the risk, even made their presence known at the vote.

"They know this school," said Christina Mastroiananni, who's on the Bellevue PTA. "They know the teachers. They know the community. We live in Church Hill. We live three blocks away from the school. This is what a community school is."

Just hours after the decision, NBC12 was sent a video about J.B. Fisher, which is also on the list of potential closures.

"I am very frustrated," said Jasmine Stone. "I am frustrated to be back in this position. I felt like we absolutely told them how much we loved our school."

The parents at Southampton Elementary are also concerned. Their school isn't on the closings list but their kids could still be impacted. Last year, the plan was to add students from J.B. Fisher to the more than the 500 children there.

Across the river, parents at John B. Cary Elementary are also mobilizing.

"We do have some materials put together and we have a strong group of vocal parents and teachers and staff and administration that want to work to keep the school open," explained Leslie Parlow, whose son is in fourth grade at the school near Carytown.

Schools, like Cary, are on the list because the buildings are underutilized. But Parlow says this news only hurts their cause. They can't get their numbers up because no one wants to enroll in a school that could be closed next year.

Even the youngest Richmonders are focused on the future.

"I'm trying to shield as much as I can from my son," Parlow added. "His question is 'What do I do next year, where do I go and what about my friends.'"

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