Richmond School Board changes course, votes to close 3 schools - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Richmond School Board changes course, votes to close 3 schools

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond School Board members reversed course Monday, deciding once again to close City schools.

In the stunning decision, board members voted not only to close the two schools they recently chose to keep open, but to add a third one to the chopping block.

Parents and others at the meeting yelled at board members in the hallway, as they left the session.

Now, Clark Springs and A.V. Norrell Elementary schools, along with the Adult Career Development Center, are slated to be shut down.

"Why you are putting them on the list? Doesn't make any sense," one man asked exiting board members in the Richmond City Hall lobby.

The Richmond School Board previously voted to close two under-enrolled schools, which will amount to $1 million saved in facility expenses. However, after intense backlash, the board changed its mind and voted to keep the schools open.

At the end of April, the board sent a last-minute plea to the Richmond City Council for additional funding, to the tune of $8 million. This included money for other areas, like capital improvements. The request fell flat.

Richmond City Council Chairman Charles Samuels says the council would like to help, however he says it's too late in the budget process to find the money. Samuels also says the school board's request for the extra millions wasn't clearly detailed.

The saga boiled over as the school board waffled again.

"We are still faced with the $1 million dollar budget gap, and there weren't any other proposals on the table," said Richmond School Board Member Kristen Larson.

Larson had voted to keep the schools open, but then changed her mind at Monday evening's session.

"My suggestion remains that we could have taken a stronger look at our central administration, and found some cost savings there," said another school board member, Tichi Pinkney Eppes, who is opposed to the schools closing.

"Very, very sad… It's all about money. It's all about politics. We need to come together and think about our future, our children," said Tammy Williams, a parent.

Public hearings over these school closures will be held before any decisions are final.

The legal deadline for the city to appropriate any additional money to the Richmond School District is this Wednesday. That could turn the city's budget, which Samuels says is pretty much solidified, upside down.

As for the search for Richmond's next superintendent, school board chair Jeffrey Bourne says the board will likely decide to hire an outside firm to help with the search. Meantime, the district will be advertising for an interim superintendent.

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