12 Investigates: Should RPS spend money on one field or all faci - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

12 Investigates: Should RPS spend money on one field or all facilities?


As the Richmond School Board debates having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to match grant money from the NFL and make up the difference to fix just one school's field, members are now considering the sad state of the entire district's facilities. They're getting that picture from a new Sports Backers report.

The organization studied physical education, after school activities and sports facilities for months.

"It was grim," Executive Director Jon Lugbill described. "You didn't want to be in there just to look at it. One locker room we saw there obviously had been rodents, trash on the floor, insects visible, like cockroaches, sinks that didn't work, toilets that didn't work."

There are various suggestions on how to fix the issues. One at Thomas Jefferson High School's auxiliary gym includes not requiring the females to walk through the male changing area and develop a fitness room counterpart.

The estimates to institute those improvements district-wide range between $5 million to $10 million.

"The level and depth of need is heartbreaking," School Board Chairman Jeff Bourne says.

He maintains in order to accept the grant to re-do just John Marshall's field, Richmond Public Schools would have to spend almost $600,000 to match the NFL money and make up the difference.  Looking at the grant through the lens of this new report, Bourne explains the board came to a conclusion.

"I think the board was pretty clear that we're not going to be able to commit that kind of money to a single field," he said.

Now the question becomes will the community step up to commit that kind of money and spread it throughout the entire district.

"The athletics fields and the classrooms, those are equal components to a whole education system," Bourne added.

The school board is hoping donors will come forward to help balance the NFL grant, before it has to give the organization a decision.

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