Mayor pushes for extra $15M in school repairs - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Mayor pushes for extra $15M in school repairs

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is pushing for a huge boost in funding school repairs. The mayor wants to add nearly $15 million more for school maintenance. Coincidentally, a ceiling tile fell on a student Thursday afternoon.

The falling ceiling tile struck a Fairfield Court Elementary School fifth grader on the shoulder. Four classrooms and two offices at the more than 60-year-old school will be temporarily relocated while repairs begin next week.

School officials say the section of the roof that's going to be repaired has been weighed down by water from a leak. That extra weight is what caused the tile in the ceiling to fall.

The close-call clearly shows why some of the city's aging schools need immediate attention. Richmond School Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden sent a letter home to parents explaining that administrators planned to fix the roof's disrepair over Spring Break. However, those plans are now being pushed to the forefront after the incident Thursday. This largely reflects the mayor's sentiments. 

"That's our lead priority on the investment side," said Mayor Dwight Jones during his budget proposal presentation Thursday afternoon.  

Jones dramatically proposed increasing the amount of tax dollars dedicated to repairing schools in his 2015 budget.

"We know that we have to maintain learning environments that support the highest quality educational standards available to students.

Instead of $3.2 million over the next half-decade for school maintenance, Jones wants to spend $18.2 million. This funding would begin with a $5 million contribution next year.

"This increased investment will improve the function, and operational efficiency of the facilities in our school system," continued Jones.

Jones also proposed giving city schools an extra million over last year's budget. The Richmond City Council must give the budget final approval.

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