RPS votes to perform maintenance updates to George Mason ES - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

RPS votes to perform maintenance updates to George Mason ES

George Mason Elementary (Source: NBC12) George Mason Elementary (Source: NBC12)
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Students and teachers at Richmond's George Mason Elementary will not have to relocate when the school year starts in September.

The school board made the decision on Monday night. The school board is unveiling what leaders will do to get a handle on deplorable conditions at the aging school.

It's going to take big bucks to get the situation under control. That reality finds school leaders determining what they can do right now, and what they can't handle without a little extra help.

Rodent and insect problems, issues with the bathrooms, an aging infrastructure -- the list goes on.

"O, there's no exaggeration whatsoever. I mean, the rodent dropping,” said 3rd grade teacher Derrick Bates.

It can make it challenging for him to reach his students.

"The heating and air conditioning. If the kids are uncomfortable, they're not going to focus. If it's too hot, they'll just fall asleep or not do the work,” Bates said.

It's why parents and staff have rallied for the school board to do something about George Mason Elementary. One solution was to move the entire school out and transfer students to Franklin Military Academy. Monday night, the board decided not to go that route.

"Disrupting our students, number one. We’ve been in a community. Our students are asking, ‘What's going on? What's going to happen to us?' ” said 4th
grade teacher Hope Talley.

Instead, the school system will invest some $105,000 right away for immediate improvements in time for the new school year. That includes giving George Mason a deep cleaning, painting, making repairs to the bathrooms, and conducting monthly indoor air quality tests. But that's a short-term solution. What the Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz really wants is a brand new building altogether, which would only take two years to build.

"What’s needed right now is funding for that school,” Kranz said.

On Monday, the board voted to place Mason at the top of its priority list when seeking funds for new schools.

"It's higher than RPS school board at this point. Now, we need to get the mayor involved, get the city council involved, get the General Assembly involved because the funding is there in the state. It's just not being allotted to the correct areas,” Bates said.

Kranz also says RPS still has a little over 100 teaching vacancies. He admits one reason is that staff members at the central office haven't been returning calls in order to get those applications rolling. He said he's working on changing that culture.

"We weren’t customer service oriented,” he said.

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