Richmond voters push forward school modernization

Richmond voters push forward school modernization

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More than 56,000 Richmond voters made their voices heard election night, voting in favor of a funding plan for a complete revamp of city schools.

"Proposition A," the referendum on the ballot, would change the city charter, requiring a school modernization plan and funding for Richmond Public Schools. This would have to be accomplished without raising taxes, and within six months.

The measure drew a "yes" vote from nearly 85 percent of viewers. This puts the pressure on Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and the school board.

Supporters of the plan say they want action, something that's lagged for decades. However, the General Assembly still has to pass the measure, in order for the deadline to be in six months. Richmond has long battled decades-old buildings plagued with mold, falling ceilings, bugs, and other hazards.

"Every parent I talked to voted for this. Everyone was very excited about it," said Scott Garnett, a parent with two children at RPS.

His group, Building a Better RPS, raises money and facilitates volunteers to help maintain Richmond's aging school facilities.

"It's going to put the onus on the school board, the mayor, and council. This is why they get elected. They get elected to make these tough decisions. It's time to make the decision," continued Garnett.

Richmond school administrators are currently working to revise the facilities overhaul plan. The latest version will be presented to the school board on Nov. 20.

Mayor Stoney sent a tough letter to the school board last week, urging RPS to finalize a plan so he can get started on the budget.

"I just think that it's time for us to do our jobs," said Mayor Stoney. "We heard that message last year. We heard it yesterday. It's time for the school board to do their jobs."

Stoney would have to find potentially $500 million in funding for the school modernization undertaking. Stoney says he's optimistic and has already been working with his team for months.

"We're not going to do what's happened in the past. We're not going to build schools and on the first day, they're overcrowded. To me, that is unacceptable," continued Stoney.

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