Richmond school leaders extend date to finalize modernization plan for aging buildings

Richmond school leaders extend date to finalize modernization plan for aging buildings

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond school leaders will need more time to figure out what to do with outdated, crumbling school buildings across the city.

At a special meeting Thursday, the school board reviewed options for school modernization. They decided they won't be able to make a decision by their Dec. 4 deadline.

The consensus is something has to be done to fix Richmond's aging schools, but arriving at an action plan seems to be taking some time.

"It is not our responsibility to shortchange our children, because this has been going on far too long," said board Chair Dawn Page.

She sounded off, saying the time is now to move forward with building new Richmond schools -- but the city will have to help fund it.

"The city needs to step up to the plate. The state they need to step up to the plate as well," Page added.

The board is considering two options that include consolidating schools, re-zoning and constructing new buildings. The challenge is getting all leaders on the same page.

"Does it make sense to consolidate a Woodview with a George Mason with a Fairfield? No, it does not," board member Felicia Coby added.

One plan calls for Green, Elkhart Thompson, George Wythe, Mason, and Woodville schools to be the first to receive new buildings. This, as some question what the focus should even be right now.

"We're not going to get everything, and my opinion...if I'm going to go and ask for hundreds of millions more dollars, I want that to go to teachers and I want that to go to staff and human capital. My personal preference is we do the bare minimum to make sure our kids are in safe, healthy schools quickly and that we file the rest of the money into academics," said board member Elizabeth Doerr.

Other leaders insist crumbling buildings are taking a toll.

"That has an impact on learning. What are you saying to our children when our buildings look the way that they look? That they don't matter…Education must become a priority in this city, and far too long, it has not been a priority. The city can find money for every other project except for education," Page continued.

The school board is hoping it will be able to vote on how it will move forward come Dec. 12.

"We need to be strategic about it," Doerr said.

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.