RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - City and school leaders in Richmond broke ground Wednesday morning on three new schools set to open in 2020.
George Mason and Greene elementary schools will be getting new buildings and Elkhart Thompson Middle School will be constructed at a site on Hull Street. A group of city and school leaders dug into each site.
The current Greene Elementary is is more than 50 years old and doesn’t have a gym. Half of the students are taking classes in trailers and the school is not technological sufficient for modern educators' needs.
All three schools will be larger than existing ones to accommodate future growth, especially on the city’s south side.
The projects are part of a 20-year plan instituted in 2017 by then-interim superintendent Tommy Kranz to overhaul aging Richmond schools
This is the first project using money from the city’s controversial meals tax increase that went into effect in February.
The 1.5 percent tax increase was estimated to raise nearly $10 million. The construction and renovation project is expected to cost $150 million. The meals tax helped the city increase its debt capacity to borrow the money needed for construction.
The school upgrades come as Mayor Levar Stoney pushes a new downtown redevelopment plan to replace the Richmond Coliseum. Stoney said tax money from that project, once it’s completed, will help fund the much-needed overhaul of Richmond’s schools.
RPS said the new Green Elementary will hold 1,000 students and George Mason Elementary School will hold 750 students. The new middle school will accommodate 1,400 students.
The schools are state-of-the-art and will include community green spaces and be LEED Silver Certified, energy efficient and feature advanced security systems.