Price estimates revealed for RPS re-zoning as controversy continues over whether to do it

Up to $2.5 million for some school rezoning

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond school leaders unveiled it could cost up to $2.5 million to split up elementary schools in a proposed restructuring.

At a meeting Thursday, leaders say that’s to help increase diversity, ease overcrowding and boost student performance. That estimate doesn’t take into account additional costs the district would incur to re-zone middle and high schools.

Some are saying it's just too much to do right now. Others say we can't afford to wait.

“We have to step up our game as a city, and we have to be known for more than just our breweries and our restaurants,” William Vance said. “We have to be known for a quality education for any student.”

But Vance isn’t totally sold on the need to re-zone right now.

"We’re just seeing for the first time any sort of numbers,” he said.

School leaders say it could cost up to $842,500 to make one new combined school. There are seven elementary schools being considered that could combined into just three schools, separating them by grade level. For example, kindergarten through 2nd or 3rd grade would be at one school and 4th through 5th at another.

Multiply $842,500 by three schools, and the potential price tag for restructuring elementary schools could exceed more than $2.5 million.

"Sometimes change is uncomfortable for us,” Sharon Burton said.

Burton is a retired teacher who believes the re-zoning could be a good thing to help ensure Richmond schools have more of a racial balance.

“We need to have the same resources for all of our children regardless of their zip code,” Burton said. “(They) need to be able to get the best out of Richmond city schools.”

Board Member Kenya Gibson told the crowd she's concerned about rushing to make a decision, especially when many of the parents who would be impacted weren't there to speak out. School leaders say while that may be the case, they've spent months going into the community to make sure parents know about the proposed changes.

"There are parts of the Richmond community that have been very vocal about things they like and don’t like and I’m certain the board will take that into consideration,” superintendent Jason Kamras said.

The school board could vote on all of this within the next couple of months to decide whether the changes should be enacted for the following school year. Estimates for re-zoning middle and high schools have not been outlined yet.

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