RPS moves forward with plan to build schools

RPS moves forward with designing, building new schools

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools will be moving forward with plans of being in charge of designing and building new schools without the City of Richmond. Monday night, the board voted 5-4 for the superintendent to create job descriptions for positions in line with construction projects.

“Moving forward, schools are building school buildings - it’s a simple notion that makes a lot of sense. The way the city and schools had done it before, the projects were managed by the City of Richmond and schools participated as collaborators but really didn’t own the process,” said Kenya Gibson, a member of the school district.

On Monday, April 12, five board members voted in favor of the school system to solely own, oversee bidding, design and construction of future city schools. The community and other city leaders fear the resolution adoption will lead to a delay in construction. Gibson says the schools built in collaboration with the city had been “incredibly expensive.”

“We have so many schools we need to address, and we need to be doing this work as efficiently as possible to make sure we can get as many students as possible in modernized facilities,” said Gibson. “Ultimately the school system, we are the ones using the building, doing maintenance of them, [working with the city] created a disconnect.”

In a vote Monday, the school board authorized the superintendent to create job descriptions for a Construction Project Manager, a Director of Construction Management, and a Contracts and Compliance Officer of Procurement. Those job descriptions will then be sent for the Virginia Department of Education to review.

The community has expressed concerns with the resolution and Mayor Levar Stoney’s office says RPS and the city administration worked together to build three new schools in less than three years and says the cooperation has served the city well.

“The plan is that we will align the development process to when those funds are available. The city has allocated $100 million to towards the development of [George Wythe], so in 2023, that is when we really want to have all of those designs in place, so when those funds are available we can begin construction,” said Gibson.

On Thursday at 2 p.m., members of Richmond City Council’s Education and Human Services Standing Committee will hold a special meeting to discuss the impact of the Richmond Public School Board’s resolution, and to discuss the next steps for the construction of the new George Wythe High School.

To access the meeting, you have the following options:

1. Watch the meeting online by computer, tablet or smartphone via Microsoft Teams by clicking here.

2. Listen to the meeting audio from your phone by dialing *67-804-316-9457 and when prompted, enter conference ID 496 883 235#.

3. Watch the meeting livestream at the following web address: https://richmondva.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

(To access the meeting, find and click the link that reads, “In Progress” in the farthest right hand column entitled, “Video”.)

There will be no opportunities for public comment at this meeting

The agenda for this meeting is accessible on the City’s legislative website by clicking here.

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