Community holds rally for a new George Wythe High School

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 3:54 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Saturday morning, an energized crowd of students, parents and city leaders rallied together at the entrance of George Wythe High School, demanding that all school board members vote in favor of the compromise that could see a new George Wythe built by 2024.

Pastor Robin Mines helped organize the rally and says that this coming Monday will be the Richmond School Board’s last chance to change their minds about who’s in control of the construction of the new school.

Members of the school board want full control of construction and have passed a resolution about it.

“We’re out here to plead with them to accept the city’s compromise, to accept the plans to build George Wythe,” Mines said.

The compromise would allow the construction of GWHS to begin immediately, while also significantly increasing the board’s oversight of construction by:

  • Placing a 3rd Party Auditor that would allow for more direct involvement from RPS than in the past.
  • Include a robust community engagement plan for multiple opportunities for input from the School Board, RPS students, faculty, and staff.
  • Ensure that RPS students directly benefit from jobs created by the construction.
  • Place all of the financial and accounting burdens on the city, so that RPS does not have to take on additional functions it currently does not have the capacity or resources to do.

The city claims it could get it done by 2024, but with the school board voting to take sole control of the process, the superintendent says it may not be done until 2027. Ralliers says the delay in construction time is something the community can no longer afford.

“If we don’t continue as planned, it’s going to end up costing us much more and a lot more time,” Mines said. “This school has been here since I was in elementary school, I’m 62 years old and this school is still standing with no major renovations since the 80s.”

This issue is especially important for student activists like Corey Stuckey, who says he had to endure inadequate learning conditions all four of his years inside the building.

“When I walked these halls for the last years, it’s been the same as everyone else who has walked these halls before me and it’s sad,” Stuckey said.

Though he’s college-bound, he speaking out to make sure his peers get their education in a new building.

“George Wythe should have been rebuilt before I even walked through this school,” Stuckey said.

The crowd was joined by various members of Richmond’s school board and the city council, who all say that the crowd says they want politics out of the decision so that the students can benefit.

Last month, five members of the school board declined to discuss the city’s proposal to collaborate on school construction.

“Save the city some money and get the kids and community the school and resource center that we deserve in the 5th district,” Mines said.

Ralliers are asking that the board add the city’s compromise proposal to their agenda on June 7.

Mines is asking that all those not present at the rally but would wish to speak up to email and tell the school board to compromise with the city.

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