Some angry after RPS board holds its ground on control of new George Wythe HS

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 11:29 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Several people stormed out of the Richmond School Board meeting on Monday night after the school board made a firm decision to stick to its plan to control the process of rebuilding George Wythe High School.

Superintendent Jason Kamras followed the wishes of the board to seek members’ input on how the school should look so that he can then begin the process of seeking companies interested in designing a new George Wythe.

It’s a process Richmond Mayor LeVar Stoney has already started, and the bids were due by Monday. Stoney had hoped the school board would take the bids already gathered and then move forward so that the timeline wouldn’t be delayed.

The majority of the school board has said they don’t want the help; they want to control the process on their own, even if it means a delay in construction.

Monday night, the board’s chair made a failed attempt at compromise after several community members spoke out - calling on the school board to collaborate with the city.

“We work really well with the city collectively...We could end this week,” board chair Cheryl Burke said. “Let’s move into the state of collaboration and then consensus on behalf of every child...We go turn around and recreate and spend money on hiring people to do this when we already have the goldmine right here in front of us, can we all just do it together.”

When the issue came to a vote again, board members Mariah White, Kenya Gibson, Jonathan Young, Stephanie Rizzi and Shonda Harris Muhammed held their ground saying no - schools should build schools.

That was met with immediate criticism.

“Shame on them...The disrespect...Not listening to the community, but I promise you, and this is my promise, the community will have the last say,” NAACP President JJ Minor said.

Minor said Monday that community leaders will look at possible legal action, asking the state to intervene or a recall effort to get elected leaders out of office.

The superintendent believes the new school will be overcrowded once built due to expected enrollment at the time. That’s because the board voted to build a school that limits capacity to 1,600 students.

In the end, Kamras says he’s moving forward with the wishes of the board, even if members don’t accept his recommendation.

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