'Fund our schools': Richmond students, teachers demand funding at 'walk-in'

'Fund our schools': Richmond students, teachers demand funding at 'walk-in'
Teachers, students and staff protest on Tuesday morning.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond teachers, staff, parents, administrators and students gathered outside at more than 30 Richmond schools for a citywide "walk-in" on National Teacher Appreciation Day on Tuesday.

It's not a coincidence that these walk-ins happened on the "appreciation day." Teachers are using the national recognition to make their message clear. They say the meals tax money passed earlier this year is a start, but not enough to adequately fund Richmond Public Schools.

Teachers at Binford Middle shouted "fund our schools" to show how strongly they feel about what money has gone toward facilities.

"We don't understand why City Council cannot muster up the leadership and why the mayor refuses to fund a facilities plan," said Richmond teacher Sarah Pederson.

Earlier this year, Mayor Levar Stoney called for a meals tax increase to help pay to fix the deteriorating schools.

The teachers and parents say the students can't wait any longer for a fully funded facilities plan.

"It's important to our community. It's important to our parents. It's important to our students," Pederson said.

Parents like Ruth Morrison know how important the funding is for the students education.

"As bad as the facilities have become because of funding, some of these families can't wait," Morrison said.

Fifth District City Council member Parker Agelasto agrees.

"At the end of the day, we came up with no money for the remaining school buildings," Agelasto said. "Including Binford behind me which is over 100 years old," he continued.

Council voted down Agelasto's cigarette tax proposal in April. Agelasto said there is no proposed alternative on the table to date, and that he's tired for proposing ideas that fail.

"What else do we have?" he asked.

The city is now calling for the school board to send quarterly reports on how it's spending its money

Prior to the walk-in, Richmond Education Association president A. Ramon Moore said the schools are in dire shape.

"We were told that RPS kids cannot wait when Mayor Stoney was campaigning for the meals tax," he said. "Now we are not only told we must wait, but that we must close even more schools, and that we must exhaust our emergency fund, in order for our students to receive the same opportunities as students in Henrico and Chesterfield. The time to wait is over. The time to act is now."

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