Adding schools to possible closure list worries Richmond families

Posted at 2:03 PM, May 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-14 16:00:56-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- The day after the Richmond School Board voted to look into closing three schools, some are hoping the board will reconsider the decision.

"I think it's really terrible," concerned grandmother Andre Martin said.  "The kids have to be shifted and their teachers are going to be shifted."

Martin is concerned the shift could break up what has become a strong family bond.

"They are not just teachers, they cover every aspect," Martin said.  "They are a friend, they are a mentor, if the children need clothing they hook them up."

"I appreciate the frustration, I appreciate the emotion," Richmond School Board Chairman Jeffrey Bourne said.  "Anytime you talk about closing schools it's an emotional issue."

The issue to revisit the discussion of closing schools passed Monday on a 5 to 4 vote among board members.

"As a school board member I don't make decisions for any other student or kid, that I wouldn't make for my own," Bourne said.

Bourne agreed the decision to reconsider putting three schools on the chopping block--to include Norrell, Clark Springs Elementary and the Adult Career Development Center--although unpopular, was unavoidable.

"We are elected to make the tough decisions," Bourne said.

While the board has many new faces this year, this is the third time in two years the Richmond board has suggested closing schools in the district.

"That's a frustrating thing for me," Bourne said.  "I thought we really put ourselves on solid footing during the budget process, by making those tough decisions.  But then we kind of took a step back."

But Martin, who has four grandchildren caught in the mix, hopes for a final time the board will avoid school closures.

"It's just going to make a mess," Martin exclaimed.  "We need to get this thing together here in Richmond."

Bourne added, the board could decide as early as today when a public hearing--which is required--will take place.  Bourne is optimistic a decision will be reached soon in order to have everything in place by next school year.