Richmond school board votes to close 3 schools

Posted at 10:11 PM, Jun 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-04 00:33:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- After a contentious public hearing, school board members voted Monday night to shutter three Richmond schools.

The 5-4 vote came after five hours of heated pleas from parents and even some students about whether Clark Springs Elementary, Norrell Preschool and the Adult Career Development Center should close.

“I am here to inform you that if you didn't already know, when it comes to our children and their education, we are not a forced to be reckoned with,” one parent shouted.

The school system's finance office said it expects to generate over $1 million from closing the three facilities, which some in the crowd disputed.

And even one school board member questioned the decision.

“We have just told these children that we don’t care about them because of a million dollars,” said board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed.

City leaders argued that the three schools were only at half capacity and that those empty seats are costing the district money.

Richmond School Board member Kim Gray told CBS 6 News' Jake Burns earlier Monday that the board must “tear the bandage off” and act fast instead of continuing to prolong the  decision to choose which school buildings to close.

According to Gray, the school system has too many buildings when compared to the number of students in the city.

“Our school system was built for 50,000 students and we have 23,000 to 24,000 right now,” Gray said. “We need to take buildings offline. They are very costly to maintain and to staff.”

The buildings will be shut down once the current school year ends. Student reassignments are expected to take place over the summer.

Stay with and CBS 6 News for complete coverage of this important local story.