GOLDMAN: A proven, affordable plan to modernize Richmond’s obsolete schools

Posted at 12:28 PM, Mar 19, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. – With all due respect, Mayor Jones talks about his having built four new schools, but leaves out this part:

The Goldman “City of the Future” plan written for Mayor Wilder and enacted by Bill Pantele’s Council in 2006 provided the money! Moreover, the Goldman plan built schools at far less cost, and without sweetheart contracts.

Talk Doug and Bill, they will tell you.

“Those who out educate America today will out compete us economically tomorrow” is what Republicans have said. “Education is the new civil right of the 21st century” is what Democrats believe.

So I have come up with a revised bipartisan plan – building on my seminal article on the subject for the New York Times – to make sure every child in Richmond, indeed across the state and nation – does not get left behind.

Everyone wins.

The moving parts of my plan to modernize our schools with a private/public partnership addresses a growing crisis everywhere. Last year Virginia educational officials had to concede that the average Virginia K-12 student attends an OBSOLETE FACILITY incapable of truly teaching a 21st century curriculum.

This is why my original plan long ago received bipartisan endorsement from Governor McAuliffe and former Governor McDonnell for the necessary state’s role.

Virginia congressional leaders Warner and Cantor, former Senators Webb and Allen wrote a national article supporting the federal piece. Former Richmond Mayor and now Senator Tim Kaine wrote a piece for Style Weekly that endorsed the local part.

The Richmond Free Press and the Richmond Times Dispatch, which don’t agree on much, both have backed it.

But this is a fact, Richmond has the oldest, most obsolete, most crumbling K-12 facilities in Virginia.

Mayor Jones and his posse have spent months saying the Diamond is obsolete and our kids need to go to a modern baseball stadium to get the full experience.

The Diamond opened in 1985.
The construction date for the average Richmond school is 1955.
Need I say more?


Need: According to School Board member Kim Gray, co-chair of a new facility task force, it will cost the City of Richmond roughly $900 million FROM ITS OWN FUNDS to modernize the schools Richmond needs for the future WITHOUT THE GOLDMAN PLAN.


“Show me the money Jerry!” actor Cuba Gooding Jr. famously said in his Oscar winning role. “Show me the money PG” he said recently reprising his role.

1. PRIVATE CAPITAL: Due to a glitch in federal law creating historic tax credits for modernizing old buildings – as pointed out by Cantor, Kaine and Warner – hundreds of billions of dollars in private capital willing to modernize aging K-12 schools AT FIFTY PERCENT LESS COST TO RICHMOND THAN RIGHT NOW is being blocked from being put to educational use!

It is simply a bureaucratic snafu!

If we fix the glitch, and adopt a previous Republican proposal to put Richmond on the same level playing field as flood prone cities in farm states under historic tax credit law, then a combination of state and federal historic tax credits for modernizing aging buildings will save Richmond $350 million! This is even more than my Times article predicted due to a new wrinkle recently discovered in how the law can work once the glitch is fixed.

2. REDIRECT SHOCKOE STADIUM PROPOSAL MONEY: The roughly $100 million the governmental elite want to spend on their Shockoe Shocker now gets invested in schools.

3. CITY OF THE FUTURE PLAN SAVINGS: The plan found specific cuts to a bloated city government that have still not been done! When extrapolated to 2014 dollars, cutting this wasteful spending and instead using it to support K-12 facility modernization would create a money stream capable of supporting $140 million in 30 year construction bonds WITHOUT ANY TAX RAISE OR SERVICE LOSS.

4. STATE AUDIT: A look at audit data and the current budget indicate additional inefficiencies that can be done away with right now to create a funding stream capable of supporting another $100 million in 30 year construction bonds to modernize our educational facilities WITHOUT ANY TAX RAISE OR SERVICE LOSS.

5. MAINTENANCE SAVINGS: Maintaining old, obsolete buildings costs hugely more than new, modernized facilities. Right now, Richmond needs to spend at least $100 million to merely patch up the existing aged structures without making them any more functional or capable of teaching a true 21st century education.

By modernizing our buildings, we free up enough maintenance money to pay the debt service on another $50 million in construction bonds WITHOUT ANY TAX RAISE OR SERVICE LOSS.


This means ALL THE MAYOR, THE CITY COUNCIL AND THE SCHOOL BOARD need to identify is new a funding stream to support $160 million in 30-year bonds to afford the construction piece.

At current rates, this is in the $10 million a year range.


$10 million a year in new efficiencies, not previously shown by other experts in city, school and utility budgets, totaling over $1 billion!
That’s it, one percent cuts in wasteful spending! NO TAX INCREASE, NO SERVICE LOSSES!

Plus, it is even less if private sources are willing to contribute and take a different federal tax deduction.

If the Mayor and Richmond’s governmental elite fought as hard and as long for a proven plan to modernize our schools – 10 years and counting – as they do for a Shockoe Stadium, then all the pieces would have fallen in place long ago because every state and most cities in the country faces the same crisis.

WE CAN’T SOLVE IT as a nation unless we pull together at the federal, state and local levels.

President Reagan and a Democratic Speaker “Tip” O’Neill realized this in 1986, about the time the Diamond got built. But instead, the kids suffer and everyone claims they want to help, but blame it on the other person.

Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.