Richmond schools get $3.8 million boost, but not for highlighted maintenance

Posted at 9:13 PM, Apr 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-29 01:04:15-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Richmond City Council members unanimously agreed to fill the school system’s $3.8 million budget gap, but that money will not go toward maintenance needs that were highlighted by hundreds of students in a protest outside of City Hall on Monday.

Roughly 200 students, most of them from Open High School in Oregon Hill, walked from the school to city hall in a “Walk Out” protest.

“Our Richmond public schools are literally falling apart,” said Isabelle Arias, a student at Open High School.

“We’ve done our research, we came with facts,” said Kelvin Tyler, also a student at Open High School.

The kids said they want the city to quickly fund the school system’s maintenance needs, which total roughly $100 million.

“What they are expressing is the same frustration that the school board has expressed, that the community has’s one about the condition of our buildings,” said Third District Richmond School Board member Jeff Bourne.

Student efforts earned a question and answer session with Mayor Dwight Jones, but they still were not satisfied.

“After our conversation with the mayor, we realized that Richmond Public Schools aren’t a priority,” Arias said.

A much smaller crowd of kids ended their day by, once again, coming together at City Hall to tell City Council what they want.

Council members did approve an additional $3.8 million for the schools, but that will not be used for maintenance improvements. The money will go towards operation funding, which covers day to day funding.

“We’re still so far off from our goal,” Arias said.

It’s a goal Arias said led her to step out of her comfort zone to fight for.

“It’s scary to get up and speak in front of adults about such important issues, but hopefully everything went well,” Arias said.