RICHMOND, Va. – Thursday was the last day of classes at the Elkhardt Middle School building on Hull Street Road in South Richmond. The school was shuttered after a leaky steam pipe created toxic mold issues in two classrooms. School officials estimated that between $9 and $14 million would be needed to replace the ceiling tiles, along with the mechanical, electrical, and sprinkler systems throughout the building. Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools Dr. Dana Bedden said that it would take two years to complete repairs and renovations before students would be allowed to walk through the school doors again. He said he would not recommend repairing Elkhardt Middle because it's a 75-year-old building. He said he would present other options to the Richmond School Board next week.
"So, what I would say to everyone is instead of finding reasons to go back to the past and talk about what wasn't done, use the past as information to inform future decisions," Dr. Bedden said. "So, we can move forward and try to create the best options now."
As for transportation, Dr. Bedden said the school system would pay for extra manpower to transport students from Elkhardt Middle to Clark Springs Elementary. The schools sit about six miles apart from each other.
"I am going to miss my school," student Santos Martinez said."I used to walk every day."
For now, his five-minute walk to school will turn into a 15-minute bus ride, something he said he wasn’t looking forward to, “because it was too many kids and too much cursing and stuff.”
Next Wednesday, students will report to Clark Springs Elementary for the foreseeable future.