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List of Richmond schools recommended to close unveiled; parents react strongly

Posted at 7:22 AM, Apr 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-05 19:21:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The list of Richmond Public Schools that could close due to budget cuts was discussed during a School Board meeting Monday night.

It was recommended to the School Board that Armstrong High School, John B. Cary Elementary School, Overby-Sheppard Elementary School, Swansboro Elementary School, and Southampton Elementary School close in an effort to shrink the school system's $18 million budget gap.

The closing of these schools would save an estimated $3 million.

Students who attend Armstrong High School would be divided among Thomas Jefferson High School, John Marshall High School, and George Wythe High School, Richmond School Board member Kim Gray tweeted in response to questions about the proposal.

“I thought it was a joke at first,” Sheila Anderson confided.

"Our dollars aren't big enough,” Marilyn Olds declared.

“We're not going down without a fight,” James Minor exclaimed.

Under the plan, students from John B. Cary Elementary -- near Byrd Park -- would attend George Washington Carver Elementary School -- three miles away -- near the VCU Siegel Center.

Overby-Sheppard students, in Richmond's Northside, would be moved about four miles away to Clark Springs Elementary School.

Swansboro students, off Midlothian Turnpike in South Richmond, would move about two miles, to Blackwell Elementary School, near Jeff Davis Highway and Hull Street.

Southhampton students, who go to school off Chippenham Parkway, would be transferred to Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary School and J. B. Fisher Elementary School.

In March, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones presented a budget that only included $5 million of the $18 million requested to fix aging school buildings and address safety and health concerns. The new budget offered no increase in funding for schools.

School officials said the city would save $3 million by closing schools and an additional $3 million by creating a hub transportation system to reduce the number of stops each school bus made, according to a Richmond School spokesperson.

Other money-saving suggestions presented at previous meetings included increasing class sizes in elementary schools and using contract janitorial services. The student teacher ratio in the district's secondary schools would be changed from 22 to 23 per teacher.

A final action on which, if any, schools will close has not yet been taken.

Armstrong High alumni and parents plan to organize and protest against closure of the school.

The school alumni will be holding a town hall meeting on April 14 at 6 p.m. at Mt. Olivet Church located at 1223 N. 25th street.

For more information, call 677-7340.

"We may not have a lot of money.  But we got a lot of people who can standup,” said Olds.