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Debate over George Wythe High School construction continues

Community calls on city, school board to build a new George Wythe High School without delay
Posted at 11:55 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 08:08:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The debate over George Wythe High School continues after last week's public comment meeting issue on when the school should be rebuilt.

The Richmond School Board met on Monday night to decide their next steps.

Board members decided in a 5-4 vote to accept board vice-chair Jonathan Young's proposal to work with the city of Richmond on the project, but on their own terms.

The proposal allows for the school board to submit their own designs for a new school while also creating an evaluation panel of at least three city employees and four school system employees.

Young's proposal would also include using funding to build a career and technical center for students, and a new elementary school in Church Hill.

His goal for a new George Wythe High School would allow for a max of 1,600 students -- something Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras raised concerns over during the meeting.

Kamras said cthat number would be too low, and suggested instead a cap of 2,000 students would be more realistic.

"I believe this resolution was a mistake and will ultimately impact our ability to reopen schools successfully healthy safely and with academic success," said Kamras.

The proposal also requires school superintendent Jason Kamras to create procurement documents for the design of George Wythe by August 31.

It's a different decision from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's rejected proposal, which would have projected a new school by 2024.

Stoney said, "Tonight's vote doesn't give students and their families any more reason to hope that a new school will be built one day sooner than the 2027 timeline outlined by the superintendent."