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George Wythe community pushes for new construction to start immediately

Community calls on city, school board to build a new George Wythe High School without delay
Posted at 11:41 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 23:41:32-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Family and staff of George Wythe High School made it clear at a meeting on Tuesday night that they believe the construction of a new George Wythe High School should begin immediately.

The meeting was supposed to include an overview of enrollment at the school and a discussion in response to a letter from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Despite these plans, none of the above topics were discussed. Instead, the meeting was adjourned after over two hours of public comments.

One after another, faculty and family members expressed their concerns about the aging building.

"And then you go to lunch, you looking in the launch hall, and then you look up and see we missing tiles from the ceiling, we have mold, we have rats, we have roaches," one person who spoke up at the meeting said.

In the spring, the school board announced it would take over construction of the new school despite Richmond Public Schools' Superintendent Jason Kamras saying that it could delay the process of building a new school.

"I don't think the argument that we don't want you to build schools because we don't care, I'm giving you the real, I don't care who builds the school," another concerned speaker said.

Last month, Mayor Stoney proposed a plan to compromise and accelerate the process by creating an RPF that would start taking bids for the design and construction of the new school.

"Our objective is to move with expediency," Stoney said.

School board vice chairman Jonathan Young said that while he and his colleagues welcome a partnership with the mayor to speed up construction, they disagree on efficient use of the space and funds to build the school.

"The truth is RPS alone cannot do what we need to do, we do need to partner but we need to do so in a way where we build the school as soon as possible but we also erect a new career and technical center at Route 1 and Maury, we also erect a new Woodville Elementary, a new Fairfield Court. So the point is to maximize the minimum," Young said.

Young said that if there is a way to build the school soonest for the lowest cost, that is the plan that they will take.

The school board will continue this discussion with the city in their meeting on July 19.