John Marshall High School needs $2.5 million in repairs, Richmond report finds: 'It’s not one person's fault'

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Posted at 5:14 PM, Jun 20, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Public School teacher and Richmond Education Association Vice President Anne Forrester spent the last year advocating with her REA peers for more money to improve what they called concerning conditions at some Richmond schools.

She recently learned that about $3 million would be needed to fix some of the issues at just two of the 46 Richmond schools that went through a facility condition assessment.

"What does that say about us as a society and how we view these children’s education," Forrester asked. “When workers or parents in our schools are speaking up about conditions, they are doing so because they care. They are not doing so to shame anyone. It’s not any one person's fault. Our buildings are like this because of systemic things and it’s going to take all of us acknowledging that to fix that."

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Anne Forrester

The initial report school facility condition assessment showed roughly $3 million of recommended immediate repairs for John Marshall High School and Woodville Elementary. The majority of funding, more than $2.5 million, covered repairs to John Marshall High School.

The report for John Marshall listed issues that included:

  • Crumbling bricks
  • Deteriorating windows
  • Asbestos concerns
  • Replacing HVAC over evidence of asbestos
  • Environmental analysis to check for fungal growth in some classrooms

The report also listed about $23,000 in needed repairs for Woodville Elementary. That included fixing wall issues in the cafeteria and an engineering study on structure and design throughout the school building.
“I have kids with a lot of mold at home and to know they can't even come to school and have a good environment," Forrester said.

This year Richmond Public Schools (RPS) has more money to work with after Richmond City Council approved $17 million for needed repairs. That’s $13 million more than in years past.

RPS declined to comment on the findings until the full report of all facility conditions has been presented to the Richmond School Board.

Earlier this year a RPS spokesperson emphasized that all schools were safe after the release of mold reports in the fall.

They added they were immediately fixing smaller issues found in that report within the month.

For now, the REA planned to continue to advocate for more funding and improved conditions.

"I think it’s also going to take some political courage from the General Assembly and City Council to find the funding to fix these things," Forrester said. "The money is there we just have to be brave enough to fund it and put it in the right place."

Read the John Marshall High School report here.

Read the Woodville Elementary School report here.

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