In honor of the historic role that high school students have played in civil rights history, I'm reposting the article, "Still Separate," authored by Mysia Perry of Open High School. It was originally published in Style Weekly on May 17, 2014.
Richmond Forward’s current project’s goal is to remove the barrier of failing school facilities, holding back at-opportunity students in Richmond. This edition of The Latest includes an update on a cigarette tax for school facility maintenance proposal.
In this meals-tax-for-schools edition, our goal is to help you sift through the arguments, lay out the basic facts, and provide a personal take with links to Meals Tax FAQ responses and RVA Dirt’s terrific analysis of alternative funding options (our Money for School Facilities document is coming soon).
We started 2017 with a focus on unlocking the language of government (policies, regulations, and budgets) to serve others in advocating for change. This directive, led us to set an ambitious list of goals. Read our 2017 recap to see where our journey took us!
After a slow moving process, we’ve experienced a rush of action and stand today with an approved facilities plan by the School Board! Like all things in life, the story is complicated. A big thanks to the RTD’s Justin Mattingly for covering this process with serious detail; we will be referencing his work frequently in this recap. He’ll help us along the journey.
The School Board is heading into a facilities discussion this Thursday, Nov 27th at 6pm. Hooray! But, with incomplete data on their options (read about later in update) it's unclear whether a final decision will be driven by politics or quality planning.
Whether the School Board goes with larger or smaller schools, we need to base decisions off of quality planning to keep from repeating past mistakes. For example, the 2007 facilities plan became overly political, Broad Rock Elementary was built too small and became overcrowded within the first four years.
Please contact your School Board member before Nov 30th at 6pm and ask them to request data behind Plan A and B (updated enrollment, capacity, and financial impact details) to inform their decision. You can one-click email them on the homepage or call today!
In this update we provide information to help address concerns raised at the November 6th School Board meeting, but as we wait for Superintendent Kranz to release recommended options, we need your help to remind the School Board to act in 2017.
Before the meeting on Monday, November 20th, please contact your School Board member to approve emergency facilities actions before 2017. You can contact them via email (homepage), or phone (School Board).
If you want to go next-level, please show up to City Hall, 2nd floor Council Chambers, at 6pm on Monday to speak during public comment. Also, we need more of voices of those directly impacted by failing school facilities, so reach out and get them into the conversation.
Our government will only be as accountable as you make it. The time to speak out is now!
Before we have another meet up to establish a common agenda for 2018, we decided that a survey could help us (1) identify areas of common cause and gaps, and (2) begin to identify priority action steps to inform future discussion.
Please complete one survey per organization/group by next Friday (11/24) at Noon.
The survey will take 15 minutes to complete. Information gathered will be shared collectively within the Thriving Richmond network.
Good budgets and policies will only be as sustainable and accountable as we, the public, make it. That’s why it is imperative that we build a collective impact network in Richmond.
If you are interested in being a part of the Thriving Richmond organizing team (STAY RVA, Support Our Schools, Building a Better RPS, and Richmond Council of PTAs) that will help determine next steps, show up to Urban Farmhouse Scott’s Addition on Wednesday (November 8th) at 4:30pm. Contact Rupa Murthy at email or (804) 683-3796 with any questions.
Budgets are important because they show our real intentions. We, the people, need to let our elected representatives know that next year’s budget (and Capital Improvements Plan or CIP) is where we demand to see major action on school facilities. The problem, is that we’re running out of time.
If ten (10) people were to speak during public comment at the School Board meeting (17th floor City Hall) on November 6th at 6pm and call for action on school facilities, the immediacy of this issue would be remembered. From my analysis, we need the School Board to (1) endorse a list of facilities actions (e.g. new construction, rezoning, community schools, etc.), and (2) appoint members to the Education Compact.
October 16th was supposed to be a big day for school facilities action. Now, the earliest action would be November 6th. We can't sit idly by and wait. I encourage you to voice your concerns to the School Board or speak during public comment tonight!
On November 7th your vote will decide whether the School Modernization referendum's short-term required action is necessary to overcome Richmond stagnation, or whether trust in Mayor Stoney's Education Compact will provide us the institutional change we so desperately need. Read our analysis to help inform your decision.
We know that schools alone cannot achieve the future of a world-class education system in Richmond, as challenges in transportation, housing, the economy, poverty, racism, immigration policy, criminal justice, the environment, physical and mental health, all directly impact the classroom.
It’s time we gathered to deconstruct the professional and class divides within or community. The divide of RVA and Richmond.
Separate and unequal, segregated, failing school facilities in Richmond are monuments to white supremacy. Each day longer this system is tolerated and perpetuated, they win.
The next 59 days leading to October 16th are crucially important to addressing this wrong and writing a new future for Richmond. We need your help!
Please contact the School Board today (RF homepage one-click or call) or show up to their 5pm meeting tonight (August 7th) at City Hall. Actions they will consider will be (1) board drafted options, (2) short term $105K band-aid as described by Superintendent Kranz at last Monday’s meeting, or (3) do nothing. Our government will only be as accountable as we make it.
The School Board will hold a 6pm public hearing on Monday, July 31st at Mason Elementary to consider actions before the school year start. This has the opportunity to become a monumentally important step for Richmond for two reasons:
It represents this School Board’s first step and first opportunity to address long-standing facility needs.
The coalition of north, south, and west side Richmonders showing up to support the east side Mason community is a positive step in addressing our RVA and Richmond divide.
However, the School Board could just as easily vote to do nothing. Doing nothing is a choice to continue the status quo of a broken commitment to our children as realized through failing school facilities. This perpetuates the divide between RVA and Richmond.
It's time for you to stand up and make sure action is taken to move Richmond Forward.
Today we're in the same emergency situation for Mason Elementary. The difference is that it’s not the warnings of a facilities plan or Superintendent Kranz, but a coalition of Mason community members speaking up. It's up to us as a Richmond community whether we will stand in support to move these kids to safety. If we are serious about being ONE Richmond, we need to act now.