The Compact’s School Board public hearing will now be August 7. The importance of getting the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) correct with the state took precedent. The MOU is crucially important to how Richmond will be required to operate and you should read RVA Dirt’s analysis comparing the proposed path to what’s occurred in Petersburg. Between the Compact, MOU, and Superintendent search, there’s a lot going on and RVA Politics provides a terrific overview of all the spinning plates.
For City Council, the Compact public hearing is still on track for July 24.
Mason Elementary Needs
For school facilities, Mason Elementary is centerstage. I apologize for not writing earlier, but at the June 16th School Board meeting, Mason CiS Coordinator Ingrid DeRoo, spoke on behalf of staff, parents, and community members about the terrible facility conditions. Katy Burnell Evans recorded the scene as audience members wore surgical masks to display the immediacy of this need.
This is not new news. In 2009, Mason was the 5th school in line for a new facility under the Jones administration. During the facilities task force study in 2015, Mason was assessed as one of Richmond’s poorest quality facilities. Personally, I've been listened to stories from the school nurse of the health impact to students and received disturbing images from the Mason community.
Mason Elementary Solutions
The facilities plan would address Mason Elementary in Phase II by constructing a new school and rezoning with nearby schools. During Phase I, if conditions worsened, options of minor rehabilitation or moving students to open seats would be a short-term fix.
This plan would be cost effective as it would take a minimal amount to move Mason to an already active building and it may lower district operating costs by consolidating open seats. (Consolidating open seats is an argument traditionally used by the Mayor and City Council to deny greater funding to RPS.)
This is a short-term solution that would cause disruption to Franklin Military and at least one other school. This far into the summer it would be crucial to keep school communities in tact, but, in my opinion, the greater value is saving Mason students from a toxic environment.
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.
Before the School Board meeting tonight, do the following:
- Sign this online petition started by Mason parents. Then, share on Facebook and get others to sign.
- Email (one-click RF homepage) or call the School Board.
- Speak during public comment at tonight’s (July 17) 6pm School Board meeting at City Hall. If you don’t want to speak, show up with a sign of support.
- Reach out to every person you know who’s a part of the Mason community and get them to contact the School Board. We need these voices to be at City Hall, so offer to give a ride, watch their kids, or drop off dinner so they can attend.