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CHA Board opposes closing Bellevue Elementary

A message today from Jon Ondrak, President of the Church Hill Association:

Bellevue Elementary is living history, being one of the first three public schools in the city. It is part of the integral fabric of Richmond, and our nation. Allowing a landmark institution such as Bellevue to be shuttered and closed by the school board would not only be a travesty for its current students, but for future generations.

The St. John’s Historic District has been home to Bellevue Elementary since its founding early in the 20th century. Our children in Church Hill deserve to be educated and nurtured in their neighborhood. We, the residents of the Church Hill area, have an obligation to imprint upon generations yet to come the values of this school’s founding, its character, its history, and our way of life and learning in this neighborhood. Bellevue’s 320 students consistently perform at the same standards, or better, than other notable city elementary schools such as Mary Munford, Fox, and Holton. Students at Bellevue set very high performance standards that go well beyond basic academics. Over 90% of students have passing or advanced scores on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. Additionally, individuals and groups have won awards and been recognized for outstanding performance in many areas, most recently as a National Blue Ribbon School.

For the last 20 or so years, Church Hill residents have undertaken a stalwart effort to improve our community and its programs. Our schools are integral and critical to the revitalization of our area, our community, and our daily lives; having local schools increases, and makes viable, models for improving the quality of life in any urban environment. It is imperative for the furtherance and continued revitalization of the city, our schools, our children and this neighborhood that Bellevue remains open.

It is the recommendation of the Church Hill Association’s board of directors Bellevue Elementary remains an active part of this community, and in so doing it must remain open to students pursuing pre-K through 5th grade education. Moreover, we believe the school board has an obligation to the residents of the east end to ensure our children receive the same opportunities as other children in the Richmond Public School System.

A meeting of the School Board Public Hearing on Rezoning Proposal will be held at John Marshall High School, 4225 Old Brook Road, tomorrow, May 31, at 6 pm. T-shirts for those who wish to show their support will be readily available, and anyone with an interest in this issue is encouraged to speak on its behalf.

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