About 25 people turned out for a “community conversation on building new schools” last night at EDI. The meeting began with a presentation (PDF) by Torey Edmunds on the recently released Master Facility Plan Update (PDF) as it impacts the East End, followed by a lively back and forth on the issues raised.
Present were Wade Elligood president of the REA, Tichi Pinkney-Epps (President of Richmond Council of PTAs), 7th District School Board Representaitve Keith West, Torey Edmonds, Reggie Malone, and citizens from Church Hill, Oakwood, Fairmount, and particularly strong representation from Fulton. The evening was framed as a conversation about the facilities plan, with the additional question of “Do we just talk about buildings; should the conversation also speak to what other priorities do we want to be considered when planning for our schools?” (a direct referenct to the School Boards’s “New Direction” plan).
West explained that a new school for Fulton had been dropped to end of list by the folks that put the plan together, but that the Board is acutely aware of community desire for a school. He said that Fulton is the only community with this kind of advocacy activity. Towards possibly moving the Fulton school up the list, West is proposing a site study for Fulton in Phase 1 of the move to plan and construct the new schools. The site study would determine of there are enough school-aged children to warrent a school and if there is land available. He stated that elementary schools are at capacity in the East End.
Edmunds’ presentation gives an overview of the rational for the plan for renovation and rebuildng (eg the schools are old), and delves into the differences between major/moderate/minor renovation, and what the proposed plans for renovating/closing/building schools in East End.
- QUESTION: Looking at the projected number of students for each school, does this mean that public housing as we know it is assumed to continue?
ANSWER: The plan does not assume any growth or changes.
- “Compared to census data, there are a lot of kids missing”, most dense populations are in the housing communities, in the northern end of the district.
- Parents say: “Improve the school system in this immediate area”, that they feel like they have to send their kids to out of zone or to private school to get a good education, schools need to be better equipped.
- Parents say: There are certain challenges in the area. Parents not treated so great in schools, by schools. Schools need to open arms to all parents, that they only hear from school when there is a complaint about a student.
- Tichi Pinkney-Epps: The PTA is a vehicle to addressing school issues, a great vehicle for parental and community involvement in the schools. A way to make the system work, “we get to demand what the system looks like”. Promises have been made about building schools since 2001. BUILD SCHOOLS NOW.