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Community Conversation Regarding Public Schools Facilities Funding

Saturday, February 10, 2018
2:00-3:30 p.m.
Bon Secours Center for Healthy Living – Sarah Garland Jones Center
2600 Nine Mile Road Richmond, Virginia 23219

You’ve read numerous articles and comments online over the last few weeks about this tax.  We’ve heard your opinions. Now is the time to show up and let our representation know what you think.

Cynthia I. Newbille and Levar M. Stoney, Mayor of Richmond, will hold a special community meeting for the Richmond East End 7th Voter District. The meeting will include a discussion regarding the proposed increase to the Richmond Meals Tax Rate to achieve Richmond Public Schools facilities funding. Confirmed special guests include: Cheryl Burke, Trustee, Richmond Public Schools Board of Trustees, Richmond East End 7th Voter District and Mr. Jason Kamras, Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools

For more information, please contact Sam Patterson, Liaison for Cynthia I. Newbille, Councilwoman, Richmond City Council, Richmond East End 7th Voter District, at 804.646.3012  or

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lanny 02/09/2018 at 6:00 AM

How they roll, baby!

Discussion is defined as “the action or process of talking about something, typically in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.”
Present, to “facilitate” this discussion will be Newbille and the author of the proposed tax burden, the city’s mayor hisself; and “Confirmed special guests…Cheryl Burke, Trustee, Richmond Public Schools Board of Trustees, Richmond East End 7th Voter District and Mr. Jason Kamras, Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools”
If a discussion, by definition, is “typically conducted in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas”…
the proposed “discussion” will be typical only by Richmond power-broker standards as the special guests will participate in the “action or process of talking about something” since their decision has been reached and the only idea that they will wish to exchange is that, if you oppose what their decision is, you are wrong.

How they roll, baby…how they roll!

ray 02/09/2018 at 10:27 AM

Come on now, this meeting is a bunch of bs.

If it was really a “conversation” soliciting citizen input about the meals tax it would include citizens who don’t support it. Every person listed in this meeting….Stoney, Newbille, Burke, Kamras … are all strong public proponents ot the increase. Why not have some opposing viewpoints?

How gullible do these folks really think the citizens are?

Bill 02/09/2018 at 7:08 PM

Opposing views are not allowed

Gustavo S. 02/09/2018 at 10:20 PM

You know guys, you could just go and see how it goes? I understand the hesitation but turn your anger and frustration into action- writing a comment on a website is actually the least you can do.

mary 02/10/2018 at 7:20 AM

Jason Kamras was the immediate past Chief of Instructional Practice for the DC public school system and is the newly hired Superintendent of Richmond’s own public school system. Kamras’ work in the DC system has been praised for “unprecedented gains in…graduation rates.”
(Wiki bio)

Slowly emerging, however, is the DC school system’s story of multiple abuses during at least the 2017 school year (Kamras’ last year with that system) in the use of credit recovery programs designed to let kids earn credit for courses they didn’t pass the first time around, courses they need in order to graduate; and with very high absence rates.

The abuse in DC, now labeled fraudulent by some media sources, was primarily the result of the students not only being under-prepared but “chronically absent” with knowledge of the abuses going all the way to the top.

The absence rate was usually more than 90 (in at least one case 150) days of the school year, a number which exceeds what is built into many school systems as a required number of attendance days for graduation regardless of preparedness. (

Kamras has said that all children, among other things, “deserve…to be engaged in rich and rigorous learning every single day.” (

Perhaps someone attending today’s meeting could ask him whether what he has planned to increase Richmond’s student graduation rate will be similar to what was done under his watch in DC.

ray 02/10/2018 at 9:22 AM

Come on, Gustavo!

Why would anyone waste their valuable time when it’s obvious this is just a sales job for the tax increase? It’s not like they are going to change their position on the issue just because some citizens express an opposing position — their minds are already made up and they have made their pro tax increase positions publicly known!

Better to vent here than at a meeting where everyone would just get more pissed off!

Gustavo S. 02/10/2018 at 3:10 PM

@ray all right all right. I hear you. It’s important to vent. I’m just leery of venting without action. We have this social media wall that separates us from the reality that your contributions are important but only when you, as a constituent, make yourself be heard.

@lanny I do apologize if you felt scolded. However, this doesn’t and won’t change the fact that inaction never started a change. Unless you (and I mean all of us) show up and build relationships and start having real conversations we won’t get anywhere.

lanny 02/10/2018 at 2:46 PM

It occurs to me, without having to think about it very much, that there won’t be many anti-tax people at today’s hastily called meeting because many of the anti-tax people are probably at work trying to keep their restaurants afloat.

Restaurant work is laborious and time consuming; and with very short advance notice about the meeting, scheduling coverage in order to be able to walk away from the work place to attend a meeting was probably next to impossible.

Perhaps “writing a comment on a website is actually the least you can do;” and might have been instead all they were able to do…although there were only 3 complaining comments to have warranted such a scolding.

The last comment was not so much an anti-tax complaint as a flare raised about the new superintendent’s work history and what it might portend for RPS.

Bill Hartsock 02/10/2018 at 8:58 PM

Gustavo, we all appreciate the fact that you have picked up the baton from John and have run with this site. John, however, stayed clear of the conversation unless it became very angry and offensive. You have interjected yourself in the conversations more than he ever did. Give some thought to staying more above the noise and being the great arbiter that John was.

Gustavo S. 02/10/2018 at 9:22 PM

@bill thanks for the feedback. This almost reads to me as ‘be quiet’ though since I’ve only responded to three comments ever in the site. One of the ways I admired John is exactly for being above the noise but he learned along the way to find that balance. We all have our voices and styles. It is important to me to encourage action as long as we continue to be respectful of each other’s opinions.

Jacob C. 02/10/2018 at 9:56 PM

I think the point that Gustavo is making, which is a very valid one, is that we can’t become so jaded that it keeps us from being a part of the process. Our goals as editors are to educate people, facilitate constructive conversation, and to make people aware of the avenues they have to voice their opinions one way or the other. This was one of those opportunities. It’s an opportunity to make more than a simple post on social media that has limited impact and to actually go and speak to the people that are proposing these changes and leading our government. If you don’t try to make your voice heard when given the opportunity then you’re refusing to contribute to the process. It’s like someone that constantly complains about government but never votes.

Vanessa 02/10/2018 at 9:52 PM

@Bill and @ Gustavo, I am not trying to speak for my friend and partner here, but I do want to say that I know this man very well and the reason he decided to take on this challenge is because of his passion and love for the Church Hill Community. Sometimes our passion will come out stronger than intended and can be misunderstood if you are not familiar with each other. I hope over the upcoming months you all get to know us as a team and individually better just as we will get to know you. Our team wants to do right by John’s legacy and keep nourishing his creation. There will be growing pains along the way. And we will not always do things the way he did. That maybe a struggle at times, but other times it might be something exciting and beautiful, the way change tends to be.

lanny 02/10/2018 at 11:26 PM

#8 – Good grief…what happens on this site isn’t important enough for me to “feel scolded.” My action on CHPN is the least of my action on issues like a new tax.

HW 02/11/2018 at 8:42 AM

I don’t want to put words in folks mouths, but early comments seem to be commenting on a shift in the nature of CHPN from strictly news to more editorial. I cant recall John chiming in that wasnt to document/clarify a point of fact or enforce a rule. If readers can expect a mix of both news and editorial going forward, perhaps that should be clarified. To the post, the hosts welcomed and encouraged candid remarks, but only a former councilperson had much to say in the negative. I’ll say, the speakers werent terribly prepared to speak to specifics

ray 02/11/2018 at 8:51 AM

I think Gustavo is doing a good job and I appreciate the way he handles issues on CHPN. He’s got a “light touch” which I think is a good thing.

Dubois2 02/11/2018 at 11:17 AM

Generally @8-13,
The conversation that happens on CHPN matters. It’s not the US Senate but it’s also not yelling in the shower.

Re moderators, passion aside, there’s nothing about being critical here that precludes other actions, so how about we all simply work to advance this conversation here, rather than talking ABOUT it. And. It’s hard to be a gladiator and a referee at the same time, and we do need refereeing every now and then. Just a thought.

For myself, in my personal life I am an active person; I attend meetings when I can, and find other, often more meaningful, ways to be involved in the civic life of my neighborhood . Re CHPN, I appreciate the knowledge and perspectives of other commentators, even when we are mutually critical. And it is a good forum to help me grow my understanding of some of the more complex aspects of issues like the meals tax. I’d rather not see the dissenting voices step back.
And lastly, a word about jaded commentary…. I’ve learned a lot from some of the more jaded commentators here. City politics seems often governed by logics that have little to do with ideals, and not every last-minute community meeting is an honest attempt to foster understanding or solicit citizen input, and attending may, at times be less impactful than making a web post and a couple of phone calls.

Anyway, dear triumvirate: growing pains or what have you, we appreciate your work. Now can we get back to the issues?

Mary 02/12/2018 at 12:10 AM

#14 – “the speakers werent terribly prepared to speak to specifics”

Thanks for a very good summation of a typical 7th district meeting.

Jason S 02/12/2018 at 4:43 PM

Y’all might be taking yourselves too seriously. Gustavo can feel and say anything he wants here, same as you. I wish folks on here could get as worked up about helping our schools as they do about their sensitive ass feelings. What he’s saying isn’t even controversial or confrontational. Toughen up and listen to what he’s saying: Action speaks louder than your blustery internet fuming.


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