Frustrations, questions mount over George Wythe impasse

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Questions and frustrations continue to mount over the new George Wythe High School process.

Last week, city council failed to transfer $7.3 million in construction funds to the school board, leaving folks in the community wondering ‘what’s next?’

“We have waited and waited for decades and decades.. generations and generations… waiting on a new school,” Labarbara Jones, a George Wythe alum and Bulldog parent said. “They were supposed to rebuild in 2003, again in 2018, and now we’re here today and they cannot make an equitable decision.”

At the center of the debate is school size. The school board proposed a 1,600 seat school, while city council insists 2,000 seats are necessary to account for population growth in Richmond’s Southside.

School board member Jonathan Young claims an increase of 400 seats would cost the board an additional $16.4 million — money he believes could be used toward other schools.

In the absence of an agreement between both sides, the future of a new George Wythe still hangs in the balance.

Jones said it’s the students who are suffering in the meantime.

“Students haven’t been able to use lockers in over a decade because the lockers are full of rodents,” she said. “A lot of people assume that we’re asking for a new school because we don’t like it, because it’s old. I have a student who went there, I’m an alum…been there day to day… that school is in shambles.” 

As far as what’s next, the topic could resurface in July when it’s time to consider the city’s budget. However, Mayor Levar Stoney believes a compromise can be reached.

“We all want to build a school. We all want to build the best damn school we can for these kids. And right now the adults seem to be in disagreement,” Mayor Stoney said during a briefing Wednesday. “But I truly do believe that compromise is possible. And so you’re going to, in the coming days, see more from the administration on how we reach that compromise.”

“I am not going to give up on the students over at George Wythe, on the staff and the educators over at George Wythe,” Stoney added.

“We just need to drop all the politics and focus how we best…on the best way to do that”

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