Parents and students sound off on proposal to close city high school

Posted on: 7:10 pm, March 29, 2013, by

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–At the historic Saint John’s church, the remains of George Wythe are laid to rest but across the river, there’s unrest over the school that bears his name.

“I don’t want it to shut down.  I don’t want to go nowhere else,” said Tiara Bruce, a sophomore at George Wythe High.

“I already have friends and just going into a new environment,” said Bruce, “it’s going to be difficult for me. “

George Wythe is one of three possible schools on the list slated for closure.  School leaders say it would help RPS close an $11 million budget shortfall.

The proposal calls for moving George Wythe students to the new Huguenot high school, but Bruce worries it would cause neighborhood rifts.

“They don’t like certain people that live in certain areas and stuff like that,” she said.

One parent couldn’t agree more.

“With the new Huguenot coming, if we don’t change the mindset of the young folks or the people in the community.  Then, the neighborhood school will become a hood school within a year,” said Charles Willis.

“No decision has been made.  I want to make that clear,” said Shonda Harris-Muhammad, 6th District School Board member.

Shonda Harris-Muhammad was a teacher at Armstrong high when it merged with John F. Kennedy several years ago.  They faced a number of challenges during that time.

I asked her, is she concerned over neighborhood rivalries if George Wythe and Huguenot high merge?

“I could see how we could prepare that process to run smoother.  But at the end of the day whatever happens,” said Harris-Muhammad, “families have to be educated.”

But Tiara Bruce says she wants to be educated in a school that feels like home.

“I don’t want to move out of my school because I’m so used to it,” said Bruce.

Harris-Muhammad tells CBS 6, school leaders want to expand Huguenot’s capacity so that George Wythe students can attend a new school with better resources.

School Board member Kim Gray says that would cost more than $30 million and she’s against the idea.

Richmond School Board members will discuss the process at its next meeting on April 8.