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Richmond Schools hope for bold, transformational plan after SOL failures

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–Back in August Richmond Public School Board members called the district’s latest standardized test scores “staggering” and “unacceptable”.

Now school leaders in Richmond are racing against the school year clock to try and  to design a better system of learning, to rescue fast sinking scores; Richmond was listed as having nearly 12 of the lowest performing schools in the state.

“This is not a children problem, it’s an adult problem,” said Jeff Bourne, RPS School Board Chair.

Monday night interim Superintendent Jon Lewis brought  his plan for turning the SOL failures around to the school board’s table.

“This plan tonight is the first step, it’s a foundation for what I think will be transformational,” said Lewis.

The transformational plan comes after Richmond only had 13 of its 44 schools fully accredited this year.

RPS had nearly a dozen schools that ranked among the most low performing statewide. Lewis believes better student attendance is a key point,  so is holding on to better teachers, and scheduling more time in classrooms instead of at activities.

“Student achievement is priority number one, student attendance is one of the ways we get there,” said Lewis.

Several board members say the basics are good but think it’s going to take bolder steps to correct a problem of this size.

“There’s going to have to be some turnover in our staff and our administration and I think we’re going to have to make some tough decisions,” said Kim Gray, RPS board member.

While speaking about staff changes we  asked Lewis who had always planned on being temporary if after earning the respect of several board members and many members of the Richmond public, if there’s a chance he might stay on permanently.

He told us at this point he’s not a candidate and hopes Rps is able to find someone who can make a long term commitment to the district.

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