Richmond Public school students go before board to discuss concerns

RICHMOND, VA. –A group of Richmond Public School students stood before the Richmond School Board, shoulder to shoulder, as they spoke of the many problems found within the city schools.

Their concerns ranged from wanting better technology and improved school lunches, to the substandard conditions in school buildings; some would like to see many of the schools simply rebuilt.

“Rebuild it so students aren’t worried that something’s going to fall on them in class, or can’t concentrate on their school work which is most important,” said student Sarah Johnson.

The students said they’re looking to hold the school board accountable for improving school conditions.

Vice-Chair Kristen Larson said the students’ concerns are valid.

“Last year we had half- million dollars to maintain 46 schools –that is nowhere near close to what we need, ” said Larson.

Students spoke of heating and air units that don’t work, insect and rodent problems. They also told the board their schools don’t appear to have enough maintenance personnel.

Larson said because of  the glaring problems that were recently brought to their attention, a facilities task force was created, and is presently working to address many of the problems raised by the students.

She says students should know that the half-million dollar maintenance budget jumps to seven million dollars starting July 1 and many needed repairs will take place this summer at several public schools.

Larson says the students’ efforts aren’t in vain. “It will really make a difference and will have an impact on the way I make decisions on these topics.”

The Mayor’s Youth Academy Program Director said the students are learning a very valuable lesson out of this experience.

“Learning that at any age you can advocate for what’s important for you,” Walker said. “We give them the platform, but really it’s their voice that leads the way.”

School board members commended the students for their very professional presentation about school concerns. They said now some of the students will be asked to step in as student representatives on the school board’s Facilities Task Force.



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