RICHMOND, Va. – The time for Band-aids has ended, it is time for “real surgery.”
That is how Richmond Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden responded to criticism that city schools lack resources for success and keep teachers and students in less than ideal learning environments.
“The five-year plan we’ve submitted to the city is trying to sustain and make functional the buildings we have right now, until we come up with a comprehensive plan that gets to which buildings are appropriate to renovate or which buildings need replacement,” Bedden said in an interview scheduled to air Wednesday afternoon on CBS 6 News.
The issues do not end with school buildings. Nearly half of the city’s school buses are in bad shape, according to the city auditor. In response to the auditor’s report, Dr. Bedden said Richmond will have 60 new school buses this fall. Bedden admitted it would take more time to replace the entire 200-bus fleet.
“It’s a hole that we’re trying to dig ourselves out of,” he said. “It’s just like the facilities. You got millions and millions of dollars worth of neglect over years.”
Bedden said he planned to dispatch more resource officers in schools and that he supported random weapons checks, hand-held metal detectors and the use police dogs in classroom and school bus searches.
“No one thing by itself is the answer,” he said. “But at the end of the day, a lot of things that happen in schools, someone already knew about it.”
Bedden said he planned to hire more translators and bilingual staff members to help combat low graduation rates among Spanish-speaking students. Only 49-percent of Hispanic students graduate “on time,” according to the Virginia Department of Education.