RICHMOND, Va. -- There are 20 schools on the 2015 RPS Facilities Report that need major or complete renovations, but, right now, the more immediate need is renting modular classrooms and dining rooms to accommodate overcrowding at some schools on the city’s Southside.
Broad Rock Elementary School is just three years old, but sitting in the school’s field used for playtime are 12 modular classrooms.
A dozen more are under construction, along with a modular dining room, for the upcoming school year.
RPS parent Sakiti Sistrun says she doesn’t think the classrooms are safe.
“For safety reasons and that type of thing, I would prefer to have them in the schools,” Sistrun said.
The school holds 650 kids, but School Board Member Kim Gray said enrollment for this coming school year is up to roughly 1,000 children.
“It’s a large number of Latino students,” Gray said.
And, Broad Rock isn’t alone.
Several other schools on the Southside are seeing an explosion in enrollment.
Greene Elementary now has 19 modulars and a dining modular. Reid has eight, Francis has eight, and Elkhardt has three.
“I think what’s happening is more families per household and more young children are moving into the city,” Gray said.
Tommy Kranz, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services, said it costs roughly $100,000 annually to rent a dining modular, and roughly $10,000 annually to rent classroom modular.
That means it’s costing roughly $820,000 for the upcoming school year to rent the modular, plus additional expenses.
“The real expense is when we make these connections with the utilities, these connections for example at Broad Rock on the 12 classroom additions and the modular dining room is a half a million dollars,” Kranz said.
Kranz admits some schools in other parts of the city are not full, but says rezoning would be difficult because where the seats are located and where the students are located don’t match.
Making matters worse, the terrible conditions of so many schools in the system.
“The buildings are falling apart,” Kranz said.
Kranz said RPS should receive 16 million dollars annually to maintain its schools, but for the past decade it only received 6 million dollars annually.