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Board votes not to close Richmond school with ‘unacceptable conditions’

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RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond School Board members voted to fix, rather than replace, George Mason Elementary. That maintenance will be scheduled before the start of the upcoming school year, despite calls from some to replace the city school with a new one.

At Monday’s School Board meeting, school administration voted to complete the recommended maintenance and agreed to conduct monthly indoor air quality tests to “ensure the safety of students and staff.”

This comes one week after fed-up George Mason parents and teachers demanded a new school. They talked about mice, leaking air conditioners, falling ceiling tiles, overflowing toilets, the perpetual smell of natural gas and heat, and air conditioning units not working.

At Monday’s meeting, new George Mason principal Rose Ferguson told the School Board that the conditions at school “are unacceptable.”

Last week, Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz said there was no evidence of natural gas in the building and environmental experts deemed the school safe.

School administration recommended building a new school adjacent to the current one, which would cost the city between $22-35 million.

The School Board voted to make the East End school a priority for next school year. School leaders will present a new proposal at an October 16 meeting. School leaders say they would do everything in their power to work with Richmond City Council to find funding to build a new school.