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Some Richmond School Board members find improvement plan ‘irresponsible’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond School Board Chair Dawn Page called it "the will of the board" after she and four colleagues voted to approve a nearly $225 million plan to upgrade Richmond's crumbling public schools.

"This has been an ongoing conversation for years, and the time is now, it's time to stop kicking the can down the road," Page said.

Included in the plan, submitted by the Interim Richmond Superintendent Tommy Kranz, were the following items:

Rebuilding
Greene Elementary School

George Mason Elementary School

Woodville Elementary School

Elkhardt-Thompson Middle School

George Wythe High School

Renovating
Fairfield Elementary School

Francis Elementary School

But not everybody on the board is happy with the decision.

"I think yesterday constituted a retreat on responsible government," Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young said.

Young, along with board members Scott Barlow and Linda Owen voted against the plan.

Jonathan Young

Young said the plan should have include consolidating and closing schools.

"For one, we had an opportunity to rightsize our school district, reduce our footprint, and do something that was responsible specifically to our capital outlay and we did none of those things," Young said.

Both Young and Barlow called voting before the public had a chance to review the plan and comment on it irresponsible.

Scott Barlow

"Members of the public should reasonably expect that they have the opportunity to review a plan before we vote on it and they weren't given that opportunity," Barlow said.

Even Mayor Levar Stoney weighed in on Twitter saying the public needs to be a part of the plan.

We took their concerns to Chairwoman Page.

"We have closed 17 schools since 2005, 17 schools have been closed, so over the years the board, we've done our work," she said.

Dawn Page

When asked about concerns over the lack of public comment, Page replied, "We've had opportunities for the public to provide input, and we will continue to allow the public to provide input."