RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — After hours of debate and bickering, the Richmond School Board 5-4 against the rezoning of River City Middle School.
According to the RPS administration, when the college first opened to students in the fall of 2021, it had over 1,500 students enrolled although it was originally built to accommodate around 1,300 students. The administration says the school is expected to have more than 1,600 students enrolled by fall 2022 unless it is rezoned to reduce overcrowding.
A separate committee has been set up to look at options, including moving some students to Lucille Brown, Binford or Boushall Middle Schools.
If the rezoning is fully implemented next year, the four schools are expected to use about 75% of their operating capacity. The remaining 25% would be used to accommodate future growth after rezoning.
- Binford Middle School – 74%
- Boushall College – 74%
- Lucille Brown High School – 76%
- River City High School – 78%
If the rezoning went through Binford Middle School, which is currently zoned as an open enrollment school, it would be rezoned so that 50 students from River City would be guaranteed places at the school. But members opposed to a proposal say rezoning would only negatively impact district-wide transportation issues and eliminate parents’ choice of schools.
“As this council defended choice including at the elementary level relevant to the virtual academy and the high school level versus especially schools and governor schools, we would be decimating open enrollment in colleges. I said that’s precisely what rezoning would do,” said board member Jonathan Young.
Proponents of transportation rezoning and school choice are used to justify why River City students should not have places at other colleges.
“We sit here and talk about fairness, fairness, fairness, but when fairness hits the face, it’s a problem,” Dawn Paige said. “The ugly leader of classroom racism comes up every time we talk about young children, and we talk about families who work hard every day to make sure their kids get a world-class education.”
Despite the administration’s recommendations that rezoning was the best option to reduce overcrowding in River City, the council voted 5 to 4 against rezoning.
An emotional Jason Kamras didn’t hold back on his criticism of the move, saying not only had the board ignored its responsibility to the community, but it likely wouldn’t get a chance to address the overcrowding until another year.
“It is unconscionable for us to open River City next year with 1,600 students. It will be dangerous and it will be a breach of our collective duty to our students,” Kamras said.
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