Thursday, November 01, 2007

Build Schools Now! Take Education OFF the Back Burner in RVA

Hey BLOGGERS! YOU ARE INVITED. In lieu of local MSM coverage of this grassroots mobiliation, your attention is sorely needed. COVER THIS CAMPAIGN KICKOFF aimed at breaking up the power-struggle in City Hall and demanding that Richmond's elected officials start prioritizing public education. Please read the following press release for specifics. Big things are on the horizon for the Build Schools Now! coalition and YOU ARE INVITED to spread the word and participate in this community mandate.


News Release

NOVEMBER 5, 2007 - CITY HALL - 5:15PM
Contact: Art Burton (804)467-6408

Richmond City Council of PTA outlined the BUILD SCHOOLS NOW initiative prior to the regularly scheduled School Board meeting today.

The BUILD SCHOOLS NOW initiative was born in response to the letter written by the business community calling for the elimination of the elected school board and is the people’s cry to leadership to end fighting and finger pointing and make a capital investment in public education.

The BUILD SCHOOLS NOW initiative is the creation of a coalition to begin a public movement on behalf of the children in Richmond City Public Schools that calls for the groundbreaking and development of new schools as the first phase towards enhancing the public school system. On November 5, 2007, at 5:15pm you are invited to come and meet the organizational and community leaders of this coalition. At this press conference we will share details of our plans to end political in-fighting and advance educational opportunities for our children and move this city towards a new vision for public education.

We are calling on the leadership of this city to make good on its promises. These promises began as early as 2001 with the Facility Study conducted by the RPS system, in addition to the City of the Future plan developed in 2006, by the Mayor and City Administration. To date all promises have gone unfulfilled. Phase One of BUILD SCHOOLS NOW provides for new and improved facilities beginning with the following:

A. New Fulton Elementary School - the 2001 Facility Study showed over 300 students attending elementary schools live in the Fulton areas, and if an elementary school were built in that community, many of these students would attend that community school.

B. New Huguenot High School - addresses the issues of the lack of high quality middle and high schools to reverse the negative trend of losing middle class families from public schools after elementary school.

C. New Summerhill and Broad Rock Elementary Schools - addresses the issue of out-dated school buildings and shifting population south of the river.
D. Richmond Technical Center - addresses the business community need to have high school graduates who are prepared to enter the workforce.

These locations were largely selected as a result of the Facility Study recommendations; however, being aware of the recent draft Facility Study provided to the School Board which gives consideration to other schools and considering necessary funding, the BUILD SCHOOLS NOW initiative includes necessary flexibility to address the most important needs for all students and what should be the most reasonable course of action.

The BUILD SCHOOLS NOW initiative also has two other critical components that should be introduced in the beginning phase. These two components are:

1. Local School Councils - individuals should be selected from local unit PTAs, parents, community leaders, business leaders, school board, school administrators and teachers, and city officials to provide a voice for all stakeholders during the creation and implementation of projects relating to new school facilities, including; but not limited to, the building design and identification of curriculums and programs.
2. Fiduciary Control Board - individuals selected from the same groups as identified in item 1 to have the responsibility of financial accountability to allow for a third-party check and balance system.

The BUILD SCHOOLS NOW initiative opens the door for collaboration between all stakeholders committed to ensuring a 21st Century public education system that allows equal access and success for all children in the city of Richmond. To do any good for the public education system we must have a clear and specific discussion of the only things that really matter - children and classrooms. No plan to improve the schools can succeed without input from the parents - and parents must be included from the beginning.

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