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Mayor Levar Stoney and Richmond School Board continue fight over rebuilding George Wythe

school hallway
This file photo is of a hallway in the current George Wythe High School, which has been slated for replacement since 2017. (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM News)

Updated with a statement from school board member Kenya Gibson

At his weekly press conference today, Mayor Levar Stoney continued his criticism of  the Richmond Public School Board, calling the body “dysfunctional.”

Monday night, the school board voted to transfer $2 million from the Capital Improvement Plan in order  to begin construction of George Wythe High School, a project originally planned for completion next year. 

“From what I have seen and heard from last night, the school board is out of compliance,” Stoney said. “They have neither the authority or ability to move dollars within the CIP... This is a demonstration of the dysfunction of the school board.” 

At Monday’s city council meeting, Stoney introduced an ordinance to transfer $7.3 million for the design of George Wythe. 

The school board has said they’d like to build a smaller school in order to save money on immediate construction costs. Stoney said he had “big reservations” about building a smaller school, because projected enrollment numbers suggest the school would be over capacity on day one. 

In a letter to city council, Stoney said he asked for data supporting the enrollment number and proof of community involvement in the board’s planning process. The school board responded with a letter pledging to reduce enrollment needs at George Wythe by building a new technical school they’d direct potential students to. 

Throughout this past summer,  Stoney and city council has written several letters to the school board  about the construction of George Wythe and claims they have gone unanswered. 

The ordinance will be brought in front of the planning commission committee on Nov. 15, and then to the entire council on Dec. 5. Stoney urged the council to ask the “tough questions gone unanswered by the majority of the school board.”

“It is clear to me that we will make no progress if we continue as we have for the last 7 months,”  Stoney said. “The majority of the school board have shown that they are not interested  in good faith, collaborative conversation about George Wythe High School.” 

After publication, VPM reached school board member Kenya Gibson, who responded with a statement accusing the mayor of overspending on previous school construction projects, and trying to distract the public with projects like the casino.

"While he's been trying to sell Richmond on a glitzy casino and holding press conferences to shame the a school board - we're moving forward. Despite his claims of delays and the road blocks he's created, we're about to award a design contract," she wrote.