Three Richmond leaders are calling on Gov. Terry McAuliffe to champion the school modernization proposal that will be on the Nov. 7 ballot in the city.
Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, local lawyer Paul Goldman and Richmond Crusade for Voters President Bernice Travers sent a letter to the governor Friday urging him to not only vote yes on the proposal, but to endorse it.
“We see the School Modernization ballot issue as a way to put Richmond at the forefront of this issue, committed not only as a locality on a local issue, but also to show our leaders that the crumbling nature of the nation’s K-12 infrastructure is an issue facing cities coast (to) coast,” the letter reads.
A Richmond Circuit Court judge ruled in mid-August that a change to the city charter would appear on the ballot in November for all city voters. The proposal would require Mayor Levar Stoney to present the City Council with a plan to modernize Richmond Public School facilities without a tax increase. Stoney must come up with a plan within six months if the plan passes.
Many Richmond city schools, notably George Mason Elementary School, have been left with serious infrastructure problems because of deferred maintenance. Some teachers at George Mason, for example, wear surgical masks because of the poor air quality in the building.
At a news conference Friday in front of City Hall, they spoke to the poor conditions in Richmond schools while encouraging leaders to get behind the modernization proposal.
“This is not a political issue. It’s a moral issue,” Loupassi said. “It is a moral issue when teachers have to teach children with masks on.”
Goldman, a partner at Morrissey & Goldman LLC law firm in Highland Springs and a Democratic strategist, said it’s encouraging to see that the governor wants to help schools, but the problem extends beyond Richmond.
During a radio appearance on WRVA in Richmond on Thursday, McAuliffe said funding Richmond schools is more important than taking down Confederate monuments.
“If I’m the mayor of Richmond or I’m on the City Council, I’m facing a tough decision,” the governor said. “Do I spend, I don’t know, five, 10 million dollars taking something down. When I got schools. I tell you, my first priority’s got to be schools.”
The mayor hasn’t taken a stance on the charter change that would require him to create the modernization plan.
Said Goldman: “People have to stand up and tell their leaders sometimes: ‘You’ve got to do this.’ It’s not about politics. It’s about the community.”