School funding and accreditation are some of the troubling issues on the minds of Richmond, Virginia parents, which will likely come up during the June 14 town hall meeting. The meeting is part of a four-city tour called Saving Tomorrow, Today: Redeveloping Our Community Schools.
NBC News reported in April that the local school board is considering shutting down eight schools. The savings, an estimated $3 million, would help close the school district’s $18 million budget shortfall.
The plan is causing uproar among parents, who say it’s unfair to uproot their children over budget choices.
NBC interviewed parent Jenny Aghomo, who urged local lawmakers to rethink their budget priorities:
“I think that [the mayor] needs to find a way to come up with the money for RPS. I think that funding the (Washington) Washington Football Team (football) training camp… some of these things that he feels are a priority… are actually not in the best interests of anybody in Richmond.”
At the same time, schools in the district have accreditation challenges.
The Virginia Department of Education announced in October that just 17 of the city’s 45 public schools earned full accreditation, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The department denied accreditation to two schools: Martin Luther King Jr. Middle and Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts. School board officials are required to create a plan to improve the schools, The Times-Dispatch reported.
Meanwhile, public schools across the state are under scrutiny for a pattern of bias in school suspensions.
Suspended Progress, a newly released joint report by the JustChildren Program and the Legal Aid Justice Center, adds more evidence to the chorus decrying racial disparities in school discipline and calling for change.
Although African-American students comprise 23 percent of Virginia’s student population, they represented 58 percent of short-term suspensions, 60 percent of long-term suspensions, and 55 percent of expulsions.
At the same time, Black students were on average nearly four times more likely to be suspended than White students.
The town hall meeting is organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, and the University of Phoenix. It begins at 6 p.m. at Mount Olivet Church, located at 1223 North 25th Street in Richmond.