School Board votes to close Clark Springs, move forward with rezoning

On Monday, the Richmond School Board voted 5-4 to move forward with a plan for elementary school rezoning and school closings.


The Richmond School Board voted 5-4 to move forward with a plan for elementary school rezoning and school closings. The closings were first agreed upon in February as part of a means of closing a deficit of almost $12 million.

Under the new plan, Clark Springs Elementary School, the building housing the Adult Career Development Center (ACDC), and the old Norrell Elementary building (currently hosting a somewhat controversial pre-k program) will be shuttered. The Clark Springs students will be rezoned to a few different elementary schools, with John B. Cary Elementary receiving the majority of them. The ACDC students may end up at the Tech Center, and the pre-k students will move to Mary Scott until the new MLK building is finished.


While Cary receives students from Clark Springs, the Museum District will be rezoned from Cary Elementary to Fox Elementary. The rezoning will also change the draw zones for elementary schools in the East End and the Southside. Under this rezoning plan (Plan C), Westover Hills Elementary School will become more of a neighborhood school for the area around Forest Hill Park; schools further south will also be impacted.

Creating racially isolated school, even with the best intentions, is a step backward.Kimberly Allen (President, Richmond NAACP)

This was the 2nd of two public hearings scheduled on the proposal. More than 200 people crowded City Council chambers for the hearing, with more than 40 initially lining up to speak. The entirety of the speakers were in opposition to the proposal, including Kimberly Jones (President, Clark Springs PTA) who threatened Jeff Bourne and Derik Jones with a recall. Speakers voiced concerns that the changes would make Richmond’s schools less racially and economically integrated and would be too disruptive. A crowd of maybe 130 people turned out last week for the first meeting at Thomas Jefferson High School.

This is not about a million dollars, this is something else…I’m not going to sit here and pretend that there is not an elephant in the roomShonda Harris-Muhammed (6th District)

Mamie Taylor (5th District) kicked off the discussion by proposing a motion to remove Clark Springs from the closure list and to delay any closures until 2014-2015 school year. The amendment failed 5-4.

The following discussion was both emotional and technical, delving into the specific cost savings per location and the difference between location and setting with regards to students receiving exceptional education services.

Voting in favor of the plan were Glen Sturtevant (1st), Kimberly Gray (2nd), Jeffrey Bourne (3rd), Kristen Larson (4th), and Derik Jones (8th). Mamie Taylor (5th), Donald Coleman (7th), Shonda Harris-Muhammed (6th), Tichi Pinkney Eppes (9th) voted against the proposal. Ms.Harris-Muhammed emotionally expressed her support for all of the people who had shown up to speak tonight, while Mr.Coleman made an appeal to unity and history in opposing the motion.

The Board then unanimously approved the rezoning Plan C after amendments by Larson and Pinkney-Eppes. The School Board approved an amendment by a 5-3 (Pinkney-Eppes abstaining) by swing vote Kristen Larson (4th) to amend the zoning in ways that would alleviate some concerns about the diversity of the new zones. Her change moves some students from Carver Elementary to Fox Elementary, keeps the area south of Cary Street in the Cary draw zone, and responded to parental concerns about moving students at elementary schools in Southside. The Board approved an amendment by Ms. Pinkney-Eppes on a 5-4 vote concerning the movement of students at Miles Jones, Redd, Fisher, and Southhampton Elementary Schools.

Before voting on the closing and rezoning, the Board voted to market and then declare as surplus the school district’s warehouse on Arlington Road. The property has been potentially valued at somewhere between $1.4 million to $9 million. The Board also voted to request that the City market other properties that have been previously declared as surplus, the sale of which would generated funds for the school system.

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clark springs sign


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Below is video of the complete public response period (with a few speakers lost between PART 1 and PART 2), as well as the School Board’s discussion of surplusing the Arlington Road warehouse, and the school closings and rezoning.







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6 comments on School Board votes to close Clark Springs, move forward with rezoning

  1. Byrd Park, Randolph, and Oregon Hill are still healing from the wounds created by the Downtown Expressway. Unfortunately for these neighborhoods, the new school zones re-open those old wounds.

  2. I have to wonder why there is such a hurry to get this done right now. Open enrollment families are now faced with uncertainty about where they’ll be enrolled with little time left for planning before the school next school year starts. Will there be a 2nd open enrollment process? If so, at what cost to the city? Will Patrick Henry Charter School participate in the 2nd open enrollment process as well?

  3. page h on said:

    Unfortunately, the board itself created the rush when its predecessors failed to complete rezoning last year and pushed it off to the current board. Regardless of which school was going to be closed, there were going to be upset feelings. The board has said that a new open enrollment process would be held. But I’m not sure how this effects all the people who were already assigned spots in the schools or who are on waiting lists.

  4. Susan Martin on said:

    What happens when they re-open open enrollment is that all the displaced children get at the back of the line. Out of zone kids are “grandfathered” while displaced children get at the back of the line, with 3 months notice. The previous board did rezone, they just didn’t close good schools – Bellevue, Fisher or Cary. And they shouldn’t have closed Clark Springs which is in the top third. And think about this: Jeff Bourne and the rest are fond of say “it’s about time we closed schools” when they don’t tell you they’ve been closing schools all down the line. The K-5 enrollment drop was 3% from 2003 to 2012. the number of elementary schools went from 32 to 28 (13% drop) from 2003 to 2012. AND in the past 4 years K-5 enrollment has SHOT UP by 5.7% – that’s about 623 students!!!! Not the time to close a decently performing elementary school. Something else is going on here.

  5. Susan Martin on said:
    This is the link to VDOE website for fall enrollment numbers.

  6. Mike Jasp on said:

    How is it possible that all out of zone kids are grandfathered?

    For example: Fox has low in-zone capacity but fills to the point of waitlist/lottery (because it is an awesome school with huge number of highly involved parents in a great neighborhood). Under the new zones, Fox adds the museum district. If all the out of zone kids that got in via open enrollment are grandfathered, and they fill to capacity with these kids and cant accomodate all the families that want to send their kids to Fox, how do they also accomodate /have room for the museum district kids in the existing classes? I see how it would be fine with each new K class…but not the existing class. Maybe that is how it works? Your kid stays were they are and the new zones apply to new classes from here on? Im not impacted by this but just very curious.

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