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Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)


Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras has promised that Huguenot High School will have a new gym floor at the start of next school year.

The superintendent made the commitment Thursday night at a community meeting at Lucille M. Brown Middle School in the southwest part of the city. Asked by a Huguenot student what he would do about the gym floor and other infrastructure issues at the school, Kamras said he'd convene those involved in the building of the school and get a replacement.

Huguenot, which opened in January 2015 as a replacement of a 45-year-old building, was called the "Taj Mahal of high schools in the state of Virginia" by then-Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. Soon after it opened, it experienced major issues.

Air conditioning units gave out. Elevators got stuck. Those issues have been addressed, but school division leaders are still puzzled by the gym floor.

Water damage has made the floor unusable, despite the school being just three years old, and the cause of the problem is still unknown. The school's sports teams were forced to play at other schools and physical education classes are held in basement hallways and classrooms.

The school's boys basketball team still won Region 4B this year and made it to the state semifinals. They were honored at Monday night's School Board meeting, along with two other RPS basketball teams.

"Imagine what they could have done with a gym floor," said Jonathan Young, the school's representative on the School Board, during the brief ceremony.

If the new superintendent keeps his word, they will next year.

The division has just $900,000 to spend on general maintenance and repairs this year and is slated to receive $1.6 million in the city's capital budget for next year outside of new construction, a figure $30 million less than what the School Board asked for.

Education advocates and school system officials pushed for more money, mostly through a cigarette tax that was projected to generate $5.3 million for school maintenance. The proposal failed, though, leaving RPS short $30 million for its estimated maintenance needs.

Of the division's 3,259 open work orders, 90 come from Huguenot, according to a list of the work orders obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch through a Freedom of Information Act request. 649-6012Twitter: @jmattingly306

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May 5, 2018


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