Amid the chaos surrounding Richmond Public Schools (RPS) facilities, the capital city’s most desired elementary school will now be forced to have trailers outside on the street due to overcrowding. After a reported “administrative error” occurred, William Fox Elementary will now add even more students to its classroom as it is already bursting at the seams.
This week, 30 families were notified regarding an administrative error that has aggravated further overcrowding at The Fan District’s Fox Elementary School. According to RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras, the school was deemed to be over capacity and not able to accept “out-of-zone” students through open enrollment.
Now that school officials have honored their commitment to 29 accepted students for next school year, the School Board plans to put “temporary” trailers in the street at 2300 Hanover Avenue. Not exactly great for optics in one of Richmond’s most premier neighborhoods.
Scott Barlow, the Second District School Board member where Fox Elementary is located has said the situation is “unfortunate.”
“These families had the impression that they could apply, and due to an administrative error, they were told they were accepted,” he said. “It was an oversight that just wasn’t caught.”
He added, “Fox is already packed to the brim. It really isn’t feasible to bring in that many students without some adjustments.”
Last year, Fox Elementary had 115 applications compared to 105 at Mary Munford Elementary and 92 at Linwood Holton Elementary, making the 107-year-old institution the most sought-after primary school in Richmond.
There are around 500 students who currently attend the Fan-based school. According to Barlow, some students have to be taught in hallways to account for the cramped space.
In a report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a new kindergarten teacher at the school has to pull 15 students from other classes and teach them in a converted storage room. In light of the increased overcrowding, teachers and staff from Fox Elementary sent a letter to Kamras urging him to rescind the deal to the new incoming students, citing the lack of adequate classroom space.
“Because it is difficult to reach all the students in a large class, we are seeing more students in need of remediation,” the letter said. “We are less able to develop relationships with students or to tailor our teaching to meet individual needs and styles of learning.”
The letter further explained, “We recognize that it will be very difficult to tell families that their acceptance at Fox was in error and that families will be disappointed to hear this. However, Richmond Public Schools’ responsibility to its students is greater than the reluctance to disappoint those families who very briefly have benefited from this mistake.”
The Fox Elementary PTA has not commented on the situation, but Kristen Green, president of the PTA and mother of two students at the school claims class size is her main concern.
“They’ve had really big classes all the way through,” Green said. “We’re already over capacity.”
Part of the problem with Fox Elementary comes from previous School Board rezoning which now includes the nearby Museum District. However, The Fan’s premier primary school is not the only one in Richmond that is faced with overcrowding.
Broad Rock Elementary School on the city’s southside is overcrowded to the point that School Board officials have placed more than 20 modular classrooms and a modular lunchroom on the grounds.
The School Board is now pursuing a districtwide rezoning plan to mitigate the growing number of Richmond students in cramped classrooms.
School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page said Monday that the board is planning a district-wide rezoning program, which is nearly 40 years in the making. The start date has yet to be determined.