Richmond Community Schools’ aging buildings need repairs that will not be “a cheap undertaking,” administrators say.

During their Dec. 13 meeting, Chief Operations Officer Karen Scalf presented potential facilities and building operation upgrades, and Jamie Bolser, who oversees human resources and finances, discussed financial options. 

Scalf said goals are to enhance learning environments, update dated facilities and infrastructure, improve security features, and positively impact neighborhoods, parking and traffic flow. 

Karen Scalf

One of the largest expenses would be Hibberd Program Building repairs for approximately $8-$10 million or basic rebuilding for $10-$14 million.

Some priorities include $3.5 million for heating/cooling at Dennis Intermediate and $1.2 million at Baxter, $1 million to replace Richmond High School’s library and art wing roof, and a roof at Test Intermediate, cost to be determined.  

Scalf said tower/exterior facade masonry and roofing on Fairview Elementary’s tower is essential in the next 6 to 9 months and will cost $500,000 to $700,000.  

Some other projects include updating applied skills facilities, public address systems, new security camera systems, RHS lockers, asphalt improvements and updating playgrounds across the district. 

The board will aim to narrow its project list and discuss cost implications at its 5:30 p.m. Jan. 10 work session. 

Teachers’ union president retires

A settlement has been approved with longtime teacher and Richmond Education Association President Kelley McDermott, who retired from Richmond Community Schools effective Dec. 1.  

The board approved McDermott’s retirement without discussion as part of a list of several personnel matters during the Dec. 13 meeting. 

McDermott had been a social studies teacher at Dennis Middle School. She worked for RCS for more than 30 years.  

In addition, McDermott, the REA and Richmond Community Schools officials had met and resolved all legal claims regarding McDermott’s contract cancellation and the Unfair Labor Practice Complaint that McDermott and the REA filed on Aug. 15. 

Superintendent Curtis Wright asked RCS’ board to approve a settlement agreement and general release. That vote was unanimous.

The agreement/release were to have taken effect Nov. 29 between RCS, REA and McDermott in her individual capacity and as REA president.

WWN attempted to reach McDermott for a comment before press time.  

After the meeting, the board met in executive session to discuss a job performance evaluation of individual employees and scheduled a special Dec. 18 meeting to discuss Wright’s proposed 5% salary increase for administrative staff.  

Equity policy

Debbie Carter and the Rev. Ron Chappell, representing Richmond Education Association’s Racial Equity Commission, encouraged RCS’ board to prioritize implementation of an equity policy. 

They believe that policy would help make sure the district’s policies and guidelines are inclusive and consider diversity.  

They asked board members and residents to attend a community forum about that policy from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, at Morrisson-Reeves Library, 80 N. Sixth St. 

They said standardized testing confirms students of color, those who have disabilities, who are transient and/or in lower-income families are all underperforming in every category in all grade levels, and addressing those issues will help all RCS students.

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A version of this article appeared in the December 20 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.