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How population estimates could be holding up George Wythe funding

WTVR CBS 6
WTVR CBS 6
 2022-04-01
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RICHMOND, Va. -- The back and forth continues between the Richmond School board and the Richmond council over what the correct projection of population will be for Richmond’s Southside.

It’s a situation contributing to holding up the release of funding to rebuild George Wythe High School.

The cracks and crumbling facility are why Richmond’s George Wythe High School is said to be a priority for all city and school board leaders. However, it’s the prediction of how many students will fill these seats that are stalling the process. Members of both the city council and the school board can’t agree on that number. The majority of the school board voted in favor of a 1,600 capacity.

While many city members are in favor of 2,000 capacity.

Those are in favor of the 2,000 number base it on the following projections of numbers that show continued growth in Richmond.

A Cooper Center projection that analyzed the 2010 census said it predicts the Richmond area will continue to grow. An American Community Survey that surveys yearly sees a similar trajectory of increased growth.

“The city of Richmond has increased its population and that’s a trend we’ve seen that is different than in the past,” Tom Shields, University of Richmond’s Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, said.

Those who are arguing for the 2,000 capacity also cite a study by the firm Cropper that was contracted by the district in 2019.

This study predicted that George Wythe would have 1,741 students in the fall of 2026. It is also predicted for the school to have 110% of the 1,401 current capacity for the 2021-2022 school year. That’s 1,541 students.

In reality, officials say George Wythe's current enrollment is close to 1,300, nearly a 200 person difference from what the firm projected for the year.

School board members like Jonathan Young, who supports the build for 1,600 students, say they want to use the real data over a projection that is already off. He also wants to see the roughly 2,500 vacant seats in high schools in the city utilized before they spend more money creating more space.

At this time, it’s unclear when a decision will be made on capacity. The school board is set to meet again in April

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