Richmond constituents discuss success of upcoming RPS plans

The Nov. 8 evening turnout provided opinions from Stoney, Berry and Morrissey voters on how each candidate will move Richmond Public Schools forward.

RICHMOND, Va.– The state of Richmond Public Schools (RPS) remains a top priority with the election of Levar Stoney as the city’s new mayor, and constituents of the other candidates remained steadfast on their views as the results surfaced Nov. 8.

Virginia Commonwealth University Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Ravi Perry said that Stoney’s success depends on his ability to convince City Council and the School Board that his plan will be the most beneficial.

“I think that it’s a good thing for the city that the one candidate that had the most comprehensive plan of public education, of RPS, is the candidate that won outright. That would suggest that Stoney has a mandate when it comes to education,” Perry said.

He also said Stoney’s Education Compact will unite the City behind education and end the trend of underfunding.

“If we can change that culture by reminding people that the success of the City of Richmond depends on the successful education of our youngest residents; if he can win in persuading the rest of Richmonders that that message is the message that will mend the city and be the greatest success in the long term, then he will be successful,” Perry said.

Stoney will strengthen schools through allocating funding for school programs and facilities, according to his published plan. He also will pioneer a strong relationship between City Council and the School Board in order to modernize RPS.

“I promise that I will be a mayor that listens to all of us, that will put the children of the city first, and will unite the city,” Stoney said Tuesday evening.

Stoney’s win was announced Nov. 9, almost a full 24 hours after polls closed. The outcome was surprising, as he was previously polling behind Morrissey and Berry.

“We are ecstatic and we are excited that we were able to have reason and a good plan for the City of Richmond prevail tonight, and we’re going to celebrate Levar’s victory,” Leah Walker, a Stoney supporter, said. “We’re ready to get to work.”

Supporters of fellow candidates Berry and Morrissey expressed Nov. 8 why their candidate was the best choice for revitalizing RPS.

Ashley Gallienne is a Berry supporter and teacher at an independent school in the City of Richmond, and says that facilities, among other reasons, are why she is concerned about RPS.

“I do have two children, and at this point they don’t go to Richmond City Public Schools,” Gallienne said. “We feel like there’s definitely some work that needs to be done to make the system better.”

Berry campaign staff member Andrea Lions said that no matter the outcome of the election, funding must remain the top priority for RPS.

“Jack has said time and time again […] that public schools, our schools, deserve the first dollar, not the last,” Lions said. “As mayor, you are not elected to the School Board. You are not Superintendent. Your job as mayor is to provide funding.”

Joe Morrissey conceded the election before Tuesday night ended, stating that he will focus on family and his law practice and congratulated his opponents. Former 3rd District School Board candidate Kevin Starlings and Morrissey supporter and said that a Morrissey win would have greatly benefitted RPS.

“If we can have somebody, honestly, that it is in a place to manage and run a city regardless of where you live and really give you what you need, then I’m all for it,” Starlings said.