All it took on Tuesday night was hearing that work on a football field at John Marshall H.S. was going to be scuttled because of a lack of funds, and all "you know what" broke loose.
The public was made aware of widespread deficiencies in funding for athletics district-wide. During the meeting, school board members debated the merits of pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the one athletic field at John Marshall H.S. as opposed to spending additional millions in upgrades at other schools.
Richmond Sports Backers gave a detailed report on the state of physical education facilities and the paltry offerings available to city students. A report was also given by interim Superintendent Jonathan Lewis about a 2011 study that detailed nearly $8 million in necessary upgrades if the city wants its four old high schools to offer the same level of amenities that will be in the new Huguenot High School.
Shonda Harris-Muhammed of the 6th District said that installing a synthetic turf field at John Marshall just does not sit well. She went on to say, “I don’t think we have the money. I don’t know where we’re going to get it from when we have so many different things we need to do.”
Harris-Muhammed is to be commended for standing up and speaking the obvious at this time. The school board does not have the money for what could be considered a frivolous addition at this time.
And it's important to remember that the city has 12 schools languishing in the bottom five percent of schools across the state in accountability and poor performance on the SOL's.
Sports Backers Executive Director Jon Lugbill said he hoped his group could help make PE “about physical activity.” And he is to be commended for offering the time and talents of Sports Backers in this way. This is the time to join forces in a common goal, and that goal is and will always be the education of our children.