End the paralysis

8/4/2017, 9:53 a.m.

Once again, we have turned our Richmond public schoolchildren and their parents into beggars.

This time, it’s about the sickening conditions at George Mason Elementary School in the East End.

At recent School Board hearings, including one on Monday, teachers talked about brushing mouse dropping off desks in the morning before students arrive; students being displaced from their classroom for two weeks during SOL preparation because of the stench of a dead rodent that couldn’t be found; the foulness of restrooms with leaks; and the lack of heat in classrooms during winter’s cold.

How long have students been exposed to such a horrid learning environment? And why hasn’t anything been done before now?

Yes, Richmond has old school buildings. And yes, it will take millions of dollars to fix them. But who would want — or could stand — their child going to school in such squalor?

Such conditions suggest that School Board members, City Council members and the mayor have never made unannounced visits to the schools in a bona fide effort to understand what young Richmonders endure to get an education.

One drawback is that Richmond Public Schools lacks a permanent leader right now. Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz and some members of the board seem overwhelmed to the point of paralysis on this critical problem.

We support petition efforts by Paul Goldman and the Richmond Crusade for Voters to put the issue of school building improvements on the November ballot. But the initiative doesn’t go far enough.

Clearly, the School Board and City Council must end the paralysis and act expeditiously to ameliorate such horrifying conditions at George Mason Elementary and other city schools. No child can do his or her best, or achieve his or her greatest, in such surroundings.