Group urges city, school leaders to repair Booker T. Washington HS

Councilman proposes giving NPS $2 million to make ‘sick’ school healthy

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Topping the list of concerns at Booker T. Washington High School are mold, unreliable lighting and run-down athletic fields.

“It’s time for us to make a decision, to do what is right,” said one woman, who voiced her concerns to the Norfolk School Board as a member of Concerned Citizens for Booker T. Washington High School.

The group, comprised of parents and Mighty Booker alumni, packed the school board meeting on June 21 after rumors circulated on social media that the district was considering shutting down the school.

Rodney Jordan, school board chairman, told the crowd the district has had no discussions about shutting down or renaming the school.

“We are setting a poor example for these kids to have an opportunity to thrive and that’s disturbing,” said Bruce Smith, NFL graduate and Booker T. Washington graduate.

Councilman Paul Riddick, a 1966 graduate, also took the podium at the meeting and said he will be asking his colleagues to give the district $2 million to study the school’s needs and make some repairs.

Riddick says the money would likely be a cash advance that the school would have to give back.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to Booker T. Washington High School,” said Riddick. “While the school district was not funded to the level it wanted to be this year, that made it even a greater challenge.”

Norfolk Public Schools admits mold has been a concern inside the building, but they say air quality has been deemed safe.

The district says they welcome any private or city funding, adding they can’t make all the necessary repairs with their current budget.

“What we can do is try our best to make sure these systems are running smoothly and these buildings are running as best they can,” said Khalilah LeGrand, a spokeswoman for the Norfolk Public Schools.

LeGrand says the district has contracted a firm to do a needs and educational assessment of the district and its facilities. A full report is expected to be released in October.

The Concerned Citizens for Booker T. Washington High School say they plan to return to city council on July 11.