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Richmond School Board Fails To Post Meeting Notices For School Construction Committee

Recent miscalculations to the tune of $30 million for three new Richmond public schools have drawn public scrutiny into the school construction process.

Last April, Richmond’s school board voted to create a group called the Joint Construction Team (JCT) to oversee school construction. The group includes the chief administrative officer, the mayor’s chief of staff, the superintendent, the RPS board chair and other representatives from each agency.

According to the city of Richmond’s website, “The JCT meets weekly for one hour and only proceeds on key decisions when both parties agree. JCT representatives provide monthly updates to the school board and minutes from all JCT meetings are uploaded to RPS ‘Board Docs.’”

If Mayor Levar Stoney or Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras created the group without a vote from city council or the school board, it wouldn’t be considered a public body. But -- since the school board voted to create it -- it is.

“If there is an action that the school board took to say… ‘we’re going to create this thing,’ then you're back in public body territory,” said Megan Rhyne with the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

“They are public meetings,”  said school board chair Dawn Page, speaking after a recent school board meeting.  “So we welcome the public to participate in this process because we do want to be good stewards of public dollars.”

Page said the district had been posting public notices ahead of the meetings. But the district hasn’t been doing that. The meetings are not listed in monthly rundown of district meetings for March or April. They also aren’t posted under the “meeting notices” heading on the district’s website.

A spokesperson for the district said the meetings were public and that an error had occurred with postings related to this group. She said she thought the error had since been corrected last week. But the meeting notices still have not been posted.

According to state law, the date, time and location of meetings need to be posted at least three days before each meeting. The notice should be posted in three places: online, in a prominent public location where notices are regularly posted and at the office of the clerk of the public body or in the case of a public body that has no clerk, at the office of the chief administrator.

Megan Pauly covers education and healthcare issues in the greater Richmond region. She was a 2020-21 reporting fellow with ProPublica's Local Reporting Network and a 2019-20 reporting fellow with the Education Writers Association.