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Fox Elementary Parent Starts Petition To Support School Pairing

Shannon Lindbloom and her kids
Shannon Lindbloom supported rezoning the Museum District out of the Cary Elementary school zone and into Fox Elementary's zone five years ago. Now, she's circulating a petition encouraging parents to support the district's efforts to increase student diversity by pairing the two schools. (Photo: Crixell Matthews, WCVE )

Richmond Public Schools is holding a  series of community meetingsthis month and throughout August for the public to weigh in on the district’s draft rezoning proposals. The district’s official rezoning committee isn’t expected to finalize proposals they want to get the public’s opinion on until the group’s July 30th meeting.

Still, the idea of pairing Fox Elementary with Cary Elementary to  increase school diversityhas already sparked a mix of questions, concerns and support from parents after it was presented to the committee as an option in June. Under that plan, one school zone would be drawn around both schools, making Fox Elementary a grade K-2 school, and Cary Elementary a grade 3-5 school.

“Our home value would go down drastically,” wrote one parent in an anonymous online feedback form presented during the district’s last school board meeting.

Others said while they support the idea of school pairing, they’re concerned it would lead to capacity issues. Some families with multiple kids in elementary school expressed concerns about having kids in two different schools instead of one, and not being able to walk their kids to school.

“Some of the initial comments that were captured in the  online feedback formwere concerning in that they sounded similar to the kinds of things that many families said to resist integration in the 1950s and 1960s,” RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras wrote in his July 20 email newsletter. “To be clear, I'm not equating then and now; much is different today. But we still very clearly live with the legacy of that era. If we're going to move forward as a school division and city, we need to have honest conversations about race and class. That doesn't mean one can't critique this proposal. It's far from perfect. But it does mean that the goal - increased diversity in our schools - must prevail.”

Shannon Lindbloom lives in the Museum District and has two daughters who attend Fox Elementary. In 2013, she says she signed a petition supporting rezoning her neighborhood out of the majority-black Cary school zone, and into the majority-white Fox. It’s a decision she’s now ashamed of.

“I remember going to a Museum District Association meeting and meeting somebody with older kids,” Lindbloom said. “She told me, you know, we tried to send our kids to Cary and we weren't welcome and it didn't work out. Basically telling me in code, we wealthy white people, we don't send our kids there.”

Now, Lindbloom is  circulating a petition, encouraging other parents to support the district’s efforts to diversify schools. She says that means not throwing out the school pairing idea just because it’s inconvenient. She’s on a mission to talk to other Fox parents in an effort to help get more people on board.

“I think I'm talking to me five years ago,” Lindbloom said.

A meeting at Fox has been scheduled from 5-6 p.m. Thursday, July 25th, and another meeting at the school is scheduled for August 13th from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.





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.