Richmond students plan to ‘walk out' of classes today

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — High school students in Richmond are planning to walk out of their classrooms on Monday in an effort to encourage the city to take action in their schools.

Students at every Richmond high school are walking out of classes at 2 p.m. The walk out is being spearheaded by students at Open High School as a show of opposition to the possible closure of several Richmond Public Schools.

"We need better," Open High School junior Chris Bolling said. "We know that we deserve better."

Richmond School Board members have proposed to close Armstrong High School, along with Swansboro, John B. Cary, Overby-Sheppard and Southampton elementary schools. Three specialty schools would also be consolidated into one facility under the proposal.

Students have posted flyers, met with school principals and spread word of the walkout online.

"The students are upset about our conditions," said classmate Andrew Anderegg. "We're actually paying attention to what happens to our school."

Students hope the walk out will grab city officials' attention and move them to find a way to fill the $18 million budget gap the district faces after city administrators denied a request for additional funding for the fiscal year starting in July.

RPS spokeswoman Kenita Bowers said Friday that while the district applauds the students' for being courageous in taking a stance for something they believe in, "they are encouraged to send an even stronger message by not allowing the distractions of our budget challenges to deter them from continuing to focus on their academics and advocate in other ways that do not put them in a position to violate the Student Code of Responsible Ethics (SCORE)."

Students are planning to get together again after the walk out for a public protest with parents and teachers ahead of tonight's city council meeting. The rally gets underway at 5 p.m. on the front steps of City Hall.