20170902_MET_LOUPASSI_JM04

Paul Goldman (center) spoke at a news conference at City Hall in September with, from left, Helen Alli, Martin Jewell, Del. G. Manoli Loupassi and Richmond Crusade for Voters President Bernice Travers. Goldman, a Democratic strategist, was the chief architect of a referendum for Richmond schools.

Voters in Richmond have approved a referendum that would change the city charter to require Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to craft a plan to modernize Richmond Public Schools facilities without raising taxes.

Richmonders voted Tuesday on the 350-word referendum, which now must pass through the Virginia General Assembly. According to unofficial results, the referendum passed with 85 percent of the vote despite Stoney’s opposition. The referendum was crafted by longtime Democratic operative Paul Goldman.

The charter change would require the mayor to craft a plan within six months to improve RPS facilities without raising taxes. City council would have to vote on it within 90 days after the plan is presented.

“Eighty-five percent is about as close as you can get to unanimity in the political system,” said Goldman on Tuesday night. “The people have spoken and sent a message to city leadership.”

RPS facilities continue to face problems after years of deferred maintenance. The division is in the midst of crafting its own plan, but it’s behind schedule.

Stoney criticized the board Friday for not taking action on the school system’s lingering facilities issues. He called for a plan to be presented at Monday’s school board meeting, but RPS Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz provided just an overview with a full plan expected in the next few weeks.

In a tweet Monday, Stoney said that he would not be voting for it “on principle.”

“Leaders don't need a referendum or the GA to tell us we need to fund a facilities plan now or how to do it,” Stoney said in the tweet. “Council, School Bd. & I know it must be done. We need to do our job.”

Despite voters’ approval Tuesday, nothing is finalized yet.

The charter change is now in the hands of the General Assembly, which starts its session in January. Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, had said that he would work to get the charter change passed through the General Assembly.

Loupassi conceded his re-election race Tuesday night, leaving the referendum without its clear state government champion.

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jmattingly@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6012

Twitter: @jmattingly306​

Education Reporter

Justin Mattingly covers K-12 schools and higher education. A northern New York native and a Syracuse University alumnus, he's worked at the RTD since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter at @jmattingly306.

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