Carol Wolf Offers Salvo in Schools Fight 

Considering the harsh words and laser-intense stare-downs between the Richmond School Board and the mayor's office, it seems unlikely that Mayor Wilder would accept an overture from his arch-nemesis on the School Board.

But acrimony didn't stop School Board member Carol A.O. Wolf from extending a peace offering this week in the form of an e-mail to Wilder, members of City Council and others associated with the ongoing debate over how best to fix public education.

"I propose that we 'close' the [Richmond] Tech Center in order to reopen it as the L. Douglas Wilder Governor's School for Career and Technology," suggests Wolf in her e-mail, which she had planned to send Tuesday.

The letter goes on to suggest a number of other closings — mostly schools in her Third District. She also includes shuttering the Arthur Ashe Center, noting that "the facility has never been profitable for RPS and for what little we use it, we cannot justify keeping it open."

Her proposals seem to have some broader backing. In the letter, she cites conversations with various members of the School Board and City Council, among them Councilman Chris Hilbert.

"I think it's a great idea," he says of Wolf's tech center proposal, which would be regional, much like the Maggie Walker Governor's School. "I think using the infrastructure that we have now at the tech center and expanding it is a great idea."

Hilbert also agreed with closing the tech center or passing the Ashe Center along to the city. "That building is certainly underutilized," he says, unconcerned by bad mojo politics that might arise from closing it. "I'm ready and willing to look at any proposal that honors Arthur Ashe — but I certainly would believe that he would want us to use this in the best way possible."

Wolf voiced frustration with some of her School Board colleagues, to the point of being accusatory:

"There are many people in the city who see the Facility Committee's recommendation of closing these Third District Schools as a retaliatory action from [School Board] Chairman [George P.] Braxton because I dared to vote against sending the budget to the mayor and City Council on the heels of the City Council audit," she writes. "And, there are many more who see that my vote against spending $83,000 to hire an assistant director for Archie Harris (the Chairman's 83-year-old father-in-law) as an example of both nepotism and petty politicking."

But in assessing her letter, Wolf says she seeks to move beyond this "politicking," even as she calls Braxton out.

"What's most important right here and right now is providing opportunity for all our children," Wolf says. She agreed that the e-mail signals an attempt at extending an olive branch to Wilder. "We do not have time to involve ourselves in petty politics," she says. S

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