$10 million shortfall: Insurance tells RPS it won’t cover the rebuilding of Fox Elementary

RICHMOND, Va. — VACORP, the insurance company that covers Richmond Public Schools (RPS) buildings, has told RPS that it will not pay the full cost to rebuild William Fox Elementary School, according to sources.

The shortfall is about $10 million, sources told CBS 6 Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit.

RPS plans to challenge the figure, the sources said.

“If the insurance payout goes through, then the School Board will meet 100 percent of the Fox community’s expectations for a new building,” Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young said in a statement. “That said, we need to use more cost-effective engineering methods than we’ve had to do with our last three buildings where costs increased by $30 million overnight.”

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers arrive at RPS to report on the situation.

A spokeswoman for the school said RPS was continuing to work with the insurance company to “secure the best possible outcome.”

In February, Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said Fox was insured for $13 million and the contents were insured for $4 million.

But Young later told the CBS 6 Problem Solver that VACORP will provide enough money to help Fox, saying RPS will receive millions more than expected based on the settlement with the insurance company.

Kamras later confirmed Young’s claims and added that it was “good news” at a previous meeting with Fox’s parents.

Through a public profile request, CBS6 Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit received the RPS partnership with VACORP and “statement of values” for each unit of property insured.

The moral words showed Fox’s home and its contents worth more than $14 million.

But, when Hipolit asked the RPS spokesperson about this, he was told that the insurance was for the replacement cost, so it didn’t matter what insurance the house had, it would only cover the cost of rebuilding.

Fox Fire Investigation

In July 2022, the Richmond Fire Department (RFD) stated that the February 2022 Fox fire was accidental and the cause was undetermined.

Fire officials explained that there was no evidence of any intentional or criminal activity.

Richmond Fire engulfed the property after the building caught fire on February 11. Since then, fire and insurance investigators have spent months gathering evidence to determine what caused the fire.

The fire department returned the building to RPS in July.

Richmond Fire blames COVID

A Richmond Fire Marshal’s inspection of Fox Elementary School in August 2021 found 8 violations.

One of the errors indicated that the school’s fire alarm system was in trouble.

These violations are supposed to be corrected by the end of September 2021, but the correction date has not been announced to anyone.

Richmond Public Schools said it did not receive the Notice of Violation until after the February 2022 fire destroyed the school.

Previous reports CBS 6 Problem Solvers revealed firefighters found an alarm system in trouble when they first arrived on Fox on a February night.

The firefighters thought something was wrong with the recorder on their first visit. He then returned 26 minutes later to the burning school.

The Fire Chief and Fire Marshal both declined to be interviewed by CBS 6 Problem Solvers, but a spokesperson said the Office of Fire Protection could not confirm that the violations were fixed due to staffing and scheduling issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a growing story, so anyone with information can email newstips@wtvr.com to submit tips.