The youngest member of Richmond's School Board also is the quietest, choosing to let his bold ideas speak for him.
Sturtevant, a medical malpractice lawyer at Rawls, McNelis and Mitchell by day, first came to the School Board during the seven-of-nine member turnover in the 2012 election. He was barely 30, but knew he wanted to send his children to schools at least as good as the ones he experienced growing up in Spotsylvania County.
"I didn't see that Richmond offered that," he says. "So many people move out of the city, because middle-class people choose to send their kids to other counties or private schools."
It didn't take long for Sturtevant to make headlines. When the district encountered a budget shortfall in his first year, he helped develop a plan that saved money by shutting down Clark Springs Elementary. He took a lawsuit and accusations of attempting to re-segregate the district in stride — and moved on to push for an open-checkbook system and an overhaul of the budget process.
The ideas are extensions of the work done by those he considers mentors — fellow School Board member Kim Gray and former member Carol Wolf.
"A lot of people say the money goes into this hole and it doesn't affect outcomes," Sturtevant says. "Let's justify what we're spending and where we're spending it."
Money has dominated the discussion about the Richmond Public Schools' failures for too long, he says. In addition to a new culture of transparency, he says new Superintendent Dana Bedden is ready to take on the "mafialike" structure that held too much of the district's failing administration in place.
"Our school system has really failed generations of students in Richmond," he concludes. "We're really on the cusp of some positive changes."