School Board approves $293M budget plan
Joey Matthews | 2/5/2016, 7:06 a.m.
Even as the Richmond School Board approved its $293 million budget proposal on Monday, some members expressed serious concerns that the school system wouldn’t receive all the money being sought.
“I think we’re going to have more discus- sions about what happens if we get one penny less than what we’re asking for,” board Chair Jeffrey M. Bourne told his board colleagues minutes before they approved the budget by a 6-2 vote at their City Hall meeting.
The budget request includes $18 million above
what is allocated currently in the city budget for the schools for fiscal year 2017.
“We’ve got to be prepared for the likely event that we don’t get all $18 million,” Mr. Bourne said. “So we’re going to have to figure out whether we don’t do the salary (increases) or whether we don’t do the academic improvement plan or whether we don’t continue to do those things that we’ve got listed.”
Schools Superintendent Dana T. Bedden originally sought about $26.5 million in additional city spending for Richmond schools, but that was pared back to $18 million after accounting for Richmond’s $3.3 million share of state funds
for teacher raises in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed state budget, and adjusted a plan to upgrade pay for most teachers and other staff over two years instead of one.
Dr. Bedden said he sought the additional monies in part to fund the pay upgrade plan and to fund the second year of his academic improvement plan that seeks to add and retain more teachers and pay for more professional development days for teachers.
Mr. Bourne said he expects the RPS budget proposal to be delivered to Mayor Dwight C. Jones this week. The mayor is then scheduled to introduce his budget, which will include funds
for the public schools,toRichmondCityCouncil on Monday, March 7. The council ultimately will approve a final budget.
Mayor Jones already has said he is not inclined to ask City Council for the entire $18 million in school spending. He said the city can’t afford it and there are other pressing needs in Richmond.
In his State of the City speech last Thursday, Mayor Jones took a different tack and proposed that an advisory referendum be placed on the November general election ballot on whether Richmond voters want to raise the city’s real estate tax rate to fund proposed public schools’ projects.