Kamras fields questions, concerns at community meeting

4/5/2018, 6:14 p.m.
Richmond schools Superintendent Jason Kamras met with more than 60 parents, educators and community members from the city’s 3rd District ...

He added that schools and teachers should see children growing and that there are appropriate and fair ways of measuring that growth.

An audience member questioned 3rd District School Board member Kenya Gibson, who attended the community meeting, about why she voted against hiring four new cabinet members for Mr. Kamras’ administration.

The vote, taken during the March 19 School Board meeting, resulted in a 5-4 approval of Mr. Kamras’ new hires.

Ms. Gibson said her concern was not about the new hires, but their salaries. Three of the four – the chief academic officer, the chief of schools and the chief of operations—will have annual salaries of $180,547, while the fourth, the chief engagement officer, will be paid $175,250 a year.

“I think that I am incredibly optimistic about what the board and the administration will be able to accomplish,” Ms. Gibson told the questioner. “And I am not against the cabinet by any measure, but I do think that the salaries are too high.”

Mr. Kamras stated previously that the new cabinet structure reduces the team from nine to six members, which will save RPS $200,000 annually. Those dollars, he said, will be redirected to support RPS’ academic curriculum.

Two community and school advocates told Mr. Kamras of their concerns about the safety of children crossing streets to reach Stuart Elementary School on Fendall Avenue. They said they have tried to get the crosswalks and the word “SCHOOL” repainted on the pavement for several years. They also want the flashing school sign to be lowered so that it will be more visible to motorists.

“These are Public Works issues that affect the schools,” Mr. Kamras said, adding that he will get the information to that city department as soon as possible so the issues can be fixed.

Cell phone access in the classroom was a hot-button issue for this group. Mr. Kamras was asked if cell phones can be prohibited in schools because they distract students.

“That would be a consideration because we hear from our teachers that cell phones are a distraction,” Mr. Kamras responded. “However, I think we would have to ask our students to be leaders on that effort.“