New RPS teachers to earn $51,182 annually; bus drivers will earn $23 per hour

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 6/16/2022, 6 p.m.
Starting pay for Richmond schoolteachers will top $50,000 for the first time after July 1.
Mr. Kamras

Starting pay for Richmond schoolteachers will top $50,000 for the first time after July 1.

At the same time, bus operators, still in short supply, will see their wages jump to $23 an hour, with newly hired drivers with commercial driving licenses receiving a $3,500 hiring bonus as well.

Those were part of salary changes that the Richmond School Board approved at a special meeting Tuesday night along with a finalized budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that also begins next month.

With wages across the board rising 5 percent, the starting pay for a new teacher with no experience was set at $51,182, effective with the start of the school year, up from around $48,600 this year, and rising with each year’s experience on the 48-step scale.

Superintendent Jason Kamras, who disclosed earlier Tuesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated and receiving booster shoots, participated virtually in the meeting, which two members, Liz Doerr, 1st District, and Kenya Gibson, 3rd District, did not attend in person or online.

“Fortunately, and almost certainly due to my vaccination,” Mr. Kamras wrote in the daily RPS Direct email “my symptoms are relatively mild – low fever, sore throat, fatigue.”

Still, he continued, the infection meant that he would not attend any of the high school graduation ceremonies this week and was limited to extending written good wishes to the graduates.

At the meeting, the seven members unanimously approved a record $555.29 million spending plan for RPS for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which also includes a record $200 million contribution from city taxpayers.

The total includes a $353 million operating budget, plus about $201 million in special fund money for Head Start and other programs.

The final package included adjustments to account for an additional $1.2 million reduction in state support. Overall, state support for operations fell by $8 million, according to the budget, due to rising real estate values that impact the state’s education funding formula and an enrollment that has drooped to 19,425 K-12 students as of March 30.

The reported total of K-12 students enrolled on that date represents a decline of nearly 8 percent from most recent peak enrollment of 21,958 K-12 students reported on the same day, March 30, seven years earlier. This is the first year Richmond and other school divisions are feeling the impact on state funding from enrollment changes.

While state support for operations shrank, Richmond Public Schools is on track to receive $4.5 million to spend on improvements to school buildings. With the city’s contribution to school maintenance reduced to $2.5 million in 2022-34, the state support will enable RPS to complete a chunk of work orders that it has been unable to afford to address, Mr. Kamras said.