click to enlarge Dana Bedden

Dana Bedden

Thursday, March 10, 2016

State of the Schools Address Comes as Division Grapples with Budget Shortfall

Superintendent could address division plans to deal with $18 million budget cut.

Posted on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 2:07 PM

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dana Bedden is scheduled to give his annual State of the Schools address at 6 p.m. at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. And there’s plenty of ground to cover, with the district’s plans likely to be shaped by the possibility of an $18 million shortfall in next year’s budget.

Schools officials asked the city for an additional $18 million to fund initiatives such as teacher raises and academic improvement. But Mayor Dwight Jones announced on Friday that local funding for schools would remain level in his proposed budget.

More details about how the division plans to grapple with the shortfall may be forthcoming in Bedden’s address. In a meeting on Monday, the division outlined options it’s considering to cut costs – such as closing six schools and reducing bus transportation – while forging forward with its academic improvement plan and teacher raises.

The Times-Dispatch reports that the division expects to save as much as $3 million by closing six schools and officials suggest that four elementary schools, one high school and two specialty schools could be merged into other campuses. Another $3 million could be saved by reducing the number of stops school buses make and $2 million could be saved by increasing the teacher-student ratio from 22:1 to 12:1. Other items that could be on the chopping block include demolishing two unused schools, closing two office buildings, contracting janitorial services and eliminating various other items.

The budget reduction also halts plans to start the first $169 million dollar phase of a 15-year plan to overhaul crumbling schools facilities.

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