Mayor looks outside for help with budget shortfall

Posted at 7:14 PM, Mar 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-20 19:14:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) Parent wonder exactly what may happen to a number of educational programs that might be cut with Richmond Public School facing an estimated $24 million dollar budget shortfall.

Mayor Dwight Jones appointed a task force to look at everything from eliminating teachers, custodial staff and security personnel to increasing class sizes.

So far, the panel hasn’t found an immediate solution, and the Mayor has gone outside the city for help.

The City administration has confirmed with CBS 6, that the former Richmond City manager Robert Bobb has been contacted.

Bobb left Richmond back in 1997 for Detroit, after 11 years on the job, where he helped tackled the school districts nearly $200 million deficit by closing nearly 60 schools and laying off teachers.

But that isn’t the kind of news or solutions that the Richmond Education Association wants to hear.

"What kind of cuts will it mean for our members and for our employees?”

Angela Dews sits on the Mayor's School Accountability and Efficiency Review Task force.

She's worried that hiring Robert Bobb's consulting firm could have a major impact.

"We are working with a gap of about 24 million dollars and funds have to come from somewhere, and hopefully the budget won't be balanced on the backs of employees," Dews.

City Councilman Bruce Tyler believes the focus should on making the school system better. "Our City is not so broken that we need to bring somebody in."

"If we're bringing Robb Bobb in to have that conversation that's one way to approach it and I can support that," said Tyler. But Tyler isn’t too sure about having Bobb do the cuts.

There was no decision made yet as to whether or not the Mayor will hire Robert Bobb's consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

The panel will meet again at 9 a.m. on Thursday. And a public hearing will be held Tuesday at 5 p.m. for residents to weigh in on the school's task force and the budget.