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Breakdown of Richmond Public School cuts

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Posted at 12:32 AM, Jun 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-06 00:32:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Monday night the Richmond School Board voted to pass proposed budget cuts, but not without losses.

"I was planning to retire here." Joe Martin Jr. says the news caught him off guard. Martin is a painter for Richmond Public schools.

Tuesday morning, the 12-year employee got a letter from the Superintendent saying his position will be cut on June 28th. However, he could opt to take a pay cut and be transferred to another job.

"It's going to be tough because we're barely making it now," said Martin. "We haven't had a raise in six years."

Martin is one of 28 employees now out of a job.

Richmond's School Board members voted on its budget Monday night, closing a $15 million dollar shortfall. But it meant cuts deep and wide.

"We do not have the ability to generate funds. We are not a taxing agency," said Dawn Paige, Richmond School Board Chair.

So, the school system laid off 28 people to save RPS $1.55 million. These are positions that include clerical, security, custodial and transportation.

Other school employees will have to take five furlough days to save RPS $4.5 million. There are 112 vacant positions within RPS that will not be filled, saving the school system $5.4 million. Also, teachers who fail to earn certifications will be eliminated, and that will mean $1.4 million in savings.

RPS will also cut summer school funding by $892,500. Retirees will have to pay 30% of their health insurance, saving $810,000. The school system will decrease contracted services, saving $50,000 and RPS will return maintenance of the Arthur Ashe center back to the city administration, saving $25,000.

"We had to make a decision that was going to have the least amount of impact in the classrooms because we have to educate our children," said Paige.

"We're here to support them in any way we can,” said Angela Dews, with the Richmond Education Association. She tells us, that she's been fighting to get more money. Now, she'll work to help those impacted employees with unemployment and resume writing. So, they can get jobs elsewhere.

But Dews questions how the school system handled notifying their employees.

"I understand that they took the position of trying to get in front of the eight ball. But when people are waiting for something to be voted on, the last thing they're looking is to get a letter saying, they don't have a job," said Dews.

School leaders tell CBS 6 that they could rehire those impacted employees in 15 months, if and when they get more funding.