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Mayor wants to set aside money for Richmond schools, urges school leaders to make corrections

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Posted at 2:31 PM, Oct 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-13 14:31:16-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones insisted Richmond Public Schools must make corrections as he announced plans to set-up  a reserve fund from which the school system can spend money for building improvements. The mayor said since it did not appear City Council would approve his idea to cut Richmond’s real estate tax rate, he hoped the set aside “anticipated surplus funds” to go to schools.

“I agree that the city has many needs that the additional funds can be directed toward, and I am suggesting that we initially establish a reserve fund for maintenance needs of Richmond Public Schools,” Mayor Jones said in a statement.

The mayor called this a “short-term measure” that would be replaced with a long-term funding solution that his financial work group, designed to come up with creative ways to pay for school improvements, was tasked to accomplish.

“Establishing this reserve fund is designed to provide a source of readily available funds for RPS to draw down from as their spending continues,” the mayor stated. “This is a short-term measure to ensure they have a continuing source of available funds for maintenance needs that may arise in fiscal year 2015, while the long-term solutions are still being discussed and analyzed.”

The mayor took Richmond schools to task for spending $3 million of its allocated $7 million in the first three months of the fiscal year and urged with the school system to act responsibly and address realities like enrollment and performance concerns.

“I still believe that sometimes less is more and that if RPS can work towards correcting the size of the system they are operating, we can save money, better direct the available resources, and hopefully return to lowering the tax burden on the residents of the city,” the mayor said.

Earlier this year the Richmond School Board identified $35 million worth of repairs needed for city schools.