RICHMOND, Va. -- Despite cries from parents and teachers, the Richmond School Board voted Monday night to pass recommendations by the superintendent to relocate teachers from some elementary schools to ease overcrowding in other district schools and avoid the loss of state funding.
On the heels of last week’s emotionally charged meeting at John B. Cary Elementary School, several of the same parents filled Richmond City Hall Monday, pleading with school board members to vote against leveling.
Leveling is the process of shifting teachers out of under-capacity schools into overcrowded schools.
Richmond Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden had originally proposed moving 10 teachers from four elementary schools to several other overcrowded schools. In the end, eight teachers will move.
The schools that will lose teachers includes John B. Cary (2), Overby-Sheppard (1), Swansboro(2) and Southampton(3).
There will be no cost to RPS to reassign the eight teachers and the plan is expected to take place within the month.
Bedden said the move is necessary to meet funding criteria for the state’s K-3 Class Size Reduction Program, which provides funding to schools that have a certain population of students on free and reduced lunch.
Richmond schools will get $6.3 million from the program if class sizes remain at a certain teacher/student ratio.
While Cary was originally slated to lose four teachers, parents fought back saying the school’s impoverished rate skyrocketed after redistricting in 2013.
They said taking teachers out of the classroom, six weeks into the school year, is unfair to students and teachers alike.
“Our children deserve that 16 to 1 ratio,” argued parent Melissa Gray.
“I think this will be devastating,” said parent Michelle Stuckey. “It’s like starting at the first day of school again.”
School board member Mamie Taylor, who cast the single dissenting vote, told CBS 6 that the board had a difficult decision to make. Taylor said the situation could have been avoided if board members had made better decisions when they rezoned the district in 2013.
“Why would you want to put children in this predicament?” Taylor argued. “Why not wait until the next school year when kinks can be worked out in the best interest of the students.”
Bedden argued that administrators were trying to do what is best for all students in the Richmond school district.
Bedden said some classes have 26 students, while others have as little as 13. Bedden hopes to hire more teachers in the future, but said leveling was the only option based on the current budget and classroom space.