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Mayor Stoney: Richmond schools ‘will have to prioritize’ without additional funding

Posted at 1:31 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 19:01:59-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Mary Scott Pre-School Learning Center and three other schools were toured by Mayor Levar Stoney and Superintendent Kamras Thursday morning.

Schools that would benefit from the $37 million set aside for Richmond Public Schools in the mayor’s budget.

Mary Scott School is one of many schools in need of repairs as well as a system to maintain proper heating and cooling during the school year.

It’s a need that the mayor believes should be met to enhance the learning environment for city students.

“If they do not receive the funding that is in the budget. If there are cuts of $6 million, $5 million or even $2 million, Richmond Public Schools will have to prioritize,” said Mayor Stoney. “They’ll have to prioritize whether or not these babies stay warm in the winter time or does another school get heat. They shouldn’t have to prioritize concerning our babies. It’s my hope that the city council listens to the people of the City of Richmond and does what’s necessary to fund public education and fund equity.”

“This is where we first establish the love for attending school and we build those early literacy skills so to have a superintendent and a mayor going to bat for my babies makes me feel great,” said Johnny Massenburg-Johnson, a pre-school manager.

Last month, Stoney proposed raising the city’s real estate tax by nine cents to $1.29 per $100 of assessed value in order to fund Richmond Public Schools and repairs and maintenance for the city’s roads and sidewalks. He also proposed a 50-cent per pack tax on cigarettes which would also pay for school and road improvements.

So far, the plan has only been supported by Councilmember Michael Jones (9th District). In fact, five of the nine councilmembers are either opposed to the proposed increases or consider them too steep.

Stoney says the tax increase is “necessary” and that the city cannot fund schools with “fairy dust and GoFundMes,” when asked about the opposition last month.

Richmond City Council will hold a public hearing on this year’s budget, on Monday, April 22. It is the last opportunity for public comment.