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Richmond cuts Virtual Academy positions in half

Posted at 4:53 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 04:53:31-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond School Board members voted Monday night on a proposal to cut the Richmond Virtual Academy from 64 to 30 teaching and administrative positions.

The vote passed after a last-minute proposal by District 3 School Board Member Kenya Gibson to maintain more teaching positions, including at the elementary level. However, the board backed Superintendent Jason Kamras’ proposal to cut the virtual program in half based on enrollment and funding concerns.

The biggest changes to the academy will be in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, where 29 teaching positions are currently in place. In the 2022-23 school year, six teachers will teach grades K-5.

In grades sixth through twelfth, eight secondary teachers have been assigned to teach core subjects.

Other changes include two career and technical education (CTE) teachers, three encore teachers, one ESL teacher, four exceptional education teachers, one instructional compliance coordinator, one interventionist, one counselor, one home-bound teacher and one office associate.

Coaching positions were eliminated in the new proposal, along with all virtual liaison positions.

While the Richmond Virtual Academy started with more than 2,000 students this year, current enrollment is 750. In the 2022-23 school year, enrollment will be capped at 350 with priority given to home-bound students with medical needs.

Richmond students will continue to receive some exceptional education support from their zoned school staff. Some services will be delivered in person as determined by the student’s individualized education program (IEP). In addition, five separately funded home-bound teachers would continue to provide in person support as needed.

Kamras said staff members who don’t currently have job placement, will receive placement letters the week of May 16. Decisions will be based on seniority, he added.

While the school board’s decision wasn’t what Richmond Virtual Academy Principal Cindy Robinson had hoped for, she said she’s grateful that virtual learning will continue with the support of Virtual Virginia.

“The great thing is we will continue the partnership with Virtual Virginia moving forward,” Robinson said. “I think the big lesson, the big caveat, is making sure the students who are enrolled really match their learner profile.”

Third-grade teacher Kim Jones said she hopes to retain her virtual teaching job, but fears her position will be eliminated.

“It’s been stressful not knowing where you’re going to be, but I’ve been guaranteed a job,” Jones said. “We just don’t know where or if we’re going to have the opportunity to stay virtual.”

Kamras is sending out a survey the week of May 16 to gauge interest in the Virtual Academy for the upcoming school year.

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