After weeks of debate, Richmond Schools pass budget

Richmond School Board.png
Posted at 5:26 AM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 05:26:43-05

RICHMOND, Va. — After weeks of contentious debate and deliberations, the Richmond School Board unanimously approved a smaller budget Monday night than the one proposed by the superintendent earlier this year.

The $356 million spending plan is $6 million less than the first budget proposed by Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras in January.

While the plan retains Kamras’s proposal for a 5% raise for all teachers and Richmond Public Schools division employees, it removes funding for new student laptops, instructional contracts and cell phones for employees.

Until Monday evening, the school board had remained deadlocked over several budget issues — including staff layoffs, the future of the Richmond Virtual Academy and mental health help for students.

As a compromise, District 4 School Board Member Jonathan Young proposed several amendments, including reducing the Richmond Virtual Academy from 70 teaching positions to 30.

Young also proposed adding 20 new technical education teachers, and reducing the year-over-year funding request from the Richmond City Council to $16 million, compared to Kamras’s request for $22 million.

Earlier in the evening, several parents, teachers and students held a rally outside of River City Middle School, in support of Kamras’s proposals. In the meeting, several accused school leaders of trying to threaten the superintendent by eliminating the administration’s chief operating officer and chief wellness officer position.

“What you are doing is not holding the superintendent accountable. What you’re doing is criticizing him nonstop and making it impossible for him to lead,” said parent, Teresa Kennedy.

While Kamras said he’s relieved that school leaders passed a budget, he hopes to decrease the division’s dependency on federal stimulus money in the coming year.

“Look, a compromise means everybody’s happy and everybody’s upset. And that’s the work of finding the middle ground,” Kamras said.

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