Budget cuts could force 6 RPS schools to close

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — New developments are surfacing in the battle between Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and city schools.

Parents, teachers and school board members say Jones’ new budget doesn’t provide what their kids need. So, they’re proposing everything from closing schools to cutting bus service.

Under Mayor Jones’ proposed budget, none of the more than $18 million in new city revenue is going to school. Now, the board is forced to find to ways to balance the budget.

“We’re really challenged with (Mayor Jones’) proposal as it’s come forward,” said Richmond school board member Kristen Larson. “It’s serious. We’ve been flat funded since last year.”

The district had requested $18 million more than last year, and if Mayor Jones’ plan goes through, they will not see a nickel of their request. As a result, school finance officials suggest nearly $13 million in potential cuts.

“Eventually, if there’s no increase in funding, we have to find a way to be balanced come July 1,” said Thomas Kranz with Richmond Public Schools.

In order to do that, the district may have to cut the number of stops each school bus makes, forcing students to walk farther to stops. The school system may also have to merge schools and potentially close six campuses.

“We’re at this point looking at these different options, seeing what can we live with, what can we not live with,” Larson said.

With less than four months before the fiscal year starts, board members say they’re ready to put their heads together with city council to come up with an answer.

The school board will meet with city council next week to further discuss the potential impact on school operations.

Stay with 8News for the latest updates to this developing story.

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