Richmond Public Schools address funding for city’s public schools

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden discussed funding for the school district Wednesday after city council reached a budget deal.

On Tuesday night, Richmond City Council agreed to direct an additional $9.5 million for the district’s public schools.

Initially, school officials asked the city for about $18 million in operating funds — more than three times what they’re going to actually receive.

“So the cost of serving our children and our population of students is higher and will be higher, because we have to try and overcome the achievement gap which actually starts at home,” Superintendent Dana Bedden said. “It doesn’t start when they walk into our schools.”

Rupa Murthy is a Richmond mother with two children who attend Richmond’s Mary Munford Elementary school. She was happy to see the additional funds given to schools, and added that it is important for parents to get involved in electing public officials who support schools.”

“10 million dollars is better than where we started from,” she said. “I think it’s a great starting point for Richmond to come together to fund education.  We didn’t close the gap, but this didn’t start yesterday; we’ve been under-funding our schools in the cities for quite some time. Since, well, election year.”

Another parent who has children at Mary Munford, Amanda Featherstone, said her children’s school is well respected, but like many others in the district, is sorely in need of repairs.

“Mary Munford is considered one of the better schools, and I know when it rains, the ceiling in my daughter’s classroom falls,” she said. “The bathrooms they also need work. I could only imagine a school where they have black mold and the ceiling tile falling on a child while they’re taking a test, so that’s concerning that they have to choose between teachers or keeping our children safe.”

When Featherstone was asked if she and her family will stay in Richmond, she said it all depends on the quality of the schools.

“I love my house, I love my neighbors, I love being in the city,” she said. “We have great access to art festivals, I don’t want to move, but if the environment in the schools becomes so toxic, literally toxic, I don’t want to put my children and I don’t want to expose them to that. We would not tolerate that in our workplace, we would not tolerate that in any other building,why do we tolerate that in schools?”

“We would not tolerate that in our workplace, we would not tolerate that in any other building,why do we tolerate that in schools?”

A public hearing and a final vote on the budget is set for Friday, May 13.

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