RPS requests nearly $4M more for next fiscal year; new-look city council has parents optimistic

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond School Board members got a look at how much Richmond Public Schools need for the next fiscal year on Monday night.

Superintendent Dana Bedden has asked for nearly $4 million in new requests, bringing total requests for the fiscal year 2018 to more than $14 million.

An entirely new School Board arrives on Jan. 1 (except Jeff Bourne), and the kickoff of the RPS budget process is the unofficial kickoff of the City budget process. They’re requesting $3.8 million in new requests, along with $9.4 million in requirements and commitments for a total of $13.1 million for the next fiscal year. The school budget will undergo a refinement process heading into the beginning of the year.

The new-look board has Richmond parents feeling more optimistic about getting a budget passed next year.

1c93d68b9d5246d79a939c8f9966542b“It’s a whole new environment. You have a superintendent who’s only been here three years, so he still has a new vision. You have eight new school board members, three to four council members and a new mayor,” Building a Better RPS member Scott Garnett said.

“I think everyone is now seeing the importance of these schools; if you can fix these schools and get them to where they should be for the students, think of how that will move this city forward. Think of the change that would happen. It would like something we’ve never seen before.”

School Board member Kristen Larson is also feeling positive. Next month, she will trade in her title for school board member for a newly elected city council member.

“It’s a clean slate this year,” she said. “We have a new school board, a new mayor … That’s huge for our city. We have four new council members. I say let’s put it all on the table and see how it falls out.”

“I can’t remember in recent history where we had folks on council that were personally invested with their children in the school system, so when you’re talking about school facilities, my children are going into school buildings every day, so I have a real idea of what it looks like.”

School Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden said more funding is needed for instructional needs and to pay teachers and staff competitive salaries.

3cf1ec776c0b41fe955d998f7e619dd1“Obviously we made a commitment to teachers and staff so they could be more competitive and honestly, they need to be at the top of the ladder,” Bedden said.

The superintendent added that mayor-elect Levar Stoney has already invited him to take part in his leadership cabinet meetings and that the two had already met for two hours.

“Looking forward to working closely with the school board, the city council and the superintendent on a plan that helps strengthen our schools,” Bedden said in a statement.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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