RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Newly elected members of the Richmond School Board met for the first time Tuesday night, mere hours after being sworn into office. New members are working to get to speed as they head into budget deliberations for the district.
“We’d like to use this really tonight as a discussion starter,” said assistant superintendent of financial services David Myers.
It was the first day on the job for eight out of nine school board members. Former chairman Jeffrey Bourne is the only returning member.
Normally at this point in the budget process, according to Myers, board members are discussing specific details, programs and line items within the school budget, but on Tuesday, they discussed making changes to the timeline for budget deliberations.
“This is so that we can all start from the same point and work forward,” Myers told members.
According to the tentative calendar, the board is supposed to approve its school budget by January 23, sending it to the mayor and city council by January 30.
“I do think we need a little more time to do our due diligence,” said 6th district representative Felicia Crosby,” asking for additional time to consider the budget.
Members are also asking for additional work sessions and public hearings to get input from parents and other stakeholders. During public comment Tuesday night, educators urged new board members to remember the students throughout budget deliberations.
“Think about those children and what’s best for them,” said Charlotte Hayer, president of the Richmond Education Association. “Not just your district, but the entire district.”
On December 5, RPS superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden put in a budget request totaling $303 million, an 8.1-percent bump in the district’s operating budget for the 2018 fiscal year. The proposed budget comes in at nearly $23 million more than the budget for the current fiscal year.
Mayor Levar Stoney must send his city-wide budget to city council by Monday, March 6.
The school board voted to elect 8th district Representative Dawn Page as chair. District 5 representative Dr. Patrick Sapini was voted in as vice-chair.