Stoney threatens to leave education funding level next year if impasse over schools budget remains | Richmond Local News

Richmond Public Schools risk losing new funding from the city next year if the school board doesn’t accept the budget proposal by Friday.

In a letter to the school board last week, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney warned that he would keep the school’s current funding level in the city budget if the proposal is not sent to his budget team by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, the school board remains deadlocked on its budget priorities, ranging from promotions for substitutes and support staff, avoiding teacher dismissals, finding efficiency in the department’s central office, and improving mental health services for department staff.

A budget proposal from superintendent Jason Comras of $ 362.6 million is based on the fact that the city will allocate $ 22 million in new funding to cover several new expenses, including a 5% increase for teachers and about 30 support positions. No new money from the city can also lead to a budget cut next year, as department officials are already expecting a loss of $ 7 million in government funding due to declining student numbers and rising property values ​​across the city.

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While the school board was originally scheduled to vote on a $ 362.6 million budget proposal on Tuesday, Chairman Shonda Harris-Muhammad said last week it may take longer to “unpack” the spending plan before it will be adopted, adding that another meeting may be convened. continue the discussion. The agenda for Tuesday’s school board meeting still includes consideration of the principal’s budget proposal, but several board members said it was unlikely they would vote in favor.

“We will do our best to meet the deadline of our budget for FY 23,” Harris Muhammad said in a letter to the mayor on Thursday. “I’m sure your office understands that this process can’t be rushed to meet deadlines beyond the control of the school board.”

After a series of budget working sessions since the introduction of its budget last month, Kamras is proposing only a few changes to its spending plan, according to budget documents.

Under its revised budget plan, Kamras is proposing to raise the pay of part-time catering workers to $ 15 an hour and launch a program to help teaching assistants earn a bachelor’s degree and a teaching license. The updated plan also restores funding for the arts specialist and career and technical education specialist, which would be cut.

The changes are based in part on feedback from school board members and the public, but do not address amendments to the $ 18 million budget that school board member Jonathan Young proposed earlier this month.

If the changes are adopted, Young will reduce the total budget request by $ 12.4 million by eliminating about two dozen jobs at the central office and suspending several contracts. Kamras’ proposal already provides for a $ 4 million reduction in the central office.

Young’s plan also envisions some new spending, including money to assess district principals, increased enrollment in regional magnetic schools and bilingual programs in the department’s elementary schools.

Stone said Monday that he has not received any instructions from school department officials that they will meet his deadline, which he said is necessary in order to submit a budget proposal to the city council on March 4th.

Despite changes made to the budget by Kamras, Young said Monday that the school board is likely to go for “overtime” to reach a consensus on the school budget.

“It’s still not quiet enough,” Young said. “I will not vote for it. And, risking to speak for my colleagues, I do not believe that he has five votes.

csuarez@timesdispatch.com

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