Officials say stimulus funds helped shrink school deficits

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

Posted by Colby Rogers

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond's school board was scheduled to meet Monday night to vote on a new $260 million budget.

Schools leaders say they had to make about $8 million in cuts to get to that figure - far less than they originally expected.

Two months ago, Superintendent Yvonne Brandon faced a $16 million shortfall and was looking at cutting 155 jobs.
The school board says nearly $8 million in stimulus funds from the federal government helped to reduce the shortfall.

Richmond School Board Chair Chandra Smith says the funds will be used to insulate the classrooms from increasing student-to-teacher ratios and teacher layoffs.

The funds will be used to keep 130 jobs, including 72 teaching positions. The school system will also no longer have to furlough its workers and won't have to close an elementary school.

Jobs will still be lost, however - many of them administrative.

"We're counting on 75 through attrition," said Superintendent Yvonne Berandon, "and that's a combination of retirement and places where we can combine efforts as well."

Education experts have warned against using stimulus money to save jobs, saying the extra money will only delay the pain.

But Brandon says she is well aware of that fact in this tough economy.

"If the economy is as dismal as it is now , we will still be in the same position rather," Brandon said. "If it gets worse, then of course we're going to have to do things a lot differently. "

If the School Board approves the budget, it will then go to City Council for approval and will take effect July 1.

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