Council passes city & schools budget

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It was a very contentious and emotional night at City Hall, but Richmond finally has a budget.  Some city jobs may be in jeopardy.  The spending plan doesn't include all of the money Richmond Public Schools has requested.

According to the school board, that could be felt in the classroom.  It's important to note the council and mayor do not delineate exactly how this money is spent.  It is up to the school board and superintendent.

Monday night, council did its part by passing a $781 million budget, thus funding school for next year.

Dozens of people took a stand at City Hall and backed up Richmond Public Schools' stance — it needs more money to provide city kids with an education.

"We're the state capital and this is shameful," exclaimed school employee John Reid.

Emotions ran high on a topic, which has drawn debate for months. Up until the last minute, changes were discussed. An amendment by Councilman Bruce Tyler proposed to give the schools three million bucks more was shot down.

"When it comes time to start talking about where's the fat, there's a lot of fat," Tyler said.  "It's a question of us deciding what to do."

While the city increased money to RPS for next year and put back more than five of the 24 million additional the schools asked for, the board has been telling constituents it's facing a hole. One it said could cost another 200 positions, which include 59 K-3 slots and 70 system-wide staffers. Even the school board chair gave council a piece of her mind.

"We must continue to work together to fully fund schools to support our children because at the end of the day it's not about me or you, it's about our children," Dawn Page explained.

Still, the mayor and many others told us he believes the budget can be followed without job layoffs and direct classroom impact

"I absolutely think that it's doable without laying off teachers," Mayor Jones maintained. "I think it's doable without laying off workers. I think there are ways to get around that. I really do."

We will not know the full impact of these cuts until the school board makes its decision. It next meets Monday, May 21.

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