Sources tell NBC12, Richmond Public Schools will be facing a 12- to 13- million dollar shortfall in its budget for next year. Tuesday, the superintendent will reveal her exact spending plan to the school board. That starts what promises to be months of debate on what to cut.
While the kids are in the classrooms, the school board and superintendent are going to have to do some hard work of their own. The news the financial picture hasn't gotten any better comes as no surprise to new School Board Chair Jeff Bourne, but it does come with a pledge.
"We are going to go above and beyond to protect the classroom," he promised.
Holding the classroom harmless sounds good, but we wanted to know what it actually means and what Bourne thinks should be off the table in terms of cuts.
"Furloughs for our teachers, anything that cuts actual instruction funding, it's those things that go directly to what happens between 7:30 and 3 in the classrooms with the teachers," he listed.
Last year, that didn't happen. The school budget included five furlough days. Kim Gray, one of only two returning board members, says the new board is going to have to find a way to cut somewhere else.
"I think it's something that we must do because we've lost some really good teachers and staff and folks who can't afford to hang out and stay with us," she said.
Gray believes once again the schools will have to go back to the mayor and city council and ask for more money. Bourne maintains even that will be different this time around.
"My sense is that those requests for additional funding will be for those things that we believe are going to move the school system forward," he added. "It's not going to be a sort of, write us a blank check."
Both Bourne and Gray say the seven new members bring a new motivation to the board because most actually have kids in Richmond Public Schools.
We're told the superintendent is still tweaking the budget. The process takes months, so the figures we see Tuesday are not set in stone. They will evolve over time.
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