The Richmond school board is scheduled to vote on the spending plan on Wednesday and the picture might not be as grim as originally expected.
When the superintendent first came out with her budget, there was an $11.6 million hole. But with work session after work session, the board has been making up the gap. We've learned they've more than cut it in half.
It has taken weeks of discussion, even on Saturdays in order to get to this point.
"We've taken the superintendent's proposal, looked at it, unpacked it and then made some of our determinations," says board Chair Jeff Bourne.
From the beginning, it seems board members were in agreement--hold harmless the classroom and reject the superintendent's outsourcing proposal. But that means they have to come up with other cost-saving measures.
The school board has directed the superintendent to go back and find another $2 million in cuts from the central office. That's on top of the more than $1 million she's already suggested.
Of those cuts and others, the board is trying to minimize job losses, but there's no final figure just yet.
"We've been told or informed that many of the job losses could be done through attrition, people leaving the system whether it's for retirement or finding another job," Bourne added.
Some of those changes might come in consolidation of services with the city. They're considering IT, accounts payable and payroll as options, explains longtime board member Kim Gray.
"Generally, it's least impactful because those people on the ground are people that would remain in their positions," Gray says. "They'll just transfer over to the city or we may pick up some of the city's duties."
Renegotiating vendor contacts could also save the school system millions.
"So that we can go back to the table and perhaps put out competitive bids or renegotiate them if we're still within the timeframe we don't have to put it out for bid," Gray added.
There is some discussion of closing an under-utilized school, as well.
With the proposals comes a bit of good news. Some sort of raise is expected to be included in the final budget.
There's just one more scheduled work session before the board votes Wednesday.
It has a deadline of March first to vote on the budget.
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