The Richmond School Board will close two schools and layoff administrators to close a budget shortfall.
The School Board spent four hours Monday night shaving down the spending gap from $11.6 million to $3 million. The two school closings will save money on building expenses.
The board didn't decide which schools might be closed. However, a rezoning study last year called for shutting down or re-purposing John B. Cary Elementary, Bellevue Elementary, and either Fisher or Southampton Elementary Schools.
The previous School Board decided not to close any schools after huge backlash from families and school staffers. However, the current School Board Chairman, Jeff Bourne, says there just isn't enough money to keep schools open if they are significantly under used.
"We've got tough decisions to make, and we've got an enrollment number that's declining… We've got schools that are grossly under-populated. So we've got to make some tough decisions with the information," said Bourne.
The School Board also aims to cut 42 administrative jobs, more than originally asked of Superintendent Dr. Yvonne W. Brandon. School Board members pushed another eight percent reduction out of the central administration's budget. Currently, about $4 million is being slashed. Brandon says those would likely be layoffs, as opposed to attrition or retirement. Another eight percent cut would mean additional administrative positions lost.
Some School Board members have been pushing for more cuts to what they believe is a bloated administrative staff. The superintendent resisted, saying that she fears slashing too much administration would have a negative, trickle-down effect on classrooms.
The School Board is set to vote on the final budget Wednesday, which will then go before the Richmond City Council.
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