Richmond school leaders are no closer to figuring out how they will fill a $1 million budget gap after Monday night's School Board meeting.
The meeting, called specifically to discuss the shortfall and another contentious issue, led to a lot of discussion, but very little action.
School Board Chairman Jeff Bourne put it bluntly.
"I'm disappointed we didn't make more progress on filling the million-dollar hole," he said after two hours of unfruitful talks.
The deficit arose due to a last-minute decision opposing a cost-cutting measure of closing two schools.
Bourne says the longer they wait to figure out the funding imbalance, the harder it's going to be. Right now, the City is in the height of the budget process. Now, the question becomes exactly how much time does the board have to figure out what fate awaits students, teachers and staff.
"We'll have to wait and see based on Council's schedule and I believe they vote on the final budget towards the end of May," Bourne explained. "And if that number is different than what we sent to them, then we have to finally adopt our budget -- so end of May, beginning of June."
But, the board couldn't wait that long to start the process of finding a new superintendent, which was also on Monday night's agenda. That decision is one Bourne says will likely be the biggest made over the four years these members are elected to serve.
"I thought the discussion around the superintendent search was really positive," said board member Kristen Larson. "It looks like we're definitely going to be hiring a search firm, which will be extremely helpful, because that's exactly what these firms do and we need that kind of assistance."
Next week, board members will get more information to figure out the correct process for hiring that search firm.
They also hope to put together a list of criteria for what they'd like to see in the next RPS superintendent. Dr. Yvonne Brandon is set to step down at the end of this school year.
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