City Council approves schools budget - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

City Council approves schools budget

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond Public Schools finally has a budget. Wednesday night, City Council approved almost $130 million in education funding.

After what became a confusing and hotly debated process, parents can expect some good news for their kids. With Wednesday's council vote, school board members say they kept their pledge: the cuts they're making will not hurt the classroom.

For a time, it didn't always look like parents and consequently, students in Richmond would come out on top in this budget process. Now, School Board Chairman Jeff Bourne is taking a closer look at what the numbers mean for the kids.

"We protected the classroom," he said. "We did not increase classroom sizes. There were no furlough days in there and those things that really have a detrimental impact in the classroom."

But with the reversal NBC12 reported this week to try and shutter three schools that might not be the case district-wide.

Classrooms at John B. Cary could actually see more students. If the board does in fact vote to close Clark Springs Elementary to save money, those children would likely end up at Cary.

After Wednesday's vote, City Council President Charles Samuels praised the school board in making that decision. A balanced budget in past years has been nearly impossible.

"They had to make some really hard decisions including the possibility or the definiteness now of closing schools," Samuels explained. "That's never a politically popular thing to do."

School leaders didn't get the majority of the extra money they asked for; now both they and council say they'll continue to try to find money as the budget year begins July 1st.

"We'll get back to work again and work more closely with council in a more structured and formalized way to hopefully be more successful next year," Bourne added.

They hope then, they'll also be able to repeat this year's good news for teachers and school staff, who ended up getting a two percent raise.

The school board now has to vote on the updated budget, but that's really just a formality.

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