Superintendent: RPS takes steps forward despite strained budget - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Superintendent: RPS takes steps forward despite strained budget

Source: NBC12 Source: NBC12

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden stressed the progress that RPS has made over the last three years since he's been on board in his State of the Schools address Tuesday night. 

After a lineup of lively student performances, Bedden took to the podium at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. He touted the strides made under his leadership, like six more schools reaching accreditation status and the addition of another early childhood program. Bedden also pushed more opportunity for advanced students.

"We have a new Associate of Arts degree program, so for accelerated students, they can actually get an associates degree before they leave high school," said Bedden, in an interview after the speech.

Bedden also stressed the success of integrating more resources for international families, with the opening of a multicultural services center. He emphasized the importance of a new partnership with ChildSavers, to help counsel students dealing with trauma at home.

"We're not equipped to deal with trauma as a school division. We just don’t have the resources, so we went to those who work in that area," continued Bedden.

However, while the superintendent largely focused on the positive, Bedden didn't shy from the harsh reality that many Richmond students simply don't have the same advantages and support at home, as other districts.

"There's enough research to show that [these] type of demographics are most costly."

Even though more schools are accredited, 17 of 44 in total, meet the mark. RPS continually battles aging schools, deferred maintenance and resources and overcrowding - all on a strained budget.

Tough choices will likely continue to be made by RPS officials. The Richmond School Board submitted a $21 million budget for consideration by the city council, last month. Mayor Levar Stoney pitched a $6 million boost for RPS, in his budget proposal. Factoring in money given to RPS from the state, the difference leaves about a $10 million gap for RPS, if the city council doesn't hand over any more money to schools.

There will be a lot of back and forth over the next few weeks, as city council members deliberate the budget.

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