Mayor presents vision for RPS, but many have concerns

Mayor presents vision for RPS, but many have concerns

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With no leader at the helm, parents and teachers worry about the direction of RPS without a superintendent. The mayor has presented a vision, but many are critical of it.

It's called the Education Compact, and it is a more collaborative approach to public education between city and school leaders.

Draft Education Compact documents were released in February, with 12 public meetings held throughout the month of March.

"On the basis of public input received on the Compact documents, a final resolution is now being drafted for introduction to Richmond City Council and the School Board," stated a press release from the Mayor's office.

However, a group of parents, teachers and supporters gathered at City Hall on Wednesday to voice their concerns with the Compact.

Led by the Richmond Teachers for Social Justice, the conversation explained they are calling for City Council and the School Board to consider the implications of adopting the proposed compact without a superintendent in place.

They say they advocate for RPS educations, students, and families, and they believe the superintendent should be involved in determining the school district's educational course of action.

Members of Support Richmond Public Schools were also present, voicing their concerns about the compact, as well.

They want the focus to be on finding a superintendent. They also want a comprehensive rezoning solution to address overcrowding and a facilities plan to move forward and funded.

They believe the school district should take a look at the unfinished tasks already on its plate, beginning with the search for the right superintendent, before moving forward with a new plan.

In an update on the Education Compact, the mayor said, "the Education Compact is the first step in coming together as a community and getting serious about making real change," adding, "our children can't wait, and our community can't wait, for us to get down to this important work."

The final Education Compact resolution will recommend three key collaborative actions:

  • Regular, quarterly joint meetings of City Council and the School Board, along with City of Richmond and RPS administrations.
  • Creating a Richmond Children’s Cabinet of key administrative agencies within Richmond Public Schools and agencies in the City of Richmond impacting the lives of children.
  • Establishing an Education Compact Team, comprised of representatives from School Board, City Council, RPS administration, City of Richmond administration and community stakeholders. This team will examine and make non-binding recommendations on key issues, such as long-term funding of the operating and capital needs of schools.

"This collaborative work is essential to achieving improved academic outcomes as well as significantly reducing and offsetting the impact of child poverty," said Dr. Thad Williamson, Mayor Levar Stoney's Senior Policy Adviser for Opportunity.

Williamson said that as the work of the Compact progresses, detailed proposals for addressing funding issues and for articulating specific shared goals (academic and non-academic) will be developed with the input of all stakeholders and the new Superintendent of Schools.

"When Richmond Public Schools succeed, the City of Richmond succeeds," said Mayor Stoney. "For many children in Richmond, their RPS education is the best or even only opportunity they will have to develop their full potential and realize their dreams."

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