Richmond School Board approves $13 million in cuts, including 49 office jobs

RPS votes 6-3 for $13 million in cuts, including 49 office jobs

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In what the public thought was going to be another meeting discussing proposed budget cuts to Richmond Public Schools, the school board voted 6-3 to pass a $13 million budget cut - a decision that will eliminate 74 existing positions while adding 25 new positions for a total loss of 49 jobs.

This done in an effort to combat the projected $12 million deficit the school system would be facing in 2020.

Superintendent Jason Kamras felt in order to minimize the immediate impact to the classroom, it would be more effective to cut 49 jobs out of the central office.

“We need to shift the central office to support the strategic plan, and right now it’s not set up to do that,” said Kamras.

It was a decision that not all board members were happy with. School board and third district representative Kenya Gibson said she and other members wanted more time discuss the positions being lost in the budget cuts.

“It’s just confusing," said Gibson. ”We don’t have a document that just pulls it all together, so ultimately I don’t know what we voted on tonight."

There is still no word to the public on which specific jobs are on the chopping block because the school board discussed those details in a closed session.

“I want to be clear that we are 100 percent committed to transparency, we are also committed to making sure we treat people with respect and dignity,” said Kamras

In a statement made before the vote was passed, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney praised the school board’s vote.

Now, Kamras is to asking the city for $16 millionto help fund “Dreams 4 RPS” strategic plan. Kamras hopes that when the city sees the tough decisions the school board is willing to make for city schools, it will motivate the city to give RPS more funding.

“It is always tough to cut jobs, but now RPS has done its part. And now the ball is really in the city’s court, and now I would ask the city to put all options on the table to enlarge the pie for our kids,” said Kamras.

Representatives of the Richmond Education Association (REA) still question if the job cuts will ultimately affect the students in a negative way.

“What are the positions? Do they really have no hand or touch to the classrooms? We don’t know,” said Charlotte Hayer with REA Board of Directors.

Kamras says that before any cuts are made, employees in question will be given at least three months notice to get their affairs in order.

“We also want to make sure that we have the opportunity to connect with the city to see if they have any vacancies which might be a good fit, so that we can...quite literally when we provide notice say to employees ‘here is a set of vacancies for which you are qualified for and we’d like to make that introduction for you.”

Kamras added that the specific positions being cut could change depending on the actual budget the city ends up giving RPS.