School Board, Council take on funding in 'long overdue' meeting

Published: Apr. 4, 2016 at 4:45 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2016 at 5:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Public School Board members and members of City Council say they are ready to get to work on developing a long-term funding plan Richmond's schools.

Both sides met for a brief meeting Monday morning at City Hall to lay the ground work for the "Schools Investment Funding Program." Council and School Board members agreed the meeting was "long overdue."

Mayor Dwight Jones and City Council members stressed they wanted to come up with a sustainable plan that wouldn't break the city's budget, or hurt its credit rating.

"Hopefully as the fiscal outlook improves we can do more, but we have to start somewhere," said Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden.

During the meeting, City Council was tasked to come up with different funding scenarios, either through existing revenue, tax increases, or business partnerships.

The School Board was asked to present a timeline of projects for improving or consolidating school facilities over the next 10 years.

Earlier this year Bedden said the school system needs an additional $18 million to fix issues like overcrowding, and crumbling infrastructure. That is money Mayor Jones says the city doesn't have.

Bedden and Jones are hopeful coming up with a long-term plan will prevent the schools from having to ask the city for large sums in the future.

"Whereas there may not be any available money today, going forward for the next decade, we need to be strategic, and we need to have a plan in place to make sure that we can fund the school system in a meaningful way," Jones said.

The goal is to present a finalized funding plan to the mayor, City Council and School Board by the end of May.

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