Mayor’s task force suggests deep cuts for Richmond schools

Posted on: 1:26 pm, April 16, 2012, by , updated on: 06:28pm, April 16, 2012

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – At a meeting Monday, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones’ Schools Accountability and Review Task Force approved the city’s recommendation to cut roughly close to 70 positions to help plug the nearly $24 million deficit facing the city’s school system.

The task force did approve the items below, but emphasized that no teacher is going to be laid off. The eliminations will come through retirements or attrition.

Also, the task force proposed eliminating 25 aides, but later amended it with the hopes that these positions will be kept and the money found elsewhere.

The eliminated positions breakdown as:

  • 20 teachers
  • 25 teacher’s aides
  • 10 administrative positions
  • 25 custodians
  • 13 would be security officers.

The task force also suggested contract lengths for assistant principals, counselors and librarians be shortened to 10 months and three-day furloughs be instituted.

The task force suggested a hiring freeze be put in place for the 2012-2013 school year, subject to the superintendent’s discretion.

It also recommended a reform of the transportation system to reduce routes and overtime.

The task force said it would like to see the work force further reduced by 50 positions through vacancies, resignations and retirements.

It suggested the health care premium be increased 10 percent, and dental insurance be eliminated altogether.

The suggested cuts total up to $23,822,336, and would meet the district’s short-term budget gap. But it would leave them $2,468,664 short in the long-term, since many of the cuts are a one-time fix.

The meeting began with a period of public comment, during which current and former school teachers pleaded with the task force to be more conservative in their cuts.

“For the past six years without a pay increase, have I diminished my services? No,  I’ve increased my services,” said Charlotte Hayer, a Richmond Public School teacher. “But we need to think about what it is an education provides for our children.”

Others criticized the lack of transparency in the budget cutting process.

“I know there is a budget crises and there are looming budget deadlines to be met” said Jesse Senechal, a former teacher and education advocate. “However, I am concerned that the very important decisions are being made about the funding and operations of our city’s schools systems – decisions that will affect thousands of public sector employees, and tens of thousands of students and parents – and yet there’s been very little information about plans for theses cuts. And very little opportunity for public input.”