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Richmond School Board poised to make changes after election

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Richmonders sounded the bell, bringing about change to the Richmond school board, the elected group of people responsible for overseeing the struggling school system.

“There is certainly something that was wrong and our voters made it clear,” newly elected board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed told CBS 6 News' Lorenzo Hall Wednesday.

Harris-Muhammed also said that with seven of the nine members being new, it's clear that city residents want change. And not just with this board, Muhammed says, but employees throughout the school system.

“No one is safe at this point. Everyone has to be reviewed. Everyone has to be looked at. That's why we were voted,” Muhammed said.

Other new board members, like Jeff Bourne, who serves as the mayor's advisor and Derik Jones, the mayor's son, also weighing in.

Both men say they'll assess all positions within the school system, but first, the board must finish rezoning and tackle a deficit already at $10 million.

Bourne says one solution is to combine city and school services like maintenance. 

"Not only do we have to cut, we are going to have to find revenue sources. We don't want to be in the same position the board was in last year,” Jones said.

Also familiar with the budget is one of the two returning board members, Kim Gray.

Gray says a lot wasn't accomplished with the previous board because she believes most members took their commands from city hall, not the people. Gray is the only board member who voted against sending pre-school students to Norrell elementary, a school built on a landfill.

“I’m hoping I have the support of new board members to find another solution for where those pre-schoolers can go,” Gray said.