Richmond swears in new school board

Posted on: 9:45 pm, January 3, 2013, by and , updated on: 10:44pm, January 3, 2013

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – What does the future hold for Richmond’s school Superintendent?

Seven new members make up the nine sworn-in Thursday, now are, facing a troubling school system.

“Our first priority is to attack this budget,” said Tichi Pinkney-Eppes.

A school budget already 10 million dollars in the hole and a rezoning plan that still needs to be worked out.

“We got to review that budget, dig into to it and figure out where we can find some savings and efficiencies. So, those dollars can be put back into classroom,” said new school board member Jeffrey Bourne.

Bourne, who served as the Mayor’s advisor,was elected as the school board chair over Kim Gray, one of the two returning members. We asked him what he thinks about the job the Superintendent is doing in the district?

“I wouldn’t say that at all. I think all of us are coming in with an open mind. We are 20 minutes or 30 minutes of being sworn in. So, I think we’ve got to work through all of those issues.”

But this board member says she’s keeping an open mind about the Superintendent’s future.

“I think as a board we’re going to evaluate her just as any other employee of the city,” said Shonda Harris-Muhammed, 6th District Representative.

And while questions have been raised over Dr. Yvonne Brandon’s leadership, Mayor Dwight Jones is hopeful this new board will make changes.

“I think that to think that there is some pot of money someplace where a check can be written is not something that people should feel is true,” said Mayor Jones.  “I think that the school board needs to be willing to ask the tough questions and delve deep into the issues. That’s what I’m hoping for this new school board.”

CBS 6 has learned that Dr. Yvonne Brandon was given a new 4 year contract in 2012.  However, she will undergo an annual performance evaluation later this year.  The new board will look at everything from student performance, school operations to student safety.