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RPS Board discusses cuts to close $11-million gap

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) — The day is over and all was quiet at City Hall, with the exception of one conference room.

That’s where school board members were meeting to figure out if it’s even possible to close an $11 million dollar budget gap without doing much damage.

The mayor needs to hear from the board by February 19.

“We’re really going to engage the community because we might not have all the best ideas,” says School Board Chair, Jeff Bourne.  That’s why board members met informally this weekend to hash out ideas, he said. 

The school district’s chief has already given them a head start.  Dr. Yvonne Brandon wants to eliminate nearly 70 teaching positions through attrition and outsource maintenance, transportation and security. The mayor’s school task force made those recommendations last year.

Board member, Dr. Shonda Harris- Muhammed says she’s against outsourcing, especially security, following the tragedy in Newtown. She tells us, this process is tough because there are very few areas to cut now.

Her suggestion is to re-visit rezoning and make the tough decision to close several schools, which the last board refused to do. “We need to realize that we cannot afford every school to be open. We have several schools that are underutilized,” says Dr. Harris-Muhammed.

You may recall, this time last year, the school district was asking the city for $24 million dollars.

Click on the video for Lorenzo Hall’s full report. 

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