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Richmond School worker upset with board over ‘celebration’

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR)- With the first round of the budget battle behind them, comes the first round of drinks for Richmond School board members at a local bar.

But one RPS employee says this celebration leaves a bad taste in her mouth.

“Maybe, they felt that they had a success.  But a success at whose expense,” said the school employee who works in City Hall and wanted to remain anonymous. “I thought that was very disheartening for the employees who are in the process of losing jobs.”

The employee is just one of the 64 people whose job is now in jeopardy after school board members voted to close two schools and cut dozens of school system Central Office positions and services to balance its $245 million budget.

“We’re not celebrating.  We’re worried,” the employee said. “We have bills, homes, cars things to pay for and we just thought that it was very distasteful.”

“Our intention was not to go out and celebrate anyone potentially losing their job,” School Board Chair Jeffrey Bourne said. He said the board’s decision to hang out was misinterpreted.

“We take our jobs very seriously and we had a lot of tough choices to make and what I wanted to do, what we wanted to do, was just sort of take a breath after we spent two months, countless hours and many nights working through the budget,” Bourne said.

He said the board saved hundreds of other jobs within the district by not outsourcing them.

“Our last resort is to have people lose their jobs,” Bourne said.

Bourne said they plan to absorb those cuts through retirements and attrition.  He said some of the Central Office employees will be re-assigned to other positions within the district.

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