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Parent petitions Richmond City Council to put more funding toward schools

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — Parents of students in Richmond Public Schools are stepping up the pressure for school funding as the deadline for city council’s vote on the budget approaches.

Two months ago, Tunya Bingham, one of the co-founders of Richmond Urban Collective, spoke with CBS 6 about the organization’s idea to start an all-boys charter school for grades six through twelve. She said it would focus on urban students within RPS, as this kind of model has proven to help with graduation rates and student engagement. The Richmond School Board voted to review the proposition.

Since then, Felicia Delaney, whose son attends Martin Luther King Middle School, said she has noticed a change.

Now, other parents are speaking out as well.

Bert Berlin of South Richmond says that he is most passionate about education. His two grand-daughters are enrolled in Richmond Public Schools.

“To me the most effective anti-poverty agency is Richmond Public schools,” Berlin said. “If kids don’t get an adequate education, then they’re never going to be able to manage to get out of poverty.”

Berlin has set out to seek more funding for Richmond Public Schools by starting an online petition because he says there is room for improvement in the education system in the city.

“Unfortunately, in the City of Richmond,” Berlin said, “depending on the neighborhood you are in, you either get a better or lesser education.”

In the past, Richmond schools have received far less money compared to the surrounding counties:

  • Henrico County:  54%
  • Chesterfield County:  38%
  • City of Richmond:  26.1%

Berlin’s goal is to get 500 signatures while lobbying for better resources in the classroom and increased teacher pay.

The Mayor proposed $154 million for RPS last year with a slight increase to $155 million this year.

City Council’s Finance committee Chair Kathy Graziano says the city needs to build more efficient schools and not spend so much on administrative costs.

“Do we continue to put band-aids on old schools or do we begin to develop a plan of consolidation where schools are – like they are in the counties – bigger,” said Kathy Graziano, 4th district Richmond City Council member.

A public hearing on the city budget will be held at City Hall on April 14th at 6 p.m.  City council will vote on the budget on May 31.

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