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Richmond City Council agrees to new budget with additional $9.5 million for schools

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RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond City Council agreed to a new budget plan Tuesday night which will give Richmond Public Schools an additional $9.5 million in the compromise.

The school system asked for about $18 million more than Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones set aside for them for the 2017 fiscal year. Richmond Schools superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden said the new revenue may help improve teacher pay, which he said is his number one priority.

It is not clear if the additional $9.5 million in operating and capital funds will prevent the school system from closing Armstrong High School and four elementary schools to help close the school system’s budget gap.

Discussions began Monday between City Council and city officials about what budget items could be cut to make way for more money for Richmond Public Schools.

A public hearing and final vote on the budget is scheduled Friday, May 13.

Mayor Dwight Jones released a statement on the agreement:

“I want to thank Richmond City Council for working collaboratively with the City Administration through the budget deliberations process. Today’s actions represent progress.

“Based upon recent assessments, increases in projected taxable values, and recent notifications from the state, the Administration has been able to provide additional revenue projections for Council’s consideration. Council has acted to allocate those available funds with a solutions-oriented approach.

“I’m pleased that additional funds have not only been provided to schools, but also have been provided in other much needed areas like public works, police, fire, and finance. I’m also encouraged that our strategy of working to adequately staff the Finance Department is being embraced and that City Council voted to expand on that strategy and fully staff our finance operation. This action will position us to pursue available revenues to address the growing needs of the city.

“We all share similar priorities: meeting core commitments, protecting education, preserving fiscal integrity and ensuring a well-managed government. Today, we’ve demonstrated what can be accomplish when we work together for the greater good.

“I look forward to the next steps in this process as City Council moves toward final passage of the agreed-upon actions.”