Report shows 80% of Richmond students are economically disadvantaged

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Public School parent Jahlil Karim knows his children’s school system has its challenges.

Karim said this is why he isn’t surprised by the recent findings of an in-depth study showing how much money is being spent in the school district and why.

“It an ongoing process and if you document where the change is coming on a smaller level then you can have more results from your efforts,” said Karim.

The report was done by a nonprofit called Bellwether. The report showed that nearly 80% of Richmond students are economically disadvantaged.

“That creates a level of issues that are of greater costs to the district so when students are coming to us with various disadvantages, we have to compensate for that,” said school board member Kim Gray.

Jahlil Karim

Jahlil Karim

During a community meeting Monday night, parents and RPS staff had a chance to learn more about the findings.

Compared to other school systems, Richmond receives more funding per student because of the high need student population.

“For a disadvantage student, it can cost two and a half times more than what it costs to educate,” said Gray.

The study also looked at the use of facilities, showing that some middle and high schools are underutilized.

“When we did our facilities report, we considered and we contemplated closing schools, renovating others and it’s got to be a comprehensive approach,” said School Board Chair Jeff Bourne.

Bourne says he and the new school board plan to continue these discussions in the upcoming months.