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RPS leaders: We need $10 million more to avoid cuts

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - School leaders said $10 million more in funding is needed, in addition to the $5 million Mayor Jones has proposed, for Richmond's Public Schools.

After making recommended changes by the Mayor’s Taskforce, officials will still have to make major cuts to close a $24 million shortfall.

An email from the Richmond School Board to parents said that without the $10 million, leaders would be forced to cut nearly 200 jobs, increase class sizes in kindergarten through third grade and reduce salaries for 29 assistant principals, 50 media specialists and guidance counselors.

As a result, Rashida Mitchell is worried about the potential cut's impact on her child's education.

"When you have a shortfall of that amount, you worry about classroom sizes, you worry about the staff who's employed by Richmond Public Schools, you worry about what other cuts are going to be there,” said Mitchell. She wants council members and school leaders to make sure they keep kids top of mind in their decision making.

However, city council members face a difficult challenge. They must balance the city's 1.5 billion budget and close the $24 million budget gap for Richmond schools.

But council members said they will be forced to take money from other city departments to make up for the school's budget shortfall.

Officials have various ideas about how to make up that difference and where to find the money.

"We all know that the work that's been done with the Task Force and others give us a cheaper school system," said said 5th District City Councilman Marty Jewell. "But if it's not a better cheaper school system, then what are we doing.”

First District City Councilman Bruce Tyler said the budget cannot be balanced on the backs of teachers and students.

"We're asking the schools to take a stop backwards, at a time when they should be taking steps forward,” said Tyler.

School board members are asking parents to lobby their city council member for the additional funding.

But the deadline is approaching quickly.

Richmond City Council will hold a public hearing before voting on the budget on May 14.