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RPS Superintendent just aims for funding equal to 2009 budget

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RICHMOND, Va. – The School Board recently heard Superintendent Dr. Bedden’s Statement of Needs and plans to review his suggestions before addressing Mayor-elect Levar Stoney.

Parent Scott Garnett lives in the Fan, and his kids attend Binford Middle School and Fox Elementary.

"The teachers are great," Garnett said.

Garnett said he doesn't want to have to pull his kids out of Richmond Public School system and move to the counties.

"People don’t want to do that anymore they want to stay in the city," Garnett said.

What they want, he said, is to see RPS funded properly.

Garnett suggested that Stoney, along with the new incoming City Council, take seriously Bedden's request for roughly $22 million additional dollars next year.

The school system should bring in about four million dollars in revenue themselves, so the city would fund $18 million of that amount.

"There is a chance to change the trajectory of the schools," Garnett said.

Kristen Larson, who currently sits on the School Board, but will soon move to a newly won City Council seat, said she will wait to see what the new School Board decides to do with Bedden's recommendations -- though she already supports some of his ideas.

"I’m very hopeful," Larson said.

Among the ideas she supports, more money for middle school athletics, more dollars to help ESL (English as a second language) families, and additional funding for teachers.

"A first year teacher was essentially making the same amount as a teacher that had been with us nine years," Larson said.

"Since 2009 to 2015 , our budget decreased by $22 million dollars, so if we got this money we would be kinda back to where we were in 2009 in funding," Bedden said.

Bedden said the system has many more needs than those he requested but he has to start somewhere.

He said ensuring that teachers receive a competitive salary is a must, along with providing more access to foreign language instruction, and investing in middle school kids that are old enough to be in high school yet aren't meeting state benchmarks.

"I think that contributes to our dropout rate and I think that contributes to students who are losing hope because we keep putting them in a system they're not being successful in so we have got to try something different," Bedden said.

Mayor-elect Levar Stoney sent us the following statement regarding Bedden's recommendations.

"Looking forward to working closely with the School Board, the City Council, and the Superintendent on a plan that helps strengthen our schools."

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