RIC school board unanimously approves budget - WNEM TV 5

RIC school board unanimously approves budget

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For the first time in years, Richmond city teachers are set to get a raise. The Richmond School Board unanimously approved its upcoming budget for the 2014-2015 school year, Friday night.

Some board members say this budget aims to restore some of the tough cuts made in recent years. However, difficult scale backs were still pushed through.

Richmond public schools will spend more than $262 million dollars next year. The plan will largely fund a vision forwarded by the district's new superintendent, Dr. Dana Bedden. On that checklist is a three percent raise for teachers, and a two percent raise for support staff.

"It's so, so important to the morale of our staff, that they know that we care. There have been some lean years," said Richmond School Board Chairman Don Coleman.

However, the budget also calls for cutting healthcare payments to retirees, and not reimbursing them for unused sick days. These cuts passed, despite pushback from some teachers.

Still, the school board managed to slot more money towards text books, as well as music and the arts.

"With the arts and humanities in general, we're going to see a restoration," continued Coleman.

Even though the school board voted unanimously to pass the budget, several members expressed publicly that they wished bolder decisions had been made for city schools.

"We asked for more money for additional things. But I think we could have dreamed bigger," commented board member Jeff Bourne.

Bourne listed ideas left out of the budget, like expanding pre-k and instituting same-sex middle school classes for core subjects.

"None of those are embedded in this budget, so I think we have left some of our boldness on the table," stated Bourne during the meeting.

Regardless, the school budget will make its way to the Richmond City Council for final approval. The school budget leaves about a $5 million dollar gap, which the city will decide whether to fill, or tell the school board to scale back.

The mayor is expected to present the budget sometime next month.

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