Andrew Crider, Staff Writer
In a 6-2 decision, Richmond’s school board approved a $293 million budget on Feb. 1, after making nearly $5 million in cuts to its initial request to the mayor.
The budget represents an $18 million increase from the previous year. This includes the cost of maintaining the school system’s operations, funding for 26 additional positions and academic improvement funding.
A week prior to the vote, mayor Dwight C. Jones called for a referendum on a potential tax increase in his annual state of the city address. The mayor had critiqued the school board for budget issues in the past, saying that the city had tried and failed to create additional funding for the school system by reform alone.
Richmond’s biennial budget, which comes from the mayor’s office, indicates education is the city’s second largest expense and that the mayor will offer 37 percent of a 60 percent requested budget increase for public schools.
According to Ralph Westbay, assistant superintendent for financial services, the budget was altered with changes to teacher’s salaries, which he said that have been in need of adjustment to meet standards for pay.
“There was probably 150 people who were below the minimum of their pay range,” Westbay said. “If we are going to attract high quality staff and keep them here for the long haul, it’s an internal equity issue because right now there is no internal equity.”
Westbay thinks that the improvements to teacher salaries in the plan will help establish equitable pay.
“Teachers have been here who’s been here for nine years working is making no more than a teacher we hire today. So what this is going to do is fix that,” Westbay said.
The plan, however, will not change salaries for new teachers or some faculty members including janitors and bus drivers.
School Superintendent Dana Bedden told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he was upset with the process of budget critique.
“One of my frustrations, to put it frankly, is that the administration is putting stuff out early and then some wait until the ninth hour to ask questions,” Bedden said.
Staff Writer, Andrew Crider
Andrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook