School Board still working on final 2022-23 budget
Ronald E. Carrington | 3/24/2022, 6 p.m.
Nearly four weeks after approving the 2022-23 budget, the Richmond School Board is still struggling to complete a final version with all line items filled in to send to City Hall and City Council.
After extended discussions Monday night, the board decided to continue the work until the Monday, April 5, meeting even as the council, now reviewing Mayor Levar M. Stoney’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, continues pressing the board to finish.
At stake for the board is a proposed $15 million increase in the city’s contribution for public education, which would largely go to support pay raises for teachers and other staff.
As approved by the School Board, the budget would total around $548 million, including federal grants and a $356 million operational budget primarily from city and state funds.
Among the unsettled issues is where to cut $1 million in expenses. The board was seeking a $16 million increase from the city and needs to find reductions to bring the spending plan in line with the city’s proposed $15 million increase.
In addition, according to Superintendent Jason Kamras, the board must find additional reductions because the budget plan the board approved on Feb. 28 inappropriately mixed operational dollars with one-time federal dollars.
For example, he noted that the board cut $10 million in spending on new computers for students and cellphones and counted that as a reduction in operational spending. However, he said the money for those items was to come from funds provided through the federal American Rescue Plan that are accounted for separately and would not reduce spending for continuing operations.
During Monday’s meeting, Mr. Kamras presented a proposed list of cuts totaling about $7 million, including reductions in central office positions and consulting contracts along with a host of other snips from his original budget plan.
He expressed hope that the board would use his proposed amendments as a blueprint for developing a completed budget at the first meeting in April.