School Board’s Dawn Page not running for re-election; board considers training

Darlene M. Johnson | 5/9/2024, 6 p.m.
In a statement sent to the Free Press, the Richmond School Board’s 8th District representative Dawn Page announced that she ...
Ms. Page

In a statement sent to the Free Press, the Richmond School Board’s 8th District representative Dawn Page announced that she will not run for re-election.

In the statement, Ms. Page, who began her service on the board in 2016, noted the accomplishments made during her tenure. This included building eight schools, achieving full accreditation and serving as chair and vice chair.

“Even though my time has come to an end, I remain optimistic about the future of RPS and that a new leader will emerge to ensure our kids receive the best education possible,” Ms. Page stated. “While I may be leaving office, my work continues on.”

The general election for the School Board will be held in November.

In addition to Ms. Page’s announcement, it has also been revealed that the School Board is not in compliance with state requirements of annual professional development and training.

Lisa Coons, the state superintendent, notified the School Board in a letter on Wednesday of its noncompliance and re-quested these requirements to be fulfilled.

The board’s agreement with the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA), called a memorandum of understanding, requires all board members and Superintendent Jason Kamras to undergo annual professional development and training provided by VSBA, according to the letter from Ms. Coons. The training covers the board’s responsibilities for student and school achievement at troubled schools.

The School Board is risking the loss of some state funding due to its noncompliance with the agreement, but it has an opportunity to rectify their status. If done so in a timely manner, some or all of the board’s at-risk, add-on funding could be restored by the Virginia Board of Education.

RPS’ 2024 budget plan includes over $15 million in at-risk add-on funding from the state, the state’s main funding program for schools with high poverty levels.

Over the past year, School Board members have not been able to agree on a date to complete the training despite repeated efforts by Stephanie Rizzi, board chair and 5th District representative. Although a date was agreed upon at some point last year, one board member was not able to attend due to vow renewals in Las Vegas that same weekend, according to area news reports.

The RPS School Board also discussed the training requirements in a meeting this past Monday, resulting in some initial pushback.

Mariah White, 2nd District representative, did not agree with the idea of a two-day training and explained that her work obligations may interfere. Dr. Shonda Harris-Muhammed, 6th District representative, also questioned why the training was for two days instead of one day. Ms. Rizzi explained that while the training is not usually for two days, the state was specific about their requirements for a two-day training.

Ms. White also had concerns about receiving the training from the Council of Great City Schools as opposed to the VSBA. Superintendent Kamras noted that the VSBA was not interested in providing training to the RPS School Board.

Board members were vocal about their desire to quickly move forward to complete the training. Dr. Harris-Muhammed explained that as a team, it would be best to focus on “what needs to happen and not why (the training) didn’t happen.” Cheryl Burke, 7th District representative, agreed that it is time to move things along.

“It’s time that we do pause and reflect, and do better (than) what we’ve already done because we can’t stay where we already are,” Ms. Burke said at the meeting.

Ms. Burke then motioned for Superintendent Kamras and Ms. Rizzi to proceed with planning a two-day training with the Council of Great City Schools. The motion was seconded by Dr. Harris-Muhammed and passed with unanimous support from the rest of the board.