School Board Recap - February 21, 2017
February’s School Board Meeting revolved around the budget plan for Richmond Public Schools. Many members of the community are concerned about what the final budget plans for the school system will entail.
Awards and Recognitions
The School Board took the time to recognize the School Board clerk. The School Board's clerk received an award for her outstanding work.
Support Richmond Public Schools
Kerry Treadway came forward because she wants more support for Richmond Public Schools and desires a better budget for the schools that is more open and transparent. Many schools provide a poor learning environment for the children and, according Treadway, while there have been some improvements made to ensure better transparency, there has been no immediate relief or anything else done to address long-term goals for the school system. Treadway feels that nothing has been done to get additional funding for resources and proposes that the School Board submit an estimate of needs and perhaps create GoFundMe accounts in order to get resources for the schools.
On the Shelf
Tom Hardman, speaking as an individual, criticized the board for shelving the budget plan of the previous administration and never returning to revise or implement the plan. He claimed that the plan was seen as being “of the past” and that that was defective. He felt that the previous plan should have been fixed instead of shelved because the issues that the plan addressed were resolvable.
A Lack of Integrity
Stephanie Pretty, a high school senior, claimed that Richmond Public Schools violated her rights through forced rezoning. Kandise Lucas, from Advocates for Equitable School, spoke on Stephanie’s behalf and accused the School Board of lacking of integrity and having her arrested for trespassing.
Chris Lombardy, a general education teacher for Richmond Public Schools, spoke in support of a needs-based budget. He highlighted three necessities for this proposed new budget: more transparency, no showdowns, and a decrease in the budget gap. He also stated that the General Assembly needs to put forth fair funding for the schools at the state level.
Needs-Based Budget Plan
Tonya from Youth Life also proposed a needs-based budget plan. She encouraged the School Board to adopt the Barlow plan. She also said that the Board needs to have a realistic understanding of what a school needs.
Analyze the Problems
Latrice Younger, an Instruction Assessor at Henderson Middle School, asked that some funds be allocated for analysis in order to solve problems with the school system.
Denique Millner brought the need for additional positions to the School Board’s attention, as she says it is “taxing [for teachers] to go between multiple schools.”
A Poor Learning Environment
A Ms. Daniels from the Southside of town spoke on the poor learning environment within the schools and the need for an assessment to be made. Ms. Daniels says that there is cursing and fighting in the schools, with employees of the school fighting with the kids as well.
John Barcley came forward to entreat the Board to better its priorities. He said that the recruitment of substitute teachers is an important task that needs to be addressed and that a reduced centralized budget is necessary, as contracts with vendors restrict the ability for the school system to make purchases for school needs.
"Education is Important"
Melissa Peskin, a homeowner from the Fourth (4th) District, emphasized to the School Board that “education is important.”
Brianna Nowme conveyed concern about a budget that addresses less needs-based budget. She desires the establishment of precedent for democratic conversation between the School Board and the community.
The School Board received a legislative update about long-term suspension of older students. For Pre-K through Grade 5 aged schoolchildren, the number of suspensions will be limited. For older students, however, in a third reading by the Senate, a 45-day period of suspension vs. a 60-day period of suspension was discussed.
Richmond Teacher Residency program was granted rollover and direct funding.
Monitoring of non-contracted salaries and upgrading teacher’s salaries was highlighted in the financial statement.
School Board Action Items
Several options related to the potential budget plans were proposed during the meeting.
Option 1 proposed providing $5 million in additional funding and partnership with multicultural, nursing, and athletic programs as part of a strategic plan.
Option 2 proposed providing funding for a multicultural center.
Option 3 proposed adopting the original, revised strategic plan. During the discussion on Option 3, there was a motion to remove professional development from the plan. However, the motion failed when no other members of the School Board would second that motion.
There was also a block of motions related to the Regional Governor’s School, which proposed that 1) principals get funds free from micromanagement, that 2) a pilot program to address lunchroom efficiency receives funding, that 3) funding goes specifically to professional development, and 4) that spending be decreased by reorganizing professional development into human resources. There was no second to this motion either, as there was a necessity for a framework prior to addressing these line items.