Mayor Dwight C. Jones issued the following comment today regarding the ongoing consideration of the proposed Biennial Fiscal Plan for FY2016 and FY2017, as well as the five-year Capital Improvement Plan through 2020:
“As this discussion moves forward, I want to reiterate what I have proposed in my budget plan with respect to schools:
“Key specifics include:
- $13.1 million in School Maintenance funding (representing a 162% increase, and part of a $22.8 million five-year package).
- Proposing the implementation of a performance contracting program, giving RPS the capability to increase their total resources by as much as another $20 million.
- $136.9 million in local funding to Richmond Public Schools to meet existing operating budget revenue needs.
- $425,000 to launch a network of “Future Centers” to prepare for the launch of a Richmond Promise Scholarship program to benefit graduates of Richmond Public Schools.
- $18.3 million in capital funding for a new Dove elementary school to support the development of a high performing school that will serve pre-K through 5th graders in the Dove Street revitalization area.
- Continued investment in numerous other programs to help educate children. These include Communities in Schools, Middle School Renaissance, and many more.
“In a city with 21,000 students, we have 9,300 empty seats. For every two children, there’s another empty seat. This drives up the per-pupil costs, and forces Richmond to spend too much on buildings and not enough on students. I want to spend the money on children, not the empty seats.
“Finally, to address some of the questions about school funding, it is important to note the following facts:
- Richmond Public Schools, individually, is the single largest expenditure in the City’s budget.
- The City’s per public expense remains well above the regional average and other area jurisdictions.
- Richmond Public Schools’ funding in my budget constitutes 23.5% of all general fund expenditures (or 20% if you exclude state tax contributions).
- Since 2012, the City’s contribution to RPS has consistently increased.
- The overall trend for budgeted non-departmental spending has been decreasing since 2011. (One-time RMA funding that was placed in the non-departmental accounted for the increase seen in 2013.)
- Education constitutes the second-largest share of general fund expenditures (second to the public safety category).
- Education and public safety were the only two categories in my budget to receive a substantial increase.
- Public safety comprises several agencies and departments.
- Richmond’s local expenditures for education were 90.3% above the required local effort, compared with 82% in Chesterfield and 70% in Henrico.
- Current salaries for RPS employees exceed market rates across all experience levels.
- RPS employees received a salary increase in FY15 when other city employees did not.