Mayor Comments on Budget Process and RPS Funding

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.
“Because I share a commitment to academic improvement I have proposed to authorize a special one-time bridge funding of $10 million from our reserve funds to jump-start RPS’s academic improvement plan, starting in the next school year.

“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.