Richmond Superintendent Says More Money Needed for Schools - 8NEWS - WRIC | News Where You Live

Richmond Superintendent Says More Money Needed for Schools

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - Richmond City School's new Superintendent says the district needs major help and he's asking the city for additional money to fix some big problems.

Several buildings are falling apart and many parents believe more needs to be done to improve education in Richmond.

"How can you expect these children to be productive citizens if you don't want to invest in them?" says parent Shanay Ismail.

Ismail and other parents say schools have been neglected far too long.  Last month, a ceiling tile fell on a Fairfield Court Elementary School student because the roof hadn't been repaired in decades. Heating, air conditioning units and plumbing systems allegedly fail on a regular basis and aging facilities need major work.

"We can't keep patching buildings that are 100 years old," says Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden.  "We spend on average about $1,300 per kid just for our maintenance operations. That's the highest in the area."

Bedden is asking Mayor Dwight Jones and City Council for money from the city's reserve fund to pay for needed upgrades now.  School board members agree.

"That reserve fund is for crisis and emergency and we're in that state right now," says board member Kim Gray.  "When children are not safe in school buildings, it's time to open up the reserves and pay for some of the repairs that are needed to keep us safe."

A spokeswoman for the mayor says the city has consistently increased funding for schools and that the reserve fund is crucial to the city's bond rating, which ultimately saves taxpayer money.
Bedden says he'll also fight for teachers to get raises.  Many are leaving to other school systems because they haven't had a pay increase in years.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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