RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After months of continued discussion of safety — both in and out of school buildings — Richmond Public School Board members are adding a possible raise to the agenda of discussion for the next meeting.
A discussion of a salary increase for the next school board is on the agenda for the upcoming board meeting, scheduled for Monday, Nov. 6.
“It really has me scratching my head,” said Richmond Public School Board member Jonathan Young, of the fourth district.
Young candidly said he believed that the board has under performed in numerous areas.
“Frankly, we have come up short over and over again – from graduation rates to teacher attrition, to all the kind of concerns we have pertinent to capital outlay,” Young said.
Young added building deficiencies to his list of concerns, citing the mold and air conditioning issues some students and staffed faced at the beginning of the school year. Young continued to say that he couldn’t fathom asking for another raise at this current moment.
“Just look at any of the empirical data relevant to how few persons actually are using our schools – i.e how many of our families opt out,” Young said. “Look at how many of our teachers decide to leave, often to go to a jurisdiction where they are earning less in compensation.”
Instead, Young said he would rather see any additional money go to students and staff who he said work daily and tirelessly in poor conditions allowed by the school board.
8News reached out to more members of the Richmond School Board and were met with varying responses.
Board chair Stephanie Rizzi, of the fifth district was in disagreement with Young’s claim, saying Young’s concerns took decades of neglect and injustice to create and adding that to suggest anything otherwise would be disingenuous.
Responsible School Board service is essentially a full-time job, and with the challenges RPS faces, that is perhaps as it should be. If the current board is an abject failure (which I unequivocally believe it is not), then surely Mr. Young must also hold himself at least in part responsible since he has now been a Board member for two terms. An increased level of support for Board members to include but not limited to a cost of living salary increase, will surely go far in attracting and retaining the caliber of board members that Mr. Young would like to be and see.Rizzi continued in a statement.
Kenya Gibson is a board member representing the third district and was sure to voice her concerns of the safety of students and staff in the wake of the tragedy of the Huguenot High School graduation mass shooting this past June at the Altria Theatre.
Early on, Gibson pushed for a motion to be passed on the hiring of a new safety auditor, which was then denied.
When asked for comment on the discussion of an increase in pay for the next elected school board, Gibson noted how many are often surprised that the school board position is a part-time job paying only $10,000 a year.
“I’d love to see more parents on the ballot, but we need to make it feasible to pay for child care and transportation to fulfill the requirements of the role…” Gibson continued to say. “In the last election, three of our school board representatives ran unopposed. This is hard work, and not everyone has the luxury to dedicate so much time and receive very little compensation. Democracy only works when there is participation. We need people to run and people to vote.”
Should the proposal of an increase in pay be approved, it would go towards the newly-elected school board, which would be for the year 2024.