RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Public Schools School Board voted on two proposals connected to the Richmond Virtual Academy program in a meeting Monday night.

The Board voted against the first proposal to implement more teachers into the Academy, and voted to approve the second proposal to cut the program in half.

The first proposal was rejected by a margin of seven to two. The second proposal was approved five to two, with two abstentions.

Representative of the 3rd District Kenya Gibson and 4th District Representative Jonathan Young proposed that the Board add more leadership to a program that received good feedback.

“My bias is in favor of our teachers and our principals, and it’s why we introduced a proposal pertinent to staffing the Richmond Virtual Academy yesterday evening — that favored what the Richmond Virtual Academy leadership, along with the teachers, preferred,” Young said.

There are currently 64 full-time employees for the Richmond Virtual Academy. In the next academic year, there will be 30. Six teachers among those 30 employees will be in charge of K-5, leaving one teacher for each grade. The number of students who can register for the program has also been cut — from 750 to 350.

While online learning began with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Young said many families have preferred web-based learning to in-person.

“The truth is, I believe in choice, and I believe in providing families choice. It is why Virtual Academy is among a robust portfolio of options next year for our families in the City of Richmond,” Young said.

Employees who do not yet have staff placement for next year will receive placement letters during the week of May 16. Staffing will be based on seniority. There are a number of new jobs in virtual learning for the 2022-23 academic year, including eight openings for teachers in grades six through 12, four exceptional education teachers, three encore teachers, two CTE teachers, one principal, and one ESL teacher, among other administrative positions.

Kim Jones, a third-grade teacher, spoke about her concerns regarding the small number of teachers.

“So now, imagine only having one teacher per grade level,” Jones said. “The amount of work for one academic subject is time-consuming with writing the weekly plans, creating the slide decks, which are up to 350 slides, and implementing the daily plan each school day with a happy, bubbly demeanor…now multiply this work times four.”

The superintendent is sending surveys to families currently enrolled in virtual learning to determine their interest in returning for the next academic school year. The survey can be found here