RPS faces $24.5 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19

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Jason Kamras_579453

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools is dealing with a $24.5 million budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a budget document from RPS.

Superintendent Jason Kamras told 8News he wants to make sure the public is aware his school system is still up in terms of the new revenue they are getting for (Fiscal Year) FY21.

“We are just up by a lot less than we were hoping before the coronavirus,” said Kamras. “I want to be clear, there aren’t going to be layoffs or cuts to current services. What we’re talking about is reducing new spending that we’re hoping to be able to do.”

Kamras said this includes revisiting giving a 4 percent raise for teachers and hiring more staff. The city’s proposed budget was already offering $7 million less than what the school board adopted in March. Now decisions will have to be made on what the school system will have to cut back on to live within their means. At this time, those specific decisions haven’t been made.

“It’s heartbreaking to be in this position, we were just crawling our way back from the 2008 recession cuts, and here we are again taking a punch to the gut,” Kamras said.

RAW INTERVIEW: RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras talks $24.5M budget shortfall

Kamras adds that he anticipates receiving about $13 million in one-time funding from the federal stimulus package. The plan is to reserve those funds for critical expenses related to the coronavirus. This includes disinfecting the schools before reopening, acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as technology and food resources. Kamras said a big chunk of the funding will be saved for next year in the event they want to make the school day or year longer. This would make up for lost learning time.

“Just to give folks a sense of the cost, if we were to add one month to the school year,” Kamras said. “In terms of compensation and other costs, it would be about $25 million extra dollars.

“Yes, $13 million in one-time funding fantastic, definitely we’re deeply grateful, when we start adding up the costs, it doesn’t go as far as you would like.”

On Thursday, April 23, the school board will meet again to continue budget discussions.

Stay with 8News for updates.

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