Greater Richmond Chamber funds Mayor’s school accountability task force

The Mayor announced today that the Greater Richmond Chamber will provide funding for a task force investigating a nearly $24 million budget shortfall in the Richmond Public School system. Exactly what is the task force looking at and how might an investigation help stabilize the school system’s finances?

The Greater Richmond Chamber Foundation will fund a Mayor-appointed task force that is reviewing the operating costs of Richmond Public Schools. The announcement came today from Mayor Dwight Jones. The Chamber will fund $35,000 to the Robert Bobb Group and Alvarez and Marsal, two firms that specialize in public sector consultations.

Kim Scheeler, Greater Richmond Chamber President & CEO, said that the grant “reflects the importance that business leaders place on education in the city of Richmond. The system of K-12 education is the best economic development driver we have, and the Chamber is very happy to help to improve the RPS system.”

“The Greater Richmond Chamber has a long history of commitment to education in the City,” said the Mayor, “including its focus on early childhood education. I appreciate the Chamber’s willingness to step forward to help us with this important effort, through both the short term and long term. This assistance will help the Task Force meet the quick deadline for addressing the short-term budget issue.” The Mayor has also appointed Scheeler to the task force.

Earlier this month when he proposed next year’s fiscal budget, Mayor Jones announced the formation of the Mayor’s Schools Accountability and Efficiency Review Task Force to review a request by Richmond Public Schools for additional money to compensate for a $23.8 million budget deficit. The task force will look for ways to reduce operating costs. “If we need to provide more money to [the school system] to get better results for students, then we will,” said Mayor Jones earlier in the month. “However, one way of putting more money in the classrooms and in the hands of teachers, is to spend less money in the offices.”

The Mayor’s office said that the recently named consultants will work with the task force to do the following in the hopes of closing the nearly $24 million in overspent funds:

  1. Analyze cost savings proposals submitted by the Richmond Public Schools (RPS) Superintendent to her Board
  2. Review organizational and efficiency recommendations from previous internal and external studies of RPS
  3. Identify and recommend strategies to redirect non-instructional savings to classrooms, including business operations, financial operations, asset management, human resources and benefits, and the use of grant funds
  4. Conduct a benchmark analysis of statistical data comparing outcomes for Richmond with similar school divisions across the state
  5. Support the overarching objective of the Task Force to target and redirect resources to programs that improve student achievement.

The task force is tentatively scheduled to report their findings sometime in April.

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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