Richmond's teachers are standing behind Mayor Levar Stoney in calling for increased funding for public schools.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Richmond Education Association President Ramon Moore called on City Council to approve Stoney's proposed budget. It includes $18.5 million in new funding for schools and an additional $16 million for roads and sidewalks. Those investments are funded by two tax increases: a 7.5 percent property tax hike and a $.50 cigarette tax.
Standing beside Stoney and school superintendent Jason Kamras, Ramon said the increased school funding is desperately needed to ensure Richmond students receive a quality education.
“The Richmond Education Association stands willingly and readily to continue as a partner in supporting the Richmond Public Schools and making public education a priority for all of our students," he said.
Kamras told City Council members at a budget meeting on Monday the school district plans to use the money to fund parts of its Dreams4RPS strategic plan. That includes a pay raise and cost of living increase for teachers, building repairs and revamping the program for English Language Learners.
On Wednesday, Kamras said the proposed budget will create equity in education in the greater Richmond area.
"There was a lot of consternation yesterday about this college admissions scandal," Kamras said. "It was truly outrageous, but you know what is also outrageous? The fact that we have such a great divide when it comes to K-12 education depending on how much money you have and where you live."
While many City Council members acknowledge the need to improve Richmond Public Schools, only one member, Michael Jones, has voiced his support for the property tax increase that is a key part of the budget. The other eight members either do not support increasing taxes or say they want more time to explore the budget before making a decision.