- Due to economic and legislative factors, Richmond City holds a relatively high level of responsibility for funding public education peer districts where the state contributes more.
- Of the total RPS budget of $350M, only about $150M is “addressable.” For example, funds for school nutrition and special education cannot be used for any other purpose. Within the addressable categories, the majority of spend is salaries for instructional positions.
- According to federal and state formulas, the cost to educate Richmond’s student population is fundamentally higher than in neighbor or peer districts.
- 78% of RPS students are economically disadvantaged (vs. 32% for district neighbors, 64% for peers). The share of RPS students with disabilities is also high at 18% (vs. 12% in neighbor and peer districts). Additionally, aside from the student population, key budget drivers are school size & capacity and staffing levels.
- Many of RPS school buildings are small, which can be up to twice as expensive to operate per-pupil when compared to RPS’s larger schools. Additionally, the current facilities footprint is misaligned with demand from families: enrollment decline starting in elementary school contributes to under-utilization of some middle and high schools.
- RPS offers small class sizes -- particularly in schools where the majority of students are economically disadvantaged -- which results in more teachers.
- As a result of the above, majority of Richmond’s additional spend is on instruction and school model.
Additional Budget Information
An analysis of the district's budget was recently conducted in partnership with Bellwether Education Partners, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit that works with education organizations across the country to improve outcomes for high-needs students. Commissioned by RPS, the City of Richmond and community business leaders, the study was designed to:
- Help to provide a clear, understandable picture of revenue and expense categories in the RPS budget
- Show how RPS compares to benchmark districts in terms of per-pupil spending, staffing, building utilization, and other dimensions
- Help to identify opportunities to optimize the budget to maximize student success
- Help to surface what it would take to realize the opportunities including potential tradeoffs & considerations
To learn more, visit RPS Budget Analysis - Fall 2016