School & District Management

Virginia Mayor Holding on Tight to Purse Strings

By Lesli A. Maxwell — April 17, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Unlike mayors in other cities, L. Douglas Wilder says he doesn’t want control over the Richmond, Va., schools. But he does want the district to improve, and he’s using his power over the city budget to try to make sure that happens.

Mayor Wilder had been holding up nearly $5 million in payments to the school system since the middle of last month, prompting a lawsuit by the school board.

The Democrat, who served as Virginia’s governor from 1990 to 1994, has been highly critical of the district’s spending practices and had hired an outside consultant to audit the district.

The mayor suggested that the school board has been careless with taxpayers’ money because it has not moved swiftly to close 15 underenrolled schools in the 23,000-student district, which serves the state capital.

“When people are writing to me on a regular basis that their real estate assessments are going up 100 percent and the people who spend those taxes pay no heed, then the Richmond public schools’ situation has reached crisis proportions,” Mayor Wilder said during a news conference last month.

Richmond’s nine-member school board voted last month to sue the mayor, arguing that he had no legal right to block the payments.

On April 6, a circuit court judge in Richmond ruled in favor of the mayor.

Since then, two members of the school board, including Chairman George P. Braxton, said they would give the city auditor unfettered access to the district’s books, according to published reports in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

In a news conference earlier last week, Mayor Wilder said he would continue to control the release of city funds to the school system.

“We spend more than $300 million dollars a year for the operation of the Richmond public schools–and $71 million dollars more every year than the statewide average–where is that money going?” he asked.

The mayor said that he would release a $2.1 million payment to the district so it can cover a scheduled payment to the state retirement system. The district would face stiff penalties if the payment is late. The 2006-07 adopted budget for the Richmond schools was $260 million; 40 percent of those funds came from the city treasury.

See Also

See other stories on education issues in Virginia. See data on Virginia’s public school system.

For more stories on this topic see Finance.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Photos Six Years After Parkland Tragedy, Crews Demolish a Painful Reminder
The school building in Florida where a gunman killed 17 people is being pulled down. Victims' families have toured the site with lawmakers to push for change.
4 min read
Students, teachers, victims' families and passersby watch, Friday, June 14, 2024, as crews start the demolition of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where 17 people died in the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. Officials plan to complete the weeks-long project before the school's 3,300 students return in August from summer vacation.
Students, teachers, and victims' families are among those watching on June 14, 2024, as crews start the demolition of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died in the 2018 mass shooting. Officials plan to complete the weeks-long project before students return from summer vacation.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
School & District Management Download 'Science of Reading' Learning Walks: 4 Things for Principals to Look For
An instructional guide for school leaders to help implement shifts in reading practices.
1 min read
Photograph of a Black male teacher in the classroom with clipboard observing elementary students.
E+
School & District Management Opinion 4 Things School Leaders Should Do Before Setting Priorities
Sweeping language doesn't offer a road map for the school community. Here's why.
Peter DeWitt & Michael Nelson
4 min read
Screenshot 2024 06 12 at 7.16.56 AM
Canva
School & District Management As Districts Weigh 4-Day Weeks, Research Overlooks Their Most Pressing Questions
A new, searchable dashboard will help district leaders explore research on four-day school weeks.
4 min read
Illustration of people around a very large flip calendar with Mon-Thursday highlighted in red squares. The concept of task planning. People are engaged in planning a calendar schedule.
iStock/Getty