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School Budget Omits Money for Patrick Henry

School Board says funding for charter school will be added later.



Richmond Public School officials are playing their cards close to the vest in the run-up to their proposed budget and how it might include Richmond's first charter school, the Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts.

No money has been budgeted for the school, as of the School Board's most recent meeting in January when Superintendent Yvonne Brandon presented her district funding needs for the coming year, which starts this summer.

The oversight has provoked jittery nerves among Patrick Henry's board. Richmond officials dismiss the omission, insisting that despite belt-tightening that's shaved millions from the school budget, Patrick Henry can be added in before the budget's final adoption. The school seeks $1.4 million for operating costs for next year.

Kristen Larson, a spokeswoman for the charter school, says budget director Lynn Bragga assured Patrick Henry officials that the proposed funding needs were presented to the School Board on Jan. 4. Two board members, including Chairwoman Kim Bridges, say that no such presentation took place.

We're very concerned that we're not in this budget that's been proposed and will be discussed on Feb. 1,” Larson says.

The School Board is scheduled to approve Brandon's funding proposal Feb. 1 and send it to City Council where it may face further cuts. Some money for Patrick Henry may be found in shifting dollars that follow pupils who switch to the new school.

In an e-mail, schools spokeswoman Felicia Cosby writes that concerns are unfounded: “Once an agreement [with Patrick Henry] has been made, the budget will be altered to reflect additional expenditures for the operation of the Charter school.”

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