Richmond Community Schools is moving forward to issue $20 million in debt for facilities repairs and improvements. 

The board conducted its second preliminary determination hearing for 2024-25 lease financing at its March 13 meeting. No residents spoke.

The approximately $18.6 million would fund safety, security and energy efficiency projects, site work, athletic improvements, and potential purchase of real estate, equipment and technology. 

Jamie Bolser, chief of finance and human resources, said properties inside Richmond city limits valued at $80,000 or more are already at their tax cap and won’t feel an increase from this project. 

The increase would be just over 5 cents per $100 of assessed value before any deductions are factored in. 

The related votes passed 5-1. John Weber favored a smaller budget. 

In other business

The board also: 

  • Approved renewing the fourth and final year of its food services management agreement with Chartwells. RCS will request food service contract proposals this fall for the 2025-2026 school year. 
    Weber voted no, saying he received a response from Chartwells about quality concerns, but his recycling/reuse inquiry went unanswered. 
    Chief Operations Officer Karen Scalf noted complexities, saying Chartwells supports recycling, but fewer items can be recycled in Richmond than in some communities. Scalf said conversations continue with Richmond Sanitary District about how recyclables could be picked up. RCS also would need to hire extra staff and/or educate students to sort trash.
    Chartwells uses biodegradable materials when possible, even when more costly, realizing it’s a board priority, said Scalf. She will gather tray washing costs for consideration because pandemic restrictions are reduced.
    Bolser suggested RCS contact Wayne County government and the county’s solid waste management district as a potential source of education resources. 
    Currently, students can leave food on shared tables to reduce waste, and RCS has pumps for condiments instead of packets. Scalf said RCS rarely has many leftovers that it can’t use, but they’re offered to food pantries.   
  • Amended a bylaw increasing board members’ per diem compensation. State law says boards may earn no more than Indianapolis Public Schools’ board. 
    The vote was 4-2. John Weber and Pete Zaleski voted no. Zaleski favored waiting because pay for some RCS positions is being reviewed. Weber sees other priorities. Nicole Stults supported consistency with the state rather than catching up later. The increase is $13 for special meetings and $38 for regular meetings/work sessions. 
  • Unanimously approved RHS’ summer school from May 28-June 21. Grades K-7 will attend June 3-28. The kindergarten booster program is July 22-31.  
  • Unanimously rejected the bid for a roof over the Richmond High School library and art area. The project will be readvertised and rebid. The bid could be awarded at April’s board meeting. 
  • Heard from parent Adam Wilson, who raised concerns about resources for fifth and sixth grade football.  

The board’s next work session starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10; next business meeting is 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 (earlier than usual). Both are open to the public at 300 Hub Etchison Parkway. 

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A version of this article appeared in the April 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.