Monday, March 5, 2012

Mayor Names Task Force to Review Schools Budget

Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the formation of a Task Force to review the Richmond Public Schools budget request to the city. The money the city provides to the Schools operating budget is already the largest on-going appropriation for a single agency in the city’s budget. The request sent to the Mayor this year is asking for an additional $24 million.

“Too often in the City budget process, we focus our time and attention on ‘city’ services,” said Mayor Jones. “We tend to treat the school system as a ‘grantee,’ funding them with little review. I’m committed to spend what we need to get excellent results with education for our children, but first we need a comfort level on RPS spending.”

The Schools Accountability and Efficiency Review Task Force will be co-chaired by James W. Dyke, Jr. and Eva Teig Hardy. Jim Dyke is a former Virginia Secretary of Education under Governor Douglas Wilder, and currently a partner with McGuire Woods. Eva Hardy is a former Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources (Governor Gerald Baliles), former Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (Governor Charles Robb), and a former Senior Vice President of Dominion Resources. “Both individuals bring to the table a commitment to education and a strong business background,” said Mayor Jones.

“In the short term, over the next 5-6 weeks, I am asking the commission to review the schools budget, spending and operations to identify efficiencies, potential consolidations with the city, and other management practices that will yield savings and help bring a close to the current budget problem,” Mayor Jones continued. “Some of these discussions have taken place already and continue between my administration and the School system, but we are looking for fresh eyes and fresh ideas.”

“The long-term plan is to develop strategies and initiatives that will inform us about where and how we can invest our education dollars, to generate the maximum return on the investment in public education.”

Other members of the Mayor’s Task Force include:

Jack Berry, Director of Venture Richmond, and former Richmond budget director; Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), and former Virginia Secretary of Education (Governor Mark Warner); Angela Dews, President of the Richmond Education Association; Brenda Drew, former Principal of Open High School; B. Keith Fulton, Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Region, Verizon Communications; Darius Johnson, President of the Consolidated Division of Premier Bank; Panny Rhodes, former State delegate and a former math teacher; and Ron Tillett, former Secretary of Finance (Governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore) and current advisor with Morgan Keegan.

City Council President Kathy Graziano and Council HHS Committee Chair Chris Hilbert will serve as ex-officio members of the Task Force. “In this way, we are building in the City Council review process to coordinate with the work of this important Task Force,” Mayor Jones said.

“My expectations of this group are simple: Help me put our public schools on a path to excellence. This commission will work over the next year to do just that. In establishing this Task Force, I am explicitly asking the members to keep their eye on EXCELLENCE in our School System, and how we can help to achieve it.

“My number one commitment is to focus more money in the classroom, with teachers teaching students – and getting excellent outcomes. Again, if we need to provide more money to RPS to get better results for students, then we will. However, one way of putting more money in the classrooms and in the hands of teachers, is to spend less money in the offices. We recognize that this process has begun, but we need to push the envelope and speed the process along.

“The question isn’t whether we fund $24 million extra for schools. The question is: what do we need to invest in schools to prepare our children to be competitive in the world economy?”

Mayor Jones Announces Leadership Team for World Cycling 2015

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced today the selection of new members of the Board of Directors for Richmond 2015, the organization that will produce the 2015 Road World Cycling Championships. The board will be co-chaired by Mayor Jones and Thomas Farrell, the Chairman and CEO of Dominion Resources. The board appointed Jack Berry, Executive Director of Venture Richmond, as the interim CEO of Richmond 2015.

Mayor Jones, Farrell and Berry will serve as the Executive Committee, which will guide the organizational efforts to prepare the community to host the international cycling event. Other board members who have agreed to serve in leadership capacities include: Slaughter Fitz-Hugh, President and COO of CapTech Consulting, and 2011 United Way Campaign Chair; Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Richmond Sports Backers; Byron Marshall, City’s Chief Administrative Officer; Julie Rautio, partner with Capital Results; Phil Hills, former Executive Vice President of the Lance Armstrong Foundation; Steve Piascik, President of Piascik and Associates, a CPA firm specializing in providing financial services to professional athletes; Cleo Battle, Vice President of the Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau; Bob Blue, Senior Vice President of Dominion; and Ned Massee, Vice President of MeadWestvaco.

The full board of Directors, which is currently being recruited, will consist of approximately 50 individuals, including corporate and community leaders as well as local and national cycling experts. A National Honorary Board and a local Community Advisory Committee will be appointed in the coming months.

The board has engaged Medalist Sports, an Atlanta-based firm that produces the Tour of California, to manage the event. Medalist Sports is an international sports management company with experience over the last 20 years planning, promoting and managing events such as the Tour DuPont, Goodwill games, Tour of China, USA Cycling Professional Championships, Amgen Tour of California, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG Challenge Series.

Benedetti & Farris, a local fundraising and events firm, has been retained to develop the fundraising plan, which will rely largely on national sponsorships and corporate contributions to fund the $20 million event. Tim Miller, who developed and managed the former CapTech Classic Cycling event, will be the organization’s Chief Operating Officer.

In making the announcements, Mayor Jones said, “we’re ramping up the organizational infrastructure to produce one of the world’s biggest pro cycling events. While the event is still four years away, we’re not wasting any time in identifying the leadership team that will oversee every aspect of Richmond’s appearance on the world stage.”

Mayor Jones selected Berry as interim CEO, noting that “he performed the same role in organizing the community’s resources to produce the first National Folk Festival, which continues to be managed by Venture Richmond, and drew 200,000 participants last year. Jack’s job will be to assemble the team, engage corporate and civic leaders, and get everything organized while we seek a full time CEO to lead the effort.”

"The 2015 Road World Cycling Championships will showcase Richmond's world-class assets; its history, architecture, people and the James River,” said Thomas Farrell. “These championships serve to unite the community in common purpose to continue attracting major sporting and cultural events. We look forward to working with Mayor Jones to produce an event that all those living in the Richmond area can cheer for."

Jack Berry said, “First it was the Folk Festival that made the community feel proud. Then it was the VCU Final Four run that gave us a taste of greatness. The next logical step is to showcase RVA to an international audience.”

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road World Championships were awarded to Richmond on September 21, 2011. The event is expected to generate 450,000 on-site spectators and a worldwide television audience of 300 million viewers.