State denies early-start request

Henrico County's request to the State Board of Education for the right to open school before Labor Day was rejected late last month, in a decision that was anticipated by – but still disappointing to – county officials.

The board voted to follow the recommendation of Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright, who concluded that Henrico did not make a compelling enough argument that it deserved the right under state code. To earn a waiver allowing it to open school before Labor Day, a Virginia school system must show "good cause" - typically a weather-related need or implementation of year-round school, for example.

Henrico had argued that its waiver would create an innovate academic environment and allow the system to align with the schedule of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College to provide more dual-credit opportunities for students.

Henrico Superintendent Pat Russo said he believed that while a number of members of the state board wanted to vote in favor of Henrico's request, "they felt their hands were tied" by the code's language.

"I don't want you to feel that your efforts were wasted," School Board Chairwoman Diana Winston told the school officials who had helped research and craft the request. "We'll find [another way]."

That other way could come from the General Assembly, if it votes to grant the right to open early either to Henrico or to all remaining state school divisions that lack such a right. A Senate committee earlier this year killed a proposal supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell that sought to revoke the so-called "Kings Dominion law" and grant the right to localities.

In Virginia – a Dillon Rule state – localities lack the power to take any actions that are not specifically granted to them by the state legislature.

Seventy-seven school districts in the state have been granted the right to open before Labor Day, but 55 localities do not have that right. Henrico was the first to have its waiver request denied.
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Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
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State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
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Norfolk man arrested at RIC after TSA catches him with gun

A Norfolk man was arrested at Richmond International Airport May 18 after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.

A TSA officer detected the .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it passed through the security checkpoint X-ray machine. The handgun was loaded with 13 bullets.
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Police release photo of hoax bomb

Henrico Police have released a photo of the clock that resembled a bomb that led to the arrest of a Richmond woman in Shot Pump earlier this week.

The device, which the woman told police she purchased at a yard sale, was visible in her car at the Whole Foods at West Broad Village May 19, and a passerby called police, fearing it was a real bomb. Police responded as they would have had the device been real, they said, because they weren't sure if it was real or not.
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Henrico school buses with compliance issue to be fixed this summer


The 176 Henrico school buses that have been purchased since March 2011 will be fixed during the summer, Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks told the Citizen. The bus manufacturers will retrofit the buses at no cost to the school division, he said.

The brake interlock device is required on all automatic transmission buses in Virginia that were purchased after March 2011, which is when the device was added to the state Board of Education's requirements for school buses. As many as 4,000 school buses in the state may be affected, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

May 2017
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The Henrico Business Leaders’ Third Wednesday Social will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Hermitage High School, 8301 Hungary Spring Rd. There is no charge for this informal networking get-together. For details, call 675-7502 or visit http://www.henricobusinessleaders.com. Full text

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