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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Community

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.

project:HOMES’ ‘Renew Crew’ helps Henrico citizen


The project:HOMES "Renew Crew" (above) recently assisted an elderly member of the Laurel Presbyterian Church in Henrico by clearing brush, trimming hedges and raking leaves in her yard.

The Renew Crew serves low-income, disabled and elderly homeowners in need of small-scale home repairs such as porch, railing and step repairs, exterior painting, clearing overgrown yards, tearing down outbuildings, wheelchair ramps and other critical repairs and accessibility modifications. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


The past couple of days haven’t felt like it, but it’s finally December and this weekend is packed with holiday events. Kicking the weekend off is Glorious Christmas Nights’ production of “Finding Christmas” at West End Assembly of God. Gayton Baptist Church’s annual Jazz Nativity starts tonight. Another annual favorite is tomorrow – the tree lighting at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. In search of Christmas concerts? The Virginians Barbershop Chorus will present its annual Christmas Show tomorrow at the Collegiate School and the Richmond Choral Society will perform Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen will host a Happy Hour Art Class from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. First, enjoy wine tastings from Jacey Vineyards from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and then grab a brush and follow the leader to create a seasonal masterpiece to take home. Classes are held the second Saturday of each month and feature a different project led by artist Nancy Jacey. Cost is $45 and includes wine tasting, all project supplies, one complimentary beverage and light refreshments. To register, call 261-ARTS or visit http://www.artsglenallen.com. Full text

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