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.
Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
Three local churches are holding events on Saturday: A Fall Veterans and Community Health Fair and Blood Drive at Antioch Baptist Church in Varina; a Fall Children’s Consignment Sale at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in the West End; and a Community Day event at Fair Oaks Baptist Church in Highland Springs. Two events are also planned in Henrico for history buffs: A tour of New Market Heights and a commemoration of the battle for Fort Harrison. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Sep. 15, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
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