Laptop, network enhancements expected

Henrico County's groundbreaking one-to-one laptop initiative for high-school students will conclude its third four-year contract June 30, and school officials are seeking enhancements that will make the next contract more efficient and effective.

The school system issued a request for proposal (RFP) last month to solicit interested bidders for the next contract, which will replace the current deal with Dell Computers for the provision of laptops and support for high school students, faculty and staff.

The RFP asks bidders to bundle the leasing of equipment with service needs, training for technical staff members, loaners and all other components necessary for the program, HCPS Technology Director Peter Taylor said, so that the overall cost to the school system may be more inclusive than in previous contracts.

The new machines will have solid-state hard drives, which are more durable and less likely to need repair than the mechanical drives that are used in the system's leased laptops currently, Taylor said. The new contract also will include a program on each laptop that automatically backs up critical student data to a server in their schools, he said. That way, students will have easy access to their materials at all times – even if they need loaner machines.

Officials will review bids with the School Board early next year, and the board likely will award a contract by the end of February.

In a separate RFP, to be issued by the end of December, school officials will seek bids to update the school system's network infrastructure. The current network, implemented in 2001 when Henrico began its laptop initiative with Apple, is on the verge of becoming obsolete, Taylor said. The chief problem: lack of adequate bandwidth, which particularly at the high school level is threatening to slow the flow of information from the internet and individual school servers to student and faculty computers.

Recommended state bandwidth standards for school systems exceed what Henrico's is capable of handling through its current network system, Taylor said. With so much demand for online content and so many users, high schools in the county likely will reach their bandwidth limitations within a year.

Upgrading the network to a 10 gigabits per second (gpbs) internal capability for all schools will provide more than enough bandwith, while preparing the school system for future needs, Taylor said. (Current bandwith varies from 10 megabits per second at elementary schools to 100 mbps at middle and high schools and 1 gpbs for internet usage.)

It also will provide enhanced levels of security for faculty and staff members, who will be able to submit grades, for example, through a completely secure wireless system.

Officials will recommend to the School Board a vendor and contract for the network enhancements sometime in the first quarter of 2013, with the intention of updating the network during the summer.

Some money for the project – which could cost $1.5 million or more in total, according to Superintendent Pat Russo – is included in the current budget. But the majority of it will need to be added, Russo said.
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HCPS wins national honor for overhaul of Code of Student Conduct, supports


Henrico County Public Schools recently was recognized by the National School Boards Association for a sweeping overhaul of the school division’s approach to student supports. HCPS was one of five large U.S. school systems recognized with a first-place honor in the 2017 Magna Awards, presented Saturday in Denver at the organization’s annual conference. The awards recognize school divisions and leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” according to the group.

The award recognizes Henrico Schools’ efforts of the past several years, from re-examining its policies to implementing more support systems. After a two-year conversation with the community through public hearings and other feedback, HCPS adopted a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2015-16 school year. > Read more.

Environmentalists say budget hurts efforts to protect bay

Environmental groups are outraged at the Trump administration’s proposed funding cuts for Chesapeake Bay cleanup programs.

President Donald Trump’s budget plan, released last week, reduces the budget for the federal Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent. That includes a $427 million in funding to address regional pollution, such as the Chesapeake Bay protection efforts. The proposed budget would eliminate funding for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which received $73 million from the federal government in 2016. > Read more.

Glen Allen ES principal receives REB Award


Melissa Halquist-Pruden, principal of Henrico County’s Glen Allen Elementary School, earned the 2016-17 REB Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership. The Community Foundation presents the award to four principals annually – one each from the school systems of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties and one from the city of Richmond schools.

The award recognizes principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their jobs to create an exceptional educational environment. The award stresses management and communication skills, and the ability to inspire, encourage and advocate for the school. > Read more.

Grant to help Hermitage H.S. upgrade CTE program equipment


Governor Terry McAuliffe announced recently that Henrico County’s Hermitage H.S. will be among 16 high schools and technical centers statewide to receive a grant to upgrade equipment for career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The program gives priority to challenged schools, Governor's STEM Academies and Governor's Health Science Academies. Each school or center will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other necessary improvements. At Hermitage, the funds will be used for precision machining equipment. > Read more.

Virginia raises a toast to George Washington’s whiskey


George Washington is recognized as the father of our country, but with a bill signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington also will be recognized under another title – distiller of Virginia’s official liquor.

SB 1261, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, adds a “state spirit” to the list of the commonwealth’s official emblems and designations and crowns George Washington’s rye whiskey with the title.

The bill, which McAuliffe signed last week, highlights George Washington’s contributions to the culture of Virginia as “a native son of Virginia born on February 22, 1732, in Pope’s Creek”; “the first American president, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention”; and “a model statesman ... universally acknowledged as the father of our nation.” > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

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 6:30 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.
Entertainment

Metro Diner to open second Henrico location


Metro Diner, a comfort food concept, will open its second Henrico location next month. The company is accepting job applications for its Libbie Place location at 5626 West Broad Street. The diner concept, known for its fried chicken and waffles, meatloaf, and shrimp and grits, will bring 100 new jobs to the region as it plans to open its doors in April.

The 3,500-square-foot diner located in the Libbie Place Shopping Center will seat more than 100 and serve classic comfort food staples with a twist, such as fried chicken and waffles topped with strawberry butter and a stuffed challah bread French toast with strawberry and blueberry compote. > Read more.

 

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CAT Theatre, 319 N. Wilkinson Rd., will present “Jeeves Intervenes,” a comedic farce, March 17 to April 1. “Jeeves Intervenes” is a delightful romp full of deception and disguise based on the original P.G. Wodehouse stories. Starring Scott Bergman in the title role. Tickets are $23 in advance and $25 at the door (opening night is $33 to $35). For a complete performance schedule and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.cattheatre.com. Full text

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