School Board tables possible tobacco ban for one month
Board will reconsider issue at Sept. 27 meeting
The Henrico County School Board yesterday tabled for at least a month a proposal that would ban tobacco use on all school property and at school-sponsored events held elsewhere.
The board opted to continue surveying stakeholders during the next month through an online survey to receive more feedback about the issue. Board members also requested specific statistics about how many schools in the county already are entirely tobacco-free and whether those schools have experienced any problems with their policies.
The proposal, recommended by the school system's 15-member safety committee, is designed largely as a public health matter, according to Chris Bailor, the safety and security coordinator for the system. About half of all student visits to school clinics are related to respiratory issues, she said.
Current HCPS policy allows individual principals to set their own conditions for tobacco and cigarette use on their campuses by adults, staff members and visitors, and some schools already ban tobacco entirely. Some offer designated smoking areas for staff members and visitors, while others do not, Deputy Superintendent Pat Kinlaw told the board.
During a work session yesterday, Fairfield District School Board member Lamont Bagby initially suggested that it might make sense to provide a designated smoking area, particularly at campus-style schools and events such as football games.
"I don't want people who support children to not be able to feel like they can go support children," Bagby said, suggesting that smokers might opt to stay home rather than attend school events if they couldn't smoke.
Bagby seemed to back-track later, however, after hearing from Henrico High School Principal Ron Rodriguez, whose campus-style school has outlawed tobacco use for years. Rodriguez told the board there had been no initial pushback to the policy from staff members or visitors after it was implemented and no issues with it in the years since.
Deputy County Attorney Tom Tokarz told the board that the proposed policy likely would need to be adjusted slightly so that it did not overstep its legal bounds. The current proposal would attempt to prohibit tobacco use at school system events off county-owned property – which theoretically could include a sporting event hosted by a school in another county. It would be unlikely that Henrico could impose such a restriction on another jurisdiction's property, Tokarz said.
Thirty-three other school systems in Virginia – none in the Metro Richmond region – currently are tobacco-free, Bailor said.
The online survey, which had concluded, is expected to be re-activated soon on the school system's website here: http://www.henrico.k12.va.us/survey/TobaccoUseonSchoolProperty.html.
The board expects to consider the issue again during its Sept. 27 meeting.
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.
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.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarA celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be held at 3 p.m. at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 East Laburnum Ave. The event will include a one-act play written and directed by Tony Cosby, entitled "Put Down the Guns;” guest appearances by TV One's Pearline Muckelvene and The Coates Brothers; singer and J. Brown impersonator Oscar Fields; and a musical tribute to Gil Scott Heron. A light dinner will be served. Tickets are $20 and available by calling (804) 218-6970 or in person at the Gospel Bookstore, 4842 Laburnum Ave. Full text