Henrico County VA

School Uniforms Possible?

Board Weighs Mandatory Plan for Some Schools
Students at seven Henrico County public schools currently wear school uniforms on a voluntary basis, but could mandatory uniform policies be on their way?

Officials at 11 Henrico schools have expressed strong interest in initiating mandatory uniform programs, and the county’s School Board last week heard preliminary plans about how such programs eventually could be considered.

Mandatory uniforms could enhance the sense of safety and community at schools and foster better learning environments, according to the principals of the schools interested in the plan.

School system officials intend to create a survey that could be used by any school interested in exploring the possibility of voluntary or mandatory uniform programs. Surveys would be sent to parents and staff members at each such school, and if a strong majority (perhaps 80 percent to 85 percent) at a specific school supported such a plan, the idea could advance for additional consideration, Executive Director of Elementary Education Pam Bell told the board last week.

School officials would seek business partners in the community willing to supplement the cost of uniforms for students who couldn’t afford them, Bell said. Officials also would hold staff and community forums to discuss the idea, then brief the School Board, which could choose to vote to approve or reject the idea – or vote to authorize individual school principals to implement mandatory uniform programs at their schools.

Surveys are expected to be distributed this month or next to parents and staff members at the 11 schools that have expressed interest so far, Bell said. The list includes all seven schools where voluntary policies currently exist: among them, Adams, Ashe, Glen Lea, Highland Springs and Laburnum elementaries. If applicable, community forums could be held in January, with possible School Board deliberations in February and a vote in March, Bell said.

A mandatory uniform policy need not be district-wide, and the board has not expressed an interest in establishing a blanket policy. Its consideration of a timeline for considering mandatory policies at certain schools resulted from requests by principals at the 11 schools in question. Many of those schools have already discussed the idea with their PTAs.

School Board attorney Melissa Velazquez told the board during its Oct. 29 meeting month that it could allow principals to make uniforms mandatory at their own schools, provided they followed School Board-authorized protocol to reach their decisions (such as achieving the required positive response levels from surveys).

The School Board also would have to establish consequences for students who fail to wear uniforms at schools at which mandatory programs are approved, Velazquez said.

Though some positives could result from mandatory uniforms, there is a possible flip side as well. Uniforms could prove too expensive for some families and could reduce students’ sense of individualism and freedom of expression, Bell said.
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Community

Your trees, please

With a nod to Arbor Day, Citizen seeks photos, descriptions of significant Henrico trees

Do you have a favorite tree in Henrico?

Do you know of a tree with an interesting story?

Do you live near an especially large, old, or otherwise unusual tree – or do you pass by one that has always intrigued you?

Arbor Day 2015 (April 24) was last week, and though the Citizen has published stories about a few special trees over the years (see sidebar) we know that our readers can lead us to more. > Read more.

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It was in the shade of that tree on April 3, 1865, that Richmond mayor Joseph Mayo met Major Atherton Stevens and troops from the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry and handed over a note surrendering the city to Federal troops. Evacuation had already begun. > Read more.

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Entertainment

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In the mood for some spring shopping? Eastern Henrico FISH will hold their semi-annual yard sale this weekend – funds raised assist at-risk families in Eastern Henrico County. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will hold a spring plant sale which is among the largest in the region with more than 40 vendors selling plants ranging from well-known favorites to rare exotics. Put on your detective hat and find out “whodunnit” at the movie “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” and “The Case of the Dead Flamingo Dancer,” presented by the Henrico Theatre Company May 1-17. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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It’s that time of year – charity races are popping up everywhere! On Saturday, St. Joseph’s Villa will be the site of the sixth annual CASA Superhero Run and the fifth annual Richmond Free to Breathe Run/Walk will be held in Innsbrook. Also in Innsbrook, the 2015 Richmond Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis will take place on Sunday. If you’re more into relaxation than exercise, check out Wine for Cure’s Dogwood Wine Festival or the Troubadours Community Theatre Group’s production of “West Side Story” at the Henrico Theatre. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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