Henrico County VA
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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.


Community

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden raises admission $1

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.

The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

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Entertainment

US Army Field Band to perform in Henrico Aug. 3

The United States Army Field Band will present a free public performance at Deep Run Park in Henrico on Sunday, Aug 3 at 3 p.m.

Members of the band are soldiers who also serve as “musical ambassadors of the Army” and perform for schools and communities nationwide.

The Concert Band will be performing along with the Soldiers’ Chorus. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Take in a show at several locations this weekend! West End Comedy will provide laughs at HATTheatre; the production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes” will close Sunday; and the youth theatre company CharacterWorks will present “Footloose” at The Steward School. Another show perfect for the kids – “Despicable Me 2” is playing at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center tonight. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Is there an Echo in here?

‘Earth to Echo’ aims to become this generation’s ‘ET’
It’s no secret that all found-footage genre movies are the same. Grab a couple of characters, give one of them a camera, and expose them to something supernatural that’s content to lurk just off-screen until the last five minutes. Everything else will just fall into place.

But that formula isn’t particularly family friendly, if only because that thing waiting a few feet to the left of the cast is usually plotting their violent doom.

That’s what sets Earth to Echo apart from the pack. It, too, follows a group of characters armed with a camera and a tendency to encounter unknown life forms. But all those familiar parts have been rearranged just enough to make it suitable for a much younger audience. > Read more.

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