School Board Recap- February 16, 2016
Tuesday night’s School Board meeting was marked by a great amount of appreciation and a great number of updates. New District 1 Representative, Mr. Boyer, opened the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the adoption of the night’s School Board Meeting Agenda. The agenda was approved, with the motion to receive and approve a recommendation for a Deputy Agent being moved to the March School Board meeting.
School Board Appreciation Week
School Board Clerk Appreciation
Before getting into the agenda of the night, the School Board took a few moments to express appreciation for Ms. Angie Lewis, the School Board Clerk. She was presented flowers by the deputy-clerk on behalf of the Board to thank her for her hard work and diligence as School Board Clerk.
School Board Appreciation
The School Board received a pleasant surprise when Mr. David Hudson from Linwood Holton Elementary School took the podium in order to express his appreciation for the School Board during the Public Information session. He was joined by several teachers and staff, students, PTA members, and the LHES SCA President. Mr. Bourne and Mr. Gray were honored with plaques and other items of gratitude as a thanks for “always treating everyone fairly.” Mr. Bourne was thanked personally by Mr. Hudson for giving a lot of funds to LHES that allowed many new activities to be available for the students.
The Board took a moment to recognize Emma Silverman, a student representative who has attended two School Board meetings thus far. She is a bright student who is expected to do great things in the future.
Richmond Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA)
Mr. John Linstrum and Ms. Shanae McCray from the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority took the podium in order to express that RHBA is more than willing to form a partnership with Richmond Public Schools. RBHA is the point of access for publicly funded behavioral health in the City of Richmond, providing prevention services and first aid training. As some staff with Richmond’s Public Schools have already benefited from the training services of RBHA, Mr. Linstrum presented the recent annual reports from RBHA to the Board Members and said that he wanted to “put out there” that he was an available resource if case the School Board was ever interested.
Academic Improvement Items
The School Board received an update from the Richmond Police Department and Richmond Public Safety about the L.I.F.E. Program that has been implemented in Richmond’s Public Schools. LIFE stands for “Law enforcement Intervention, Focusing on Education.” The program is focused on “reducing school arrests and achieving success.” The Chief of Police and Captain Green of the RPD took some time to share the success stories, as well encourage the Board Members to attend some upcoming events, such as team building session scheduled for Wednesday, February 17, 2016. So far, there are eleven students enrolled in the program, between the ages of 13 and 18. According to the Chief, the program is “off and running.” The program is for those students who have violated the law and have pending charges. The participation in the program prevents the students from having to go to court over an offense and encourages a change in the life choices that these students make. Mrs. Pinkney-Epps spoke very highly of the program, saying “I know you’re going to make a difference.” L.I.F.E. is a positive initiative that seeks support in the form of participation and donations. Not only does L.I.F.E. partner with Richmond Public Schools, but also with the Legal Aid Justice Program and others. Mr. Coleman took a moment to comment that: “It’s amazing to see what we can accomplish when we work together.” Some upcoming events for the students in L.I.F.E. are a trip to the Martine Luther King Memorial and a Dress for Success Program. The program is also looking into job readiness programs in order to form a continuous relationship with the students.
The School Board received several updates on the Bills that previously went before the Virginia Assembly. According the representative, the General Assembly made three budget amendments. He also noted that he was concerned about the bill pertaining to the Virginia Preschool Initiative, which does not give parent much discretion in the process. He was also concerned about the bill pertaining to charter schools in the city. The Board was informed that the bills to prohibit the penalization of schools for students opting out of SOL testing and to refer student expulsions to law enforcement were both passed. However, the bill that proposed the installation of surveillance cameras in Special Education classrooms did not pass the General Assembly.
Communities in Schools (C.I.S.)
The School Board received an update from the Communities in Schools (C.I.S.) Program from Dr. Fitzer. He informed the Board that the program has opened three more sites that are up and running smoothly. He also informed the Board that CIS was able to participate in over 595 activities and programs, such as “One School, One Book.” Despite the overall positivity of the update, Mrs. Pinkney-Epps expressed concern over the fluctuations in the C.I.S. staff.
Middle School Overage Under-Credited Program
The School Board received an update a representative of the Middle School Overage Under-Credited (O.A.U.C) Program. The Board was given a presentation of the program’s goals, visions, and curriculum. Participation in the program allows students who have been retained at least one year to be accelerated by two years (for example, a seventh grader would, upon completion of the program, be going into the ninth grade rather than the eighth) because the program utilizes the curriculum of two grade levels. The purpose of the program is to increase student achievement and increase school engagement.