What’s new for the 2012-13 school year?

School has started and here’s what’s new in Chesterfield County Public Schools for the 2012-13 school year:

The school system has proposed a new strategic plan, the Design for Excellence 2020. Developing the plan began in 2010 with forums to spark community conversations on such topics as online education and the importance of science, technology, engineering and math. Parents, business representatives, community leaders and educators worked together on innovation teams to chart the future of Chesterfield County Public Schools. The proposal they developed has three overarching goals for what students should know and be able to do in 2020. The School Board will consider the plan during an Oct. 9 work session, Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 public engagement sessions and a Nov. 6 public hearing and is scheduled to vote on the plan Nov. 13.

A key strategy in the Design for Excellence 2020 is creating blended learning environments by integrating technology and digital content with face-to-face instruction. Blended learning already takes place in Chesterfield classrooms and will be expanding throughout the coming year. One tool that will aid blended learning is Edmodo, a secure social network that will allow teachers and students to communicate and collaborate online anytime, anywhere.

Last year, the school system unveiled a new website — mychesterfieldschools.com. This year, all 62 schools have new websites that provide consistent information. The school websites are accessible via mychesterfieldschools.com.

For the first time, the school system has published a student health handbook. It includes details about immunizations, health screenings, what parents need to do for children with serious health concerns, EpiPens and other topics. The student health handbook is a companion publication to the parent handbook that families receive every year. Both publications will go home with students on the first day of school; they are also online at mychesterfieldschools.com.

About 270 new teachers have been hired to fill positions left empty because of retirement or other reasons.

Eight schools have new principals:
Marguerite Christian Elementary
Curtis Elementary
Grange Hall Elementary
Reams Road Elementary
Salem Church Elementary    
Robious Middle
Swift Creek Middle
Midlothian High

Renovations and additions are being completed at several schools:

At Gates Elementary, additional classrooms and a relocated administrative area to better monitor access to the building are scheduled to be ready for the start of school.

At Watkins Elementary, the administration addition/renovation, music and art room addition, classroom addition, bus loop and parent drop-off area are scheduled to be ready for the start of school.

At Midlothian Middle, additional classroom and kitchen/cafeteria space are scheduled to be ready for the start of school and phased renovations of existing classrooms are scheduled to begin in September.

At Robious Middle, HVAC renovations for the gym, locker rooms, counseling offices, band, chorus, auditorium and lobby are scheduled to be ready for the start of school.
At Salem Church Middle, HVAC renovations for the gym, locker rooms, counseling offices, band, chorus, auditorium and lobby are scheduled to be ready for the start of school.

Crestwood, Elizabeth Scott, Hening and Salem Church elementary schools are now targeted assistance Title I schools. Title I is the U.S. government’s largest assistance program for schools, putting federal money into schools that have a high percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Title I programs vary from school to school, but the goal at every school is increasing student achievement and strengthening communities. Students in 16 of Chesterfield’s 38 elementary schools benefit from

Title I:

  • Bellwood
  • Bensley
  • Beulah
  • Chalkley
  • Marguerite Christian    
  • Crestwood
  • Davis
  • Ettrick
  • Falling Creek
  • Harrowgate
  • Hening
  • Hopkins
  • Providence
  • Reams Road
  • Salem Church
  • Elizabeth Scott

Because of state requirements, job evaluations are changing for teachers. The Virginia Board of Education recommends that 40 percent of teachers’ evaluations be based on student academic progress. Under the model evaluation system, teachers earn one of four ratings: exemplary, proficient, needs improvement or unacceptable.

Also because of state requirements, Standards of Learning tests in elementary, middle and high schools will be administered online, unless a student has a documented need to take paper-and-pencil tests. Starting this year, English and science SOLs are more rigorous; this is similar to the more rigorous math SOLs that were adopted for the 2011-12 school year.

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