Roanoke City Public School students returned to school on Monday and were able to do so before labor day because of the recent passage of the “Labor Day Bill.” The pre-Labor Day start gives RCPS students a competitive advantage in preparing for rigidly scheduled standardized tests. Some other new highlights for the 2011-12 school year include:
• For the first time, all RCPS schools are academically accredited and graduation rates are at an all-time high.
• New partnership with the Kirk Family YMCA allows high school students to earn physical education credit through the Y-Fit Program.
• A partnership with the Virginia Western Education Foundation called “The Food for Thought Project” will create a significant community garden and teaching facility at James Madison Middle School.
• A privatization partnership with Carilion results in a 16% increase in nursing coverage at RCPS schools.
• VH1 Save the Music Foundation awards two new $30,000 grants for musical instruments to Morningside Elementary and Crystal Spring Elementary. RCPS now has a total of eight elementary schools with musical programs thanks to the support of VH1.
• Patrick Henry High School is the winner of the 2011 Supremacy Cup for having the best overall on-field athletic success among high schools in the Western Valley- a result of efforts to double the number of high school students participating in athletics over the past three years.
• Preston Park Elementary will soon have a new gymnasium similar to the unique design of Grandin Court Elementary’s gymnasium.
• To complement instruction and online testing, RCPS now has 1.7 students to each instructional computer-compared to 2.9 students per computer two years ago.
• Fishburn Park Environmental Focus School won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Curriculum from the Green School Challenge.
The bus fleet will also be newer this year-with more than 40% being less than four years old. All of the buses are equipped with security cameras and real-time GPS tracking units.