RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – From higher test scores to a lower dropout rate, Richmond's school superintendent is touting success. Dr. Yvonne Brandon gave her "state of the schools" address this morning. She spoke for about 45 minutes at Henderson Middle School. She talked about accomplishment in the classroom but she also spoke candidly about serious challenges facing the school district.
In and outside of the classroom, Yvonne Brandon says she's seen tremendous growth in her first official year as superintendent.
"They now understand that what was thought of as being impossible is indeed possible and they're working everyday to make sure that is a reality," said Brandon.
The most city schools ever, 44 of 47, are fully accredited. 79 percent of Richmond schools have met the benchmark scores in math and reading. The state average is 71 percent.
There are new multi-million dollar grants in history and reading. And more students than ever are leaving elementary school ready to take high school level Spanish when they hit the middle schools. Elkhart Middle has been accredited for two straight years.
"Now that we are accredited we proved to everyone that had negative thoughts that we can do it," said Tasia McIntosh, Elkhart Middle Student.
Diamond Matthews was in and out of the principal's office last year. Now she's an office helper and honors student.
"The teachers they care for the students. They help them if they have problems," Matthews said.
Besides another year of budget shortfalls, researchers predict enrollment will drop at Richmond public schools by more than 3,000 students in just six years. A reason the city has launched the choice program. A grass roots effort to go door to door in city neighborhoods.
"We want to make sure we let our parents know that we are a viable option for them and we want them to choose us," said Brandon.
The school choice campaign continues this weekend at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Boushall Middle. Leaders will go door to door in the 8th district trying to convince more parents to send their kids to Richmond public schools.