New start times, more electives part of RPS changes

Changes for upcoming RPS school year

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Among the changes coming to Richmond Public Schools as the new school year begins are more bus drivers and new start times for some elementary students.

Five elementary schools - Westover Hills, Carver, Chimborazo, Ginter Park, Greene and Redd elementary schools - will start school at 8:30 a.m. All other elementary schools in the district will start at 9 a.m.

RPS is also adding 10 new school buses so drivers won’t have to make as many trips on routes. All Virginia Preschool Initiative students will also have transportation this year. You can check bus routes and times at rvaschools.net.

A new initiative called PASS, Parents + Attendance = Student Success, also will be implemented this year.

“We just haven’t had the success necessarily that we hope for when improving children’s attendance through the traditional methods,” Angela Jones, RPS’s director of culture, climate and student services said. “So, we wanted to try something different.”

RPS is partnering with the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to hold truancy hearings at school instead of in a courtroom. There will also be additional counselors on hand at the hearings, which will take place at MLK Middle School, to help students and their families navigate issues impacting the child’s attendance.

“Our goal is not to create fines or jail time or anything like that,” Jones said, "but to wrap supports around families.”

You may also notice that the rooftops of 10 Richmond school buildings will look a bit different.

Solar panels have been installed for the new school year through a grant program. The solar panels are estimated to save RPS $2 million over the next 20 years. Keeping on a green platform, Styrofoam lunch trays have also been replaced with paper ones.

RPS administrators say they’ve also expanded elective programs with the addition of at least 10 new positions for chorus, dance and cooking classes. Armstrong High School is also getting a dance floor installed so students will have an actual dance studio for the year.

Every sixth grader will also receive a Chromebook and a personal WiFi device that they will have for the duration of middle school thanks to a partnership with T-Mobile.

Mentoring programs for girls and boys have also been expanded to 14 more schools.

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