Richmond public school leaders explain focus

Posted at 10:55 PM, Feb 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-01 10:27:14-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Richmond Public school leaders are focusing on action, achievement and accountability.

"Yes, excellence is a process.  We’re not nearly where we want to be.  We’re not really where we need to be.  But we’re moving in the right direction,” said Dr. Yvonne Brandon, Richmond School Superintendent.

School leaders said they’re doing a good job and school need to focus on their accomplishments.

During the State of the Schools address, Dr. Yvonne Brandon touted the school's successes, like high SOL scores and on time graduation rates.

“We continue to meet the challenges with accomplishments.”

But the challenge is at the middle school level, where many kids fall short in Reading and Math.  So, a business community made up of 900 volunteers have stepped in to help tutor and mentor these students to ensure their success.

"They have a lot of adjustment issues and that retards their ability to capture or gain educational success that we expect,” said Dr. Brandon.

As part of her vision, Dr. Brandon wants to convert Richmond Community High into a charter school.

She wants to create the city’s first university lab school that focuses on more technology through the use of iPads, iPods and Facebook.

Another idea is an “Expand the Violence Free-zone” program currently at George Wythe High school to include Armstrong.

“Our objective for this program will help reduce the dropout rate,” said Dr. Brandon, and “help bolster the graduation rate and attendance rates.”

In addition, they’ve opened a Child Care Learning Lab at Armstrong too. “The goal is to reduce absenteeism because of a lack of child care, as well as provide practical learning opportunities for students interested in health care and child care entrepreneurism,” said Brandon.

Recently, Richmond Public Schools have been criticized.

Last month, in the State of the City address, Mayor Dwight Jones said the city schools were celebrating the successes of mediocrity.

CBS 6 asked Dr. Brandon to respond to critics who said that school leaders aren't doing enough.

"We ask that they come take a look,” said Brandon, and extended an invitation to “Come see us.”

CBS 6 asked Brandon if she think Richmond Public schools are mediocre.

"I won't describe it as being a school district that is satisfied in the status quo,” she said. “We are leaping toward excellence that is our goal and we will continue to progress that way."

“No organization is perfect,” said Dawn Paige, School Board Chair.
“Are we there yet?  No.”

Paige feels like they are headed in the right direction and said that they are “committed to the success of our students.”