Hello 5th District! I truly hope that with the availability of the COVID vaccine and with the relaxing of the CDC guidelines that some return to normalcy is on the near horizon. I want to commend all of our RPS stakeholders for the phenomenal job you are doing with keeping our children safe and connected during these unprecedented times. As always, I am proud of the amazing work our administrators, teachers, support personnel, and staff are doing with engaging and caring for our students. Notably, I want to shout out our teacher of the year, Ashley Bland, Instructional Technology Resource Teacher, for all the creative work she does to keep our students learning in the virtual environment and beyond.
As John B. Cary’s Principal Michael Powell stated, “She goes beyond the call of duty to make a difference in the lives of children.”
The School Board has been busy at work with making sure our schools are ready for an in-person return to school in the Fall. Please check RPS Board Docs and follow the RPS Direct for updates to the 21-22 Academic Calendar, on plans for the return to school, and on ventilation and building level improvements that will take place before the Fall. Also, please look out for upcoming budget work sessions. I ask for your continued engagement and that you reach out with any questions.
Some notable updates include:
The last day of school will be Thursday, June 17th which will be a 2 hour early release day. RPS will be closed on June 18th to celebrate Juneteenth.
Teachers will receive a 3% raise for the 2021-2022 school year in addition to 1.17% step increase for most employees.
There will be new start times for most students when they return. The new schedules will be : 8:45 am - 3:45 pm for high school; 8:15 - 3:15 pm for middle school; and 7:45 am – 2: 45 pm for elementary school.
Please check the RPS website for graduation updates. Graduations will be in-person at the Diamond this year! https://www.rvaschools.net/
As you know on Monday, April 12th the School Board Passed a resolution that would put schools in control of building schools. This was prompted by a concern about the recent issues with new school buildings costing more than what was originally budgeted and with design and building flaws that presented once the new schools were built. The rationale is that if schools have more control over the process, such issues could be avoided, and there would be a better chance of better engaging community stakeholders in the design and building process. I love George Wythe High School. I completed my teaching practicum there in 1993—it was the very first time I had the privilege to stand before a classroom. Moreover, I ran on a platform that included prioritizing the George Wythe HS community, and I plan to stick to that.
I know that by working with City Administration, we can achieve our goal of a new, incredibly built George Wythe by 2024. We can build coalitions and put the Schools at the helm to achieve a vision of GWHS that will be a community hub and a place where we will all feel welcome and supported. My colleagues and I have coalesced around this vision because we have faith in the strength of RPS and the collective wisdom of the RPS community—students, parents, staff, teachers. We want them to be at the table as schools are built or renovated, and Schools Building Schools is a way to achieve this.
I ask that in the wake of the tragic gun violence we’ve experienced in our community that you look out for one another and love on our kids. They’ve been through so much. No one is immune. Two of my personal friends have lost their young sons to gun violence recently. These tragedies must be stopped. Let’s bind together as a community and work on solutions.
I will be holding office hours next week on Thursday, May 27th from 5-6:30 (link below). Hope to see you then.
Stephanie Miller Rizzi
Zoom Link for Office Hours
Thursday, May 27th
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm