Virginia education officials say about 90% of students who entered high school in the fall of 2010 earned a diploma within four years — but the results in our region our mixed. And for the first time since the state increased graduation requirements, more than half of the graduates received an Advanced Studies Diploma. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven Staples calls this a “watershed event” in Virginia’s effort to increase college and career readiness. The Department of Education says that 89.9% of the 94,700 students in the class of 2014 earned a diploma. That’s up from 89.1% the previous year and 8.6% in 2008. State figures show the Heritage four-year graduation rate is 83% and 80% at E.C. Glass. Brookville comes in at the statewide average, 90%, and at Jefferson Forest, it’s 93%.
Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin is trying to put to rest any suggestions that the disappearances of Hannah Graham and Alexis Murphy might be related. Martin released a statement today stating there is no credible evidence right now that suggests any third party was involved with Randy Taylor in the Murphy disappearance last year, and no evidence at all that Jesse Matthew Junior had involvement in any way in the Murphy case.
The General Assembly special session began Thursday with Democrats repeatedly asking Republicans to present some sort of plan to provide health insurance to about 400-thousand lower income Virginians, and Republicans saying the Affordable Care Act has failed in so many ways that Virginia would be foolish to opt into it. As WLNI’s Evan Jones reports, Bedford Delegate Kathy Byron presented one of the day’s most impassioned speeches.
Here is Byron’s entire floor speech:
Virginia’s General Assembly reconvenes today for a two-day special session, one in which proposed Medicaid expansion is expected to dominate the debate. But as WLNI’s Evan Jones reports, political observers do not foresee passage of any measure that Governor McAuliffe would find acceptable.
Eight educators today learned of their selection as 2015 Virginia Regional Teachers of the Year during surprise classroom visits and announcements made by their division superintendents — and in the case of a Chesterfield County chemistry teacher — Governor Terry McAuliffe and Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples. “At the heart of Virginia’s national and international reputation for excellent and innovative public schools are thousands of smart and dedicated teachers who are epitomized by the eight recognized today as best of the best,” McAuliffe said after announcing the selection of James River High chemistry teacher Tara L. Brunyansky as the 2015 Region I Teacher of Year.
The other seven 2015 Regional Teachers of the Year announced are as follows:
- Bevin K. Reinen, a first-grade teacher at Three Oaks Elementary in Virginia Beach (Region 2)
- Jennifer H. Worrell, a fourth-grade language arts teacher at Petsworth Elementary in Gloucester County (Region 3)
- Jaclyn M. Roller, an agricultural education teacher at Signal Knob Middle in Shenandoah County (Region 4)
- Gerin E. Martin, an early childhood special education teacher at Hutcherson Early Learning Program in Lynchburg (Region 5)
- Matthew T. Newton, a grades 3-5 special education teacher at Fishburn Park Elementaryin Roanoke (Region 6)
- Mark T. Merz, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Oak Point Elementary in Smyth County (Region 7)
- Kelly S. Jones, a World History and Sociology teacher at Greensville County High in Greensville County (Region 8)
(Continue reading for the rest of the news release,)
Any school that doesn’t meet the SOL pass rates and becomes Accredited with Warning goes through through an academic review. A team will pay especially close attention to whether those schools have adapted what they teach to meet the newer and more rigorous state standards — and recommend ways to improve that school’s performance. WLNI’s Evan Jones has the story.
The number of schools statewide earning full accreditation fell this year, the result mainly of more rigorous SOL tests. Most schools not fully accredited are accredited with warning, but one Lynchburg City school does not meet that standard either: Sandusky Middle has failed to meet state standards for four straight years, so it is a candidate for “conditional accreditation” status.
Lynchburg police have arrested a city resident for a crime spree last week that included a pistol whipping and attempted carjacking. 26-year-old Keri Leon Sharpe of Lynchburg faces multiple charges, and he is being held in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail. Police say it all happened in the early evening hours of last Wednesday, where a man was pistol whipped as he walked down Gill Street. Other calls quickly came about a man yelling at a customer inside the Campbell Avenue Super Stop, then an attempting carjacking. Charges against Sharpe include attempted carjacking, malicious wounding, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, displaying a firearm, and reckless handing of a firearm.
Brookville High School is under lockdown for the second time in five days. WLNI’s Jack Murphy reports Campbell County Sheriff’s Deputies and State Police are stationed at every entrance to the school, and students were once again led to the football stadium bleachers as the school is searched. There is no word yet on the reason for today’s lockdown; last Thursday, it was prompted by a bomb threat written in a bathroom.