Richmond County superintendent Dr. James Smith informed the board of supervisors that Richmond County Public Schools is working with Senator Ryan McDougle to get approval from the state to begin the school year at its own discretion.
“The law that took effect July 1 allowing public schools to open earlier falls short,” Smith explained.
“Schools can now open up to 14 days before Labor Day, but as the law is written, those are calendar days not business days. And when you account for the state-required closures on the holiday and the Friday before it, there’s not enough time to complete the first semester before the winter break, which is the primary purpose for most schools changing their schedule,” said Smith.
When the General Assembly session begins, Senator McDougle will support a drafted proposal that will allow Richmond County and the six localities that use the Northern Neck Technical Center to open earlier.
The board didn’t raise any issues about the proposal, but Vice Chairman Richard Thomas expressed concerns about having children on hot buses at that time of the summer after spending the day in air-conditioned schools. He said he was especially concerned about the period when some children were on the buses waiting for them to load.
Smith said, “the month of August is the month of August” and he doesn’t think the date is going to make it any more or less cool. But, he agreed that having students sit on an idling bus for 20 minutes is not acceptable, and said the schools will do the best they can. “The school system is also beginning to purchase air conditioned buses,” he added.