The Chamber held its annual Chesapeake State of the Schools breakfast on April 28 at the Greenbrier Country Club. Nearly 200 members of the business community and school system attended to hear Dr. James Roberts, Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools, provide a closer look into Chesapeake schools successes, challenges, and impact on the Hampton Roads community. Dr. Roberts focused on three main areas in reporting on the “State of the Schools”: factual information about the school division, accomplishments, and five goals and initiatives for moving Chesapeake schools forward in the quest for quality.
Chesapeake is the seventh largest school division in the state. “In Hampton Roads, only Virginia Beach has a larger enrollment,” Dr. Roberts said. “As the city’s largest employer-with almost 5,800 employees, and a budget of $368 million-we contribute greatly to the local economy. Our greatest contribution, however, is providing a well-rounded educational program that produces lifelong learners, responsible citizens, and future leaders for our great city.”
Approximately 600 students worked in 551 local businesses as part of education work programs. These students earned more than $2.3 million in wages, obtained hands-on work experience, earned high school credit, and had a positive impact on local businesses. Chesapeake Public Schools also rated 88.4% for on-time graduation which exceeded the state average of 85.5%, the highest on-time graduation rate in the region.
The school system had 29 students earn perfect scores of 800 on the SAT test, 15 students, including 1 National Scholar Finalist who earned honors through the National Merit Scholarship Program, 2 students who earned the highest level of performance on the National Latin Exams, and 17 students who participated in the Summer Residential Governor’s School Program, which provides gifted high school students with experiences in areas such as visual and performing arts, humanities, math, science, and technology. And student performance on the Standards of Learning assessments (SOLs) was exceptional, accomplishing 100% accreditation for the division.
Dr. Roberts explained five initiatives to advance quality to the school system. These initiatives included: financial management and human resources, school safety, increasing pupil achievement, technology, and community involvement. “Building a good system takes time, but building a great school system with a great reputation takes years of dedication, commitment, and hard work, and I am extremely proud to say that our school system has achieved this level of greatness,” declared Dr. Roberts.
In 2010, Dr. Roberts was named Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools. Dr. Roberts began his career in public education more than 40 years ago, working in Portsmouth then moving to Chesapeake in 1995 as the school division’s director of budget. He currently is an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech, and previously was an adjunct at Old Dominion University and George Washington University.
The Chamber thanks sponsors: ESI (Presenting); Cox Communications (Media); and The George Washington University (Honor Roll).