Virginia Beach City Public Schools has celebrated many successes during Carolyn Rye's service on the School Board and her tenure as Chair, as noted on the Home page. Additional accomplishments she personally helped lead the charge for during her present term include:
Universal Full-Day Kindergarten
Carolyn was a vocal champion of universal full-day kindergarten from the time of her inaugural campaign for office eight years ago. Thanks in large part to the persistence of her and many of her School Board colleagues (and City Council funding), this multi-year implementation plan was seen through to completion effective with the 2020 school year. Of note is the fact that no building additions and/or portables were needed to accomplish this expansion.
VHSL Lacrosse in 2023
As one who helped jumpstart renewed momentum for varsity lacrosse, and a persistent, behind-the-scenes champion of this goal, it was much to Carolyn's satisfaction and delight that the establishment of Men's and Women's VHSL Lacrosse in all comprehensive VBCPS high schools was approved unanimously by the School Board in November 2021. Virginia Beach will be the first public school district in the South Hampton Roads region to sponsor this fastest-growing sport in the country. It is the first new VBCPS varsity-level sport in 25+ years. She applauds the sustained commitment of the local HRLaX community over these past few decades (and on a more focused basis, the last six years). Parents and coaches were given a road map and ran with it. The league partnership with our schools was critical to this outcome, as well as the support of division and school leadership. Carolyn looks forward to the opening boys and girls varsity matches in 18 months!
Employee Compensation Progress
A well-designed Compensation Philosophy supports an organization's strategic plan (in the case of VBCPS, Compass to 2025). Strategies under the plan's goal of recruitment and retention of high-quality staff include providing a competitive compensation and benefits plan. While there is much work yet to do (see also "Priorities"), advances supported by Carolyn these last four years were made in the following areas:
Equity adjustments for Unified Scale employees are now fully funded in the current Operating Budget, and all Teacher Assistants and Bus Drivers moved to Grade U10. Long overdue increases in educational allowances for advanced degrees were implemented to lessen the gap with our regional counterparts. Increases to the Additional Duty Supplements program, to include athletic coaches, were also approved. Identified clerical and custodial positions were upgraded.Additional bus salary adjustments were recently approved to address the present and severe shortage. A significant allocation of $8.5 million from our Operating budget to lower the cost of employee health benefit contributions will result in a savings of 43-53%. Specifically, an employee with single coverage on the POS plan will see annual savings of $671, and employees with family coverage $4,219.
Replacing and Modernizing School Buildings
Carolyn participated in dedication ceremonies this spring for two new schools and one expanded and renovated, namely, Princess Anne Middle School, Thoroughgood Elementary, and John B. Dey Elementary Schools. All three 21st-century buildings contribute to the division's environmental sustainability goals (featuring the use of natural lighting and HVAC systems utilizing geothermal wells), expand learning spaces, and are designed for community use. (See also "Priorities.")
New Academic Programs
Many academic programs Carolyn has supported celebrated important recent milestones. The highly popular Kempsville High School Business & Entrepreneurship Academy graduated its first class in 2020 and the Brock Environmental Studies Program this year. VBCPS and An Achievable Dream Academy (AADA) expanded their partnership with plans for a new 25,000 square-foot addition at Lynnhaven Middle School (LMS) well underway. This will be home to the first class of the Lynnhaven AADA High School Program, with an anticipated 2023 completion date. LMS welcomed sixth-grade students in 2018. The high school program will partner with neighboring First Colonial High School for select courses as needed and for athletics/activities, as many of the students attending the program are already zoned for FC.
In addition, personal outreach to Carolyn from NATO officials and parents has ultimately resulted in the addition of a French-American "campus" in Virginia Beach for SY 2022-23, similar to the concept in place in Norfolk since 2011. The requested single classroom space will offer NATO officials and teachers the opportunity to offer a dual curriculum to French NATO families residing at the Beach to help reintegrate these students into the French education system upon their return to their home country in three years.
Creation of In-House Legal Department
In her role as Board Chair, Carolyn played an integral role in the year-long establishment of an independent, in-house Department of Legal Services, effective July 1 of this year. This action was precipitated by the City Council's request to discontinue the longstanding Cooperative Agreement for Legal Services between the two governing bodies.
Board Member Evaluation and Improvement
Upon attending her first VSBA and NSBA professional development conferences, Carolyn began her pursuit of a School Board Self-Evaluation process. Both a form and process were ultimately designed by a Governance Committee workgroup tasked by Carolyn and implemented in 2021.