Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Mark Lineburg
School is back in session and we are off to another great start! Our elementary schools have enjoyed tremendous attendance at their fall festivals, and our Bearcat Bandwagon events have seen better participation than ever. Stonewall Jackson hosted over 250 Bearcat fans for their event, which was a huge increase from any previous year. We have also enjoyed seeing our Bearcat football players greeting elementary students and families in our drop-off lines on home game Friday mornings. Those young men have also visited our elementary school libraries and read to primary students. What a great way to kick off a football Friday! We finish the season with three straight home games, and we hope to see you at Gene Malcolm Stadium cheering on the Bearcats!
While attendance at our school contests and events is important, nothing is more vital to our success than good student attendance at school each and every day. Our school board set a goal to increase attendance rates, and an early look at our data indicates that we are already on an upswing! This could be due to attendance incentives offered at each of our schools. Just this week several Virginia Middle School students were treated to a limousine ride and lunch at a local restaurant for meeting their attendance goals. Virginia High School Principal Ronnie Collins often says in reference to graduating on time that, “We can’t get you there if we can’t get you here!” Of course, he means the key to graduating is regular attendance, and that starts as soon as our students enter Pre-K or Kindergarten. Our on-time graduation rate and graduation cohort index were both higher than they have ever been in 2013, but we need everyone’s best effort to keep improving. Please continue to help us by seeing that your children get a good night’s sleep and that they get to school on time every day!
We are extremely excited about recently receiving a 21st Century Grant for Washington-Lee Elementary School to provide an extensive afterschool program. This will be in addition to the grant we received last year for Virginia Middle School’s program, which is still in place, and the successful program at Highland View that employs teachers from three different schools to work with students across nearly every curricular area. Highland View has also implemented a morning running/walking club that has generated much enthusiasm. Other additions include a Communities In Schools site coordinator shared by Washington-Lee and Highland View, and a math coach shared by all four elementary schools
Speaking of elementary schools, we are moving forward with our plans to build a new school, which will be the first new building for Bristol since Van Pelt was added in 1975! A new school will decrease our long-term operating expenses, allow for more flexibility in staffing, and above all else, it will allow us to better serve our students who deserve to learn in a state-of-the-art instructional environment. In the coming months we hope to begin site selection, which will put us on the path to planning our new building. We look forward to community input on this phase as your voice is important in shaping our instructional future! We also hope to renovate and add to Van Pelt to accommodate our future student needs; and we recently approved a substantial energy saving project for Virginia High School that should pay dividends for years to come.
Over the last three years Virginia has dramatically increased the rigor of high-stakes SOL tests. While this has resulted in initial dips across the state, our teachers and students worked harder than ever last year and increased math performance in seven of nine areas. We have already aligned our math and reading benchmark tests and curriculum guides to help us keep improving, and we look forward to seeing even more gains following this coming spring’s tests.
On Election Day our elementary teachers will receive a follow-up training from state math specialist Dr. Deborah Bliss while our secondary teachers will have professional development for implementing instructional technology in their classrooms. We are already encouraging more technology use by our students and we look forward to a time when every student in Bristol has instructional technology at their disposal at all times.
While it is true that our students, families and schools in Bristol face tremendous challenges, we have doubled our academic, artistic, technological, and extra-curricular efforts to see that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and beyond in college and the careers they choose. We are working to provide more enrichment, more intensive intervention, more instructional choices, more family outreach, and more educational opportunities to every student and family we serve. Our need is great in Bristol, and we believe that our schools and teachers working in tandem with our families and community can make a lasting, positive impact on our city’s future. Let’s continue to work hard to provide a great education for our children because doing what is best for kids is doing what is best for Bristol!
Dr. Mark Y. Lineburg
Superintendent Bristol Virginia Public Schools