HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell, at a board of supervisors’ work session Tuesday night, laid out the school division’s plans for improvements across the county this year.
At the top of her list were “refresh and replacement projects” which took place at all 72 school buildings this summer, and included repairs to HVAC, flooring and roofing, as well as deep cleaning of the facilities.
Cashwell also noted that the last few projects funded by the county’s 2016 bond referendum were being wrapped up — just in time for voters to weigh in on another $514 million in debt this November.
According to Cashwell, the renovation of Adams Elementary — the last project scheduled for completion — was now in the final design stage. Renovations on the ACE Center at Hermitage, meanwhile, are set to begin in October, and a complete overhaul of the Virginia Randolph Education Center — which was funded using federal COVID relief money — is expected to break ground in January.
Combined, that will increase the number of seats in Henrico’s Advanced Career Education, or ACE program, by 900, which Cashwell said is necessary to address the enormous demand for the program.
The county has also invested extensively in technology purchases. Cashwell told the board that the county had already replaced Chromebooks, laptops and iPads for pre-k, elementary and middle school students.
The school division has also invested heavily in a new set of security cameras, but that move has been met with some controversy from parents who worried it could be an invasion of privacy. The newer systems touted higher resolution and, according to school officials, would make it easier for security personnel to search footage more quickly than traditional tape.
“As a father, like if they’re looking for a backpack and there’s three or four different students with the same backpack and somebody gets accused of the wrong thing, then that’s a problem,” one parent said.
Cashwell was quick to reassure parents and other community members who raised privacy concerns.
“The newer systems provide better resolution,” she said. But, she added, “They do not have the same capabilities as other video-based recognition systems as some have suggested.”
The school division has also redesigned its school entryways, although Cashwell declined to provide details of the new features that had been added.
“We don’t publicly share specific information about our school safety plan,” she said.