Nearly 150 members of the business community and Chesapeake school system attended the Chesapeake State of the Schools breakfast on May 14 at the Chesapeake Marriott to hear Dr. James Roberts, Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools, provide a closer look at Chesapeake schools’ successes, challenges, and impact on the Hampton Roads community.
The Chamber is proud to provide this annual opportunity for the Superintendent to address business and civic leaders, parents, teachers, and administrators about the school district's achievements and challenges from the past year and a look ahead at opportunities that await public education in our region.
Dr. Roberts began by highlighting some factual information about Chesapeake public schools. Approximately 38,700 students were enrolled in the 2012-2013 school year; making Chesapeake public schools the seventh largest school division in the state. The school division is the city’s largest employer with more than 5,900 employees. The city operates 467 buses daily covering 4 million miles per year, making Chesapeake public schools the largest transportation system in the city.
In 2013, 3,116 students graduated from the seven high schools, of those students, 1,820 received advanced studies diplomas. Of these graduates, 2,533 were going to college and more than 500 received college scholarships. Nearly 1,600 were honors students and 547 earned a GPA of 4.0 or higher. Eighteen students received perfect scores of 800 on the SATs. Dr. Roberts stated, “The excellent performance in the classroom is directly correlated to the quality of our employees.”
The division had the highest on-time graduation rate, 92%, in the area and exceeded the state average of 89.1%. The drop-out rate of 3.8% was below state average and was among the lowest in the area.
Roberts stated, “Like the business world, we must measure our success in terms of our core mission, that mission very simply is ‘pupil learning, student achievement.’ Roberts noted the school system’s contribution to the community. “Our greatest contribution is a well-rounded educational program that produces life-long learners, productive citizens and future leaders,” he said.
Dr. Robert congratulated Norfolk Highland Primary School on its 100th birthday this past year. Indian River High School was recognized as One of Virginia Living’s 2013 Top High Schools for Capital Improvements. The school opened this fall after being completely renovated.
Chesapeake Public Schools was one of the three divisions in the state of Virginia to receive a platinum award for Maintenance Excellence, the highest level a school division can obtain.
Dr. Roberts explained a focus on three R’s, Reflecting, Researching and Restoring. His six initiatives to advance quality in the school system include: Increasing pupil achievement; financial management and human resources; school facilities; school safety; technology and community involvement.
Chamber Board Member Clint Damuth, President and General Manager of Damuth Trane, attended the event. “The business community is a part of the greater community as a whole,” Damuth explained. “Nothing is more important than the success of our schools. The Chamber puts on this great event every year. It provides a real opportunity to make sure the latest information is shared and provides a chance for the community to give back.”
In 2010, Dr. Roberts was named Superintendent of Chesapeake Public Schools. Dr. Roberts began his career in public education 45 years ago, working in Portsmouth and 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 instructor at Old Dominion University and at George Washington University.
The Chamber would like to thank event sponsors: Dominion Virginia Power (Presenting) and The George Washington University (Gold).