August 24, 2008

Challenging, Strengthening and Nurturing Our Students


By David C. Stuckwisch

Special to the Currents

The 2008-09 academic session promises to be one of the most beneficial school years in our history. Consequently, we are eagerly awaiting the students' return.

In preparing for the new year, we conducted a thorough review of our instructional offerings and instituted challenging programs that engage students in rigorous work designed to prepare them for their roles as critical and creative thinkers, as collaborators, and as articulate communicators.

Our shared vision for educational excellence in Portsmouth is clear: We challenge the minds, strengthen the bodies and nurture the dreams of the students we teach.

As a school division on the rise, we are bound together by our special commitment to "academic excellence" and by our "common pride" in being associated with Portsmouth's public education system. We are linked in service by our unabated advocacy for all students and by our genuine concern for the community we faithfully serve. Our parents and our patrons of public education are two of the key factors to our overall success.

We are retaining the seasoned members of our teacher corps and recruiting the most capable candidates seeking to fill important school-based administrative positions. Our desire has been, and still is, to influence tomorrow's world by the manner in which we prepare today's students.

Our primary objective is to provide a practical program offerings that distinguish a superior district from an ordinary one.

As we celebrate 161 years of continuous service to this historic community, we will always be at your service as we promote excellence in your school division.

Superintendent David C. Stuckwisch can be reached at 393-8742. The following are edited excerpts from Norfolk Public Schools' policies and guidelines. Complete versions are available in the library of every high school and every public library in Norfolk. Online versions may be accessed by visiting or call 628-3994 for a copy.


To educate each student to be a successful, productive contributor to society by providing powerful teaching and learning opportunities.


* 35 elementary, nine middle, five high schools and other alternative schools and programs

* 3,130 teachers

* 2,824 other employees

* 34,433 students, pre-K through 12

Public education costs

n $9,434 average per pupil cost in 2007-08 school year

* $9,905 estimated average per pupil cost for 2008-09 school

* 2008-09 budget: $330,190,900. Find additional information about the budget at:



To enter kindergarten, child must be 5 years old by Sept. 30 of current school year. Students turning 5 in October, November or December may attend kindergarten on space-available basis, under the following conditions:

* Must demonstrate readiness

* Must pay tuition fee

Mandatory Requirements

By law, to enroll a student in a Virginia public school, the parent or guardian must submit:

* Certified birth certificate for any student being admitted to public school for first time.

* Student's Social Security number.

* Copy of comprehensive physical examination from physician or licensed nurse practitioner, performed no earlier than 12 months before date the student enrolls. If transferring from another school, school division, or from out of state, a copy of the physical must be in the previous school's record and available on request. Faxed copies acceptable. Pre-K students (2, 3, or 4 year olds) must have physical examination before enrolling in pre-K programs. The physical is sufficient until enrolling in kindergarten, at which time another examination is required or verification that the last physical was completed within the preceding 12 months.

* Written proof of immunizations . Month, day and year of immunizations must be reflected in accord with the schedule of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians. If complete dates are not available, then record must be certified by a doctor or a health department official. All students must receive the following immunizations before enrollment:

DTaP, DTP, Tdap: Minimum 3 doses with 1 dose on or after 4th birthday or 6 doses before 4th birthday.

TDAP Booster Shot: Before 6th grade, if at least five years have passed since last tetanus-containing vaccine.

Hib (Haemophilus Influenza Type b Vaccine): Required only for children up to 5 years old.

Polio (OPV or IPV): Minimum 3 doses with 1 dose on or after 4th birthday or 4 doses before 4th birthday.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR): 2 doses of measles, 1 dose of mumps and rubella, all at 12 months or older.

Hepatitis B (Hep B): Minimum of 3 doses for all grades for children born on or after Jan. 1, 1994. FDA has approved a 2-dose schedule for students 11- 15 years old under certain conditions.

Varicella (Chicken Pox): 1 dose at 12 months or older (if born on or after Jan. 1, 1997).

Pneumococcal (PCV Vaccine): 2 to 4 doses, depending on age when first dose was administered, for children less than 2 years old .

Tuberculin (TB) Skin Test: Documentation that one has been administered within 12 months before enrollment.


Parents should ask doctors to schedule doses other than during school hours. When this is not possible, the following procedures should be followed:

* Physician or licensed nurse practitioner must provide written orders complete with physician and parent or guardian signatures.

* Generally, students should not be given medicines (prescription or non-prescription) to transport to and from school. Parents or guardians should deliver medicine to school nurse. When necessary, parent or guardian must call school to confirm medicine is being delivered by student in a container pro-perly labeled by pharmacy or physician.

* School Health Services Administration of Medication Form and Southeastern Virginia Asthma Healthcare Action Plan and Authorization for Medication Form must be updated with any medication change .

Head Lice (Pediculosis)

To minimize spread of head lice, infected students will be excluded from school until appropriately treated. Students may be readmitted after successful treatment has been verified by school nurse. A third incidence of head lice will necessitate a home visit by a health department official. Students with recurring head lice will be checked periodically.


Students are expected to attend every day, on time, unless an illness or other circumstance prevents coming to school. A written explanation from parent or guardian must accompany any student absence or tardiness.

Originally published by BY DAVID C. STUCKWISCH.

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