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Chesapeake Public Schools holds annual State of the Schools address

Leaders with the school division focused on its strategic plan to improve learning and recruit school employees.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — It’s no secret that the Chesapeake City Public Schools and other districts across Hampton Roads have experienced a challenging year.

“We’ve had to learn to be even much more innovative than we already were,"  said Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton. "We had to stretch ourselves in ways we never had to."

Cotton said the pandemic also allowed division leaders to listen more to students and community members on ways to improve school learning. He said division leaders even developed interesting ways to combat staffing shortages.

“One of the things you heard us talk about today is our 'Grow Our Own' program where we’re really trying to get students involved in different aspects of our school division so maybe they’ll consider a job with the school division,” Cotton said.

In order to keep them interested, School Board Chair Harry Murphy said the board just passed a budget for city council members to approve a pay raise for staff.

“We’re looking at like a 10% raise bumping our starting salary," Murphy said. "Our compensation package is tremendous.”

The will make a teacher's starting salary $51,500. Support staff will see a 14% increase, and administrative staff will have a 5% increase.

Tuesday morning, division leaders held their annual State of the Schools event, highlighting the division’s success and its strategic plan to better schools.

Cotton also announced an expansion of its virtual academy program, which will soon serve more than just high school students.

“Students grade K-12 can have a virtual option through application, because there are families who prefer to participate in a virtual program.”

The program will be available to all students next year. He said it’s another way to ensure students feel comfortable learning throughout the pandemic.

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