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Henrico’s investment in STEAM education and the MathScience Innovation Center: An explanation

Dear Henrico families,

We would like to share a more complete explanation of our proposal to shift approximately $1.1 million in funding from the MathScience Innovation Center into other present-day needs and priorities. This is part of the 2019-20 proposed annual financial plan that you can find at this link:

Since 1966, the MathScience Innovation Center has proudly served generations of students and families. It has been funded by a consortium of the largest school divisions in the metro-area, including Chesterfield, Hanover and Richmond. Currently, that consortium’s support is moving in new, exciting directions. While we can’t speak for the reasons why other localities have also decided or are proposing to pull their funding, we can tell you more about the extensive investment that Henrico is already making in STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) and what it all means for today’s students.

STEAM and Innovation

We know there are emails and comments going around that suggest a lack of commitment to STEAM and innovation by Henrico Schools. But what hasn’t been shared is this: Henrico has been committed to expanding, not diminishing STEAM/innovation opportunities for students, and it shows in past budgets. For example, a $6 million investment in STEAM teaching positions over the past two years, and that’s in addition to the additional investment in curriculum development, professional learning for our staff, supplies and hardware. This investment brings STEAM teaching and learning to more schools than ever before.

Equity and Opportunity

Today, Henrico County is a much different place than it was when the MathScience Innovation Center was founded. We’re bigger, more diverse, and we have needs and priorities that have evolved. Today, when we look at all of our needs as an increasingly diversifying school division, we’re proposing new ideas to advance the equity and opportunity in Henrico Schools. Aside from the $6 million investment noted above, we’re proposing to shift the $1.1 million in MSiC funding in such a way that all students and families in Henrico County can benefit.

For example:

  • We propose using (or “reallocating”) $500,000 to reduce every middle and high school student’s annual laptop fee from $50 to $25 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
  • By 2021-22, the reallocation would allow us to eliminate the annual student laptop fee entirely.
  • Eliminating the annual fee would put up to $350 per student back in the pockets of families over the seven years of each student’s middle and high school career.
  • Additional funds ($600,000 in 2019-20 and 2020-21) would allow us to purchase updated textbooks and other digital instructional materials for students, as we work to return the availability of those resources to pre-recession levels.

We know there will be additional questions. We want to do our best to answer them as completely as possible. Please scroll down for some frequently asked questions and answers, which we will update as needed throughout the budget process.

In closing, Henrico appreciates and values what the MathScience Innovation Center has meant to multiple generations of students and families in the Richmond area. We invite you to join us on the next steps in this exciting journey as we continue to expand access to STEAM and innovation in all Henrico schools.


Henrico County Public Schools
UPDATED: February 26, 2019

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