HCPS announces winners in 2016 “Un-Initiative” program

The initiative rewards teachers and staff members with monetary awards for their ideas to improve the school system’s processes and reduce waste.

From Henrico County Public Schools:

For several weeks, HCPS employees suggested outdated initiatives or tasks that the school system should consider eliminating or reducing in order to operate more efficiently and effectively – while still delivering high levels of service to students and their families. Superintendent Pat Kinlaw writes personal checks to the individuals who suggested the winning ideas. Henrico parent Burt Hazelwood also assists by providing funds to reward additional employees for their suggestions.

In many cases, multiple HCPS employees submitted variations of the same winning ideas. The HCPS Division Leadership Team selected the individual prize-winners anonymously,

after evaluating suggestions for value, content and clarity. Other ideas were received and will be reviewed in a continued effort to become more efficient as an organization.

The winning ideas, to be considered for adoption during the 2016-17 school year, are:

First prize ($100 apiece): Reduce paperwork involved in staff development/teacher recertification process

Whitney Beck, Maybeury Elementary School
Carolyn Henly, Henrico High School
Karen Wright, Donahoe Elementary School
Teachers must take regular classes and workshops to become recertified. The school division has long used paper records to track those staff development “points.” That paperwork can be a real time-consuming headache, and it’s also not easy for teachers to check how many points they’ve amassed.

Whitney Beck advised that teachers could instead “submit copies of scanned forms/participation certificates” for administrators to approve and log. Teachers could then “see the points whenever we want, and we don’t have to wait until that one time a year we are sent our bank of points on paper. Great idea, right?”

Carolyn Henly said, “[Now] we have to spend a significant amount of time filling out paperwork, sending it around for signatures [and] trying to track it down … We could easily have a system that was at least in part automated.”

Karen Wright noted that paperless approval systems are already in use in areas such as mortgage refinancing, and that online records would reduce worry among teachers.

“There is a lot of stress and anxiety as we get closer to that fifth year [for recertification] and this would ease that and help employees be more responsible for their own points.”

Second prize ($75 apiece): Scale back use of printed HCPS booklets and guides

Sarah Massie, Moody Middle School
Tanya Kish, HCPS Human Resources Department
For more than a century the best way for HCPS to dispense information to parents, students and employees was through the printed word. Now, of course, with student laptops, the internet and the HCPS intranet, the demand for print materials has been reduced. Sometimes it takes observations from observant employees to notice what changes are needed.

“Since planning guides are on the HCPS website and pushed to student computers, we don’t need to distribute one to every student,” said Sarah Massie. “The Summer Academy [class list] is online for us to print the forms needed for registration.”

Massie noted that since the HCPS Code of Student Conduct is available online “and the documents that need signing are in ZippSlip, we don’t need all the copies we receive.”

Tanya Kish suggested that the employee benefits booklet for open enrollment periods be emailed and posted on the HCPS intranet.

Third prize ($50): Central Office personnel to volunteer in schools (suggested during 2014-15 contest)

Renata Kelly, Short Pump Middle School
Renata Kelly suggested that select Central Office personnel could volunteer in schools in order to provide support. Examples include front office assistance, special event support or other tasks determined by school principals. The volunteer hours could also allow teachers to spend additional time planning for their next lesson while Central Office staff develops a closer connection to the school environment. In certain instances, it may even reduce a school’s reliance on paid substitutes.

“Getting back in [schools] would also keep leaders grounded and foster personal relationships with students and parents,” Kelly said.

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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