Chesapeake Public Schools History

City of Chesapeake SealThe city of Chesapeake, established in 1963, is the result of a merger between historic Norfolk County and the city of South Norfolk. Three aldermen were elected for Norfolk County in 1798 to carry out the provisions of an educational bill presented by Thomas Jefferson, and the first superintendent of schools, the Reverend Thomas Hume, was selected in 1850. What is now Chesapeake was at that time a sprawling county of tiny hamlets. The schools were closed during the Civil War and did not reopen until 1870. Captain John T. West became the superintendent of schools that year and reopened 30 schools with a student population of 1,284. That figure jumped to 8,360 by 1907. This school system steadily progressed toward the 1963 merger between old Norfolk County and the city of South Norfolk into the era of modern education.

Original School Board - 1963Today’s Chesapeake Public Schools system serves over 39,000 students with almost 5,700 teachers, administrators, and various support personnel. We have 45 schools and 3 centers, along with other special facilities such as the Chesapeake Planetarium and our own TV station (CPS-TV). Our 7 high schools, 10 middle schools, 28 elementary schools, Chesapeake Career Center, Chesapeake Center for Student Success, and Chesapeake Virtual Academy are dedicated to high levels of performance. In addition, we have one of the highest on-time graduation rates and one of the lowest drop-out rates in the Commonwealth.
planetarium building

Indian River student in line to graduate in cap and gown with an honors sashAcademics, athletics, and the arts are carefully balanced from the primary level through the comprehensive high school. A strong emphasis on basic skills in the four core subject areas and technology at all levels enhances instruction. Advanced Placement courses are offered in English, mathematics, science, social sciences, art, art history, computer science, and world languages. In addition to the many course opportunities available, Chesapeake offers special programs, including an International Baccalaureate Program, a Science and Medicine Academy, a Governor’s STEM Academy, and dual-enrollment courses that provide a unique and diverse curriculum which challenge those students who enroll. In addition to a strong program for the gifted and talented, students participate in regional and state academic competitions, comprehensive fine arts, and athletic programs.

Chesapeake Public Schools is proud of its tiered instructional model that addresses the needs of all learners. All schools have implemented intervention periods during the school day to provide targeted assistance or enrichment for learners, allowing teachers to assist struggling students or provide challenges for advanced scholars. Perhaps most important of all, Chesapeake is a city in which parents and other citizens have demonstrated continued commitment to and support of the school district.

Under the leadership of Chesapeake Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Jared Cotton has developed a new Strategic Plan: Empower 2025. To that end, our teachers, administrators, and other staff members are committed to meeting the following goals:

  • Provide exemplary teaching and learning experiences.
  • Recruit, retain, and support our valued employees.
  • Provide a safe and supportive learning environment.
  • Engage, inform, and collaborate with the community.