Education Beat: Albemarle to up technology ratio

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Walton Middle School teachers Susan Rigby and Jon Barber discuss the search for Walton’s new assistant principal during last week’s School Improvement Plan meeting. Photo: Tim Shea Walton Middle School teachers Susan Rigby and Jon Barber discuss the search for Walton’s new assistant principal during last week’s School Improvement Plan meeting. Photo: Tim Shea

Our regular Education Beat reporting is the result of a partnership with the nonprofit community news platform Charlottesville Tomorrow, which covers growth, development, public education, and local politics. 

The Albemarle County School Board last week agreed to implement a one-to-one technology initiative—a computing device for every student, starting with grades six through 12—as part of its “digital conversion.”

Albemarle spokesman Vincent Scheivert said that the goal of the initiative, which he expects to be cost-neutral or show a savings within five years, is to provide all county students access to digital resources and content when and where they need it to happen.

Early estimates show the one-year total cost for new devices and professional and curriculum development will be nearly $1.5 million, or $213 per student, based on county’s 7,000 middle- and high-school students. Funding in the current budget will cover nearly all technology costs, Scheivert said, and the county will be looking at ways to reprioritize the budget to direct money for professional and curriculum development to prepare teachers to use the new technology.

That curriculum development will get underway in the coming months, Scheivert said. One resource will be Project RED, a 2010 study and analysis of technology integration in schools.

Schools take on summer building projects

Both Albemarle County Public Schools and Charlottesville City Schools are making improvements to their infrastructure this summer.

In Albemarle, construction is already underway at Murray High School to accommodate students whose classes have previously been housed in trailers. The project includes renovating the main wing of the charter school located off of Rose Hill Drive. The 6,680-square-foot project, which was awarded to North Star Companies of Warrenton, Virginia, has a price tag of $328,797.

In Charlottesville, the city is improving lighting at Charlottesville High School and updating school drinking fountains division-wide. At CHS, workers are replacing the site lighting from behind the school to the annex near the baseball field. The new lights, which will cost $495,000, are the last phase in fully lighting the school’s perimeter. The city is also spending $129,000 to ensure its school drinking fountains comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. These regulations mandate such issues as spout height and distance from walls, as well as hand controls and numbers of ADA-compliant drinking fountains per floor.

Walton parents weigh in on assistant principal search

Nearly 30 concerned parents and teachers gathered in the Walton Middle School amphitheater last week to discuss improving school climate. The school administration had come under fire recently for numerous student conduct issues at the Albemarle middle school.

At the heart of the conversation was filling the school’s new assistant principal vacancy. Walton assistant principal Edmund Leclere will be leaving to focus on at-risk and special needs students, and parents were emphatic that his replacement instill discipline. Parent Lisa Cannell said that the students needed to have “a healthy fear” of the new administrator.

Assistant director for educator quality Clare Keiser said the new hire will have experience as an assistant principal and that the position will be filled within the next two weeks. Assistant superintendent Matt Hass said that there are four strong candidates already working in the division.—Tim Shea

BULLETIN BOARD

Rewriting the rulebook: On Tuesday, June 25 the Charlottesville School Board will continue its five year policy review. The last in a series of three meetings, the work session will be held at 5pm in the CATEC auditorium and will cover revisions made to policies in the previous two meetings. For more specific agenda information, visit http://esbpublic.ccs.k12.va.us.

Comp camp: Registration is now open for Albemarle County Public School’s summer computer programming academy, CoderDojo. The free program, which runs from July 8 to July 26, teaches computer science skills for grades K-12, regardless of experience. Morning and afternoon sessions are offered, and parents are welcome to participate with their child. Students are encouraged to pre-register for the popular program at: www.k12albemarle.org.

Rachel Savoy. Photo courtesy subject.

MEET YOUR EDUCATOR: Rachel Savoy, 2nd grade teacher, Burnley-Moran Elementary School

If you had to pick one, what do you think is the single most important issue facing the public schools today?

Budget cuts are inevitable these days, but larger class sizes really make a negative impact on the learning that takes place inside a classroom. As a nation, we want our students to excel in all the core subjects and lament that our students are “falling behind,” yet we are simultaneously not giving schools the right number of personnel that it would take to facilitate that strong academic growth. Additionally, another issue is making sure those adults that do work with students are highly qualified, and that we are attracting strong candidates to our teaching profession.

What is your favorite example of a rewarding experience you’ve had in the field of education?

In general, the most rewarding aspect of teaching is when your students make good choices in how to treat one another, and you know it is because you have worked on those skills all year. My students are much more loving and forgiving than any adult I know, and when given the space and chance to practice those skills, they really blow me away.

What is your favorite part of classroom teaching?

My favorite aspect of teaching is being able to expose students to things that they never knew before but that they will end up loving. I teach second grade, so students are so quick to adopt the things you love as an instructor. There is so much power there.

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