The Education Beat: City could scrap teaching requirement for principals

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School’s out: The staff at Albemarle’s Paul H. Cale Elementary School sent their students on summer break with a parade. Photo: Tim Shea School’s out: The staff at Albemarle’s Paul H. Cale Elementary School sent their students on summer break with a parade. Photo: Tim Shea

Last week, the Charlottesville School Board discussed relaxing its requirements for principals in order to allow candidates without teaching experience to fill the top administrative positions at city schools.

In a discussion at the board’s regular meeting on June 13, three of the five members present supported the change to the division’s policy manual, saying the existing rule could prohibit the hiring of the best candidates. Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins noted that principals can come from a school counseling background, which does not require teaching experience. But board members Jennifer McKeever and Colette Blount disagreed with the potential policy change. Board chair Juandiego Wade and member Leah Puryear were absent.

The Virginia School Boards Association recommended local boards make the shift to align with updates to state code, which no longer requires principals to have teaching experience. The state still gives localities discretion, allowing them to make the qualification if they choose.

The Board will review and vote on the final draft of its updated policy manual with suggested changes later this summer.

Architect hired for Agnor-Hurt Elementary School addition

The Albemarle County School Board last week showed unanimous support in selecting SHW Group Inc. of Reston, Virginia, as the architectural firm for a 13,824-square-foot addition to Agnor-Hurt Elementary School. While students will be redistricted to Broadus Wood, Greer, and Woodbrook elementary schools in the upcoming school year, Agnor-Hurt is projected to be over capacity by more than 100 students in August.

Albemarle will work with SHW over the next year to finalize design plans. Chief operating officer Josh Davis said that a mix of full-sized classrooms and smaller learning spaces will be the most likely outcome. Board member Ned Galloway, who sat on the committee that reviewed the proposals, said the firm’s presentation and design concepts blended construction and building services that reflected the Board’s vision and direction for 21st century learning.

The addition will increase the school’s capacity to 598. Construction is slated to begin in 2014-15, and the new classrooms are scheduled to be open for the 2015-16 school year.

County School Board supports cameras on buses

The Albemarle County School Board last week voted to request an ordinance from the Board of Supervisors to allow the placement of cameras on the stop arms of the division’s school buses.

This winter, Albemarle placed stop-arm cameras on two buses for 41 days as part of a pilot study to gauge how often cars were passing stopped school buses. Those cameras captured 79 violations. Albemarle County Director of Transportation Jim Foley reported that the 79 violations average one violation per bus per day, or 360 violations during the 180-day school year for the two piloted buses alone.

The cameras, Foley said, would capture the short period of time in which a violation occurred, and not a constant stream of video. School Board member Jason Buyaki and chair Stephen Koleszar voted against the initiative. Member Pam Moynihan, who voted for the cameras, argued that the technology would help keep children safe.

A representative from Albemarle County Public Schools will go before the Board of Supervisors to advocate for the cameras in the near future.—Tim Shea

Lynn-Marie-Hilleary. Photo courtesy Albemarle County Public Schools.

MEET YOUR EDUCATOR: Lynn Marie Hilleary, 4th grade teacher, Brownsville Elementary School

Why did you choose to teach?

I entered Virginia Tech to become a veterinarian, but during college vacations I often lived with my older sister, who is a reading specialist in Fauquier County. Spending so much with her in the classroom and helping her plan lessons, it appeared teaching was so rewarding that I just got hooked being with the children.

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

I am very concerned regarding the SOL testing and assessments we must do; the rigor increases every year. It does not allow time for children to be creative in their own ways in the classroom.

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

There have been so many rewarding experiences in the classroom and
with students coming back to visit or writing to me years after they leave
my classroom. Winning the Golden Apple this year was a great accolade.

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