City schools oppose state takeovers, and other education news

The Charlottesville High School marching band practices in the parking lot before class. Photo courtesy Charlottesville Tomorrow The Charlottesville High School marching band practices in the parking lot before class. Photo courtesy Charlottesville Tomorrow

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 Charlottesville School Board unanimously adopted two resolutions last week, affirming its commitment to local control of Charlottesville’s public schools.

The first resolution opposes the Opportunity Educational Institution, an entity championed by Governor Bob McDonnell that can take over schools that are denied accreditation or that are accredited with warning for three consecutive years. Schools must earn pass rates of 75 percent or higher on English Standards of Learning (SOL) exams, and 70 percent or higher in science, math, and history SOLs, and achieve a Graduation and Completion Index (GCI) score of 85 to be fully accredited. The GCI is a calculation used to evaluate on-time graduation rates.

No schools in Charlottesville-Albemarle are in danger of state takeover, and only four schools statewide face the prospect. The Virginia Department of Education will publish accreditation numbers in mid-September.

The second resolution criticized the Commonwealth’s “over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters,” and calls on the General Assembly to revisit Virginia’s public school assessment and accountability measures.

“Resolutions like this go a long way to get things to change,” said School Board Chair Juandiego Wade.

Area schools to enhance security equipment

Fifteen local schools will receive security equipment upgrades thanks to $6 million in grants sanctioned by Virginia’s governor.

Proposed in February, the School Security Equipment Grant program tasked the Virginia Public School Authority with issuing bonds to pay for the enhancements. In June, Virginia schools were invited to apply for grants of up to $100,000.

Albemarle County Public Schools received $39,994.

Schools spokesman Phil Giaramita said the division plans to use the funds for security cameras and monitoring equipment.

“Our original plan was to supplement what we’re doing at the high schools and provide cameras in the middle and elementary schools,” Giaramita said. “But it costs about $4,000 per school for security cameras, so the grant would allow us to do this in 10 of the 26 schools.”

Giaramita said Albemarle leadership will work with building services to determine the schools where the equipment will be installed.

Charlottesville City Schools received $68,800 for improvements at Buford Middle School, Walker Upper Elementary School, and Johnson Elementary. According to Charlottesville schools spokeswoman Beth Cheuk, the money will go toward perimeter lighting for safety.


MEET YOUR EDUCATOR: Megan Morton, ESOL Teacher, Cale Elementary School

What has your classroom experience taught you that studying education could not have prepared you for? 

The thing that has left the biggest impression on me is how different each and every student is. You can learn the best practices in education and what the latest research says, but it’s not until you meet your kids that you can really apply what you’ve learned. What is appropriate for one student may not work for another, so you have to constantly be flexible and celebrate what each individual child brings to the table.

For the next few weeks, to gain insight on what important lessons our young teachers learn early in their careers, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Meet Your Educator profiles will feature first- and second-year teachers.


Charlottesville back-to-school nights: Walker Upper Elementary School, Tuesday, September 10 from 6:30-8pm; Buford Middle School, Wednesday, September 11 from 6-8pm; CATEC, Wednesday, September 11 from 5-7pm.

Albemarle back-to-school nights: On Wednesday, September 11, the following Albemarle schools will hold back-to-school nights: CATEC, 5-7pm; Community Public Charter School, 6pm; Monticello High School, 6:30-8:30pm; Western Albemarle High School, 7pm.

Special Education Advisory Committee: On Wednesday, September 11 at 8:45am, the Charlottesville Special Education Advisory Committee will meet at the Division Annex, below Charlottesville High School. For more information, contact the special education office at 245-2405.