Education Beat: School funding amendment falls short in Richmond

Albemarle students competed in the division’s spelling bee last week. Seven students will now represent Albemarle at the regional competition. Photo: Tim Shea Albemarle students competed in the division’s spelling bee last week. Seven students will now represent Albemarle at the regional competition. Photo: Tim Shea

Our education beat coverage appears thanks to a partnership with Charlottesville Tomorrow.

Legislation to change the state’s funding formula for Charlottesville and Albemarle’s education budgets has failed in Richmond.

Known locally as the “Bell Amendment,” for local sponsor and Albemarle Republican Delegate Rob Bell, the budget amendment would have taken into account the two communities’ 1982 revenue sharing agreement when calculating each locality’s ability to pay for schools. If passed, the legislation would have transferred $3 million from Charlottesville City Schools to Albemarle County Public Schools. This is the third time the budget amendment has failed.

The revenue sharing agreement is a contract between the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County that prohibits Charlottesville from annexing parts of Albemarle in exchange for yearly payments from the county to the city. This year, Albemarle sent Charlottesville nearly $17 million. As it stands, the state’s funding formula for public schools is blind to the transfer, so in the state’s eyes, the county appears to have more revenue, and the city less.

“Charlottesville City Schools are very happy the Bell Bill did not move forward,” said Charlottesville School Board Chair Juandiego Wade. It would have been difficult to find an additional $3 million dollars of cuts in our budget. CCS will continue to work with ACPS to collaborate where we can.”

“While the School Board is disappointed an item we supported failed to move forward,” Albemarle School Board Chair Ned Gallaway said, “we remain very encouraged by the progress of several other items we prioritized, such as SOL reform and opposition to A-F grading of school divisions.”

Charlottesville schools dial in on funding request

The Charlottesville City School Board last week decided to plan for a total operating budget of about $73.7 million—a nearly $3 million jump from last years’ budget. During the work session, the Board trimmed $369,000 from staff’s proposal by identifying cuts and new revenues. The Board plans to ask City Council for about $45.8 million in local support, school officials said.

Charlottesville is expecting an additional $192,000 from the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI). Due to the federal sequestration program last year, Charlottesville absorbed about $500,000 in cuts to its Title I and other preschool funding. But Charlottesville invested more local money in preschool last year, and is now eligible for matching funds from VPI. The board also said it’s saving an additional $191,000 by opting to keep kindergarten and first grade class sizes at Greenbrier and Burnley-Moran elementary schools at their current levels.

CATEC Board undecided on strategic plan

The Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center Board left last week’s strategic plan update with as many questions as answers.

As proposed, CATEC’s strategic plan redesigns the school over the next three to four years into a set of five institutes based on local job demand. The institutes, which would more closely align CATEC with PVCC, include skilled trades, early childhood education, healthcare, and manufacturing and information technology.

But Albemarle School Board member Pam Moynihan questioned whether or not students will be interested in the institutes. Tom Smith, a former Fluvanna County Public Schools superintendent and one of the consultants mapping CATEC’s future, said students will come if they are presented with a clear path to a job. Grant Tate, another consultant, said CATEC’s current inability to attract new students is an image problem. The CATEC Board is expected to make a final decision at its March meeting.

Trudy Carter. Photo: Charlottesville City Schools

MEET YOUR EDUCATOR: Trudy Carter, Front Office, Greenbrier Elementary School

How do you support student learning from outside the classroom?

When students first enter the office, I try to give them a good start to the day by giving them a friendly smile and a warm welcome. People, including students, associate the school office with getting in trouble, so I want to show students that they are welcome in the office and that if they need assistance or need to talk to someone, that I’m there to give them support. Teaching a child how to communicate their thoughts and needs is very important, and so is teaching them who to trust in a time of need. Also when teachers send students to the office for copies, for the clinic, or for a behavior issue, we teach the students to be patient and wait their turn. I try to set an example of how to treat people, and I encourage students to be the best they can be and to demonstrate a positive attitude. When they bring things to me in the office, I thank them, and before they leave the office, I wish them a great day!

What’s the most common misconception about your job?

In my opinion, people think my job consists of answering the telephone, doing general office tasks, and greeting the students, staff, and general public. All this is true, but my job is also the center of all the actions that transpire in the building. There are parts of my job that some people won’t see, such as keeping time or keeping the books. And there are other jobs that come up. For instance, when the nurse is out helping students and teachers in the building, then I become the assistant to the nurse.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Multi-tasking! It’s very challenging to be perceptive and efficient while juggling many tasks at one time, such as answering the telephone or emails; responding to the P.A. system; greeting visitors; answering questions for staff, students, and the general public; putting up mail; doing bookkeeping and other tasks that come up. Collaborating with others on these many tasks in a timely manner is challenging.

Why did you choose to perform your job in the schools and not in another industry?

I love children and communicating with people from different cultures. Also I like what I do, and every day is a new experience and a learning moment for me. Working for the school system also gives me time to be off with my family and friends during the holidays so that I can take a break (and juggle all the needs at home, as well!).



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