Albemarle County Public Schools has decided not to hire a consultant to assist with the image and branding of one of its 5 middle schools.
After issuing an August request for proposals entitled “Rebranding Walton Middle School” due to numerous leadership and student conduct complaints, the division has decided to handle the matter internally.
“One thing the bids allowed us to do was look at the support services that would be required of us,” Schools Spokesman Phil Giaramita said. “It would take a significant amount of time and energy to get them up to speed, and that’s time we wouldn’t be spending on the current issue.”
The progress Walton Principal Alison Dwier-Selden is making with the community, Giaramita said, also factored into the division’s decision.
Only two companies submitted proposals, Giaramita said: Avant Marketing, a brand-development and marketing firm from St. Louis, Missouri; and Metro Tribal, a social research and consulting firm that has a Charlottesville office.
Albemarle School Board Chairman Steve Koleszar said there’s more to addressing the concerns at Walton than a re-branding strategy.
“I think we were looking for something more comprehensive than re-branding,” Koleszar said. “We were looking at making the school better, which we can do internally.”
Walton Principal Alison Dwier-Selden, Chief Operating Officer Dean Tistadt, and Assistant Superintendent Matt Haas sat on the review committee.
Since the end of last school year, Dwier-Selden and her staff have worked to address curriculum, school climate, and communication complaints.
At the August 22 School Board meeting, Dwier-Selden reported increased efforts to place students in first-choice electives, plans to implement morning homeroom meetings for teachers and students to build community and improve climate, and Friday emails sent from the Principal to all Walton families to improve communication.
Koleszar maintained Walton’s educational quality and praised Dwier-Selden’s efforts.
“Walton is an excellent school,” Koleszar said. “The students at Walton perform about the same as the rest of the division.”
“I particularly like how the faculty and principal have used the complaints to make the school better rather than go into a defensive shell,” Koleszar added.