After taking Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center from Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville City Schools officials say they are working to ensure a smooth transition of ownership of the technical school. 

But the members of the CATEC Foundation (CATEF) want City Schools to hold off on finalizing the deal. Foundation leaders want the district to publicize its plans for enrollment, tuition costs, school division and adult programs before the real estate closing date on July 19. The group wants more “sunshine” on the deal, allowing the public to be aware and voice their concerns on the purchase.

“This is a dramatic change,” Linda Seaman, president of CATEF, told Charlottesville Tomorrow. “The public should have an opportunity on this.”

What’s more, the foundation said that “additional dialogue between the city and county is warranted to provide for a more orderly dissolution of the 50-year partnership and give assurance to the staff and students of CATEC about plans for the immediate and long-term future,” the resolution statement sent to media reads. 

The foundation also offered to provide funding for a third-party facilitator to iron out the details quickly.

City Schools has not responded to the foundation’s questions directly, but rather said that officials hope generally to “finalize some foundational decisions” that may answer questions the community, the Foundation and other stakeholders may have.

“As the decisions are made, we will share those with partners and the public,” said Beth Chuek, spokesperson for Charlottesville City Schools.

As for the City of Charlottesville, the Council is not opposed to taking a beat to hash out more details and announce more details to the public. The Council supported the board in purchasing the school given the short amount of time to address funding questions. 

“I think a lot could take place,” said JuanDiego Wade, vice mayor of Charlottesville. “We see that people in the community are passionate about it and care about it.”

So far, City Schools has created six committees to tackle various areas regarding the transition, she said. They are accounting/finances, human resources, programming and partnerships, infrastructure and facilities, technology and other arbitrary tasks. It’s unclear who is on the committees.

Some decisions have been made since the initial purchase announcement. For instance, any employee who begins work at the school in the 2023-2024 school year will be considered a Charlottesville school employee. City Schools will also change the A in CATEC to area from Albemarle once plans are completed.

In 1969, the two entities established an agreement that if one entity seeks to buy the other’s share of the school, the other then must sell its share or buy the entire school altogether. Albemarle County Public Schools announced their desire to buy Charlottesville schools’ share of the technical school last summer. By December, county schools submitted its final offer. Charlottesville turned the offer down, and instead bought the entire school for $5.4 million. 

Charlottesville obtained the school out of worry for the future of its students who attended CATEC. Officials from city schools previously stated buying the school is a sure way of guaranteeing student’s access to the school. 

It costs $3.8 million to run CATEC each year. Albemarle schools covers almost half the yearly operating costs. Because City Schools students make up a much small percentage of the student population, they pay less than 20% of the cost, about $700,000 a year. The rest is covered by tuition from adult students and state funding.

On top of determining how it will fund Albemarle’s portion of the yearly operating costs, the school will have until 2028 to pay the $5.4 million. 

The Charlottesville School Board will have updates at their upcoming meeting on April 17.


Tamica Jean-Charles

I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's education and families reporter. Reach out to me by email or on Twitter. Also, subscribe to our newsletter! C’mon, it’s free.