Charlottesville High School students next year will have the option to get their hands dirty in an entrepreneurship-focused urban farming elective.
That elective will serve as a prerequisite course for entrepreneurship and innovation, another enterprise-oriented elective joining the school catalog next year.
The two electives, presented to the Charlottesville School Board at its December meeting Thursday, are among a host of new career and technical education classes CHS will offer next year.
“As a graduation requirement, [our students] need a workforce readiness credit,” said CHS Principal Eric Irizarry. “What this will do is allow our students some different pathways that will feed into our economy and [the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center] and Piedmont Virginia Community College.”
The urban farming course will dovetail with a farm-to-market elective that the school already offers, and will tie in with the city’s schoolyard garden project. Having the program tie farming and enterprise was a logical step, Irizarry said.
“We are having wonderful success with our farm-to-market class and our partnership with city schoolyard gardens,” he said. “What it will do is allow students to access all the wonderful things that are going on in the schoolyard gardens … and have a sequence for our entrepreneurship classes.”
The CHS program of studies also will gain a computer science and introduction to computer science course, documents showed.
City schools Director of Finance Kim Powell told the board during a budget update that the state and federal funding picture for next year is murky.
“From the state side, we had some early indications that funding wouldn’t be so great from the state this year, especially when the support for raises got pulled,” she said, “… but since then, we have heard very little news.”
The state in September pulled its support for 2-percent city schools staff raises after the state finished last fiscal year with a $266 million budget deficit and another $1.2 billion deficit looming in the two-year state budget that began July 1.
The move meant the division had to cover $94,000 of the raises that it had previously budgeted to come from the state.
During the budget discussion, Powell told the board that the division finished last fiscal year with $122,000 left over.
Of those funds, the division was obligated to send $100,000 to the city Capital Improvement Program to be earmarked for school maintenance.
The remaining $22,000 went to the schools’ fund balance, bringing the fund balance total to $583,000.