The Charlottesville High School Marching Band practices before school

The Charlottesville School Board unanimously adopted two resolutions last week, affirming their 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 the 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 in which schools 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.

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