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Albemarle schools revisiting class rank reporting & other school news

Albemarle County Public Schools announced last week that the division has been reviewing its policy of reporting class rankings to college admissions offices. The review is the result of calls from parents who feel it hurts gifted students who are not in the top 10 percent of his or her class.

Currently, Albemarle reports class ranks to colleges and universities in deciles, but former college admissions officer Fred Smyth said doing so gives selective colleges a reason to eliminate capable students who fall short of the mark.

However, Western Albemarle High School parent Elizabeth Ferrall said to stop reporting decile rankings would be unfair to those students who have earned it.

“They know the world is a competitive place and they are choosing to compete on the academic arena,” Ferrall added. “To take that away from them is really unfair for all the work that they’ve put in to get into the top 10 percent.”

Henry Broaddus, Dean of Admissions at the College of William and Mary, and Gregory Roberts, Dean of Admissions at the University of Virginia, said that while students are evaluated holistically the rigor of their course load and how well they fared carries the most weight.

Staff are expected to make a recommendation on whether or not to stop reporting ranks and when that change would be implemented at the School Board’s first meeting in October. 


Blue Ribbon Commission asks for population, tax projections

At the second meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission last week, Commission member Steve Campbell wondered if future development in Charlottesville might cure some of the schools’ funding woes.

“Our ability to get a handle on [population projections] for the next 5 years either exacerbates our problems and makes this a more critical function or it actually by nature solves it,” Campbell said.

The Blue Ribbon Commission is a 13-member panel appointed by Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones to develop a sustainable funding model for the City’s schools.

Specifically, Campbell pointed to the nearly 1,100 housing units either under construction or under review in Charlottesville, and how the increased population could potentially increase the City’s tax base for schools.

City Manager Maurice Jones said staff would collect tax and population projections, but that it’s difficult to predict due to market fluctuations and the additional services the new population would require, which the City does not have to supply currently.

The Commission hopes to deliver possible solutions to the city council in December. The next meeting is on October 1.


Charlottesville High School string ensemble bound for France

The Charlottesville High School string ensemble last week played a short concert on the Downtown Mall, launching a fundraising campaign to send the students to France this summer. The trip will take the 55-student group to Paris and one of Charlottesville’s sister cities, Besançon.

Led by director Laura Mulligan, the string ensemble is comprised of sophomores, juniors, and seniors from the orchestra who audition. In 2011 the string ensemble travelled to Florence, Italy for the Youth Orchestra Festival.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for the orchestra and for each player in it because we’ll get to experience a different atmosphere and different audience,” cellist Brenna Graves said.

“I think what sets us apart in this area is our emphasis and our support for the arts,” Delegate David Toscano said, “and when it penetrates down into the schools that’s when you really know you’ve got something special.”