WAHS students posing as gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli's campaign staff attempting to sway voters

As the Albemarle County School Board kicks off its FY2015 budgeting process, the focus is on professional development and modernizing education.

At a budget planning session last week, Assistant Superintendent Billy Haun said Albemarle is still reeling from past professional development cuts—which saw that portion of the budget slashed by 57 percent from 2008 to 2013—and School Board Chair Steve Koleszar said professional development is his top priority.

“When you look at where all the dollars are going, it’s 83 percent staff, and so when you think about money spent on staff development, what we’re really doing is making that 83 percent that we’re spending on staff…more effective,” Koleszar said.

Board Member Ned Gallaway said he would like to see more individualized professional development. “We do pockets of professional development throughout the calendar year,” Gallaway said. “When are we giving them time throughout the regular year to give them time to do their own reflection and reaction to their own work that they’re doing in the classroom?” 

Board members Pam Moynihan and Eric Strucko focused their attention on construction projects, but at two different scales. “We’ve been discussing contemporary learning spaces for a long time, and we’ve already taken steps at some schools,” Moynihan said. “I’d hate to stop midstream and have some schools have these spaces and other schools not have these spaces.” Strucko said the pace at which Albemarle is renovating or adding onto schools is too slow, and said he’d like to grow the division’s capital budget while interest rates are still low.

Koleszar said that the Long Range Planning Advisory Committee will have to balance investing capital funds on 21st-century learning spaces versus accommodating new capacity, but said he would like to see new learning spaces high up the priority list.

Board member Diantha McKeel said the School Board and Board of Supervisors could improve the CIP process altogether. “What we really ought to do with the Board of Supervisors, in my opinion, is sit down and say, ‘What is it we need, and what do we want to do long-term, and then how are we going to pay for it?’” McKeel said. “Because what we’re doing right now is what we can afford to do every year, and it has no vision to it. It has no plan to it.”

Superintendent Dr. Pam Moran said that it’s too early to tell what many of the specifics of her funding request will look like, as the division is still waiting to hear about rate increases within the Virginia Retirement System, as well as state aid and local revenue numbers.

The division expects a local revenue update on November 14, and Moran will make her formal funding request to the School Board on January 16.

Read the full story here: http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/16370-albemarle-school-board-budget-priorities/

Area students tour local technology firms

Middle and high school students from across Central Virginia last month participated in the 10th annual Tech Tour, a program of the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, which aims to expose students to career opportunities in the tech field.

The day saw students from 25 schools participate in a morning engineering challenge, then visit over 70 companies, with each group touring three technology businesses throughout the day.

The visits offered students a chance to see what technology area companies produce, how they use technology, and to ask questions of professionals. The tour also showed students the many subfields that young people may not yet be aware of.

In addition to the tour, all students who have participated are eligible to apply for a $2,500 scholarship from CBIC in their junior or senior year of high school. Since 2003, CBIC has awarded $23,000 in scholarships. More information can be found at http://cvillebic.org/tech-tour.

Read the full story here: http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/news/article/16379-students-tour-local-technology-firms/