Walton Middle School teachers Susan Rigby and Jon Barber discussing the middle school during a June School Improvement Plan meeting

The Albemarle County School Board last week agreed to implement a 1-to-1 technology initiative—a computing device for every student, starting with grades 6 through 12—as part of its “digital conversion.”

Albemarle spokesman Vincent Scheivert said that the goal of the initiative, which he expects to be cost-neutral or show a savings within five years, is to provide all county students access to digital resources and content when and where they need it to happen.

Early estimates show the one-year total cost for new devices and professional and curriculum development will be nearly $1.5 million, or $213 per student, based on the county’s 7,000 middle- and high-school students. Funding in the current budget will cover nearly all technology costs, Scheivert said, and the county will be looking at ways to reprioritize the budget to direct money for professional and curriculum development to prepare teachers to use the new technology.

That curriculum development will get underway in the coming months, Scheivert said. One resource will be Project RED, a 2010 study and analysis of technology integration in schools.

Schools take on summer building projects

Both Albemarle County Public Schools and Charlottesville City Schools are making improvements to their infrastructure this summer.

In Albemarle, construction is already underway at Murray High School to accommodate students whose classes have previously been housed in trailers. The project includes renovating the main wing of the charter school located off of Rose Hill Drive. The 6,680-square-foot project, which was awarded to North Star Companies of Warrenton, Virginia, has a price tag of $328,797.

In Charlottesville, the city is improving lighting at Charlottesville High School and updating school drinking fountains division-wide. At CHS, workers are replacing the site lighting from behind the school to the annex near the baseball field. The new lights, which will cost $495,000, are the last phase in fully lighting the school’s perimeter. The city is also spending $129,000 to ensure its school drinking fountains comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. These regulations mandate such issues as spout height and distance from walls, as well as hand controls and numbers of ADA-compliant drinking fountains per floor.

This week’s EDUCATION ROUNDUP appears in C-VILLE Weekly

Walton parents weigh in on assistant principal search

Nearly 30 concerned parents and teachers gathered in the Walton Middle School amphitheater last week to discuss improving school climate. The school administration had come under fire recently for numerous student conduct issues at the Albemarle middle school.

At the heart of the conversation was filling the school’s new assistant principal vacancy. Walton assistant principal Edmund Leclere will be leaving to focus on at-risk and special need students, and parents were emphatic that his replacement instill discipline. Parent Lisa Cannell said that the students needed to have “a healthy fear” of the new administrator.

Assistant director for educator quality Clare Keiser said the new hire will have experience as an assistant principal and that the position will be filled within the next two weeks. Assistant superintendent Matt Hass said that there are four strong candidates already working in the division.