Design students from Pierre-Adrien Pâris Professional High School in Charlottesville’s sister city, Besançon, France, visited CATEC's building trades classes.

The Albemarle County School Board last week debated moving bus stops to major roads in snowy weather in an effort to keep buses off rural roads and avoid snow days.

But transportation staff recommended not adopting the “Plan B” routes, citing safety concerns for students walking on unplowed roads, the difficulty of transporting students with special needs, and resulting low attendance. 

The board has requested more information before it will make a final decision.

School board member Eric Strucko said adopting the changes would benefit working families.

However, Transportation Director Jim Foley estimated that about 120 students have Individual Education Plans that require Albemarle to provide door-to-door transportation.

If schools were to open, yet the school buses were not able to reach these students’ homes, the division could be challenged for not fulfilling its obligations, board attorney John Blair said.

In total, Foley estimated that about 1,450 students of the division’s total population would be impacted by the Plan B Routes.

But several board members questioned the reasonability of allowing a smaller number of students to keep the remainder of the division from attending school.

Blair pointed out that no students are denied educational opportunities when the school days can be made up.

Between November 26 and March 7, Albemarle closed 11 times during 23 weather events, which translates to a 48 percent close rate.

During the same time period, eight surrounding counties closed 61 percent of the time.

The division would have closed for seven of those eleven days “no matter what,” Transportation Director Jim Foley said.

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Sister city students study at CATEC

The Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center last week played host to visitors from Pierre-Adrien Pâris Professional High School in Charlottesville’s sister city, Besançon, France.

During the stay, 12 high school and nine adult education students worked with CATEC students to build a 16 by 16 foot energy-efficient house.

The two cultures take different approaches to career technical education, so the collaboration is serving both groups, said building trades instructor George Cheape.

CATEC Green Technologies Instructor Rich Fletcher said the project is helping his students understand the design concepts they’re trying to achieve in real life, such as LEED and RT2012, France’s thermal regulations for buildings.

Additionally, CATEC Director Adam Hastings said, the students took important building lessons from Habitat for Humanity, which took the visitors to such projects as Burnett Commons.

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