Melissa Hankins, Assistant Principal, Albemarle High School

Charlottesville City Schools last week withdrew a request for $139,000 from City Council, money officials had originally said was necessary to avoid job cuts.

Federal Title I cuts stemming from sequestration were responsible for the loss of money for the division, officials said. School administrators had said the cuts could mean “at least two teaching positions in the area of math and reading would be reduced,” or that “one teaching position and two instructional assistant positions” would go.

But shortly before they were expected to make a formal ask for financial assistance at a Charlottesville City Council meeting July 15, school officials rescinded their request.

No school officials commented on why the request was removed, but School Board Vice Chair Amy Laufer said that Charlottesville “will continue to find efficiencies where we can.” City School Board Chair Juandiego Wade said no positions would be cut.

Title I money is aimed at improving reading and math skills, and is given to schools that have high numbers of low-income and at-risk students. Originally, Charlottesville budgeted for approximately $1.48 million in Title I funding, but received approximately $1.34 million.

All Charlottesville elementary schools except for Venable are eligible for Title I funds, which Wade said are frequently used to hire tutors or retired teachers to offer extra help to students.

Wade said that over the next few months a subcommittee of City Councilors, School Board members, and community members will address the larger funding issues the schools are facing.

Albemarle names new assistant principal

Albemarle County Schools last week named Melissa Hankins as the new assistant principal for Albemarle High School. Hankins replaces Rick Vrhovac, who filled the assistant principal vacancy at Walton Middle School.

During her 18 years at Albemarle, Hankins has served as testing coordinator and chair of the History and Social Studies Department, and is administrator of the school’s AVID program, a college-readiness program designed to increase academic performance.

In 2004, she was 1 of 60 teachers nationwide selected for the Annenberg Civic Education Initiative, a two-year project which hoped to increase civic awareness and participation in students.

Principal Jay Thomas said one of Hankins’ early priorities will be to counsel student leaders involved in the school’s anti-bullying program “Stop One, Save One.”

Community members can welcome Hankins to her new role, and wish Vrhovac farewell, at a public reception from 11:30 to 1:00 on Friday July 26 at the Albemarle High School library.

Inventive projects receive funding

The Edgar and Eleanor Shannon Foundation for Excellence in Public Education has awarded $14,840 in grant funding to 15 CharlottesvilleAlbemarle schools.

Established in 1990, the Shannon Foundation provides City and County teachers with funding for innovative programming. The foundation was named for University of Virginia President Emeritus Edgar F. Shannon, Jr., and his wife, Eleanor, for their contributions to education.

The funded projects, which will begin in the 2013-14 school year, range from the construction of a rain garden, to a ukulele-based study of American and European musical traditions, to digital manufacturing education and English language fluency.

The Community Public Charter School received the largest grant of $4,675 to fund a three-year environmental education project based on the Lewis and Clark expeditions. During the project, middle schoolers will study Lewis and Clark’s botanical findings, then collect and propagate native plant seeds, with the hope of re-establishing native plants in the area.  The school is one of two charter schools in Albemarle, which is also home to Murray High School.  There are five public charter schools in all of Virginia.