Matt Haas, superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, continued his countywide listening tour with a community forum at Albemarle High School on Wednesday evening.
Haas, who officially assumed his position on July 1, is seeking input from Albemarle students, parents, employees and community members to help him develop a strategic and operational action plan.
During the forum, approximately 40 people were split into two focus groups. Several members of the county schools’ administrative staff led the groups, first asking attendees to turn to the person next to them and discuss their greatest concerns.
Kim Wasson, a parent with children at Brownsville Elementary School and Henley Middle School, said she was unhappy with Brownsville’s recent rollout of Math Investigations 3, a curriculum developed by Pearson.
“Not all parents thought that the plan was well communicated, and some of us are concerned that there is a little more shakiness [in math] for our children going into Henley,” Wasson said. “It is not a reflection on our teachers. I love all of our teachers and they were very understanding of our concerns.”
The groups also focused on possible systemic changes that could solve some of Albemarle’s most pressing educational issues.
Several teachers agreed that high school students should be able to take no more than four AP classes per year. Another said the amount of standardized testing in schools has contributed to students’ anxiety and other mental illnesses.
Steven Turner, a teacher at Albemarle High School, said his focus group discussed ideas to improve school security and shared concerns about school ratings websites’ impact on property values.
At the end of the forum, Haas told attendees that all of their comments would be documented and shared on the school division’s webpage. Albemarle County will later send out a survey to parents, teachers and employees who could not attend the listening tour.
“We will put all that together in a report for the School Board,” Haas said. “I will take that and [make] it into a plan for myself as the superintendent. The board has a strategic plan; I also need my own plan for what I’m going to prioritize.”
Haas will hold another community forum at Western Albemarle High School on Tuesday and at Monticello High School on Aug. 8. Both events start at 6 p.m. More information can be found at www.k12albemarle.org/First100Days.