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Friday, Oct. 6, 2023

Curious about the breakdown in Albemarle County Public Schools’ collective bargaining negotiations? We spoke with both parties, and a few outsiders, to get a sense of what happened with the talks, and what’s up with the contract provisions that the union has walked out over.

Very basically, the School Board won’t talk about it. This isn’t uncommon, employers don’t tend to speak publicly about union negotiations. As School Board president Judy Le put it, “I don’t want to undermine our negotiation or negotiate outside of our negotiation room.”

The union president Vernon Liechti, on the other hand, is giving interviews. He laid out the contract issues that the union took its stand over: The School Board is asking the teachers union to re-verify and redefine the employees who are part of the union, and hold an in-person election to confirm its place as a bargaining unit and include a clause in the contract that grants the district one-sided power to finalize contracts.

We also spoke with a state-level union organizer and a University of Virginia employment law professor about these issues. Both were critical of the school district.

“It seems the School Board wants to have the appearance of a union without giving the teachers’ union the authority that accompanies genuine collective representation,” J.H. “Rip” Verkerke, the UVA law professor.

A person in a red "I love public schools" shirt speaks at a podium.
Credit: Screenshot of Albemarle County School Board meeting

Labor expert advises Albemarle to rethink its collective bargaining contract, or risk losing teachers

The makeup of the Albemarle County School Board will change after this fall’s election. There are four seats up for election, and two of them are contested races. We are compiling a Voter Guide for Central Virginia right now that will include questionnaires for candidates from each of these races. Be sure to check our guide in the coming days to see your candidates’ positions.

Illustrated graphic of map of central Virginia with an orange overlay color.

2023 Voter Guide for Central Virginia

There will be a Charlottesville City School Board election, too, but it will have no contests. There are four open at-large seats, and four registered candidates. That means, unless a write-in candidate comes from behind to overtake the folks listed on the ballot, we already know who those new board members will be.

Want to get to know them better? Charlottesville Tomorrow is teaming up with Charlottesville United for Public Education to host a forum with the four candidates — and you can attend! It’s Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, 233 4th St. NW. If you know you’d like to attend, hit this link to RSVP.

Two children lean over a student desk examining cylinders.
Credit: Courtesy of Charlottesville City Schools

Four new people will join the Charlottesville City School Board, but who are the candidates?

It’s the Friday before a long weekend, everyone! I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy some lovely fall weather.

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.