Charles Barbera, Fleet Maintenance Technician, prepares a Charlottesville school bus for the upcoming year Credit: SCHOOL PHOTO OF THE WEEK

At last week’s Charlottesville School Board meeting, Director of Human Resources Carole Nelson reported little change in the racial cross-section of the division’s instructional staff, but said the city intends to continue recruiting minority candidates. Minorities fill about 16 percent of the teaching slots in Charlottesville City Schools, and nearly 62 percent of teaching assistant positions.

Results could be improved by diversifying the recruiting team, advertising in minority publications, and sending recruiters to historically black colleges and universities, Nelson said.

School Board member Colette Blount suggested strengthening the City’s partnership with the African-American Teaching Fellows of Charlottesville-Albemarle (AATF), a local nonprofit that seeks to develop candidates currently pursuing education degrees. Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins recommended that staff work with AATF to develop best practices in order for AATF to develop its talent pool.

In Albemarle County, about eight percent of teachers are minorities, according to the 2010-2011 Human Resources Report. The report also notes that only 13 percent of UVA’s Curry School of Education’s 239 graduates were minorities, showing that undergraduate education programs do not matriculate large numbers of minority teachers.

Albemarle spokesman Phil Giaramita said that 12 percent of the county’s new hires last year were minorities, the highest total to date, and that in recent years, seven teachers from AATF have joined the county school system.

Foundation raising funds for schools

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

The Public Education Foundation of Charlottesville-Albemarle (PEF), a grant-making organization founded in 2004, is increasing its fundraising efforts to steer dollars toward innovative programming in the public schools.

The PEF plans to hire a full-time director who can more actively connect with community members and raise money for four new funds—two in the county and two in the city—aimed at fostering innovation and providing better teaching development opportunities.

In Charlottesville, initiatives include funding for ongoing  science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lab construction at Charlottesville High School and Buford Middle School, as well as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a college-readiness program. Albemarle hopes the money will help ease the cost of extending world language instruction to primary grades, in addition to efforts to provide broadband to all areas of the county.

More information is available at:

Charlottesville Tomorrow has also published an extended version of this story here.

Healthy Snacks, Healthy Kids

Students at Charlottesville and Albemarle public schools will be munching on healthier foods in the coming years, due to new USDA guidelines which govern the nutritional quality of snacks.

“You want [students] to be able to eat healthy at school and hopefully it trickles down to the home so that they won’t reach for the Doritos,” said Christina Connell, Charlottesville’s school nutrition coordinator.

The new guidelines, applicable only to food and drinks outside of the breakfast and lunch programs, focus on reducing sugar and calorie levels, and incorporating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into the items available to students.

“Healthy snacks are important,” said Willa Neale, Charlottesville City School Board member. “But there are two more aspects of this push that must be addressed: nutritional education and food [availability]. Without those, lasting change will be hard.”

The changes are required to go into effect at the start of the 2014-15 school year.