In Virginia, county school boards are composed of at-large members, plus one member from each district in that county. They are elected to four-year terms and serve as the leaders of the school district by setting the policies and choosing the leadership of public schools, among other duties. The Albemarle County Public Schools Board has seven members, one from each of its six districts, and one at-large member.
Ellen Moore Osborne is the incumbent and the only certified candidate running to represent the Scottsville District on the Albemarle County School Board.
Charlottesville Tomorrow designed a questionnaire based on over 200 responses we received to a voter survey. Osborne answered these questions by email.
Like many school districts, Albemarle County Public Schools is struggling to hire and retain teachers. How would you as a school board member propose addressing this issue?
Ellen Moore Osborne: For this school year, we have a 1.37% vacancy rate, slightly lower than last year’s 1.5% vacancy rate. As a division, we’re focusing on some strategies we’ve found successful, such as TOPS (Teacher Opportunity and Provisional Support), higher education partnerships, use of Handshake [a recruitment website], etc. I also strongly support the division’s “grow your own” attempts to help assistants and other interested parties in obtaining the credentials they need to become licensed teachers.
This district is having a similar issue with bus drivers. How would you propose addressing this issue?
Osborne: We are continuing to address the shortage of bus drivers through expanded recruitment and retention efforts. ACPS offers paid CDL [commercial driver’s license] training, competitive pay (a salary range of $22.58 to $38.29 per hour), and multiple employment options, including full-day work. Employment as a bus driver also qualifies for benefit programs such as medical and dental insurance and participation in the retirement plan.
The Bellwether report, presented to the Board in June, pointed to the disparities students of color and economically disadvantaged students are facing in their studies. What would you do to support efforts to bridge the gaps? Are there approaches you’ve supported in the past?
Osborne: The Bellwether report not only pointed out problems but suggested solutions. I will hold the administration accountable for progress in these areas. In the past, I have also supported setting and reporting on aggressive goals for achievement because, typically, everything that is measured improves.
[Editor’s note: Here are the Virginia Department of Education Standards of Learning assessment results for Albemarle County Public Schools.]
There’s been an increase in violence, particularly gun violence, within the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. What steps do you think the district should take to keep students safe and supported in school?
Osborne: I want ACPS to participate in the Be SMART gun safety program, which helps parents secure their guns safely. [Editor’s note: Be SMART is a national campaign that started in 2015.]
Youngkin recently released updated model policies that define how school officials should treat transgender or gender nonconforming students — for example requiring teachers to get parental consent before calling students by names or pronouns that are not on official records. Do you support adopting this policy?
Osborne: ACPS already has an excellent policy for transgender and gender-nonconforming students. At ACPS, we strive to treat our transgender and gender-nonconforming students with the respect and dignity that every human being deserves.
The county has seen a steady increase in migrant, refugee and immigrant populations over the past years. Do you support helping these students get up to speed? How?
Osborne: I have supported efforts by questioning the staff-to-student ratio for the ESL [English as a second language] population during the budget process and by advocating for hiring more ESL teachers. Also, I have continuously championed the need to explore an ESOL [English to speakers of other languages] family literacy program at ACPS because evidence shows many benefits to adult and young ESL students learning together. Our community needs more learning opportunities available for the parents of ESL children; most adult education ESOL classes are full or have a waiting list.
Are there any other important issues facing the school district that you’d like voters to know about?
Editor’s note: Osborne did not submit a response to this question.
More about the candidate for the Scottsville District seat on the Albemarle County Public Schools Board
- Osborne’s campaign contributions from the Virginia Public Access Project
- Osborne’s 2019 announcement of her candidacy, reported by the Daily Progress
As you get ready to vote, here are some key dates and links from the Virginia Department of Elections:
Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here’s more about how to get election results.
- Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office.
- Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
- Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
- Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
- Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.
Need to know if you’re eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.