Budget season is really a year-round event in Charlottesville, as my reporting can attest. But on Monday, Council was formally introduced to the spending plans for both Charlottesville local government and Charlottesville City Schools. The school system went first.
“Our proposed budget for FY24 is $107,128,647 and that is a budget change of $212,416,” said Superintendent Royal Gurley.
School Board Chair James Bryant thanked Council for their collaboration this year on addressing the school bus driver shortage and the recent purchase of Albemarle County’s share of the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center.
“Working together, we can meet both the needs of high schoolers and adult learners,” Bryant said. “We can also work to address the city’s workforce development goals to meet the needs of our area employers.”
The Charlottesville School Board will be presented tonight with two names for two more elementary schools. A name review committee is recommending that Burnley-Moran become Blue Mountain Elementary and that Johnson Elementary become Cherry Avenue Elementary.
“In the case of Burnley-Moran and Johnson, the three namesakes of these schools—Carrie Burnley, Sarepta Moran, and James G. Johnson—all served Charlottesville’s racially segregated white schools as teacher, principal, or superintendents,” reads a press release sent out this morning.
After several years of talking about making changes to Charlottesville City Schools to add sixth grade to Buford Middle School, the city has issued an invitation for firms to bid to do the construction and demolition work required. (bid page)
“The project is the result of about ten years of speculation and study by the City Schools and it responds to a need to take out one of the middle-year transitions for students Charlottesville City Schools,” said Mike Goddard, a senior project manager with the City of Charlottesville’s Public Works Department. “The ultimate plan for the project is to make Buford a three-year school so sixth, seventh and eighth grade will ultimately go to Buford and the fifth grade will be pushed back to the elementaries.”
There is new leadership on the seven-member Charlottesville City School Board. James Bryant has been elected as chair and Dom Morse will serve as vice chair.
Bryant was first appointed to the seat as an interim member in April 2018 to fill a vacancy left when Adam Hastings resigned. Bryant was elected to a full-term in 2019 in a five-way race in which he placed fourth. His seat is up again for election this year.
Last week, the Albemarle School Board met with the Board of Supervisors for a work session on financial planning that will be required to help cover the school system’s request for $318 million over five years to build two new schools, buy land for a third, and renovate existing ones. I wrote up the details of the request last week and this next piece captures the discussions of how to pay for it. (review the presentation)
That part of the conversation began with a note from Andy Bowman, the chief of the county’s Office of Management and Budget, about changing one policy. Currently Albemarle seeks to cap the percentage of debt service to revenues below a certain amount. Bowman said one scenario would be to expand that to eight percent.
“If we went to eight percent, there would be another $37 million under the county’s financial policies that could be borrowed that,” Bowman said. “That capacity is not planned for at this time because everyone at this table knows very well, that is not free money and we have to think about the other financial side. It’s just the borrowing but how it gets repaid.”
Albemarle County Public Schools want to build two new elementary schools and buy land for a third as part of a $318 million five-year request to the Board of Supervisors.
The two bodies met in a long range planning work session Wednesday to discuss how to pay for school infrastructure needs. The goal was to give the School Board an opportunity to explain specifically what they need and to strategize for how to pay for it. Andy Bowman, the chief of the county’s Office of Management and Budget, was clear to state what the meeting was not. (view the presentation)
“This isn’t a budget discussion,” Bowman said. “We’ll hold those in February, March, and so on. So while we’ll have some numbers and charts and graphs today that I’ll be sharing, it’s not going to feel as much of a budget work session as it will be in a few months from now.”
A Charlottesville City Schools Committee is recommending that the names of two city elementary schools be changed.
“Although the committee considered keeping or modifying the names Venable and Clark, in the end, members decided that maintaining the original names in any way would continue to uphold the original, problematic namesakes,” reads the school system’s website.
Albemarle County Schools have issued a request for proposals for a firm to better understand why many students consistently remain behind. (view the RFP)
“Results for our students of color are not the same as other demographics groups,” reads the background for the request for proposals. This is what Ellen Osborne was referring to earlier in this newsletter.
The city has issued an invitation for bids for the modernization of Greenbrier Elementary School.
“Project involves renovation of parts of Greenbrier Elementary School, including but not limited to flooring, ceiling replacement, minor HVAC duct work, storefront glass and finish work,” reads the bid description. “Project will require coordination with other work on related and unrelated projects on the school site.”
There is a 456 page manual for the project. A pre-bid conference is scheduled for November 29, 2022. Submissions will be received through December 14, 2022. Work is expected to begin June 12, 2023 with substantial completion on August 11, 2023.
Items on the agenda include an allocation from the state for a one-time bonus that comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Charlottesville gets $414,603.21 for the effort, and is kicking in funding of its own.
“Charlottesville City Schools has 793.32 [full-time equivalent] instructional and support positions including custodial and nutrition workers,” reads the agenda item. “The total cost of the one-time bonus payment is $854,009.”