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Sigma Lab at CHS

Facilities planning for the future

facades of five Charlottesville schools

Facilities: A Brief Update (November 2020)

The schools continue progress on the school reconfiguration plan approved in 2019 (see February 11, 2019 update, below). In December 2019, the city posted a Request for Proposal (RFP_ for design and planning services for Buford (which will house grades 6-8) and Walker (which will be the site of a city-wide preschool center while 5th graders return to elementary schools).  The RFPs were received by the end of January, but of course the pandemic raised other priorities. In November 2020, the City Council met for an update on the project. For an update, read “City Council considers funding for school reconfiguration project”  (Daily Progress, 11/20/20).

In addition, the separate process for accomplishing modernization projects (with an annual budget of $1-1.25 million) at the elementary schools continued.

More Information

PREVIOUS UPDATE: February 11, 2019

As part of the budget planning process for the 2019-20 year, the Charlottesville School Board held discussions with Charlottesville City Council about school facilities, enrollment growth, and their implications for equity.

The School Board endorsed a school reconfiguration plan that would create a preschool center, return 5th-graders to elementary schools, and modernize Buford Middle School for grades 6-8.  The Charlottesville City Council  approved a $3 million allocation for design and planning work on school reconfiguration. (The funds would be outside the schools’ operating budget, as part of the CIP or Capital Improvement Project process.)

The over-arching ideas are:

  • Move the schools’ 3- and 4-year-old preschool classes to a dedicated preschool center on the current Walker Upper Elementary School campus. This specialized center would allow for additional classrooms, before/after school care, and services that are targeted to meet the needs of our youngest learners.
  • Return fifth-graders to elementary schools, the environment that is most developmentally appropriate for their needs. This will required continued monitoring of the enrollment capacity of our elementary schools.
  • Remodel Buford Middle School to maximize opportunities for grades 6-8. This will eliminate one of the two middle-grade transitions  that we current require as our students presently first move from elementary to Walker in grade 5 and again move from Walker to Buford in grade 7.
  • In addition to this process, the schools have received a five-year commitment of $1 million from City Council to support modernization projects. The first, completed in the summer of 2018, was at Clark Elementary. The second will be completed at Jackson-Via Elementary in the summer of 2019.

To learn more about the process that led to these decisions, scroll down for previous updates. As noted previously, the timeline for planning and modernizing schools would be at least three years.

PREVIOUS UPDATE:  April 25, 2018

This winter, Charlottesville City Schools held a series of discussions relating to our rising student enrollment. We presented a number of options and offered a preliminary survey to solicit additional input. We also briefed community leaders such as City Council and the Planning Commission.

What We Heard

  • We heard strong support for returning to centralized preschool with services that focus on the needs of our eligible three- and four-year-old students (and their families). Aside from allowing us to specialize in early childhood education, a centralized preschool would free up space in our crowded elementary schools.
  • We heard a preference for maintaining our commitment to small neighborhood elementary schools (over a model of enlarging three of our elementary schools). This would likely require the construction of a seventh elementary school on currently owned or future-acquired property.
  • We did NOT hear a consensus about relocating fifth-graders to the elementary schools. However, returning fifth-grade to elementary schools had previously arisen as a strong preference in prior community surveys and meetings. This would require a preschool center and the remodeling of Buford for 6th- through 8th-graders. Elementary capacity would still need to be addressed.
  • We heard an interest in additional options. These options include a 5-8 campus that provides updated facilities and eliminates a school transition during the critical “middle grade” years. Another option is creating a specialty academy to serve students in the elementary or middle-grade years.
  • We heard interest in combining our capacity needs and our modernization needs. If we can identify solutions that both expand capacity and modernize our facilities, there is support for a greater investment that would provide our community with a bigger return.
  • We heard support for our out-of-division student program even as we heard reminders that we should minimize the impact of the program on overcrowding. In other words, we will continue to strive to admit only those students who will fill otherwise unused seats in existing classrooms. Relatedly, we heard support for continuing to offer spaces to the children of employees of the City Schools and the City. And we heard from community members who want to make sure that once we have built a relationship with a nonresident student, we should view that child as a “Charlottesville student,” or “one of our own,” not as an outsider who should be sent away.

Next Steps

  • New data points in August. Updated enrollment figures will help us make informed decisions. This data will help us critically re-evaluate and tweak our interpretation of enrollment trends as projected by our partner, U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center.
  • Learning cottages. The “elementary wave” we’ve been seeing continues to max out our elementary schools and is beginning to make an impact at Walker and Buford. We have purchased one additional unit for next year with the option to buy others if needed. We have also completed the most time-consuming part of the planning process: site studies at campuses to identify the best placements.
  • Fleshing out options and responding to opportunities. In response to community feedback (see above), we can continue to explore our options and opportunities. In doing this work, we continue to work with VMDO Architects and the City’s Facilities team.
  • Fall community meetings. We will meet with City Council, community partners, and the community-at-large to be transparent and responsive to the hopes and concerns of all.

Previous Updates to this page (January 2018)

Charlottesville City Schools is growing! Since our enrollment has been increasing about 3 percent annually, we need to consider the future of our school facilities. Together, let’s consider how we can best meet our students’ needs, particularly for our classes serving preschool through grade 8. Our school division’s growth also presents an opportunity to modernize our schools for 21st-century learning.

Graphic showing enrollment growth from 1986-2011 and 2011-2018

Upcoming Meetings:

    • (POSTPONED) Community Conversation: January 31, 2018 – 6 p.m., Charlottesville High School media center

    • School Board discussion/public comment – February 1, 2018, 5:00 p.m., CHS 

      • School Board meetings are live streamed at (search for Charlottesville City Schools). Watch regularly scheduled meetings on the first Thursday of every month at 5 p.m.
      • Meetings are also recorded and later televised on Public Access Channel 14 on Thursday & Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday at 12 and 7 p.m. of the same week as the meeting.

Community Meetings Slideshow

Charlottesville City Schools contracted VMDO Architects to study capacity and growth in the division. VMDO’s findings, along with the UVA Weldon Cooper Center’s study on enrollment trends in Charlottesville, were presented at two community meetings in November.

Title slide "Charlottesville City Schools Public Forums on Capacity & Growth." Click on the image to view full slideshow presentation.
Click to view full slideshow presentation.


Click here to jump to a topic:

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs on Growth and Capacity Solutions for Charlottesville City Schools

Frequently Asked Questions coming soon. Please help us compile this list by providing your own questions/feedback using the Community Survey.

Next Steps


The next Community Meetings will be January 23 at 6 p.m. at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church and January 31 at 6 p.m. at CHS Media Center followed by a series of school PTO meetings and other community outreach meetings where we will provide information and gather feedback from community members. Additionally, there will be discussion and an opportunity for public comment at the regularly scheduled School Board meeting on February 2 at 5:30pm in the Charlottesville High School library.

Stay in Touch

Stay informed and share your thoughts! We will continue to post future
updates on this web page. Look for a more robust community survey coming in January.


Next decisions:
1) Consensus about moving forward with expansion plans?
2) One new elementary, or three expanded elementaries? Centralized preschool?
3) Other questions as they emerge from community feedback.


Additional Resources

Complete the community survey

A very brief  survey is available to capture some initial thoughts. Please look for a more detailed survey coming in January.

Graphic: Every Learner. Every Day. Everyone.

Resources for Parents and Educators Related to Race

These resources were initially compiled in August 2017 following the  white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville. Tragically, these resources remain relevant and timely.

Resources for Parents and Educators

A number of local agencies and national groups have created resources for family discussions centered on race and/or community violence.

The following have been suggested by our school counselors as potential resources for your consideration. We recognize that this list is not complete, and that different families and teachers will find some links more useful than others. NOTE: this list has not been materially updated since August 2017.

All Ages

All Ages:

Helping Children Feel Safe During Uncertain Times: A Caregiver’s Guide (a brief guide prepared by school counselors at Charlottesville City Schools)

How Can Parents Help Their Children (following community violence)? (resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network)

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Books that Might Help (published on

How to Talk to Your Kids About Charlottesville (Age-appropriate fiction recommendations from the New York Times)

How to Talk to Your Kids about the Violence in Charlottesville (compiled by the L.A. Times)

Post-Charlottesville Resources (from the Virginia Department of Education)

Promoting Compassion and Acceptance in Crisis (tips compiled by the National Association of School Psychologists)

Resources for Talking About Race, Racism, and Racialized Violence with Kids  (compiled by the Center for Racial Justice in Education)

What Charlottesville Means for Our Black Family (essay published on

Young Children

Young Children:

After a Crisis, Helping Young Children Heal (tips from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network)

Once I Was Very Scared. (picture book available as a PDF and also available in Arabic, Spanish, and Turkish). Author: Chandra Ghosh Ippen.  Piplo Productions.

A Terrible Thing Happened. (book for ages 4-7) Author: Margaret M. Holmes. Dalmation Press. Franklin, Tennessee.



Youth Resources for the Charlottesville Rally (compiled by the local organization Ready Kids)

For Educators

For Educators:

I’m a Teacher In Charlottesville. This is How I’ll Talk to My Students. (Washington Post)

Promoting Compassion and Acceptance in Crisis (tips compiled by the National Association of School Psychologists)

For curricular resources, educators can check with their principal, coach, and area coordinators.

Counseling Resources

Community Counseling Resources:

  • Need immediate counseling? If this is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, you can call Region Ten at any time at 434-972-1800 or 1-866-694-1605 for help or more information.
  • Students: school counselors — send them an email to set up a time.
  • Staff: Employee Assistance Program — visit
  • Resources for Talking with Children about Race (compiled by Charlottesville City Schools Counselors in August 2017)


School’s Out, But The Engineers Are In

Has anyone told the Buford engineers that school’s out?! This summer, they’ve already made presentations at U.Va. Curry School of Education, American University, and ISTE ’17 in San Antonio! (That’s the the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education.) To learn more about their summer activities, follow @CCS_iSTEM on Twitter.


CHS Student Lucas Higgins Earns State Department Travel Fellowship

Lucas Higgins (top) and Santiago Padrón (bottom), this year’s and last year’s winners of an NSLI-Y travel fellowship.


For a second year in a row, a Charlottesville High School student has earned a highly competitive travel fellowship in China through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, the program serves to develop knowledge of languages and cultures that are critical to our national security and foreign relations. Junior Lucas Higgins is the 2017 honoree.

In the past three years alone, six other Charlottesville students and teachers have earned U.S. State Department travel fellowships. This summer, Spanish teacher Carolyn Evans will travel with a U.S. Department of Education program.

Junior Lucas Higgins will travel to China this summer with NSLI-Y. He is the founder of the CHS Student Investment Group, which has raised an endowment of more than $25,000, awarded its first grant of $1,000 to the local nonprofit City Schoolyard Garden, and placed 4th worldwide in a competition last year sponsored by the Wharton Business School. He plays soccer on CHS’s 11-0 boys’ team, serves on the Charlottesville Youth Council. and is presently enrolled in Chinese 3 Honors at CHS.

NSLI-Y is part of a U.S. government initiative that prepares American citizens to be leaders in a global world. The program offers intensive language instruction plus community service and a stay with a host family.

Charlottesville City Schools has an unusually strong record of students and teachers participating in State Department-sponsored programs. Last year, Santiago Padrón (now a senior at CHS) was selected for the same NSLI-Y program in China. In the last two years, three other CHS students — Fré Halvorson-Taylor, Matthew Robinson, and Elsa Schenck — earned year-long fellowships with the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad (YES Abroad) program.

Other recent CHS and CCS awardees include then-CHS student Emily Bambury, CHS Spanish teacher Karen Nelson, and Buford ESL teacher Renata Germino, all of whom studied in South America with State Department programs in 2015-2016.

This summer, Spanish teacher Carolyn Evans will travel with the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the selective program will take just twelve K-12 educators to Ecuador and Peru for four weeks.


To speak with future or past fellowship winners, please contact Beth Cheuk at 245-2962 or

students in caps and gowns after graduation

Graduation 2017

students in caps and gowns after graduationGraduation will be Thursday, June 8, and it’ll be here before you know it! It’s time to order your cap and gown.

If you haven’t done so already, you can still order your graduation cap and gown unit for only $50 by using this link directly to Josten’s.  Pricing may go up as time passes.  If you are concerned about meeting this graduation obligation, please contact your counselor.

  • Questions? Call 1.800.JOSTENS or CHS at 245.2410
  • Check back here for more graduation information to come
  • Link to Josten’s for other CHS senior gear, including graduation announcements

Save the date! Graduation will be Thursday, June 8 at 7pm at JPJ Arena.

Image of Susan Ermo, runner-up for the national adult education administrator of the year award from Coalition of Adult Basic Education

Susan Erno Honored as Runner-Up for U.S. Outstanding Adult Ed Administrator

Susan ErnoSusan Erno, the Director of Thomas Jefferson Adult and Career Education (TJACE), was honored as national runner-up for outstanding administrator of the year by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE), an organization of 15,000+ professional adult educators.

The honor was announced just days before TJACE hosts its 21st Annual Voices of Adult Learners Celebration, a reading of works written by area adult learners. Held annually as part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, the reading will be Thursday, March 23, from 6-8 p.m., at Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center. It is free and open to the public, with a light reception at 5:30.

“We are so proud of Susan and her regional leadership and advocacy for our inspirational adult learners,” commented Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins. “Susan’s leadership not only benefits the City of Charlottesville, but also five surrounding counties. Our whole region should be appreciative of her leadership and inspired by the adult learners she serves.”

Press Release from COABE. Call 245-2962 for informationSince 1998, Erno has coordinated the adult education programs for Charlottesville City Schools, which in 2012 became the center of a regional network that also covers Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. In addition, she has served as the president for the Virginia Association for Adult and Career Education. For more information about her career and accomplishments, please see the release from COABE.

“I’m humbled to receive this award,” notes Erno. “It’s inspiring to work with so many talented adult educators in our area and across the nation. But quite honestly, the ones who deserve honor are our adult learners who model perseverance, who have overcome challenges, and who continue to learn and to strive for a better future. I invite the community to come on Thursday to celebrate them!”

Yearbook and Prom 2017

The school year will be over before you know it! It’s time to buy your yearbook and get your prom tickets!


For a limited time yearbooks and yearbook ads can be purchased online directly from Balfour.

For $80, payable by check to CHS or cash, yearbooks can also be ordered by seeing the CHS bookkeeper in the main office.  All yearbook inquiries can be emailed to


CHS_prom2016_IMG_3754WHAT:  CHS Prom  “A Knight in Nature”

WHEN: Saturday, April 29th from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

 WHERE: Carver Recreation Center, 233 4th St NW, Downtown Charlottesville

 COST OF TICKETS: $10 per ticket; Photo id is required of all participants for entry.

 HOW TO PURCHASE TICKETS: Tickets will be on sale from Monday, April 17 to Thursday, April 27.  Only CHS students can purchase tickets.  CHS students are only permitted to bring one guest.


All CHS students bringing a guest who is not enrolled at CHS are required to fill out a guest form.  If CHS does not receive the completed guest form by Thursday, April 27, that guest will not be allowed into the prom venue.

Digital Schools award 2016-17 in Denver, CO.

Charlottesville City Schools Nationally Honored for Pioneering Use of Technology​

Among Top in Mid-Sized School Divisions

web logo for Center for Digital Education winnersCharlottesville City Schools has been nationally honored for integrating technology in support of innovative curriculum by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) in its 2017-18 Digital School Districts Survey Awards. This is the second year in a row that the division has received this recognition.

“We are proud to be recognized for our innovative work,” notes Dr. Rosa S. Atkins, Superintendent. “We know that the current and future marketplace will reward citizens who are adept in coding and other STEM skills. We are preparing our students for that future.”

Digital Schools award 2016-17 in Denver, CO.
Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins, Director of Technology Jeff Faust, and members of the School Board accept the 2016-17 Digital School Districts Survey Award in Denver, Co.

Charlottesville City Schools takes an innovative approach to STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math). Charlottesville High School offers a wide array of STEM options, including every AP class in science, math, and computer science; a popular environmental science program; and a four-year, college-credit engineering program. Students can also earn professional IT credentials through a partnership with industry leader CISCO, based at CATEC (Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center). The acclaimed engineering program at Buford Middle School is a partnership with the University of Virginia, the Smithsonian Institution, and Albemarle County and Fluvanna County Public Schools. Charlottesville schools have developed and are piloting a hands-on iSTEM curriculum to make cross-curricular connections in classes such as art or history and to build foundational STEM skills beginning in the elementary schools.

All of this learning is supported by technology, whether in recently renovated science and engineering labs at Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School, or via the Chromebook computers distributed to all students in grades 3-12.

“Even more important than our labs, computers, and course offerings are the staff members and leaders that make it happen and their commitment to continued professional learning and innovation,” states Director of Technology Jeff Faust. “Charlottesville City Schools recently hosted our sixth annual Google Summit, which supports our own teachers as well as educators from across the state who want to provide their students the best of what technology can offer for learning history, math, English, or any subject. It’s that spirit of continuing education and innovation that serves our students best.”

The award will be presented at the National School Boards Association annual meeting in April. Click here for more details in the release from the CDE.


Fine Arts in March & April

March Performances and Key Dates for Charlottesville City Schools

Spring performance and exhibition season for Charlottesville City Schools begins in March. Come join us for one of these community events:

Artwork by Charlottesville High School 12th grade student, Patrick O'Shea
Art courtesy Patrick O’Shea ’17

Piedmont Council for the Arts Rising Stars Award Ceremony

March 3, 7-9pm, The Haven (112 Market St.)

  • CHS seniors Faith Brown (music — cello), Elliot Craft (theater), and Patrick O’Shea (visual arts) are among the honorees!
  • Piedmont Council for the Arts will assemble the area’s most talented high school artists, writers, and performers for the 20th annual Arthur C. Greene Rising Stars Awards Ceremony. For more information, contact the PCA at 971-2787.


violin-collagePainted Violins Auction to Support CHS Orchestra Trip to Ireland

March 3-17 on view at Studio IX (and online)

  • Support our world-acclaimed musicians as they represent us this summer in Ireland!
  • Fourteen area artists have donated hand-painted violins to support the students
  • From March 3-17, the works can be viewed at Studio IX in the IX Building (969 2nd St. SE; gallery hours M-F 8am-5pm / Sat 9am-3pm)
  • To see photos online or bid, check out or

Flyer for Art Connections exhibition, Mary 20-29. For details, call 245-2671.Art Connections 2017

March 20-29, CHS Small Gym

  • Art Connections is the annual exhibition of K-12 artwork by students at all Charlottesville City Schools.
  • Open weekdays from 9am-3:30pm in the CHS Small Gym
  • “Saturday Celebration” on March 25 from 10am-2pm with hands-on activities and the award-winning Walker Jazz Band!
  • “Open House” on Wednesday, March 29, from 4-6:30pm, just prior to “All-City Choir Festival” (see below)
  • For more information, contact Aaron Eichorst, 245-2671


Flyer for All-City Choral Festival 3/29 at 7pm. For details, call 245-2671.All-City Choral Festival

March 29, 7pm, Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center

  • Choirs from all schools will join for this special performance
  • For more information, contact Aaron Eichorst, 245-2671


Teacher Workday & Spring Break, March 31- April 7


Raisin in the Sun PosterA Raisin in the Sun

Theatre CHS, April 13-14, 7pm, Black Box Theatre at CHS

  • Tickets $10 adult/$5 student (available at
  • More info: David Becker at 245-2410


CHS Choir Spring Concert

April 26, MLKPAC, 7pm

Walker Orchestra Spring Concert

April 27, Walker Auditorium, 7pm

  • Come hear Dr. Sibert’s farewell concert to thank her for her many award-winning years of service!

CHS combined choir and Walker orchestra students

Charlottesville School Board

Statement from the School Board on our International Students

In the midst of our national conversation about immigrants and refugees, we, the Charlottesville City School Board, would like to affirm that we continue to support and value each of our students, regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or more. Although our teachers, staff, students, and families vary tremendously in culture, life experiences, and perspectives, we are united in our goals of nurturing personal and academic excellence for all and creating a learning atmosphere of mutual respect.

Charlottesville School Board

Our students from around the world – whether here as immigrants, refugees, through international exchanges, or for other reasons – enrich the learning environment for all of us. We admire their perseverance in learning a new language and culture, building new friendships, and establishing new routines. Many of our international students have become school and community leaders, and all of them are models of resilience.

In Charlottesville, our students are diverse by every measure — economically, racially, ethnically, and politically, to name just a few – and we strive to learn from one another and to celebrate both the ways that we are different and the ways that we are alike. We commend our teachers and staff for their work in supporting all of our students. We thank our community for its support of our schools and our students.

–Charlottesville City School Board, February 2, 2017

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