Facilities: An 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, since returning fifth-grade to elementary schools had previously arisen as a strong preference, we will remain open to furthering this conversation.
- 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 an “academy” to serve students – perhaps high-need students—in the elementary or middle-grade years. And we’ll continue to consider one option that was already on the table – returning fifth grade to elementary schools (which requires the construction of a seventh elementary school), and remodeling Walker or Buford (or another location) to better accommodate our sixth-through-eighth-grade students.
- 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 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.
- 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.
(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 ustream.com (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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
- Charlottesville Tomorrow, “Charlottesville seeking solutions to school capacity challenges” (June 30, 2017)
- Charlottesville City Schools Capacity Study Volume 1: Assessment, June 14, 2017
- Charlottesville Family’s Bloom Magazine, “Growing enrollment presents opportunities for the future.” (July 25, 2017)
- Dr. Atkins, Update to Families (October 19, 2017)
- WINA, School Board Work Session Summary (focuses on grades K-5) (October 20, 2017)
- American School & University Magazine, “Prepare for Growth” (October 2017; sign-up required to see article). Article projects 5 percent growth in PK-12 enrollment in the South over the years 2017-2025.
- Charlottesville Tomorrow, “Charlottesville City Schools shares growth options with public” (November 13, 2017)
- NBC 29, “Charlottesville City Schools request community’s input to address overcapacity” (November 28, 2017)
- CBS 19, “Charlottesville City Schools look to tackle capacity issues” (November 28, 2017)