A Letter from Dr. Gurley
Dear families, staff, and students–
Thanks to so many of you for completing our strategic plan kickoff survey. We were delighted to hear from nearly 1,200 people, including almost 300 students! Throughout this spring, we’ll be continuing this strategic planning work with our steering committee, a staff committee, the School Board, and focus groups. We are bringing so many voices to the table, and I am excited for the path we’ll chart for our division together.
In the same spirit of listening and learning, a new program called Elevate is beginning at CHS. These monthly student-led discussion groups are designed to lift up student voices and concerns, focusing on different topics each month. The inaugural topic this month will be Black students’ experiences in Charlottesville. Elevate will be one more avenue for our students to channel their experiences, insight, and enthusiasm into improving our community–read on for even more ways our students shine!
Royal A. Gurley, Jr.
Congratulations to Seth Nowell, state champion for the long jump! Other winter sport athletes who finished 1-2-3 at states include Jaelyn Lynch (2nd in 55m hurdles) and Elaina Pierce (3rd in 3200M) as the girls’ team finished 4th in state. Swimming also excelled at states: The boys’ swimming relay team of Teddy Buckner, Will Keenan, Dylan Halbert, and Quinn Ragsdale broke two school records and earned 3 silver medals in state competition.
Despite a strong showing of opposition to the VDOE’s alternate merged K-12 history standards, the Virginia Board of Education voted to advance those standards (instead of those developed by professional historians and history teachers). One new area of concern with these standards is the announced resignation of Virginia’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mrs. Jillian Balow, who would have been tasked with the implementation of these changes. Public comment on the VDOE’s proposed framework is now underway, including a public comment session at Piedmont Virginia Community College on Wednesday, March 15, at 7pm. There is also an online form for submitting comments. If you wish to give feedback, you have 2 options: (1) Attend the meeting at PVCC on March 15. (Find details). Want to coordinate your remarks with others? Sign up here (form created by the Charlottesville Clergy Collective). (2) Complete the online feedback form. For more information about the VDOE merged standards, you may wish to review the concerns of the Charlottesville School Board or the Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium.
Now’s the perfect time to make summer plans! Check out our online hub for enriching summer activities for students of all ages offered by our division, the city, and partners in our schools: Click here to browse. (Note: This hub is still in development and does not yet include information about CCS Summer School; if you see something else that should be added, let us know).
Four CHS musicians are among the top students on their instrument in the state: Julia Crum (flute), Evie Brantley (clarinet), Alden Dent (clarinet), and James Rambo (tuba) all won spots in an All-Virginia Ensemble, competing against schools of every size across the state. Congratulations! And, at the band’s District Concert Assessment last week, Wind Ensemble received a perfect “superior” rating, with perfect marks in all categories. “They gave one of the best performances of my 20-year career,” said director Jason Hackworth. Symphonic Band also received “excellent” ratings from the three stage adjudicators and sight reading adjudicator. Bravo, all! And good luck to CHS Orchestra and Choir as they prepare for their District Concert Assessments later in March.
After public surveys and a Zoom forum, the Naming of Facilities Committee has made recommendations to the School Board for new names for Burnley-Moran (Blue Mountain) and Johnson (Cherry Avenue) elementary schools. At this month’s School Board meeting there was discussion about the name Blue Mountain, which was selected as a reference to the Blue Ridge Mountains in a way that would keep the school’s current initials. Some mentioned that “Blue Mountain” is not a Virginia landmark, noting that the committee’s preference is to pick names that are centered on the school’s place (such as geography or history) or purpose.
Our division’s gifted education model brings high-level talent development into all classrooms. Still, per state law, each spring, we follow a gifted identification process for students in grades 3 and beyond in the area of English and/or mathematics. Families can opt out of this process (which begins April 1) if they wish. More information and an identification opt-out form can be found on the Gifted Program website.
This National School Social Work Week we extend our gratitude to the amazing school employees who help our students find calm amidst the stresses, worries, distractions and other difficulties of life. Join us in saying thank you to all our social workers, social-emotional support counselors, and student support liaisons!
During the pandemic, Medicaid benefits were automatically renewed. Beginning April 1, qualifying families in Virginia will need to reapply annually (reverting to pre-pandemic federal policies). Qualifying or interested families should make sure that their contact information is updated using one of the following options: (1) Visit https://commonhelp.virginia.gov/ (2) Call 833-5CA-LLVA or TDD 1-888-221-1590, or (3) call your local department of social services at (434) 970-3400. Please spread the word to make sure our students (and their families) retain access to these important medical benefits.
Read the March Mini-Minutes here, with updates on the unanimous adoption of a collective bargaining agreement. In addition, There was a preliminary overview of the acquisition of CATEC and the schools’ plans for a smooth administrative transition to Charlottesville Schools’ management beginning in July 2024. The Board presented its budget request to City Council on Monday, March 6, with a request for an additional $4.1 million over the previous year in support of salary increases, additional staff to support our growing number of English language learners, and other minor changes. Interested in future meetings? Sign up to receive notices of School Board meetings.
Let It Resound: At a recent Greenbrier School-Wide Morning Meeting, James Bryant, left, School Board Chair and former Cville Schools counselor and choral teacher, treated students and families to his rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The school also celebrated the success of its students, including its youngest “Reading Star of the Week,” right.