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April 2023 News & Highlights

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A Letter from Dr. Gurley

Dear staff, students, and families,

I could not be more excited to let you know that after twenty years of talking, planning, and hoping, we will start work on modernizing our middle school in June.

After receiving construction bids earlier this spring, last week the Charlottesville City Council approved moving forward with the project. The total anticipated cost will be $91.8 million, which is the City’s first significant investment in school facilities since the opening of CHS in 1974.

What will this investment offer our students, staff, and community? This modernized middle school will meet the educational, safety, environmental, and accessibility standards of today, upgrading facilities that have been largely unchanged since their construction in the 1960s. This modernization will bring all the City’s 6th- through 8th-graders into one building, and it marks the first step in creating a centralized preK center at Walker School. And for the first time in decades, 5th-graders will learn in their neighborhood elementary schools. This project is a win for our whole community. Read on (below) to learn more.

Want to say thank you? I do! Join me in thanking the City Council for their ongoing support of our schools, including this exciting middle school modernization!

With love,
Royal A. Gurley, Jr.

More About Middle School Modernization


Just the facts: 

  • Middle school construction is planned to start in June 2023 and finish in August 2026; Buford students will continue learning in the existing facility while construction is underway. To see how your child will be impacted by the project, check the graphic included.

Upgrades included in this modernization

  • Education – new spaces will support engaged learning, community-building, and instructional needs
  • Safety – a variety of internal safety features will accomplish the goal of connecting all learning spaces into one building so that students and staff do not need to walk outside between class changes
  • Lighting – all learning spaces will have natural light, which has been shown to boost both learning and mental health
  • Ventilation – there will no longer be noisy in-room heating and cooling units. The new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system will result in reduced noise levels and improved air quality; in addition, windows will be operable to safely allow for fresh air on good-weather days
  • Energy – with fossil-free geothermal energy and many other efficiencies, the new facility will slash energy consumption by two-thirds
  • Accessibility – including a ground-floor main entrance, this design will resolve the many accessibility challenges that the 1965 construction presented

Want to learn more? 

  • We are in the early days of getting a green light on this project. After the construction contract is finalized, the City and contractor will develop a plan with expected project phases and timelines. We will keep you posted – especially those staff, students, and families who will be at Buford next year or during the years of construction. Find architectural renderings and slides from last week’s School Board update.

Award Winners

Congratulations, Golden Apple Winners! This year’s Golden Apple Teaching Awards have been announced. Cheers to the following, and thanks to our sponsors, Mr. Richard Nunley and Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry. 

  • Buford Middle School: Charlotte Nelson
  • Burnley-Moran Elementary School: Carol Busching
  • Charlottesville High School: Mason Goldman
  • Clark Elementary School: Gabriela Moore
  • Greenbrier Elementary School: Teresa Seto
  • Jackson-Via Elementary School: Maegan Thim
  • Johnson Elementary School: Jillian Smith
  • Lugo-McGinness Academy: Melvin Grady
  • Venable Elementary School: Suzanne Harris
  • Walker Upper Elementary School: Erika Trent

Click here for more details about the winners. Wish your nominee had won? You can nominate them to be featured as part of CBS19’s upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week!

  • At their Thursday meeting, the Board discussed plans underway for a smooth transition in administrative leadership of CATEC in July 2024, when Charlottesville City Schools will become the sole owner. The same number of slots will remain available to ACPS students, and the school divisions will create multi-year agreements to avoid sudden changes that could interrupt smooth operations. Read more here.

  • Now’s the perfect time to make summer plans for students of all ages! Check out our online hub for enriching summer activities, high school classes, internships, and more offered by our division, the city, and partners in our schools: Click here to browse. (See something else that should be added? Let us know).

  • Do you have (or know) a child who will be 5 by September 30? Start gathering up the documents you’ll need to register them for kindergarten. Forms will be ready later this month. The list of needed documents are posted here (and links to the forms will be posted on this page, as well).

  • The University of Virginia and Buford Middle School are joining forces to design a lab school focusing on computer science. Supported by a planning grant from the Virginia Department of Education, the lab school project will build on existing computer science partnerships between UVA and Charlottesville City Schools. The goal of the lab school is to teach computing skills through student-led, project-based learning at the middle school. With continued state approval, the lab school will offer a program pilot in summer 2024 before a planned opening in the fall 2024. Learn more here.

  • The schools can always use a hand, and if you have ongoing availability, consider applying as a substitute or regular employee!  From mentoring to substitute teaching, we have a wide variety of volunteer and paid opportunities.

  • CHS earned its 13th Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence from the Virginia Music Education Association after its band, choir, and orchestra’s top groups received superior ratings. Well done, directors Will Cooke, Jason Hackworth, and Emily Waters! Put these spring concerts on your calendar so you can hear these musicians for yourself:

    • CHS Choir: Wednesday, 4/26, 7pm, MLKPAC
    • CHS Band, Sunday, 5/7, 3pm, MLKPAC
    • CHS Orchestra, Tuesday, 5/16, MLKPAC
  • Throughout May, Cville Schools will exhibit our student art in storefronts and inside businesses along the Downtown Mall. As part of the City’s “First Fridays” event, on Friday, May 5 at 7:30pm, the CHS Jazz Band will play in the CODE building courtyard just before a CCS student art show is projected on the CODE building walls around 8. As an added bonus, the regional high school art show will be at the McGuffey Art Center, in addition to all there is to see at our downtown art galleries. Just as our students used to take field trips to the CHS gym to see the art exhibition, they will now visit the mall to check out the art. Thanks to Fine Arts Coordinator Aaron Eichorst and our talented art teachers for reimagining this 40-year tradition!

  • Three Johnson teachers are exemplars of science-based reading research: Kristi Hartwell, Maelys Croce, and Janelle Irwin are now a part of a statewide library to support other schools implementing evidence-based literacy instruction. Brava! And thanks to Summer Thompson and Steph Tatel for supporting. Click to read more.

  • We are excited to announce that our division will begin transitioning to a new, unified communications tool called ParentSquare this summer. ParentSquare allows families to stay connected with schools (including teachers, administrators, club leaders, coaches, PTO leaders and more) with a user-friendly online portal or app. Featuring 2-way translation for more than 100 languages, this social-media-like tool combines the functions of our School Messenger and Remind tools – and it will provide our division a website update, too. Want to learn more?

  • The Zoning Ordinance governs the development of buildings and use of land. The City is working to update the ordinance to support the Affordable Housing Plan and Comprehensive Plan, address flaws, and make it easier to understand and use. They are currently gathering feedback on the first two parts of the draft zoning, which includes the zoning districts, map, and development standards. On the website, there are several ways to learn more (including recorded presentations) – please review and share your feedback in April!

  • School Naming Process

    • The Board voted to pause on deciding on new names for Burnley-Moran and Johnson. The two schools’ staffs will continue discussions about names that would better reflect the schools’ place and purpose. In addition, as part of the consent agenda, the Board clarified that the new name for Venable will be Trailblazer (singular) to avoid confusion moving forward.
    • The 2024-25 calendar was discussed, with a vote scheduled in May. The calendar received positive feedback in the community survey, and the Board was supportive of the calendar, which would mean that school would start and stop one week earlier in the 24-25 school year. Need to see the 2023-24 calendar?

    Strategic plan

    • Beth Cheuk reviewed progress made by the steering committee, working in conjunction with school administrators. The division’s mission, values, vision, and “portrait of a graduate” are nearly ready for discussion with focus groups, and work has begun on the division’s priorities and goals.

    Read the April Mini-Minutes here

More Looks At Cville Schools

Cheerleaders news

Bringing good cheer: The CHS Cheerleading Team proudly represented Cville Schools at the 74th Annual Charlottesville Dogwood Festival Parade this weekend, walking the route with City of Charlottesville Pupil Transportation school bus drivers. 

Students gathered for a photo

Welcome, sunshine!: Jackson-Via students enjoyed a little extra time outdoors on the first truly springy day.Students gathered on a trip

Buford goes to Washington: The eighth grade traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and more. As part of the trip, they met our local representative, Rep. Bob Good (right). 

Find more info and events on on our website, social media, or our Google calendars!

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