Here’s One Voice for Smaller Albemarle County Schools

The prospect of consolidating three smaller Albemarle County elementary schools is a troubling one – this is one of the areas in which economics may need to take a secondary position to sociological and societal benefits.

Anecdotally, smaller schools are better. Better for classes, for community involvement, for neighborhoods … for real estate values.

From today’s Daily Progress: (bolding mine)

A committee is calling for three elementary schools in southern Albemarle County to be shut down and replaced with one big school.

Red Hill, Scottsville and Yancey have about 525 students combined and are projected to have nearly 600 pupils in 10 years.

The advisory committee recommended by a 6-to-1 vote to shift students at the three small schools to one larger school that would be built at the site of Walton Middle School and have a capacity of 650 pupils. One of the committee’s eight members did not vote.

A public hearing on the small schools proposal is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at Monticello High School, less than a week after Moran is scheduled to make her recommendation to the School Board. The School Board plans to vote on what should be done with the three schools on Oct. 22.

One of the reasons Albemarle County is targeted as being a great place to buy a home and live is because of the actual and perceived quality of the schools. I cannot see how a seeming short-sighted decision such as this will be beneficial to the students, families and community.

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  1. Barb Sanders August 31, 2009 at 17:28

    I am a teacher. I taught in C’ville for ten years, and now am beginning my 16th year of teaching in Stafford co (near Fredericksburg). I have one thing to offer in regard to class size. I would give up all raises and all materials if I could teach really small classes. Over crowded classrooms are impossible to teach. I’d rather teach 15 students with nothing but a chalk board .. or heck, just pencil & paper, than have the latest and greatest technology or anythng else. I’d be more successful. Students get lost in a crowd. Teachers get overwhelmed with large classes. This year I am told that I will teach well over 150 students at my high school. Can you even imagine the work load involved with this number?! Do you know what a classroom with 35 students at one time even looks like?! Worse yet, I will not get to know many students and will struggle to underestand how to better help them in with the learning process. It is a very sad situation when we decide to “pack em in ” in an effort to save a buck. It is driving many teachers away from the field. We are making bad decisions .. and paying consultants to initiate them. I am so discouraged. Think, people! … How we spend our education dollars today affects who we will see standing over us in a operating room one day. Don’t short-change the kids … or ourselves. If real estate prices motivate you to stop this insanity, then great .. but really, we ought to be thinking about the kids and society as a whole. You just can’t educate a crowd. It requires interacting with an individual. Respectfully stepping down from my soap box now. Thanks for allowing me to vent. And please. get involved and stop the county from ruining a rational system. I may not live in c’ville anymore, but my heart resides there and I do care. Thanks.

  2. Jim Duncan September 1, 2009 at 08:36

    Thanks, Barb for the comment and the insight.

    One question raised on the DP site in the comments was about how much extra fuel and time on parents’ behalf …

    One thing that I’m very concerned about is how I’ll search for homes in the Albemarle area if they do get consolidated. Currently I use elementary schools as the best way to drill down geographically, and I, as a Realtor, will be frustrated by this.

  3. Janice Stargell September 20, 2009 at 14:31

    Here’s another voice for keeping the smaller schools in Albemarle county. I taught for thirty years in three counties in the state, Richmond and Charlottesville. I have concluded without a doubt that students are happier, therefore more productive, when they and their teachers are less stressed. More students, more teachers and aides, more rigid time schedules, more testing, more ‘information gathering’ leaves less time for what humans respond positively to —- which is more personal interaction creating more desire for learning and the activities needed for it to happen, less cookie-cutter agendas and more stability. Unfortunately, new (bad as well as good) habits are learned quickly. If we continue to put our young children in these less-than-nurturing situations we know what our future will look like. It takes courage to honor anecdotal results that your own experience tells you are true. That makes you prioritize and put economics ‘in its place’and it certainly has its place. Weighing honestly all the components (not just economics), as you think about future, not just current, needs and results will set you apart as leaders. Do it.


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