Albemarle County Schools’ Populations Are Growing. Unexpectedly. ?!



Is anyone other than the politicians surprised?

The question is – would you support an Adequate Public Facility ordinance?

Aaron Richardson at the Daily Progress reports:

Some Albemarle County schools could exceed their capacity sooner than expected, thanks to rapid growth.

Supervisor Ken Boyd curiously chooses the word “adequately” when referring to funding* –

“We’re committed to providing adequate educational opportunities in this county, but we’re going to have to look at what other capital improvement projects we have going on,” Boyd said. “We’d have to take a more holistic view than, ‘Gee, have we got $46 million more to spend on education?’”

“Curious” because either:

1 – He thinks the County should offer merely “adequate” education rather than “world class”.*

2 – He’s laying the groundwork for a conversation about adequate public facilities (which tend to be opposed by Realtors) , the long-debated ordinance that would essentially prevent new homes’ construction before adequate infrastructure/fire & rescue/school/etc was in place.

Better schools increase house prices.

At some point, the politicians and the people need to understand that our population is growing, and they need to plan accordingly.

What is an adequate public facilities ordinance? I found the following definition in 2005:

An Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) is a law adopted by the local government that allows it to defer the approval of developments based upon a finding by the governing body that public facilities would not be not adequate to support the proposed development at build out.

What are the components of an effective APF ordinance?
• Identifies the types of public facilities to be considered.
• Limits the period of time during which the deferral on development imposed by an APFO can be in force.
• Requires the locality to have in place a capital facilities plan to remedy the infrastructure inadequacy that has been the basis for the development deferral.

Rather than re-think my unchanged opinion, I’ll just re-publish it:

What we need is healthy balance between the two positions. Anti-growth NIMBYS and conservationists who oppose all growth, either openly or surreptitiously do their position a disservice by taking an extreme position, as do those who are typically portrayed as pro-growth.

Pro-growth, (how about “wise-growth”?) yet still with the understanding that we are going to remain in and live in this area is a good position. Make wise growth relatively simple and easy to accomplish and do not infringe on the private property rights of landowners. The “common-good” argument usually comes with the implicit understanding that the “haves” are going to ultimately lose out to the “have-nots.” This is an untenable position.


One would think that some of these people are kids, thereby necessitating new public facilities, right? (and the 2010 Census says the Albemarle County population under 18 is 10,774)

Related: Growth, Roads and APFs

* it may be semantics, but I’d rather Albemarle County Schools aim to “provide a world-class education” rather than “achieve recognition as a world-class education system.” Do it first, and recognition is secondary.

** Every time I write a story referencing a Daily Progress story written before the first quarter of 2008 I’m reminded that they deleted all of their archives.

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  1. J Kulow August 1, 2011 at 16:46

    Thanks very much for this, Jim. That word “adequate” jumped out at me as well; a new word in BOS quotes about local schools. Seems to me a circular argument could be lurking in there as well:  we cannot allow growth because we don’t have adequate facilities, we cannot build adequate facilities because we don’t have the growth-driven revenues to afford them.

    1. Jim Duncan August 1, 2011 at 16:49

      You’re quite welcome, Jane. I suspect that the APF battle is coming closer and closer. 

      I hope more folks pay attention to this. 

      We need facilities, we’re growing, and we need to deal with it. But … does anyone really trust the government to use our money in the best way? Particularly if they are “surprised” that the schools are growing so fast?

  2. RobG November 29, 2012 at 08:19

    Before we cry “for the children!” we need to look at this issue, its causes, and previous solutions taken by this county in the past. Success or failure, accountability, or lack thereof should also be considered.

    Why is this county’s population growing, what jobs are attracting people here?

    Is this reported growth the kind of sustained growth that is worth the expansion of schools, an expansion that might not be completed before the growth slows or reverses? Doesn’t C-ville, for example, own school building that are not used as schools but are effectively surplus?

    Yes, better schools increase housing prices, but do they do so quickly enough to offset increased taxes?

    Increased housing prices are great, if one is ready to sell, but if not, that’s years of increased taxes. More people require more infrastructure, and I believe that the county needs to make developers pay to improve infrastructure not just in the development, but over and above to assist the county in improving the infrastructure that surrounds and leads to the boundaries of the development.

    Think of Old Trail, for example, a great development, but still no sidewalk between it and 250, and 250 should have been widened there to take on the increased through traffic. Several times there have been traffic tie ups from people turning onto 250, turning to go to and from the schools, and turning left across 250 to go to Brownsville Market. None of this was unpredictable, but definitely uncoordinated. In the end, taxpayers pay for needed improvements, but if the these foreseeable improvements had been written into the Old Trail development agreement, they’d have been at least partially alleviated. That might have caused one developer to decline, but if Albemarle County is such a great place, another developer would have accepted these demands (and built that into the cost of each unit sold). A happy medium between supply and demand can be reached, but the county has to be smart about it. Jarman’s Gap looks great, and is a much needed improvement, but a lot of it could have been done at developer expense years ago in the building process, right?

    It seems that Albemarle County really likes to rely on domestic housing property taxes as a revenue stream, but why is it that there is a surplus of office and retail space, space that could be generating revenue?

    Is it just me or is it true that this county discourages the development of any blue-collar/ light industrial workplaces that can also generate revenue? It seems that there is more than a little bit of empty available space for things like that as well, but it goes wanting for tenants.

    Personally, I love the rural look and feel of the county, and especially Crozet, I hope we can keep it forever.

    I think a lot of times the county is reactive and not proactive, as evidenced by “unexpected” growth taking them by surprise.

    Development in east Crozet is going to present the same challenges, let’s make the county face all aspects in the plan stage, and plan accordingly.

    1. Jim Duncan November 29, 2012 at 08:34


      Thank you for the fantastic comment. I have often said that Albemarle County has an “Oh, sh*t, really? That caused traffic?” ‘planning’ mentality. You raise a lot of excellent points, and I don’t really have any commensurate solutions to propose other than to suggest that the County do a better job of recognizing the impacts of planning and development decisions.

      The challenges in Old Trail – and everywhere else that a lot of houses are built with no corresponding infrastructure improvements – are absolutely foreseeable yet seemingly the County politicians are the only ones surprised by the ramifications of said growth and development.


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