As a School Board Member

2008 - 2012


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

AN EQUITABLE CITY

  • Supported inclusive classrooms for both special education and general education students, differentiating instruction, establishing consistency in reading, writing and math instruction across our schools so as to counter the impact of high transiency rates among our low wealth students, instituting Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), expanding after school and reading programs, and moving forward with a reconfiguration plan that included an early childhood development center (see details below);

  • Supported Workshops for parents and families so as to make sure everyone had the information required to meet their students’ needs;

  • With input from parents and teachers, worked to establish a “Two-Way Communication” Policy between teachers and administration, and a comprehensive “Wellness” Policy that supports the health and well-being of students, families, and school staff.

  • Worked with colleagues to pass a resolution condemning “massive resistance” and worked with city staff and advisory groups to install historic markers in front of our school buildings to honor and commemorate the first African American students to desegregate the division’s white schools;

  • Worked with City staff, Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (CRHA), the Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR) and City Schools to submit a Federal Choice Neighborhood Grant application for the neighborhood south of the Downtown Mall that would later be known as the Strategic Investment Area (SIA); and

  • Together with the Charlottesville Design Center, CRHA, PHAR and Charlottesville High School (CHS) developed an urban design studio at CHS, to prepare high school students who were residents of public housing to be leaders in the redevelopment of public housing.


ACCOUNTABLE & EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT

• In 2008 got a majority of the school board to agree to enlist the services of MGT Consulting (under a program instituted by former Governor Mark Warner) to assess the Charlottesville City Schools in an objective, transparent manner by:

– conducting peer comparisons between other school divisions;

– providing many opportunities for community input;

– acknowledging the division’s strengths and weaknesses;

– addressing the black/white achievement gap head-on with evidence-based remedies such as collapsing classroom levels and differentiating instruction; and

– assessing the arrangement of our classrooms and schools which gave rise to the reconfiguration plan: that puts fifth grade back into the elementary schools, has one middle school to limit transitions and one city-wide, public early childhood development center. As reported in 2005, “amazing studies have been done on how high-quality preschools are the key to success” in school and later life,” said Angela Ciolfi, who then ran Legal Aid’s Just Children program. (“There’s still time to fix the city schools”, March 29, 2005 Cville Weekly by Cathy Harding.)

NOTE: Under the leadership of Dr. Rosa Atkins and then School Board chair, Ned Michie in 2008, the entire division and community got behind these reforms, of which over 50% were fully implemented during my time on the Board. One tangible outcome of these reforms was that the African American on-time graduation rate went from near 63% in 2005 to 88% in 2018. (For the full MGT Consulting Study, see http://www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finance/efficiency_reviews/charlottesville.pdf .)