Monticello High School’s athletic director has pleaded guilty to rigging the bidding process for buying athletic apparel, CBS-19 reports, and did so in collaboration with Downtown Athletic. Fitzgerald Barnes—also a member of the Louisa Board of Supervisors conspired with a vice president of Team Distributors and the vice president of Downtown Athletic to create fake bids, ensuring that they’d get the required three bids, and that Downtown Athletic would be the lower bidder. That was a federal crime, but the punishment is just relatively small fines ($350–1,500). Downtown Athletic claims that they didn’t make any extra money off of this (something that cannot be known, since there were no competing bids), and the county school system says that Barnes did not personally gain from this. The school system has placed Barnes on administrative leave, and they’re considering whether he should keep his job.
In 2009, Del. Rob Bell introduced legislation to take $3M in school funding from Charlottesville and give it to Albemarle County. This was seen as a safe political move by Bell even as it stirred up residual ill feelings between some in the city and the county over the revenue sharing agreement.
Showing that elections have consequences, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports that the current Albemarle Board of Supervisors will not ask the General Assembly this year to reallocate $3M from the city to the county schools. The budget amendment always failed anyway, so let us hope that we have now seen the end of this feckless gesture.
The Albemarle County School Board is looking at restricting school buses to major roads on snowy days, Tim Shea reports for Charlottesville Tomorrow. County schools have closed for snow on 11 days this winter (prior to Monday’s snow), and the school transportation director figures that would have been closer to 7 days if they weren’t picking up kids on rural routes. This discussion is prompted by complaints of parents who live in developed areas of the county, whose subdivisions are plowed promptly, and are mystified by school closings. (Of course, there are huge swaths of the county where it can take a day or two for a plow to come through.) Those folks don’t know why school has to be cancelled for all kids just because a minority of kids can’t make it. So the proposal being considered is to establish “plan B routes,” basically driving school buses only on major roads, and putting the onus on parents (and kids) to get themselves to bus stops along those roads. The routes they’re looking at now would leave out 1,600 kids, or about 12% of students.
It turns out, interestingly, that Albemarle has already tried this, in the late 1990s. It didn’t work. There was no place for parents to park, due to snow berms along the side of the road, and of course there were safety issues associated with getting kids to those bus stops. (If it’s not safe for a school bus to drive on unplowed roads, then it’s probably not safe for parents transporting kids, or kids driving themselves to school.)
There’s an added twist. Albemarle is required by law, to provide door-to-door transportation for about 120 disabled students. Period. Some of those students live on roads that are not plowed promptly, which seems like a pretty serious obstacle to implementing this plan.
The board hasn’t taken any action, and isn’t planning to. They’re still looking to find out more about what’s to be done, if anything, about snow days resulting from rural road conditions.
It actually happened—the new library really, finally opened in Crozet yesterday, Aaron Richardson writes for the Progress. Planned since I was a kid, the $5.8M new building is ten times larger than the old one. They’ve only got half of the books they intend to have ($900k in donations will help to buy another 35,000), they still need more shelves, and the elevator isn’t even finished being installed, but things will be in good shape for the grand opening, later this month.
Unfortunately, the county still isn’t funding fully the staffing of its Jefferson Madison Regional Library branches. This beautiful new building is only open for rather limited hours: 1–9 on Monday and Tuesday, 9–5 on Wednesday through Saturday, and they’re closed entirely on Sundays.
Charlottesville High School principal Aaron Bissonnette resigned yesterday after just ten weeks on the job, The Daily Progress reports. He e-mailed school staff yesterday, informing them that he’d be leaving at the end of the day. Bissonnette cited unspecified personal reasons for his abrupt departure. Assistant Principal Jill Dahl is going to serve as interim principal. Students return on Wednesday.