Two School Board Election Systems Recommended

The Charlottesville School Board Election Task Force has recommended that we either modify our at-large election process for the school board or move to a mixed-ward system, John Yellig reports in today’s Progress. The group presented six options back in May, and has simply removed four of those options. The model most like our current at-large system would require that four of the seven seats represent four residential districts of the city. The mixed-ward system would elect three members at large and four by ward. It sounds the same, and that’s because it just about is: the only difference is that, apparently, residential districts would be drawn differently than wards.

Now it’s up to City Council to consider the task force’s recommendations and determine how future elections should work.

13 Responses to “Two School Board Election Systems Recommended”


  • I’m amazed this topic is sitting here without comment. I voted against and elected school board and declined to vote for any candidate in the recent election because all I simply didn’t know enought about them to make an informed choice. But with all the folks out there supposedly so keenly interested in an elected school board nobody’s weighing in here. What’s up? Y’all decide it maybe wasn’t such a good idea after all?

  • The move to an elected school board in Charlottesville was primarily driven by a desire to punish the old school board + city council for the Scottie Griffin fiasco and now that she’s gone and her memory is fading, passion for the elected school board and interest in various school board election scenarios is also fading.

  • Disagree. A. It’ll be many years before the memory of Scottie Griffin fades in Charlottesville, decades for the people who worked for her B. Punishment would have removed Ned Michie from office, and he got most of the votes.

    The move to an elected school board came about for the same reason it has happened elsewhere in VA: give the voters this choice and they will always prefer to elect their school board. I think the waning interest in school board election scenarios is a result of the feeling that we will likely get the same at-large system we had when the Board was appointed: four of the SB members must live in each of the four residential districts and three can live anywhere, with everyone elected at-large. (The mixed-ward option will likely result in uncontested elections, a terrible idea.) As small as our division is–kids are at the same school grades 5 through 12–we don’t need the us vs them mentality that a mixed-ward system would bring. More cooperation, please.

  • Wow — really? Because our children all go to the same schools from grade 5 on, our communicty is homogenous and wants exactly the same things for all of our students? I’m stunned. I thought we had large achievement disparities in race, gender, and economic status. How relieved I am to learn it just ain’t so.

  • Homogenous–no, of course not. (Your word, E, not mine.) Wants schools that serve all our kids–the 9th grader reading on a 4th grade level and the 9th grader taking AP biology–yes, absolutely. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t support the goals of the latest strategic plan. The current School Board is diverse in terms race and gender, but not socio-economic status. At least 6 of the 7 board members live in three of the northside elementary school districts (Venable, Greenbrier, Burnley-Moran). Does that mean that this Board won’t or can’t advocate for families in the Clark, Johnson or Jackson-Via districts? No. They have and will.

  • This board is mostly appointed. People who vote tend to be a bit more well-heeled that the Clark/Jackson-Via/Johnson students are. We have phenomenally low voter turn-out which will, granted, change with the shift to November elections, but the demographics of voters overall won’t. We ‘want’ everyone to succeed, but not at any defined expense to our own (less-poor) children. Human nature. I expect the poor to be increasingly less considered as the school board increases its response to the voters.

  • The $61 million dollar school budget divided by 4000 kids = $15,250 per child. That’s a lot of money. The village has spoken. I don’t buy that this is a zero-sum game with the children of means achieving at the expense of the poor. I don’t buy that at all. Best practices, school readiness, attendance, good behavior, sound instruction, etc. are what will make a difference. It is slow hard work (for student and teacher) to raise a child’s education level beyond that of his or her parent(s).

  • The village has spoken any number of times in monstrously wrong-headed ways. I suspect the Virginia village will shortly ‘speak’ on banning gay marriage, so we clearly haven’t become so enlightened as to never err. Majorities are often wrong and the simple fact of a majority doesn’t impress me. I don’t see you refuting the thought that the majority of the voters will elect folks who will do something for them — just that, magically, the elected board members will also do stuff for the unrepresented. Define ‘best practices’. It’s a wonderful phrase that can mean virtually anything — and too often does.

  • If “people who vote tend to be … well-heeled” and “the majority of voters will elect folks who will do something for them,” why should we have have any more trust in school board members appointed by city councilors than board members elected by the same voters who elected those city councilors?

    (And if elections in general are a bad idea, who do we get to appoint the city council?)

    Elizabeth, you and I are going to just have to agree to disagree about the soul of Charlottesville. I think the vast majority of people here do care about the plight of the poor, they vote their conscience, elect and reelect leaders who spend public money to address the many issues of poverty. That poverty (and all its ill effects) is still with us is not due to a lack of concern, period. Have the last word, please.

  • Why has no one responded about this task force recommendations?
    Because the recommendation will likely go the same way as the Election Task Force = ignored!! The city council appoints task forces when confronted with an idea they did not agree with. When that task force presents a plan, or two, the city council has changed and can use that as an excuse to ignore all suggestions. It’s happened way too often in the past to say “it ain’t so”.
    I hardly congratulate the city schools…all but Buford, are now fully accredited. Of course no one on the school board or the city council live in what is called the old “Buford district” so I’m sure that has nothing to do with the current scores. Perhaps it’s the parent’s philosophy of sending their kids to city schools for elementary school, then pulling them out for middle schools (look at the growth at STAB, Tandem, Village, etc) and then sending them back for high school along with the 200 paid students. You’d have to have some expendable income to do that, though right? Could that be why the gap closes at Buford between disadvantaged/minority kids? Just a thought.

  • One of the odd dynamics that occurs (as pointed out by Harley Miles when presenting statistics) is that economic status is determined by the number of free and reduced lunches. That number drops every year after elementary school. It isn’t that the class cohort gets more affluent: it’s just that there’s an increasing social stigma to getting free or reduced lunches and fewer students apply each year. Hence economic data is woefully incomplete after 4th grade.

    Racial data is collected from the forms filled out by parents. I’ve often been tempted to launch a parental rebellion by asking everyone I know to check ‘other’ or leave it blank — just to see what it would do to the data. Haven’t done it yet, though.

  • Many of those FRL kids disappear after 6th grade. Look at the enrollment numbers in 6th, 8th and 9th grade compare them to the graduation numbers in 12th.
    Historically there has been a huge (over 15%) disappearance rate.
    If a student is “sent” to the alternative school and they are not able to return to Buford or CHS, they are not “drop outs”. If a student finishes a grade level but doesn’t return after the summer, they are not classified as drop outs. The scores of the SOL tests taken at the Alternative School were included with the school scores for CHS and Buford. Often those students only had Math and English once or twice a week!
    I wish the city would forget “racial data” and would look at the economic class system that has control of our schools and our politics! It’s not the race, it’s the income!

  • I believe that Federal Title I funds have some connection to both race and economics. So getting (or perhaps allocating) Federal money allocated depends in part on racial breakdown.

    Interestingly, we have an increasing gender disparity. Used to be boys did so much better than girls. It’s increasingly tipping the other way.

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