Council, School Board Criticized for Tuscan Junket

Further to recent discussion on the topic here, Barney Breen-Portnoy writes in the Daily Progress about five city officials’ planned six-day trip to Tuscany at taxpayer expense. School superintendent Rosa Atkins, associate superintendent Gertrude Ivory, school board chairman Alvin Edwards, mayor David Brown and councilor Kendra Hamilton will all be visiting sister city Poggio a Caiano beginning next Wednesday, ostensibly “to explore the possibility of reestablishing a student exchange program.” The three school officials’ costs will be covered by the school system, and the two councilors’ costs will be covered by the city.

School board member Charlie Kollmansperger was the first school board member to criticize this use of public funds: “This is ridiculous. If I were a teacher, I would say, ‘Are you kidding me?'” This is probably going to be a common sentiment.

Brown and Edwards are both up for reelection on Tuesday — the day before the trip — and next month will be Hamilton’s last in office. Edwards has come under fire for his strong defense of a CHS teacher turned convicted pedophile, a pretty sketchy role for the school board chair, but his strong support among black voters makes it unlikely that the Democrat has anything to worry about next week. Brown was the lowest vote-getter at the Democratic convention in June, which is certainly unusual for an incumbent (and mayor, at that), so he may well have cause to move into damage control mode, given the two independent candidates in the council race. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a last-minute issue in either the school board or council races.

10:05pm Update: WINA reports on their utterly unlinkable website that Edwards has caved and agreed to pay his own way.

87 thoughts on “Council, School Board Criticized for Tuscan Junket”

  1. I would not presume that Rev. Edwards still enjoys strong support among all black voters. At the recent Charlottesville Schools “AYP” celebration, the applause as Rev. Edwards was introduced was barely audible.

  2. Kendra Hamilton will be off of city council so why are we paying her way? And David Brown’s position is by no means guaranteed. Why are they going again??

    Rev. Edwards will pay his own way now that the story is in the papers? As the chairperson of the board that approved this trip, why did he not raise a concern when it was passed?

    This expense is indeed an insult to our teachers–and to the foreign language departments at Buford and CHS. I’d like to know how many Italian teachers we could pay for the cost of this trip.

    I’m very disappointed in Ms. Atkins and Ms. Ivory. I had much higher hopes for them.

  3. Specifically, Dr. Edwards offered to reimburse the school division so that “no one would get bent out of shape.”

    In addition, he started the meeting off with a statement on the trip. He said that he is looking out for the students and he didn’t feel he could send students off somewhere without knowing where they were going. He basically said that he wanted to make sure that wherever they sent students, they would not be harmed (I think he said he didn’t want to hurt any child). I found that statement rather ironic in light of his very public support of Mr. Spivey, who harmed children right there at the high school.

    Most of the school board members present at the beginning of the meeting had something to say. Ms. Gronlund and Ms. Van Yahres (both of their seats are up for election) suggested that they disagreed with the trip and that in the future more transparency would be a good thing.

    Ms. Puryear had plenty to say and most of it irked me. At one point she said that some of what goes on standardized tests is not taught in school but is background knowledge that students will be able to develop during these types of experiences. Now I’m not going to deny that background knowledge or the lack thereof has a significant impact on student achievement,but I do take issue with the idea that the teachers in the city aren’t teaching the content that will be found on an SOL test.

    As a teacher in the school system who spends a lot of my own money on materials and other incidentals related to the running of my classroom, I do think having a conversation about the goal of the trip would have saved the board a lot of heartache and the DP a lot of ink. You would think that after the debacle that was Scottie Griffin, the board would have at least learned that much.

    I think there are benefits to a program like this. Why they’d pick the Italian sister city when there are no Italian classes at the high school boggles the mind. My biggest concern is that the only students who will be able to participate in such an exchange are those whose parents can afford to send them.

  4. Anyone know why Kendra is trotting off to Italy? Her term as Councilor is ending, so one wonders what purpose her presence serves during the Tuscan Junket.

  5. To add insult to injury, Rev. Edwards was not present at the last two school board candidate forums. Is he so confident that he will win that he doesn’t need to discuss the issues in our schools?

    The Buford Librarian was told there were no more funds available for her to purchase books for the library by Ms. Ivory! Yet a month later she reads about the junket to Italy!

    Does anyone else find it ironic that the Rev. is leaving for Italy election week? Not to mention that Kendra is out of office in less than 3 months.

    We should be sending city teachers to African camps to see the life our ESL students have fled from along with Mexico and Central American countries. Those are the kids that are in our classrooms!!

    In most school systems when a school makes AYP the teachers are rewarded with cash, not central office and city council!

  6. This is money that could definitely be better spent elsewhere. (Duh.) I can’t believe anyone would be so deluded to think that this junket has any value, but obviously a few people are so deluded.

    If Rev. Edwards is so concerned about the safety of our students when they travel, is he going to vet each and every trip, including the ones around town and around the state? I think not. It’s just a feeble excuse to go to Italy. He had long since lost my vote, but this just solidifies it for me.

    This kind of senseless waste of our tax dollars, coupled with such asinine thinking, is part of why I am considering taking my children out of the city system and putting them in schools elsewhere.

  7. If we’re so concerned about making sure these places are appropriate for future student exchanges, why are we sending three people who have no contact with students on a daily basis? Plus, there’s already a CHS student trip going to Italy this summer, why not just have the school board member or superintendent pay for a seat on that trip and check out a real group of CHS students visiting Italy?

    If the focus of this trip is to increase CHS student’s exposure to world cultures, why not just take this chunk of money and give it to the IRC to help the large number of international students who are already here in Charlottesville?

    Lots of questions—I hope someone has some good answers.

  8. With a budget of over $100 million, a $6,000 trip is like a latte purchase: but that’s exactly the problem. Buy too many lattes and you can’t pay the mortgage. The city budget has included far too many purchases of this kind for a long time: little and medium-sized luxuries that make it impossible to invest in maintaining and/or repairing infrastructure. To me, it isn’t that this particular latte is silly, but rather that buying as many lattes as we do is crippling us in very real ways

  9. $5000 here, $5000 there–pretty soon you’re talking about real money!

    Best line of the night, from Edwards: “If we’re going to look at stuff like this, we need to look at a lot of things, like how much we pay for each chair and each table. Those are not decisions we discuss publicly.”

    Speaking of tables and chairs…I’d like to hear what teachers in the city would do were our generous School Board to present some of them with checks for $5000: a new whiteboard to replace that one made from Lowes-bought trailer paneling painted white? pay hall monitors so that CHS teachers could use their planning time to…PLAN!, what else? Don’t be shy! This is your moment to compile a list of real needs in the division. (As opposed to say…air/hotel/meals.)

    And how would you save money? Any superfluous positions to eliminate?

  10. Great Point Elizabeth!!

    CHS was in shock yesterday!!
    We are dealing with such severe situations of trauma in so many of our kids… many teachers are buying supplies and food to keep in their classes with their own money…….and the self righteousness of many on the school board is appalling.
    Alvin Edwards said that if we want to scrutinize the Italy trip then we need to scrutinize every chair and table being spent………….This kind of thinking is asinine and proves he thinks the public is stupid!! The Foreign Language Department at CHS knew nothing of this trip and further more……..have received little support for their own efforts to get trips going.
    Charlie Kolmansberger and Karl Ackerman are heroes to us in the schools today………….Thanks for not being bullied and manipulated.

  11. I disliked the arrogance I detected in A. Edwards` comments published in the Progress.

    “might as well question us about what we pay for tables and chairs”,or words to that effect was one comment I thought displayed a certain arrogance.

    My reply: Well, yes, A. Edwards, if we see fit, we will question your expenditures, right down to thumbtacks, if we desire. We are the citizen voters. You are our employee. Your responsibility is to answer those questions with honesty and civility. If that relationship irks you in some manner, resignation is a solution.

    I note the A. Edwards offer was not to pay for the trip, but worded as “an offer to reemburse the funding source”. Whether that offer is accepted or not is another question. Seems the offer is a little late, and if sincere, would have been made at the outset of the planning.

    If there is, indeed, a vital need to foster an exchange with Italy and Charlottesville/Albemarle schools, then why are not consultants hired to do the job, as they are in so many other local government endeavors? Prompts the question of what are the qualifications, as regards exchange student programs, of this motley assembly scheduled for the trip?

  12. What IS the proposed exchange? Julie Gronlund said that the Board had failed to ask the right questions, then she…failed to ask the right questions. When I think of foreign exchanges I think along the lines of AFS–a student going to a foreign country for a semester or a year, learning the language, living with a host family–but this one may different. A group of kids with chaperones going for a short period? We don’t know. For all the controversy, nobody is talking about what the exchange IS–or what it will cost.

  13. Specifically, Dr. Edwards offered to reimburse the school division so that “no one would get bent out of shape.”

    Heaven forbid he should reimburse the school division “because it’s the right thing to do.”

  14. Chville Tchr beat me to it. Some casual conversations I have had some casual conversations about Edwards with family and friends and they suggest that Edward’s support in the black community isn’t what some may expect. It could just be a completely unrepresentative sample of the black community though. I guess we will have to look to the Tonsler and Carver precincts on Election Day to really tell.

  15. I must admit, I don’t have any children, but I still have to pay for everyone else’s. Got this from the Money Mag. Web site…

    “Charlottesville spends $5,927 per pupil, well above the national average of $3,187, and the schools boast a student/teacher ratio of 10.3 to 1, compared with a national average of 17.8 to 1.”

    Doesn’t the City contribute an inordinate amount of taxpayer money to the overall yearly school budget compared to other cities? And with all the extra money they still can’t pass SOL qualifications, but want to go on special trips abroad? My mind is boggled, but like I said, I ain’t no daddy, so maybe I’m missing the nuances of the bigger picture.

  16. I, for one, think the trip to Tuscany is of the utmost importance and will be a fine use of school funds….kidding, kidding. Clearly a huge joke.
    Sister Cities in general seem like an excuse for these sorts of trips.

  17. NBC 29 reports that Kendra “Frequent Flyer” Hamilton is Tuscany-bound to “help local restaurants by working with people in the Italian marketplace.” Locking in vino and olive oil futures? Negotiating a top secret menu exchange? Or mebbe just a fancy way of saying that FF will be chowing down and reporting back on what she likes. (As in, “I’m going to head over to the Nook and work with some people in the Charlottesville marketplace.”)

  18. Yeah ducktroller, with all of this great technology we have these days, if you were really sincere about obtaining knowledge and making international contacts…couldn’t ya just phone that one in, or dial it up on the Internet? Sounds like a “smoke screen” to me.

  19. If there is, indeed, a vital need to foster an exchange with Italy and Charlottesville/Albemarle schools, then why are not consultants hired to do the job, as they are in so many other local government endeavors?

    “Consultants” would be a fat waste of money too.

    As an someone wrote in the “comments section” of the Daily Progress’ article on this topic:

    The goals of the trip can be accomplished via Web conferencing, phone conferences, and emails.

    Further the idea that the expertise to “get the job done” (whatever that job may be) exists somewhere else with some other company, outside expert and/or someplace else in the country and not in Virginia or Charlottesville needs to be nipped. Thinking like that is also part of the problem. And it is demonstrated often when an executive level position needs to be filled (School Superintendent for example). Whatever happened to promoting from within and using local talent?

    As for the Italian language in the city schools I offer this bit of trivia- for a brief period during the late 1980’s (perhaps only 1 year) Alba Shank (one of the current spanish instructors) taught an “early morning” Italian language class. But to my knowledge “early morning” classes were an experiment that year and so it didn’t continue beyond that single year.

    Anyway, as far as I am concerned this junket to Italy, like any other trips (to Italy or anywhere else) that there may have been at taxpayer expense, is a waste of money.

  20. Tvlman:

    My question “why aren`t consultants hired to do the job………”

    was meant to be rhetorical, and I thought the obvious answer by all readers would be “Because this is too much fun for a consultant”.

    I was, obviously, mistaken.

  21. On Wednesday morning, I will wake up at the usual time, read the newspaper, and find out whether or not I was elected to the City School Board. Unlike our current Chairman, I will not then hop on a flight to Italy. During this campaign, I have come to know and develop a deep respect for all of the other first-time candidates. I feel very confident in stating that, with the new fully-elected School Board that we will have in January, this kind of thing won’t happen. All of the new candidates have committed to fiscal responsibility and putting the needs of the students and teachers first. I urge you all to vote on November 6.

  22. Regarding the quote from Channel 29: NBC 29 reports that Kendra “Frequent Flyer” Hamilton is Tuscany-bound to “help local restaurants by working with people in the Italian marketplace.”

    I’m a professional chef and find that use of taxpayer dollars to be mind-boggling, to say the least. Who the hell approved this particular boondoggle?

    It’s my sincere hope that at least two of these folks (Edwards and Brown) return from their trip to find they’ve been unhorsed by the voters. Incumbents, begone!

  23. What are these people thinking about? I hardly think a chair or table would cost what this trip is costing and if it were, it certainly wouldn’t be purchased. These
    people have an obligation to the school and the city and should show more responsibility than they’ve shown recently. Doesn’t all the city council money and school board money come from pretty much the same pot, i.e. taxpayers pocket?

  24. Why aren’t you all doing anything? All I hear are complaints….complaints…complaints. What are YOU doing to help? Why didn’t you want run for School Board?

  25. It has been obvious for a long time that Kendra was tired of her duties as councilor. She has hardly done anything other than sleepwalk her way through meetings for a long time now. I guess she feels like that has somehow earned her a bit of fun at taxpayer expense. If it’s pay for performance, she’s earned a trip to Waynesboro maybe, just for showing up on a regular basis.

    Brown, on the other hand seems to love playing mayor. So much so, that I’m surprised he hasn’t commissioned a $10,000 sash or funny hat that he can wear up on stage. Hell, there must be money in the budget somewhere for that. If not, who would complain about just a few more cents in property taxes?

    Seriously, this whole business is really shocking. With so many really smart and talented people living here can’t we do better in terms of leadership? I lost what respect I had left for Brown over the Water Street con-job and now, I’m just really angry. There’s more to being mayor than handing out blue ribbons at dog shows and writing big checks. I’m really feeling swindled by City Council. Do they think we all print money in our basements?

    If we could vote directly for mayor, I’d vote for Kleeman in a heartbeat, he’s really the only hope there is for now. Brown has to go! I can’t afford to keep him in office.

  26. If we vote any of these self righteous entitled fools back into office, I will have lost faith in this city. PLEASE Charlottesville, let’s send a message on Tuesday!!!

    AND why is our superintendent being so quiet???? I really liked her and am now so confused.

  27. Did not Blake Caravati (sp),a councilperson at the time, initate the Italian connection? I am not sure as my memory is not that clear on the subject. If he didn`t start it, I believe he was a big booster of it. It may have started before he was elected to council.

    I was told he was president of the Italian-American League, here in Cville, at the time. That is not an issue for me except I am of Dutch descent and I will be glad to go to the Netherlands, especially Amsterdam (wow) , on a City funded get-together. After all we Dutchies founded New York and deserve some consideration as there are many New Yorkers here in Cville. I suppose I must first be elected to public office and that might be a problem for me. I have considered starting a Netherlands League. I don`t speak Dutch , but then I think not all of the members of the delegation speak Italian, unless they plan to attend some quickie language course, self funded, naturally.

  28. A few thoughts:
    Is there anyone (other than those who are going) who think the Italy trip is a good idea?

    I have two children at Charlottesville High School, and four children altogether in the C’ville public schools. If one of my children were offered the opportunity to participate in an exchange program to Italy, I would consider it a great opportunity, but I would also consider it my own responsibility to determine if such a trip were safe for my child. I would certainly not take Alvin Edward’s word for it, and I would not need to travel to Italy to make my decision.

    The “helping local restraurants” reason is an insult to the intelligence of every citizen of Charlottesville. How gullible do they think we are?

  29. Speaking of sister cities, when will the city get a sister city in Asia or Africa or South America? Why are all the sister cities in Europe? Why hasn’t Alvin Edwards lobbied for a sister city in Africa? Or has he?

  30. Williamsburg has a sister city in Japan, while we share exchanges with sisters in Bulgaria, France and Italy. Blake Caravati has paid his own way eight times to France and is the father of Charlottesville’s French connection.

  31. Bob Gibson:

    Thanks for the facts re Blake Caravati. I guess it has been longer than I thought when he was on council.

    He set a good example by self funding his trips.

  32. “I’d like to know how many Italian teachers we could pay for the cost of this trip.” None.

  33. “Who the hell approved this particular boondoggle?” Some of the same people who approved $18,000 for three rain barrels (over three times as much), that didn’t seem to bother anybody, even school teachers. If they have been getting away with these kinds of expenditures all the time, why complain now?

  34. Here is a bizarre, hilarious, confusing, and possibly libelous website which digs deeply into the matter of the Besançon/Charlottesville affair. (No, I don’t have anything to do with it.) Anyone else who’s reading news blogs on a friday or saturday night probably can’t honestly claim to have better things to do than read tabloid internet. Jump to the middle of the page and you’ll be hooked in no time.
    I wonder what sort of goodies will eventually bubble to surface to help flesh out the real story of the Italy junket.

  35. Cville Eye, I’ve seen a few oblique references to the $18,000 rain barrels, but nothing more. Any links for more depth on that subject?

  36. It was listed on the Consent Agenda for Council’s meeting on September 4, 2007 as the following item:
    o. RESOLUTION: Authorizing Payment of $18,000 from Water Conservation Fund to Quality stCommunity Council’s Rainwater Harvesting Pilot Program (1 of 1 reading). The agenda is located at . In the agenda containing the background material, it is on page 43 of the PDF or a search on $18,000 ought to take you to it. The Parks and Recreation Newsletter for that month appears to have a picture of the three barrels.

  37. Cville Eye, I questioned the rain barrel boondoggle then, and I’m questioning the Italian Job boondoggle now.

    What I’m asking is this: When was this particular trip approved, and what was the process? Was it discussed openly during a Council meeting? Was it a buried budget item that missed the taxpayer’s scrutiny? Or did Kendra go “I’m hungry, does anyone else feel like Italian?” David Brown said “I am” and off they went?

    And speaking of the barrels, have they been purchased or installed yet? Are they gigantic? I know what a $90 rain barrel looks like, but can’t imagine the grandeur of this super-duper variety. I’ve asked around but never received an answer as to why they cost so much, beyond the usual “uuuuh…”

    Sick of the trip and hating the barrels? Vote this Tuesday.

  38. The barrels and a class on how to use them would cost me $35. Why the City felt giving QCC the rain barrels AND $18,000, I have only conjecture. Kendra Hamilton did say near the beginning of the meeting that the sixty people who had participated in the Urban Garden project had worked hard and she thought it was a worthwhile project. No one else on Council weighed in. The funny thing about the Consent Agenda is that usually each item is voted on at the same time and discusssion isn’t always forthcoming. Several million dollars have been appropriated this way with no public discussion. I guess it is discussed in email.

  39. Thanks C’ville Eye. You are aptly monikered.

    I think much of what council does in public is just for the sake of formality. If Consent Agenda appropriations are discussed in emails, a FOIA request for emails about the rain barrel program might lead to some interesting reading on the subject. This city could use a little digging into how decisions are really made and for whose benefit.

  40. It seems to me that if wasteful spending keeps on going like this, pretty soon the good people of C’ville won’t have a rain barrel to, er, P in.

  41. These kind of expenditures are nothing new. Remember BULGARIA??? Why in the hell do we need to be there? Many inside the City are aware of all sorts of similar idiocy but will not speak out because there is nothing worse than an elitist with “good intentions” who has been shown the error of his ways. They are as vindictive as a neo-con! I have NO qualm with sensible liberals….so I am no Republican whining hack.

    However,sensible people, of whom I presume there are a few of remaining in Charlottesville, have got to see that Brown and Edwards (Alvin) MUST GO. You notice Dave Norris and Julian aren’t going to Tuscany. Good for them! I expected better from Rosa Atkins frankly too…she seems very astute, but Italian trips have a way of glazing your eyes over I suppose.

    Could there one day be a political shift in Charlottesville? SENSIBLE Democrats and maybe even an Independent or two working together for the common good with possibly more fiscal control and emphasis placed on the BASICS such as EDUCATION, PUBLIC SAFETY, PUBLIC WORKS, PARKS, and INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIR instead of junkets, “studies”, “transit station BS”, etc. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? Democrats who are more fiscally sound than neo-cons? I hope so, or else Charlottesville is doomed.

    A 10 square mile welfare state where 25 percent of the populace lives in poverty headed by elitists cannot survive for long. We will see what plays out Tuesday. I for one am not encouraged we will see much change from the status quo.


  42. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jeeperman (except for your endorsement of Huja). We are living through the tyranny of the minority. I,too, am a lifelong Dem but will not be a part of that Charlottesville club of the self-appointed self righteous. We need a coalition of thoughtful citizens who have the citizens’ best interests, rather than their own, in leadership positions.

    Rosa Atkins has had a long honeymoon in this town. We all hoped that she would put the petty self interest of Scottie Griffin behind us and concentrate on the work of education. She has had the perfect opportunity this week to use this discussion to speak up about her vision for the future and how an exchange program might benefit students; yet she has remained mum. I fear the reason for her silence is that there is no plan for a program and that she is just another opportunist taking a vacation with her sidekick, Gertrude Ivory, at our expense.

  43. “She has had the perfect opportunity this week to use this discussion to speak up about her vision for the future and how an exchange program might benefit students; yet she has remained mum.” Charlottesvillians: Decisions about exchange programs are made at the BOARD level. It is up to the staff to implement it. It is not her vision; it is not her budget. She doesn’t get to vote on either. Atkins and Ivory are EMPLOYEES, just like O’Connell, Watts, Mueller, and Tolbert. Huja was once an employee, and, as such, he did not set policy nor did he lecture Council on how it should go about setting policy. For some reason, we get proper roles for boards and employees mixed up. Maybe that’s why we put so many people who may make good employees in board positions and have a chronic mess in government. It is not too hard to imagine that the ladies were told to go and they were doing as they were told. I know that Gary, Aubrey, Judith and Jim all went abroad that way.

  44. It is interesting that Alvin Edwards made a “table & desk” reference. In the 2000 budget you will notice the Buford principal spent $10,000 on new furniture for her office..desk, chair and cabinet! No outcry then…of course there wasn’t this blog site!

    Mrs. Atkins and Mrs Ivory do what ever Alvin tells them…don’t believe me…look at the new Buford Principal’s resume and background! Tim Flynn was chased out of town by Rev. Edwards…yet it was Tim at the helm when Buford became fully accrediated!

    Our small town politics is being run by one very powerful Baptist Minister with a lot of backing! Rev. Edwards doesn’t bother to show up for candidate forums, nor does he meet and greet voters. He has his deacons drive his church buses on election day and after voting lunches are served in the church rec. room to those that voted for him. No one else running for office can possibly compete with his power behind the scenes.

    Don’t forget the bake sales for the girls that attacked the UVA students and the CHS teacher that had sex with students on field trips (over state lines) and in the classroom was the choir director in the Rev. church and still attends! The new Buford principal is also a member of Rev. Edwards church. The list goes on and on…

    If the Rev. is not re-elected to the school board, I will again believe in the tooth fairy, Santa, and the Easter Bunny~

  45. So clue me in….

    It is true that the church buses pick up residents of high density areas take them to voting locations and then back to the church for lunch!

    It is true that Dr. Daniels spent $10,000 for her office furniture

    It is true that Tim Flynn’s contract was not renewed by the city, thus he is now making a much higher salary as a middle school principal in Loundon county.

    It is true that Mr. Spivey (now a convicted sexual predator) was the choir director at Rev. Edwards church and attended last spring and summer after charges were filed. It is true that Mr. Johnson is also a close friend of Rev. Edwards and is a member of the same church.

    In closing it is true that the last two school board election forums I attended, Rev. Edwards was the only candidate that was absent!

    So, please, let me know, what fact are not true!

    Of course, my adjectives of “powerful” and “belief in miracles” are my opinion, not fact!

    One thing you must agree on…the city politics in our schools has the makings of a great soap opera!~

  46. Thank you, hlamont, for a true statement of the facts. Personally, I hate living in the locale of a great soap opera. Pray for change on Tuesday.

  47. hlamont,
    The current principal of Buford says he’s a member of ZION UNION Baptist Church, located on Preston Avenue. Rev. Edwards is pastor of MT. ZION Baptist Church, located on Lankford Avenue. Are you getting your black people confused?
    The Democratic Party pays blacks to sit at the polls and shuttle people back and forth to the polls on election day. They have been doing it for years. I don’t know why they don’t pay white people.
    “Tim Flynn was chased out of town by Rev. Edwards…” I think allowing teachers to play guitars everyday in class last Spring chased him out. It is my understanding that the current principal came highly recommended by his former employee, the Albemarle County School system. Is there something you know that the rest of us do not?

  48. We are lucky to have Eric Johnson back in the city school system. For the first time in years, I’m hearing positive comments from parents regarding Buford. He has been helping to run a tutoring program for the students in his church, located on Preston Ave, for years.

    I won’t quibble with the rest of your facts hlamont, but I believe you are mistaken about Mr. Johnson.

    And while it may be true that Tim Flynn’s contract was not renewed (or he was asked to leave or left to ‘pursue other opportunities’ or decided to move), I’m of the opinion that Buford’s staff and students will not suffer greatly for that loss.

  49. Eric Johnson is a great Basketball coach and a really nice man.
    When he was a math teacher at Walker Upper he wasn’t able to control the kids, please the parents, or teacher the curricululm….he quickly left for the county.
    There events fell in place (Billy became principal of Western) that left Eric as the Walton Principal.
    His behavior with the students and interaction with the teachers, fully documented by teachers at Walton, made his time there on a short calendar. Word on the street (in the teachers lounge at Walton) was that this would be Eric’s last year as a Principal in the county.
    Perhaps it is all vicious gossip, but I do know that his behavior in the school cafe and night dances along with his wife and sister in law full time at Buford has led to a huge drop in moral that is now lower than the early 2000 when Dr. Daniel was principal.
    Tim Flynn did not allow teachers to play guitars everyday in class…Tim was the first principal to get Buford “Fully accredited” ever!!! Just go on line and check out the lesson plans that were developed and submited to Tim all of last year!
    Like I stated previously…it’s the making of a great made for tv movie…and it’s so incrediably sad!
    The only positive result of the current situation in the city and county is the merging of the two school systems!!!!

  50. Is anyone from Zion Union involved (openly) in city politics? How many times has Eric attended Mt. Zion in the past year as compared to Zion Union? Nope, not a mix-up of churches (does C’ville really have black and white churches??) cvilleyankee, just an observation.

    Don’t many of the same members of Mt. Zion & Zion Union belong to the same sorority and fraternity??? What about the other two black churches in town, First Baptist on Main St. and Ebenezer? Those members are so often ignored by those in power! I’ve attended church at Mt. Zion, First Baptist on Main and Ebenezer; I know the atmosphere of dismissal I’m referring to!!! It’s the good old boy world of who is a member of the same frat/sorority and who has the most power and money in town. It is history repeating itself and race does not matter!!!

    Time will tell who is better for Buford and the city….much as it has in the past…in the meantime perhaps more city residents will consider merging the school systems!!! The trip to Italy is putting the politics in the city schools out in the open, for that we can be grateful to the behind the scenes trip to Italy. If Mrs. Ivory, Mrs. Akins, and Rev. Edwards weren’t going to Italy…not a word would have been printed in the Progress about Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Brown going the week of elections!~!!

  51. The City boondoogle specialists can afford extras because of the “hush money” they get each year from the County, per the non-annexation agreement. Almost $14 million this FY.

    Rain barrels, duplicate EMS, trips to Italy . . . it doesn’t matter. They’re all the result of people who feel entitled, have the resources to pull them off and don’t feel accountable.

    That’s just Cville being Cville.

  52. I don’t know about Tim Flynn allowing teachers to substitute guitar playing for teaching in the Spring, but I recently had two children at Buford, and there was little to no new content taught in some classes once the SOLs were over (in early to mid May.) At one back-to- school night, I asked my son’s 8th grade civics teacher what the class would be learning after the SOLs and he smirked and said, “What do you think?”

    Yes, SOL scores did improve dramatically once Tim Flynn became principal of Buford (as he told parents himself, repeatedly, at nearly every school function) but I was not impressed with his ham-fisted principaling style. And while I don’t have a child at Buford this year (I will next year) I have heard some good things from other parents about Buford’s new principal.

  53. Fred, why would any of these Italy bound people think the public is stupid? I’ll tell you why. Because they have worked out a nice little vacation at taxpayer’s expense. Sure, there is a big stink about it now. But the trip will still be made with all 5 on the plane and the city taxpayer footing the entire bill. And 3 months from now it will all be over and forgotten.

  54. Actually, GADS, it’s more a result of the Cville voter’s arrogant laziness than the arrogance of our City officials. A handful of people meet behind closed doors and decide who the nominees will be and over 400 people gather to rubber stamp. These nominees quickly learn who their real bosses are (the closed-door people do most of the financing, not the 400) and that’s who they serve. Most have no experience in setting policy or managing a budget larger than that of most corporations in the City. They have demonstrated no in-depth knowledge of any issue. They can not list accomplishments, just prior titles. They do not understand how the role of a policy maker differs from that of an employee. They have never evaluated an employee. Yet, Cville votes for them (so that they can keep people like budget-watching Rob Schilling from being re-elected). The usual reason why includes “like” and “nice,” which works in high school elections better than something as serious a council contest. This election, the cycle can be broken by voting for two confessed Democrats, Haskins and Kleeman. Kleeman has years of experience in decision making and policy setting and Haskins is the only candidate that wants the City to re-evaluate its fiscal policies. One thing for certain, the majority of Cville voters ALWAYS get exactly what they deserve.
    P.S. If the City had annexed the urban ring in the seventies, the County coffers would be missing far more than $14M.

  55. Looks like the Blog has gone somewhat off the tracks from the initial Tuscan Junket theme… which makes it so much fun! But going back to the Boondoggle…

    I don’t want to rehash the points made above… so consider what I perceive as the sad laughing points from the cast of clowns:

    “Its for the Children….”
    School Board members love to whip this slogan out whenever they feel on the defensive- gives them the Teflon shield, for who can criticize something that is ‘for the children’. Can our councilors and board members actually use this as a defense for their junket with a straight face? PLEASE. This one isn’t for the children, its one for all and all for a good time in Tuscany… elected or not, here we come.

    “It was so little money that we didn’t think anyone would get upset…”
    Tell that to the teachers who are looking for tens of dollars to help out defray cost of supplies for their classrooms that the schools are not covering. Look our beloved teachers right in the eyes when you toss this excuse out.

    “If we’re going to look at stuff like this, we need to look at a lot of things, like how much we pay for each chair and each table. Those are not decisions we discuss publicly”
    Chairman Edward’s testy response notwithstanding, we are not talking about chairs and couches (though furniture expenditures are in fact reported! by the board- $56,845 allocated this year), the School Board’s duty starts with being open and accountable to the public on any and all group decisions and expenditure of funds. This is not a choice, it is the law. What about this is hard to understand, board members? And thanks, “Cvilleyankee”, for reminding us about the lessons on transparency and accountability that many of us thought were learned during the debacle that was Scottie Griffin.

    Take Sean McCord’s (above) comments to heart and let’s elect four new school board members who don’t find the above very funny.

  56. Barracuda,
    you are right!! And, I hope there will be changes on Tuesday, but I am haunted by Hlamont’s story about the free lunch, buses and what I consider to be more manipulation than helping people get to the pols tactics of Edwards…..

    Hlamont, when I speak to people on the inside, they all verify what you are saying to us……

    Come on ALL Charlottesville……….vote on Tuesday!!!

  57. GADS said: “The City boondoogle specialists can afford extras because of the “hush money” they get each year from the County, per the non-annexation agreement. Almost $14 million this FY……….”

    I`m not sure my “Superviser” (awful title – – not sure who or what is under supervision – and I don`t like supervision in my private life, by the way)is what could be termed as my representative when it comes to City expenditures of my tax dollars, regardless of the route followed from my pocket, to the County, thence to the City, and, I suppose, thence to Italy.

    Smacks of taxation without representation as I have no representation on City Council. I don`t recall a vote on whether or not to pay C`ville this tax money. – it was “do it or we`ll annex………….”

    Perhaps the “annexation agreement should be amended to include authorizing a county population elected representative on the City Council. This may not be the worst idea to come down the pike.

  58. If this is supposed to be educational, I’d suggest sending a team of teachers and students over in the summer to investigate the opportunities in Italy.
    As it is, it just looks like a perk for fat cats.

  59. “Perhaps the “annexation agreement should be amended to include authorizing a county population elected representative on the City Council. ” Or consolidation. County residents already outnumber the city’s two to one and growing, so they’ll have the electoral clout. I think that County residents will be more amenable in twenty years when the traffic in the City comes to a standstill and they decide to fill up the classrooms in the empty City schools rather than continue to build more and more schools.

  60. Funny you say that Cville Eye, many people I know have said that they are seriouly thinking of moving to the County………have to admit I am thinking about it too………….this council and school board are exhausting……….

  61. Hlamont –

    You are so off base. The deacons don’t drive the church van. Only those who are authorized with a CDL can drive the church van.
    I know for a fact that Mt. Zion used to offer free rides to the seniors of the church. It was more about our black folks not making excuses for not voting. Black folk were denied the right to vote in the that they have the right…some Still don’t get out and vote.
    Rev. Edwards never talks to his congregation about voting for him. He just wants folk to vote.

    What does belonging to a frat/sorority have to do with worship and the Lord Jesus Christ?

    Complaining, complaining complaining…..

  62. Hlamont

    Eric Johnson is not a member of Mt. Zion nor do the deacons drive the church bus or serve food on election day. If you are going to comment, make sure you know the facts. If you all are so concerned about Charlottesville issues, why not run for city council or school board otherwise shut your mouths stop complaining like whimps.

  63. Charlottesville voters have spoken – The Rev. Alvin Edwards, Pastor of Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church has won re-election to the Charlottesville School Board. The people have spoken, now please MOVE ON and leave our PASTOR ALONE.

  64. No, Ann, I don’t have to “move on.” You specifically said that “if you all are so concerned about Charlottesville issues, why not run for city council or school board otherwise shut your mouths.” Since I once ran for Council, I have the Ann Seal of Approval™ to complain all I want. Apparently, though, nobody else is allowed to voice complaint. Presumably you’ve run for office, too, or else you’d be speaking out of both sides of your mouth. Right?

    Also, your man Rev. Edwards barely squeaked out a win. He came in last. Now, winning’s winning — he’s on the school board just the same — but you’re not really in a position to brag here.

  65. That’s the whole problem with “so called adults” – they won’t move on…and get over stuff.

    A win is a win… ask the UVA football team!

    Isn’t it written somewhere….the last shall be first.
    I think two others came in last…so “Last” that they didn’t get in at all. So it is apparent that the majority of the voters don’t read the mess that is on this blog.

    Ms. Ann, I don’t see where you are bragging…to me all the slander that Rev. Edwards received didn’t mean a hill of beans to the majority.

    Did you actually run for council Waldo Jaquith? What was the outcome? Did you just run…or did you actually contribute to anything. The name doesn’t ring any type of bells…I may not be old enough to remember.

    If I went on line to see what impact you made, will I find anything? Just a question….students are full of questions.

    I will be glad when I can vote.

  66. A win is a win and he won the re-election that is all that matters to me. I am not bragging at all. I just pointed out the fact that he was re-elected. I don’t have a problem with folks voicing there opinions but I think you allowed the comments to get out of control and they became insults against Rev. Edwards and it was wrong no matter how you look at it. Close this blog it is over and move on to other matters like the KKK living in Greene County!!!!! Maybe YOU & OTHERS should take off your SHEETS and state what is really the issue here……

  67. Pulling out the ‘sheets’ line has become a groundless cliche on school board issues… right up there with I did it because its best for the kids.

  68. Well, he is back! The people have spoken. We sent Dr. Edwards his “merry own way” back to the school board. I am glad about it. He gets a chance to not only show his spiritual leadership is effective, but his secular leadership is effective. DON’T HATE CELEBRATE,PARTICIPATE,AND TELL DR. EDWARDS HE IS GREAT!

  69. Maybe YOU & OTHERS should take off your SHEETS and state what is really the issue here……


    Why would you say such a mean-spirited and hateful thing? That’s about as nasty an accusation as you could possibly make and you do it without any grounds whatsoever. That’s just not fair and it’s not right.

  70. Please, don’t you dare,I didn’t call anyone in particular a KKK, I just made the statement, so how are you taking it as mean-spirited, hateful or nasty. You all dogged Rev. Edwards name for weeks in blogs. He is an intelligent, likeable and respected African-American man in this community that pastors a church that is respected in teh community and does a lot for the communityand YOU ALL attacked him with your words. You all named Rev. Edwards and he had to listen to or read all those comments and his wife & family also suffered. He won the election that is the bottom line, so as I stated earlier move on.

  71. Student,

    I think the fact that you are making a comment on a blog which owes it’s existence to one Waldo Jaquith should be evidence enough of his ongoing efforts to make a difference.

    Debate is important. The democratic process is important. Without the presence of candidates other than those who eventually win, there would be no debate and there would be no democratic process. The mere fact that Waldo was willing to make the effort to run made a difference in that race and in the history of the City.

    Falling into line like you suggest and not continuing to challenge those who have won elections, no mater whether by a slim or by a tremendous margin, is not an attribute of adulthood, but rather of stupidity. The democratic process does not come screeching to a halt the day after an election. Instead, the struggle to keep those in power responsive to the electorate is a perpetual struggle. Failing to continue in that struggle today, tomorrow, and well past the next election imperils every principle that this country was established upon.

    Alvin Edwards and David Brown are both embarrassments to this city and it is a disgrace that either has been re-elected. No amount of self-righteous posturing on your part, Ann’s part, or anyone’s else’s part is going to change that. Likewise, the fact that a slightly greater number of a fraction of the local population voted for one candidate rather than for another in not in any way cause for me, for Waldo, or for any other person who would be critical of their various shortcomings to cease criticism.

    You can say what you would like, but I refuse to be silent when I disagree with my government.

  72. Wait, wait, I just want to relish this moment.

    Ann wrote:

    Close this blog it is over and move on to other matters like the KKK living in Greene County!!!!! Maybe YOU & OTHERS should take off your SHEETS and state what is really the issue here……

    Harry wrote:

    Why would you say such a mean-spirited and hateful thing? That’s about as nasty an accusation as you could possibly make and you do it without any grounds whatsoever. That’s just not fair and it’s not right.

    Ann wrote:

    Please, don’t you dare,I didn’t call anyone in particular a KKK, I just made the statement, so how are you taking it as mean-spirited, hateful or nasty.

    Hahahaaahahahaha! That’s awesome. You call me a racist murderer, somebody calls you on it, and then you totally deny it! That’s brilliant in its stupidity.

    This all seemed familiar, and then I remembered — your friend Faith said the same thing last week, saying “take your sheet off” when somebody dared disagree with her.

    And your complaint about the lack of the discussion about “KKK in Greene” seemed familiar, too. I remembered you’d made that complaint before, which I immediately rebutted.

    But I really don’t know why I’m acknowledging you, anyhow, Ann. “If you are so concerned about Charlottesville issues, why not run for city council or school board otherwise shut your mouths stop complaining like whimps.” Until you’ve run for an office, I do believe you’ve got nothing else to say here.

  73. Waldo, I don’t who Faith is but my hat goes off to her for the comment. I have no reason to run for office as I am not complaining about the folks in office, YOU ARE. Yes you made a fraction of a comment on the KKK in Greene as I recall – ONE SENTENCE – telling me where to go find the blog. I do not deny that I said take the sheets off, I stated it so I MEANT IT. Yes as you used my statement for your closing it still applies to you and anyone else who attack good people. As stated before “THE ELECTION IS OVER” let the elected official do their work and maybe you can run for office the next time. Right now some of the elected officials are headed to Italy.

  74. Just because someone creates a “blog” doesn’t necessarily mean they are making a difference. If so, the ones who were blasted…they were re-elected. If Rev. Edwards shows up at schools, is talking with students..interacting with us…., you call that embarrassing? To be honest, the only folk I see doing anything for us is Rosa Atkins and Rev. Edwards – they show up where the students are.

    As stated by wtf, “I think the fact that you are making a comment on a blog which owes it’s existence to one Waldo Jaquith should be evidence enough of his ongoing efforts to make a difference.” I won’t be reading this because it is obvious that it really didn’t make a difference. It seems that our generation has a lot to look forward to. (WOW).

    Ms. Ann, you don’t have to look at Greene County. It’s closer than that.

    I won’t be spending anymore time reading these blogs that don’t mean anything. You all say you care about the children, but you don’t even care about each other….all this name calling, complaining, ridiculing, making things into jokes,etc…how is that helping the children?

    Everyone has some good in them. Why not try to look for the good in everyone?

    Peace on earth – Peace on this blog.

  75. This controversy isn’t really about Tuscany or Alvin Edwards. It’s about a frustration level that has reached a boiling point. Tuscany was the tipping point. Our schools are better than they used to be 2 years ago. Saying that won’t make it so.

    We have a school division in the city whose leadership is out of touch with reality. Frankly, it has been that way for the decade that I’ve been involved. The current school board is clueless about the actual needs of teachers or the environment in the schools; the current administration directs from Central Office like Charlottesville is Richmond or Philly. We have one high school. We need leaders who spend quality time in the buildings. That’s what I’m hearing from many teachers. I hear this over and over again. This strategic plan of ours isn’t a magic wand. You can’t simply mandate fewer referrals and suspensions, say, or announce in print that you will have stimulating classes so that low achieving students reach their potential; you have to do things (implement policy and programs, and hire and retain good teachers, eg), so that the classroom experience is rich and children do not act out in ways that get them sent to the office or suspended. (And if they do, there are consequences.)

    There has been some dissing of Eric Johnson above, and I can’t profess to know him very well, but I would like to make one observation: he’s the first school leader I’ve seen who actually behaves as if he understands that he works for the teachers, and that all the important work in his school is going in the classrooms. He defers to teachers. What a concept! Why don’t we see more of it? Central Office officials behave as if running a school division is directing a game of chess: move this piece, then that one. Our administrators act as if good teachers are easily replaced. They aren’t.

    Isn’t it time for parents and teachers to stand together and tell the everyone who runs the division (School Board, City Council, Superintendent, Administrators, Directors, Coordinators, Principals, Asst Principals) that we want–no, demand–a new approach? We will expect excellence everywhere, not just where it happens that good teachers and good principals happen to be.

    We want a vastly reduced Central Office and we want to use that money in ways that teachers believe will make a difference in their students’ learning. We want the city to help teachers buy houses in the city. We have a new a new School Board so let’s roll up our sleeves and demand the change that every thoughtful teacher knows we need. Why can’t we make it happen?

  76. Is anyone else besides me concerned that a supposedly young person (repeatedly referring to “you adults” and “our generation”), who has named him/herself Student, is continually posting during school hours?

    If that magic box you’re typing on has a Google function, start with the search terms “Waldo Jacquith” “Charlottesville” and “Virginia politics.” Ask your “teacher” *cough* to help you.

    KKK? Ann, words fail me. So I’ll be very kind here and posit that perhaps you’re just terminally misguided. Maybe it’s some sort of condition and you can’t help yourself.

    The bus rides and free lunches worked– Alvin Edwards has indeed been re-elected by a slim margin. But what are the odds that yet another scandal brings him down before the next election?

  77. Is this blog closed? I was shocked and dismayed with the “sheet” comment. Why is always about race??? My daughter doesn’t understand why we (baby boombers) can’t let it go what happened in the past. I tried to explain the 50’s, fire hoses, Gov. Wallace etc to her but all she sees is ancient history! So it should be!!!BUT we must learn from that history!
    When we don’t agree with a comment or concern we must leave race out of the conversation….much like we now do age!!!
    Often I comment to friends that I feel invisisble because of age, not race! My friends my age and different races feel the same!
    Rev. Edwards is a man with feet of clay. The day will come when he will walk away from city politics, but it’s not up to us to pick that day!

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