County Considering Consolidating Three Schools

The Albemarle County School Board is trying to decide whether they should shut down Red Hill, Scottsville, and Yancey elementary schools, Brandon Shulleeta writes in today’s Daily Progress. All three are in need of some significant infrastructure repair, and it’s not obvious whether they should each be renovated, or if they should be shut down and replaced with a single school big enough to accommodate the 525 students. The board’s waiting for a recommendation from superintendent Pam Moran, which is expected next week. There’s a hearing later this month, and a decision is planned for October 22.

Though this might be an infrastructure consideration, inevitably it’s got lots more rolled up in it—how big schools should be, the racial diversity of the schools, how far kids have to ride on the bus, etc. The cheapest option will likely prove to be consolidating the three, but that’s not necessarily the option that will lead to the best education for future students. Expect a ruckus.

9 thoughts on “County Considering Consolidating Three Schools”

  1. Dobbsy once lived in the Yancey School district. After becoming familiar with the teachers and the program, he put himself into debt to send his kids to private school.

    If he had sent them to Yancey they would have been 1.5 academic years ahead of their age group merely because they could read. There was nothing for them but boring make-work exercises in half their classes while teachers spent their time working at the majority level or below.

    Given the realities of the world, the best thing that could happen to southside education is combining the elementary schools into one. That has realistic goals that could be met.

  2. Whatever issues Dobbsy had with the public school system, there is nothing to be gained by consolidating the schools.

    The schools serve their communities. They have a student population representative of the respective regions and the populations of those regions.

    By consolidating the schools you eliminate what is unique and special about the communities each school serves.

    The DP article mentioned reusing the buildings as community centers- if the buildings can’t be renovated for student use- why should they be able to be re-used as community centers?? (not to mention that Scottsville has plenty of locations for community centers already without creating one in the middle of an area surrounded by farmland.

    I’ve also seen the words “Student Diversity” used in regards to the schools and whether or not to consolidate them. To that I have to repeat something I read in the DP comments of an earlier article on the same subject: “What is the point in living in a place like Scottsville, if the government wants to send you to a school that feels like suburban Richmond?”

    It’s bullshit.

    In my opinion It’s an effort to strip away from these regional communities one of the things that allows them to have a community identity.

    Weaken the community identity and you make it easier for developers to come in and further transform the communities into carbon copies of Crozet.

  3. This is about the annual costs for operating smaller schools. The ACPS administration has needed to shut these schools for financial reasons for a long time and, also, the other small schools in the county. It may be a sad necessity to close these old community schools but what I really hate is the process which attempts to maintain the illusion of “community input” and objectivity. If the system did not plan on consolidating these schools at some point, there would be no need to “study” the issue. It might cause less anguish if the ACPS just did what it needed to do with less “process”.

  4. As to cost of consolidation- a Daily Progress Article had this to say:

    The three small schools are starting to show their age and an influx of new students are expected to outgrow the buildings in coming years. Officials have at least two options: renovate and expand the schools for an estimated $17 million or pay more than $20 million to build one large school.

    Isn’t 17 million cheaper than 20 million?

  5. It’s funny that they can estimate the cost of a new school when they haven’t designed it or its grounds yet. It’s funny how everybody is talking about “green” these days until there’s an opportunity for “new.” Wouldn’t it be great if someone showed Europe how much cheaper it would be for them to build all brand new?
    Has anyone included the annual cost of maintaining the three old buildings in addition to maintaining the new one? Of course all of the old ones will have to be retrofitted for heating and cooling and probably new windows and roofs, etc. for reuse as community centers. Maybe somebody will come along and put in a solar pilot project.
    How long will it take for this “new” school to become an “old” school? CHS was obsolete in less than ten years.
    This sounds like it’s going to be a decision based upon pure emotion. Oh, BTW, where’s the county getting this new money for the new school?

  6. These are schools and kids at issue here but the only comment that involves education quality is … Dobbsy’s.

    Everyone else here is involved with a personal agenda which has nothing to do with educating kids. Which is pretty much par for the course in the US and why American education is pathetic.

    What kind of education is it when you think “loose” and “lose” are interchangeable?

    In a democracy you get the government – and the public education – you deserve.

  7. Dobbsy, what is it about consolidating three smaller schools into one mega-school that will solve the problem you describe, in which you felt that simply being able to read put your kids ahead of the curve? I’m assuming (perhaps wrongly) that the private school you chose for your kids was not a 600-pupil elementary mega-school; private schools are often, well, small (that’s usually touted as one of their great advantages). And if indeed you did not put your kids into a private mega-school on the size-scale of a Cale, then why do you think the solution for other people’s kids is to put consolidate them into a much larger elementary school? It’s true, as you pat yourself on the back, that your comment makes an assertion about education quality, but it’s an unsupported assertion: there’s nothing in the comment to support your claim.

    I have friends who have kids at one of these small southern-county elementary schools, and they love love love it. Their kids appear to be thriving academically. They think that the smallness translates directly into better education quality, even if the facilities might not be as shiny and modern as a newer, mega-school. They feel like there are no cracks for kids to fall into since all the on-site administration and teachers know all the kids (and most of the families). They feel like they’d be trading away a genuine commitment to the kids of the community for some shiny baubles (new technology! new HVAC!).

  8. If you look at academic indicators such as test scores and graduation rates for AC public schools AND compare apples with apples (for example, non free and reduced lunch girls), you will find very few differences between large and small schools, or rural and town schools, etc. The differences are more likely to show up in the sense of community, comfort levels of young children, length of time on school buses, etc- all important quality of life issues for families. And for the entire AC community, it is worth considering how carbon copy we want our schools to be in this very large geographical area.

    I completely respect the parental right to educate your children however you choose within the limits of the law. However, if you never used local public schools for your family, you don’t know much about those schools. Just as I don’t know much beyond rumors about the local private schools as we used the public schools for our children (not the almost all upper class ones,either). It is my observation that most local middle class kids turn out just fine wherever they go to school.

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