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Albemarle school division eyes larger-than-expected state funding contribution

Albemarle County Public Schools could get more money than initially expected from the state for fiscal year 2021.

During an update of the development of the upcoming funding request at the School Board’s Thursday meeting, school division Director of Planning and Budget Maya Kumazawa said Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed budget includes an additional $7.7 million more than the division’s current adopted budget.

“This is about double what we originally expected back when we did our five-year financial forecast,” Kumazawa said.

Kumazawa said contributing factors to the projected increase were a projected increase in enrollment next school year and a drop in the local composite index.

“As a review, most Standards of Quality funding is based on the local ability to pay as determined by this index,” she said. “It’s calculated using three indicators of a locality’s ability to pay — the true value of real property, adjusted gross income and taxable retail sales.”

Other unanticipated proposed policy changes at the state level also drove this increase, Kumazawa said.

The division’s chief operating officer, Rosalyn Schmitt, said that as part of one of its upcoming work sessions, the School Board will have a “big, heavy” conversation about compensation.

Superintendent Matt Haas’s fiscal year 2021 funding request presentation will be Jan. 23, and the first work session will be held immediately after his presentation.

The board also supported putting the renaming of Cale Elementary School to Mountain View on the consent agenda for its Jan. 23 meeting.

An advisory committee made up of parents, community members and teachers decided on the recommendation in December, after a majority of students and staff members at Cale said they wanted their school to be named Mountain View.

Committee Chairman Dennis Rooker presented the recommendation to the board Thursday night.

“Ultimately, the committee had to make a decision, but the input from the school was invaluable and extremely important to us,” he said. “We also recommend that a plaque or appropriate marker be placed in the school explaining that the school was originally named after Paul Cale, the longest-serving superintendent with Albemarle County Public Schools.”

Former schools Superintendent Paul H. Cale led the school system from 1947 to 1969, and the school was named after him in 1989. The advisory committee spent months reviewing his tenure and legacy before recommending that the school’s name should change.

“Our students really talk about the reason for choosing that is the inclusivity,” Cale librarian Anna Balazs told the board. “We can all see Carter Mountain behind out school. Every kindergartner goes on a field trip to pick apples in the fall or pumpkins. It’s an important place to them. And we really spoke genuinely about how naming it after a neighborhood was not kind to all the different students, that we could all see the mountain.”

At the end of Thursday’s meeting board Chairman Jonno Alcaro proposed that the board discuss the name change during the meeting and have it as part of the next consent agenda. All board members present verbally agreed and said they were supportive of the change. Board member David Oberg had left the meeting early.

Board member Graham Paige said they couldn’t have come up with a better name for the school.

“When you are there, no matter what direction you look at, you can see mountains,” he said. “… Mountain View is really beautiful.”

Haas said he will announce the process the division will use going forward to review school names at the next board meeting. He said the division also will have a web page with more information and will include the next school that will be reviewed.

Thursday was the School Board’s first meeting of 2020. Board members elected Alcaro, the at-large board member, as chairman and Paige, from the Samuel Miller District, as vice chairman. Both served in those roles in 2019.

Judy Le and Ellen Moore Osborne were elected in November to represent the Rivanna and Scottsville districts, respectively. Alcaro was elected to a second term.

Alcaro said it was the first time the seven-member board has had four women members.


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