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Charlottesville school division to buy CATEC

Charlottesville City Schools plans to buy out Albemarle County Public Schools’ interest in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center.

In a unanimous vote on Thursday evening, the school board decided to acquire the county school division’s stake for $5.3 million, roughly half of the assessed value of the entire property.

Late last year, Albemarle made the same offer to buy Charlottesville’s interest in the property just outside of city limits on Rio Road.

Charlottesville City Schools at the time called the offer disappointing.

“We wanted to continue the partnership with Albemarle County,” Charlottesville School Board Vice-Chair Dom Morse told The Daily Progress on Thursday after the school board’s vote. “But based on their offer, we had to make a decision based on whether or not we wanted to protect the interests of our students.”

CATEC was founded in 1973 and is run by both the city and county school divisions according to a 1969 operating agreement. The school is mostly run by a central board that consists of three members from each division’s school board. Each division splits the costs of maintaining the facility. Albemarle County, which has more students at CATEC, pays a proportionately larger amount to fund the school.

In offering to take over the center, the county school division “dissolved” the original partnership between the city and county, according to city school officials.

The operating agreement now requires that Charlottesville City Schools either sell its stake in CATEC or buy Albemarle’s, officials said.

City school officials said Thursday that Albemarle students would still be able to attend CATEC after the purchase.

Morse said Charlottesville City Schools’ purchase of CATEC hadn’t yet gone through, but it would.

The money is there, he said. City schools would, however, have to take on additional costs, such as the maintenance of facilities, that it previously split with county schools. It’s unclear where the money for that would come from.

When Albemarle originally announced it intended to buy the city’s interest in CATEC, Albemarle schools spokesman Phil Giaramita cited a need to modernize the facility.

“Our intent is to make things even stronger,” Giaramita told The Daily Progress in October.

The city school division has not made any promises about investing money into renovations.

“Our priority is maintaining access for students,” Amanda Korman, city schools spokeswoman, told The Daily Progress on Thursday.

When the county division had offered to purchase the center last year, city school officials expressed concern the county could alter schedules at the school and restrict city students’ access.

Those concerns were reiterated by numerous officials at the city school board meeting on Thursday night.

Korman added that renovations are not off the table.

“Investments in upgrades to the facilities will certainly be evaluated over time,” she said.

Giaramita did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Progress on Thursday night.


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