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School Board approves 4% raise, hears no input on Crozet redistricting

Employees in the Albemarle County school division will receive a 4% raise in March after the county school board on Thursday signed off on a budget amendment for the current fiscal year.

The amendment comes after the county’s Board of Supervisors amended its budget to allocate the school division an additional $10.3 million for the current year. The school division started the fiscal year with an operating budget of $211.25 million.

About $2.8 million of the new money will go toward raises while the rest will go toward one-time expenses. Those expenses include a $4.1 million transfer to the county’s capital improvement program, $1 million to replace classroom display technology and $1.5 million to purchase a human resources information system, among other items.

The general spending plan was presented to the school board last month and included hiring a substitute coordinator and 25 full-time substitutes to alleviate a shortage of substitutes. The school board decided Thursday to use existing funds for those positions and boost the daily pay for substitutes.

The changes will go into effect next month, said Clare Kaiser, the division’s assistant superintendent. Kaiser did not initially say what that new pay rate would be but later said substitutes would receive $140 a day, up from $97 a day. Charlottesville substitutes now make $140 a day following a board decision earlier this school year.

The board also held a public hearing on its plan to redistrict elementary schools near Crozet, including sending 219 Brownsville Elementary School students to Crozet Elementary School. No one spoke at the hearing, but community members have had chances to comment on the plans during previous meetings and in online surveys.

The redistricting proposal follows the board’s decision to expand the Crozet school to ease overcrowding at the nearby Brownsville Elementary.

The school board will vote on the redistricting plan at its Jan. 27 meeting. If approved, students will change schools next school year when a 28,000-square-foot expansion of Crozet Elementary is finished. The expansion would add about 340 seats to Crozet.

The students would come from several neighborhoods, including Grayrock, Waylands/Bargamin and the Western Ridge/Foothill Crossing/Wickham Pond neighborhoods of Crozet.

In previous redistricting decisions, the school board has allowed current fourth-graders and their siblings to remain at their current school for a year.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearby Brownsville Elementary had nearly 900 students while the building’s capacity was 764. At Crozet, enrollment was up to 360 students, 30 more than the building’s capacity.

This school year, Brownsville has 736 students while Crozet has 310, not including preschoolers. The redistricting proposal would leave room for future growth at both schools, which serve an area that’s projected to grow by 7,945 people over the next 25 years, according to division documents.

Based on student enrollment this school year, the division is projecting that Brownsville and Crozet will each have about 560 students, not including preschoolers. The pandemic has made long-term enrollment projections more difficult, officials have said.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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