Albemarle County School Board Seeks More CIP Funds from Supervisors

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Darah Bonham Darah Bonham
Kate Acuff Kate Acuff

The Albemarle County School Board is not budging in its request that the Board of Supervisors approve a $93 million capital budget for the next two years.

Right now, the supervisors have only approved $47 million.

Educators say if their request isn't funded, students will suffer.

"When you don’t have the opportunity to do some different things because you’re limited by space because of how a building was constructed in 1977, that’s a pretty big deal," said Western Albemarle High School Principal Darah Bonham.

Bonham said his students’ ability to collaborate and learn is being limited by outdated facilities.

“Some of the spaces that we have are just antiquated. Some of our square footage for rooms is actually below the state level in terms of what you would build for today," said the principal.

That's the same argument over at the other three county high schools – Murray, Albemarle, and Monticello.

"We are living with almost a decade of underfunding of capital since the great recession," Albemarle County School Board Chair Kate Acuff said.

The school board's five year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) includes modernizing all four high schools, but it's only been granted half of it's requested funds from the county.

“I don’t know if we'll be able to do the modernization," said Acuff. "Given that the average age of our core buildings is close to half a century, I think that would be an extraordinary unfortunate outcome."

This means some project cuts will have to be made, potentially to the size of the new high school student center or to the expansion plan for Scottsville Elementary School.

"We now have four classrooms of elementary school students in trailers, which is no way to go for a community that supports education," Acuff said.

Right now, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors is tied at a 3 to 3 vote on putting a $70 million amount on a voter referendum.

While that's still less money than the school board wants, Acuff believes taxpayers should get the chance to weigh in.

"I believe that since they can’t make that decision, they should let the community decide," said the chair.

Supervisor Chair Ann Malek says the Board will re-discuss funding the CIP at its meeting Wednesday, June 6. If supervisors agree to let voters decide, it would go to a referendum in November.

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