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Albemarle County School Board Looks for Ways to Cover Funding Gap

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

The Albemarle County School Board is now trying to figure out how to finance high school renovations after it failed to get the full $96 million in county funding it wanted.

The school board held an end-of-the-school-year retreat on Friday, June 8, at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

The board discussed ways to improve the student experience and better prepare them for the working world. A large part of that requires updated infrastructure.

“It’s all about the student, everything should be focused on the student learning experience,” says Matthew Haas, the incoming superintendent.

The Albemarle County School Board is preparing for the future and looking for ways to improve methods by which students learn.

“The places and spaces where our students will work do not look like classrooms,” says Haas. “They look different from that, and so one of the things that we have to work on is how do we begin to shift our paradigm.”

Members of the school board say classrooms at all four county high schools are outdated.

“The old cells and bells setup of schools where the teacher was at the front and students were set up in rows like in this classroom, it really doesn't work anymore,” says Kate Acuff, the school board chair.

The school division also hopes to build a student learning center to accommodate 600 students and make it accessible to all Albemarle County high schoolers.

“Fundamentally, the student center's going to be flexible learning spaces that students from all over the county - high school students from all over the county - can utilize,” says Acuff.

To put this plan into action, the school board asked the county for a $96 million bond referendum on Wednesday, June 6. That request was denied because supervisors were concerned about a tax increase.

“We’re running into a bit of a roadblock because our funding request was cut in half and so we may well have to go back to the drawing boards on that,” says Acuff.

Now, the board is tasked with having to figure out how to make its original $47 million from the county work.

“I imagine at next week’s school board meeting we will have a discussion about what our next steps are,” says Acuff. “I know that the staff in the division have outlined several options.”

Acuff says the $47 million will barely cover the high school redesigns, but the board also hoped to renovate a number of elementary schools as well.

She says plans will become clearer after the school board’s meeting on Thursday, June 14.

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