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Charlottesville School Leaders Address Achievement Disparities at Community Forum

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School administrators are working to close the achievement gap School administrators are working to close the achievement gap
Adam Hastings, the principal of Walker Upper Elementary School Adam Hastings, the principal of Walker Upper Elementary School
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Charlottesville school leaders are continuing to work on next steps in their push for equity across the public school system.

On Tuesday, November 27, the school division hosted a community forum to go over all the feedback it’s received from the community.

Tuesday night’s forum was a chance for people to learn about which steps the school division plans to take next in order to address the achievement gap that’s been examined in Charlottesville schools.

"There’s a lot of separation between everybody, and it really feels like there are two different schools,” Althea Laughon-Worrell, a student at Charlottesville High School, said.

The school board is working to address one of the largest achievement gaps in the country.

“It’s clear that we have people in our community who, over the decades, haven't been served as well by education and by our community as they could,” said Walker Upper Elementary School Principal Adam Hastings.

Charlottesville City Schools are continuing to address inequity within the school division following a recent ProPublica article.

"It’s crucial that people take a look and accept the fact that there are inequities and there are disparities and I think people within the community need to be doing some self-reflection,” Lisa Torres, a school board member, said.

Tuesday's conversation was a continuation of a series of community forums that aim to get feedback from the public on how to close the racial academic divide.

"I think it really gives us an obligation as we take input from community members - we have to do something with it,” Hastings said.

Some of the improvements the community wants to see include hiring more teachers of color and promoting more diversity within the classroom.

“We'll be looking at programs, programmatic changes if possible,” Torres said. “Trying to, I think, as we roll into the budget looking at how we can to support the programs that have been working."

Some say they would like to see more concrete ideas from school leaders.

"I’m happy they're asking the community and they're trying to do something, but, as I said before, them having, ‘how do we go to the next step, when are we going to be seeing the next step?’ Is that going to happen this year, is that going to happen next year? When is this actually going to happen?" Laughon-Worrell said.

Others say these tough conversations are a step in the right direction.

"Any opportunity we have to make life better in Charlottesville through education is a worthwhile conversation for us to take,” Hastings said.

The school division has a website with more information on equity within the school system.

The Charlottesville school board will discuss the topic more at its next meeting on Thursday, December 6th.