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Albemarle County School Board Makes Changes to be More Accessible to Public

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School board meeting on Thursday, January 10 School board meeting on Thursday, January 10
Jonno Alcaro, the school board's new chair Jonno Alcaro, the school board's new chair
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A new year is bringing in some changes to the Albemarle County School Board.

The board will continue to address racism in the school division, but this time under new leadership.

On Thursday, January 10, school board member Steve Koleszar announced he won't be seeking re-election after sitting on the board for nearly two decades. However, the newly elected chair says his departure isn't going to slow down the mission of addressing racism in the school division.

“We're trying to get back to a sense of normalcy,” Jonno Alcaro, the new school board chair, said.

Thursday night’s meeting was its first of the year, and the board started the night off by holding public comment earlier than usual.

Members hope this change makes the board more accessible to the public.

“After some events in August of last year, we had to make some changes because we wanted to make sure we got all of our work in first and then have public comment,” Alcaro said. “And now, it’s kind of gotten back to normal and so we'd like to get it back to normal as well."

The board decided to move the public comment portion of its meetings following multiple arrests made outside its meeting on August 30, 2018.

Alcaro, who was elected chair of the board Thursday night, says he hopes the change will allow for more input from students.

“The more students we hear from directly, the more we learn because that's where a lot of the best ideas come from,” Alcaro said.

The board also discussed plans to work on its proposed anti-racism policy, which some members of the community say doesn't do enough to address Confederate imagery in the school division.

“I am still not understanding why racist imagery wasn't even discussed in that policy or even brought up in a discussion like it doesn't exist,” Andrea Massey, who lives in Charlottesville, said.

Alcaro says the board wants to make sure the anti-racism policy meets the needs of everyone in the county before it’s passed.

"It’s moving along,” Alcaro said. “It’s speed, not haste, and so we've gone about it in a very systematic fashion."

The board says it will continue to work with students on writing the anti-racism policy and hopes to pass it sometime within the next couple of months.