Thanks for joining us in thinking about what real equity can look like in Charlottesville.
Here are some answers to questions I get asked most frequently:
Q: On your website, the first item you have is “Re-draw school attendance zones to create schools that are more diverse, both racially and socio-economically.” My question is what specific changes to the attendance zones are you proposing? The Westhaven to Venable change is the only one I’ve heard specifically, through that would presumably necessitate moving some other area to Greenbriar.
A: Yes, Westhaven is a starting place. The elementary school zones remind me a of a gerrymandered map so I wanted to start with the particular areas affected. Westhaven stands out because I know there have been rumblings by parents who want their children to go to Venable since it is close and walkable and because it was mentioned in the NYT article. The next step involves talking to families around the boundary lines to see what they would like to see happen. I’ve talked with several teachers and administrators who think the lines should be redrawn. I’ll be working on specifics and talking to the families in those areas so that we have a clear place to start the discussion.
Q:Cville schools has a huge opportunity to increase the capacity and quality of the CLASS afterschool program while getting more funds through the program through the pricing structure. The CLASS afterschool program is in high demand in a city with many dual working parent families, yet the top pricing tier for the program is for families with household income of $85K and above. If we look at the household income distribution of Charlottesville, we can see that roughly 40% of households in the city exceed this income tier, meaning the top 40% of all households would pay THE SAME for the after school care program. They would be willing to pay more. How do we know? The waitlists for every single school's after school program is long at the beginning of the year and I can testify that as a parent of a two-working parent household, there is no day as important on my calendar as the CLASS sign up day. We should add additional tiers to the CLASS tuition program and charge higher-income families more. They would happily be willing to pay more to have more access to CLASS (and avoid the dreaded waitlist), and the extra tuition income can be used to expand the size and the quality of the CLASS program, potentially bringing in more and higher quality enrichment programs to CLASS. This can be so helpful in increasing access equity to after-school enrichment programs for ALL households, as the CLASS program is priced on a sliding scale. Is this something the school board can help encourage? If so, can you please explore this as an opportunity? I've had many conversations with working moms in Charlottesville and they all seem to love this idea.
A:This is a great idea! I’ve heard from lots of parents about the need to expand the class program. I would fully support updating the tuition at the highest tier to help expand the program.
Q:Did you advocate for a bigger police presence in schools?
A: I initially asked for temporary officers while we remained in the national spotlight because I felt that we were a target for white supremacists. When someone threatened to shoot up our schools, my gut reaction was to make sure someone was watching the door. Since officers were already in the middle and high schools, I wanted to make sure that we looked at how officers interact with and treat students. I don't think officers should ever be involved in discipline, that is why I addressed it in my proposal at the time.
Lastly, I was told by Dr. Atkins that temporary officers were not an option, so I asked if there could be a perm officer shared between the elementary schools. I just wanted someone watching the door (the same way they would if a threat was called in). In an effort to build community I suggested the officers could help with morning drop-offs/traffic.
Q: Why is it not in your platform now?
A: There was no support from the council or school board for temporary officers, or a larger discussion about whether officers should be in schools.
My suggestions included:
a special training program for officers in schools
a directive to ensure officers are not involved in student discipline
give hiring approval of officers to school principals
After the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas School Shooting, the CCS Administration placed a safety officer in the elementary schools, but none of my suggestions were used. There was no update to the Memo of Understanding between the CCS and the Police Department which was last signed in 2016.
I wanted to have a discussion about how to address safety at the local level because, as it stands now, there is no help coming from the national or state level.
Updating the Memo of Understanding is in my platform. I am tired of waiting for help to come from somewhere outside of our community, and I’m working to find solutions within our community. We may not agree on everything, but let’s hash it out, and then let’s do the work.