Fluvanna Review

The Fluvanna County school system couldn’t close out fiscal year 2014 without another $98,000 in supplemental funding from the Board of Supervisors.
Superintendent Gena Keller asked the Board Wednesday night (Oct. 15) to cover the shortage, explaining that the need is partially based on the school system’s switch from a cash basis of accounting to an accrual basis, which is the method the county’s finance department uses. Another reason for the shortage is a reduction in state funding due to Fluvanna’s drop in average daily membership (ADM) – a formula used by the state to determine the amount of money a school system will receive for the year.
After the meeting Keller explained that ultimately losses in revenue, especially in federal money, caused the school system to come up short. The situation could have been much worse, she said – more to the tune of $600,000 – if her staff hadn’t kept an eye on federal and state funding and realized it was likely to be less than anticipated.
“It’s not really a savings, but actually we didn’t spend $500,000 that we were authorized to spend,” Keller said, citing cuts in supplies, professional development, and delayed personnel replacements. “I’m not proud of these [cuts] but we had to cut back.”
Official counts show 69 fewer students enrolled in Fluvanna County Public Schools this year as compared to last year, said School Director of Finance Ed Breslauer.
“We didn’t have this [ADM funding] problem before when we were growing,” Chairperson Mozell Booker noted, “but now that we’re levelling off and these students are leaving…it’s harder.”
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 Technology teacher Amee Cantagallo, instructing students Caleb Beckley, Addison Parr, Ahmad Woodson, Nathan Lehman, Jake Henderson and Joshua Shiner. Photo courtesy of The Light AcademyA new, private Christian school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade has opened its doors in Fluvanna County.
The Light Academy, located in Centre Court next to the Dogwood Restaurant, currently has 17 students enrolled in its hands-on curriculum.
Joyce Parr, the school’s founder and principal, called the school’s instruction “project-based,” noting that “students feel better when they are up and moving around.”
There’s a place for paper and pencil, she said, “but we want to use strategies for all the learning modalities – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.” So students who learn best by seeing, hearing, or touching will all have lessons tailored to their needs.
In addition to regular academics, the school offers art, music, French, technology, and weekly swimming sessions at Health Nutz Fitness and Aquatic Center.
The Light Academy is also a homeschool cooperative for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. “We believe in sharing our resources with homeschool parents,” Parr said, “so we offer for them to participate in our enrichment classes. A lot of them drive to town, so we’re just trying to bring some activities out here.”
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Photo by Tricia JohnsonThe Rivanna and its tributaries which flow through Fluvanna are in poor shape but slowly improving, according to a report from StreamWatch, a non-profit organization which monitors the water quality of the river and streams in its watershed.
Almost half of the sampling sites in Fluvanna County both on the river and along the streams that feed it failed to meet the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) standards for aquatic life.
StreamWatch released its report, “The Biological Health of Streams and Rivers of the Rivanna River Watershed,” in June of 2014.
“Water quality and stream health are vital community interests,” reads the report. “The Rivanna River itself is a heavily used waterway, providing drinking water to many thousands of Central Virginia residents while also receiving stormwater runoff and treated wastewater.”
Data collected from 2011-2013 is compared with information going back to 2003 to illustrate both the current state of the watershed and historical trends.
Sites rated as “fair” or worse fail state standards; of 11 sampling sites in Fluvanna, five rated “fair”, five “good”, and one “very good.” Two of the sampling sites have improved since the last sampling period. While the statistics in Fluvanna County are better than those for the entire watershed, there is concern about the sites that received a “fair” assessment. “Many of the streams rated in ‘fair’ condition are located in rural or sparsely developed areas. Previous studies by StreamWatch and others suggest that some ‘fair’ streams can recover good health with modest changes in management practices,” the report stated.
StreamWatch relies heavily on volunteers – “citizen scientists” – to help assess the sites along the Rivanna River watershed. Groups of volunteers use a fine-mesh net to seine aquatic insects, and then identify and count these insects as indicators of the quality of the site.
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In order to promote all the positives about life in Fluvanna, members of the community have joined with county officials in launching a Market Fluvanna campaign. As a part of this effort, several leaders of non-profit organizations and people-oriented services agreed to answer questions about their county.
Bertha Armstrong, Director of Rural Outreach for MACAA
What is MACAA?

Authorized by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1965, Monticello Area Community Action Agency’s (MACAA) goal is to improve people’s lives by helping them become self-reliant. MACAA achieves this through a variety of programs and skill-development initiatives that serve families and individuals in poverty.
What positives do you see in Fluvanna through your work with MACAA?
Families are able to restore their hopes and spirits by being able to get some relief in crisis situations. We have many resources to offer families. Our resources include rural outreach, which does crisis intervention; Head Start, which promotes early childhood development; Steps to Success, which teaches families financial management; Project Discovery, which promotes academic achievement; Hope House, which provides housing for the homeless or families in danger of homelessness; the emergency food pantry; and thrift shop.
What troubles you about Fluvanna?
Though Fluvanna is a wonderful place to live, I do not feel we have enough economic growth in the county. When our children graduate from high school they have to leave the county for employment. I feel that there is not enough local recreational entertainment for our families. Some of our children or adults never have the opportunity to do things like roller skating or just walking the mall in town. Transportation to local games or to the library is also an issue. But I do feel that the leaders of this county look at the possibility of county growth.
Emily Daidone, Manager of Community Centers and Home Delivered Meal Programs for JABA
What is JABA?

The Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) is committed to promoting, establishing and preserving sustainable communities for healthy aging. We offer a continuum of caring through the provision of programs and services that meet individuals where they are and guide all through the journey of aging with a focus on person-centered care.
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Newlyweds Clay Hysell and Brent Jacques. Photos by Tricia JohnsonClay Hysell and Brent Jacques have lived together on a small farm just outside Palmyra for the past 14 years. Last week, the two men made Fluvanna history when they became the first gay couple to be married in the county, taking advantage of the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in Virginia.
Judge Claude V. Worrell married Hysell and Jacques on Oct. 8 in a civil ceremony in the courthouse in Palmyra. Besides the couple and the judge, two witnesses – a clerk and a deputy – attended the bare-bones, brief ceremony.
Hysell and Jacques stood with Worrell before the bench under the great seal of Virginia, in a court room where the laws of the Commonwealth are interpreted and made real by their application to human lives. It seemed fitting that the county’s first gay marriage ceremony – the application of the state’s newest marriage law - happened there.
The judge had the two men clasp right hands, and then read a simple service.
“Clay and Brent, I ask that you both remember to treat yourself and each other with dignity and respect; to remind yourself often of what brought you together today. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness, and kindness that your marriage deserves. When frustration and difficulty assail your marriage – as these do to every relationship at one time or another – focus on what still seems right between you, not only the part that seems wrong. This way, when clouds of trouble hide the sun in your lives and you lose sight of it for a moment, you can remember that the sun is still there. And if each of you will take responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”
The men took their vows, exchanged rings, and kissed. In this simple ceremony, rich in both sentiment and significance, history was made in Fluvanna County.
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