Schools

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Percentage of Fluvanna school-aged children not in public school lower than national average

One School Board candidate intimated students are leaving Fluvanna County Public Schools (FCPS) in droves.

Is that true?

Like most things, there are no simple answers.  Multiple factors go into a parent’s choice to homeschool or send a child to private school.

Six Fluvanna families agreed to tell their stories of why they don’t send their children to public schools. While each story is unique, most had two things in common: a dissatisfaction with their public school experience and a desire for more control over what their child learned and how it was taught.

Here are some facts:

FCPS are one of only 22 Virginia districts fully accredited four years in a row.

The FCPS on-time, overall graduation rate in 2017 was 97.4 percent, placing it fourth out of 132 districts. FCPS students categorized as disadvantaged graduated at 98.7 percent; black students graduated at 100 percent.
There are 169 Fluvanna school-aged students going to five private schools in Fluvanna: Fork Union Military Academy (FUMA), Effort Christian School, Open Door Christian School, The Light Academy and Saint Nicholas Learning Center.

There are 228 students who are homeschooled and 55 who have a religious exemption from attending public school.

All told, there are 452 school-aged children in Fluvanna who are either homeschooled or attend a private school in Fluvanna.

Nationally in 2016, 10 percent of school-aged children attended private schools and 3.4 percent were homeschooled – totaling 13.4 percent of children who don’t attend public schools. That’s according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Add a comment

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Libbey Hartung and Drew WrightHomecoming took over Fluvanna County High School (FCHS) Oct. 16-20 as Flucos prepared for their Homecoming game against Albemarle Oct. 20.

The Student Government Association created a Homecoming-themed spirit week, with days such as “home away from home” and “home run.” Although the sophomore class won a window-decorating competition, the senior class won the overall Spirit Week competition with 792 points.

The Homecoming parade on Oct. 20 featured some outstanding floats as judged by the Fluvanna Education Foundation. The junior class won best class float, Future Farmers of America won best club float, and the Interact Club won best illuminated float.

After the parade, FCHS took on Albemarle in RJ Searcy Stadium. Albemarle proved to be a tough opponent, defeating the Flucos 35-6. Fans were excited to see fireworks shot off after the national anthem and throughout the game. The Homecoming court was announced at halftime with seniors Libbey Hartung and Drew Wright as Homecoming Queen and King.

Capping off the Homecoming weekend was the dance, which took place Oct. 21 in the cafeteria. With a theme of Hawaiian luau, the dance had one of the biggest turnouts in recent years and featured FCHS junior Matthew Snead as the DJ.

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( 4 Votes )

CandidatesThe Columbia District seat on the Fluvanna County School Board is up for grabs in the upcoming Nov. 7 election. Andrew Pullen and Linda Staiger are competing for the seat being vacated by Camilla Washington.

Pullen will appear on the ballot. Staiger’s candidacy was originally certified but Registrar Joyce Pace later discovered that Staiger had filed an incorrect financial form. Staiger then submitted the correct form but the State Board of Elections denied her appeal. She is running a write-in campaign.

In an effort to get to know the candidates, the Fluvanna Review asked the following questions.

Tell us about yourself: where you grew up, your education, your family and how long you’ve lived in Fluvanna.

Pullen: I grew up in Fluvanna and graduated from Fluvanna County High School in 2004. I have been a career fireman for 12 years. My wife Sarah and I live in Kents Store with our daughter Emmalyn. 

Staiger: My father was a Navy pilot so when I was little we moved around. When he retired, we finally settled down in beautiful Fluvanna. I was just starting high school and eventually graduated   from high school at Carysbrook. I went on to Virginia Tech for two years; then I worked and later went to the University of Virginia, where I paid my way and graduated cum laude. After I finished medical school at Eastern Virginia Medical School on loans and scholarships, I did training to become an orthopedic surgeon at the University of California in San Francisco. I moved back to Virginia in the mid ’90s to help my family. I practiced surgery in Farmville and then at the University of Virginia. I live on land from my family farm near the village of Palmyra.

What three words best describe you?  

Staiger: Compassionate, determined and problem solver.

Pullen: Passionate, determined and empathetic.

Before your candidacy, how many School Board meetings did you attend? 

Pullen: I’m not sure how many to be exact. I’ve been attending School Board and Board of Supervisors meetings for many years.

Staiger: None. Add a comment

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( 4 Votes )

When I wrote my homework column, called “Dear school system: Let my son be a child” (Sept. 21 issue), I had no idea that my deep-rooted questions regarding the impact of public school life on childhood would resonant so profoundly with my neighbors.

The column rocketed to the top of the Fluvanna Review’s Facebook statistics, eventually becoming the highest-performing post in the paper’s history. The overwhelming response was even more notable because the post was an opinion column, not a shocking news story. Clearly I had struck a chord.

But I also had no idea when I wrote my column that anyone would think I was impugning the teacher who assigned the homework in question. In fact, I went out of my way to ensure that I did not. I mentioned multiple times my own experience as a teacher, made sure I spoke about school systems as a whole rather than teachers, and included the following paragraph at the end of the column. It bears repeating.

As a former teacher, I am keenly aware of the pressure dynamic in education. School Boards and superintendents bear down on principals and teachers. But they, in turn, can be held hostage to state and federal regulations that can tie desperately-needed money to test results. Though there is much to celebrate in public school systems, there is much that needs to change.

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Elementary schoolsFormer Columbia school may become canine training facility

The former Cunningham Elementary School, vacant for four years, will again see students under its roof if an approved sale to The Light Academy, a Fluvanna-based private school, goes through.

The fate of the former Columbia Elementary School is less certain after the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision Wednesday night (Sept. 20) regarding whether to sell to a law enforcement canine training facility or to a couple seeking to develop affordable apartments.

Cunningham school

Supervisors unanimously approved the sale of the former Cunningham Elementary School near Kidds Store to The Light Academy, a private Christian school, for $118,750.

Currently The Light Academy is located in Centre Court, a shopping center outside Lake Monticello.

“Right now we play in a parking lot,” said Joyce Parr, director of The Light Academy, to supervisors. “While we have ample space, it would be ideal to have [additional] classrooms… It would be nice to expand to have some green space or grass to play in.”

Currently The Light Academy educates 50 students in kindergarten through 10th grade. Parr said she hopes the school will be able to expand through the 12th grade and add a preschool, since “everything seems to be over by the Lake” and she is unaware of any preschool options in the Cunningham section of Fluvanna County. Add a comment

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