Fluvanna schools most unusual start

By Ruthann Carr

With two days of virtual education under their belt, administrators reported the start to the new school year as being “very successful.”

Fluvanna School Superintendent Chuck Winkler thanked teachers and students for the adjustments they had to make so the virtual teaching/learning experience was positive.

However, not everyone described it that way during Wednesday’s (Sept. 9) School Board meeting.

During public comments, two parents decried virtual school for their children with learning differences.

Brian Alther said the virtual platform works well for one of his children, but not the other.

That the Board made the decision to forego the hybrid/partial in-person model just three weeks prior to the start of school made it worse.

“In my case you’ve fallen short and my kid is suffering,” he said

Jennifer Scopelliti said she attended several different schools growing up and didn’t know what “community was until I moved here. I am a true Fluco. Teachers are the true heroes – the teachers, administrators and staff. I’m here today because of you. The school board of our community has failed our children.”

Scopelliti said the Board’s decision wasn’t “about the safety of our children” when announcing where all the hotspots are in the county because it alerts every “pedophile and sex trafficker where our children will be, from what times and what location in the parking lot to best find them.”

Alther also said it was unfair that teachers have day care provided for their children.

“Teachers and administration are able to have their children taken care of for a mere fraction of what I would pay a worker to supervise my child… That seems unfair,” he said.

Winkler said teachers are charged $25 per week to have their child supervised in school.

Under the CARE’s Act, teachers deciding to stay home to care for a minor child would have to be paid full salary for two weeks and two-thirds of their salary for 10 weeks. Not only would the school pay their salary, but would have to hire a substitute teacher.

Winkler said it was a sound fiscal decision to offer child care for teachers.

The money the school receives from child care will be used to pay down the 2020 school year lunch debt of $28,000.

Winkler said during the next few weeks he and his staff will be trying to contact about 140 students who they “haven’t heard from.” It could be the students moved or are attending another school.

They will also be looking at what students’ needs aren’t being met by the virtual platform. Once they are identified, Winkler said he will determine how to best provide for them.

The Board decided to vote at the October meeting about whether to continue full virtual learning or to begin a hybrid schedule after Nov. 2.

The amount of local carryover funds from Fiscal Year 2020 is $1.38 million.

Winkler listed what needs the schools still have:

  • $150,000 – $200,000 for Abrams upgrades- bathrooms, windows, ADA accessibility;
  • $150,000 for technology – hot spots, Chrome Books and other hardware;
  • $100,000 – $200,000 for school buses;
  • $200,000 for PP contingent upon re-opening plans.

The Board voted 3-2 to ask the county for $750,000 of the carryover money. Board Chair Perry Johnson (Fork Union), Vice Chair Shirley Stewart (Rivanna) and James Kelley (Palmyra) voted for; Andrew Pullen (Columbia) and Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) voted against.

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