Supervisors Ponder School Board Budget

Schools Seeking $788,000 More Than Last Year

By Heather Michon

The Fluvanna County School Board presented its $18.8 million budget to the Board of Supervisors at a budget work session on Wednesday (Feb. 17).

They anticipate that the county will need to pay an estimated $788,000 more than the previous fiscal year.

Outgoing Superintendent Chuck Winkler outlined the budget, adopted by the school board at their Feb. 10 meeting. Increases over FY21 include $1 million in salary increases, the hiring of new reading and math specialists to help students regain ground lost to the pandemic closures, a remedial summer school program, and raises in substitute teacher pay to meet the increased state minimum wage. Federal and state funds will cover some — but not all — of the increases.

Winkler said he was hopeful all students would be back to five–day-a-week in-school instruction at the start of the next school year in August and noted that they are aggressively trying to get all teachers and staff fully vaccinated. But, he said, there was no guarantee. “We’re trying to build this airplane while we’re flying it right now,” he said.

Teacher salaries were a major focus of the School Board’s deliberations, where teachers routinely leave for better-paying positions in Charlottesville-Albemarle, and increasingly, Louisa.

School Board Chair Perrie Johnson told supervisors that, with the pandemic, “it is now more important than ever, I believe, that we recruit and retain excellent teachers, and that does take money.”

After a work session and dinner break, the supervisors reconvened for their regular meeting, where they heard two presentations on issues likely to come back before them in the coming weeks and months.


Public Works Director Calvin Hickman gave a presentation on the 1831 courthouse in Palmyra, arguing for the need to hire an architectural firm to conduct a Historic Structure Report to guide the county towards a long-term preservation plan for the building. This report would cost around $30,000.

“The building has been in use until just a few years ago,” said Hickman, recalling that he had once been called to jury duty in the cramped old courtroom. Since the new courthouse opened, the historic building has occasionally been utilized as temporary office space and for special events but has developed some noticeable structural issues that may cost $500,000 or more to address in coming years.

A Historic Structure Report, said Hickman, could help guide restoration efforts for the next 25 to 50 years.

While there was no official motion on the agenda, the majority of the supervisors signaled they would be in favor of the plan.


William Park of Pinnacle Construction & Development Corporation gave a presentation on a plan for affordable multifamily housing near the new roundabout at Rt. 53 and Lake Monticello Road.

Coves at Monticello would contain 124 units in five buildings clustered around a community center and a pool. The majority would be two-bedroom apartments, although they plan on offering 32 three-bedroom units.

Because this would be designed as “affordable workforce housing,” Park explained, residency would be open only to those earning 50-70% of the area median income of $93,900 and rents would be capped based on family income. While he didn’t have hard figures, he said this would work out to roughly $900-$1,500 per apartment.

“The federal government has shown [this area] in 2020 as a Difficult to Develop area, which I think further gives evidence that there is a problem, or a lack of affordable housing, in the area,” said Park.

He estimated that the development would cost around $21 million to build and would create 10 permanent jobs.

Park proposed a financial incentive or “performance agreement” with the county that would lock the real estate tax at a low rate for 15 years, then slowly increase to the full tax rate over a period of five years.

Several board members voiced concerns about the plan, including the increased burden on the school system from an influx of families with children and the loss of real estate tax revenue during that first 15 years, but did not dismiss the proposal outright. They asked Park to give them more information before taking any next steps.


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