School board learns about free lunches, in-person schooling, graduation

By Heather Michon

Fluvanna County Public Schools (FCPS) will be able extend universal free lunch to all children through the 2021-2022 school year, Superintendent Chuck Winkler told the school board in his report on Wednesday (May 12).

He received formal notification of the program’s extension shortly before the meeting.

Under the program, children can receive nutritious breakfasts and lunches from the schools, even if they are not currently enrolled. It is open to any child age one to 18.

“If there is a hardship to parents, please let us know, and we will do everything we can to make sure your children are fed,” said Winkler.

2021-2022 SCHOOL PLANS

Plans are almost complete for the next school year. With an estimated 90 percent of FCPS staff now vaccinated and children aged 12 and up now eligible for the shots, it seems more likely that the school system will return to a full in-person five-day-a-week schedule.

Virginia schools have to make virtual instruction an option for the next academic year, and Winkler outlined some of the steps parents will have to take to apply for virtual programs early this summer. Parents with young children will have to meet with school staff to outline an education plan to keep early learners on track.

Winkler stressed that in-person education is best for the vast majority of students, but said “we’re going to try to be as flexible as possible.”


Standards of Learning (SOL) testing has begun, and will continue until the school year ends in June.

Graduation is scheduled for June 18 at 6 p.m. Winkler said they were limiting the number of tickets for each student to reduce crowding, but added this could change if the state changed indoor capacity limits.

Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement on Friday (May 14) that mask mandates were lifted for the vaccinated and most other restrictions would end on May 28 may allow greater attendance, but no formal decision by FCPS was announced at press time.


FCPS has received $2.8 million in additional federal funds, which could allow it to hire several new teachers, with the goal of reducing class size.

During their regular review of the current status of the budget, Winkler said he had anticipated this year was “going to be the most difficult budget year I ever worked with since I’ve been superintendent, or even assistant superintendent,” but instead it had “become the most fruitful one, because we’ve gotten so many different grants and support — and we planned early on for it to be catastrophic.”

Winkler will be retiring at the end of this school year, and told the board that the incoming superintendent, Peter Gretz, is being looped into discussions of the budget and all current programs and initiatives.

There were no major issues up for a vote during the meeting, which lasted about two hours. Chairperson Perrie Johnson (Fork Union), Shirley Stewart (Rivanna), and James Kelley (Palmyra) were in attendance. Andrew Pullen (Columbia) and Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham) were unable to attend.

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