Central, West Central schools to consolidate

Won’t Result in Changes for Students, Staff

By Heather Michon

Change was a theme of the evening for the Fluvanna County School Board during its meeting on Thursday (July 14).

First, the board was introduced to two new assistant principals – both with deep Fluco roots.

Stacey Holland, who has been working as school counselor for the last several years, will become the assistant principal at Fluvanna County High School. Hannah Collins, a veteran of the Fairfax County school system, will take the assistant post at Fluvanna Middle School.

Both are Fluvanna County natives and FCHS graduates. Don Stribling, executive director for Human Resources, said this gives both women an understanding of the Fluco philosophy and mission.  

“They say the best journey takes you home,” said Collins, who added that her children are happy to be moving close to their grandparents and Fluvanna cousins.


The major issue on the agenda for the meeting was how to deal with Central and West Central schools in light of a new mandate handed down by the state.

In June, the General Assembly approved a change to the Standards of Quality (SOQ) requiring every elementary school to have its own full-time principal.

Fluvanna County technically has two elementary schools: West Central for pre-K and kindergarten, and Central for Grades 1-2. When the principal for Central resigned in 2016, the school system decided to have one principal and one assistant principal handle both schools, which share a campus and facilities on Central Plains Road.

Under the revised SOQ, the board had to decide whether to add a new principal or formally consolidate the two schools into, simply, Central Elementary.

Consolidation was the clear choice for the board, which approved the motion by a vote of 5-0. 

In an email following the meeting, Superintendent Peter Gretz reassured the community that “for staff, families and students of those schools, nothing changes in the way you will experience the operation of the school. Mrs. Barnabei and Mrs. Smith will continue their excellent leadership of the school community, and the transition will be seamless.”

Several board members, however, expressed frustration that the state was requiring them to make an unnecessary administrative change.

Nor was it without financial ramifications. Had they elected to add a principal, the state would have provided $100,00 for salary and benefits. The way the new SOQ is structured, the decision to consolidate will remove $26,000 from the annual state funding package. 

Plus, if the board decides to add an additional assistant principal for Central somewhere down the road, it will have to come up with the $90,000 or so to fund a new position.

“State regulations have various and sundry impacts on the local levels and this is one of those occasions,” said Chair James Kelley. 

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