Albemarle County Public Schools is expecting to have $1.2 million left over from a $35 million bond referendum that voters approved in 2016.
Most of the four major projects included in the referendum are nearly complete. Staff recommended that the School Board use the remaining funds to plan and purchase furniture for all first-grade classrooms. Board members will vote at a later meeting on how to allocate the funds, and the Board of Supervisors also would have to approve the request.
Thursday was the School Board’s first meeting of the year. Board members elected Jonno Alcaro, the at-large board member, as chairman and Graham Paige, from the Samuel Miller District, as vice chairman. In 2019, the board will continue to meet on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.
Steve Koleszar, who represents the Scottsville District, told board members that he’s not running for re-election this year after six terms. Koleszar has served on the board since 1996.
“Twenty-four years is a long time,” he said, adding that he was proud that the division’s drop-out rate has decreased under his tenure. In the 2016-17 school year, less than 1 percent of the division’s seventh-through-12th-graders dropped out, according to state data.
Koleszar said he wanted to stay on the board for a sixth term in order to select the next superintendent. He said he felt good about the selection of Superintendent Matt Haas.
“It’s time to pass the torch to a younger generation,” he said.
During his time on the board, Monticello High School was built. Koleszar said he was “really proud” of the school.
“It’s a bright shining light on the hill,” he said.
Alcaro, Haas and board member Kate Acuff thanked Koleszar for his service on the board.
“You are a real role model for how School Board members should interact with the community,” Acuff said.
Alcaro already has announced that he’s running for a second term. Jason Buyaki, who represents the Rivanna District, and Dave Oberg, who represents the White Hall District, have yet to announce whether they are running. School boards are nonpartisan and candidates run as independents.
Sheila Hoopmann, capital projects manager for the division, updated the School Board on the bond referendum. The division has made school security improvements to Scottsville and Baker-Butler elementary schools, Henley Middle School and Murray High School. The Henley project still is underway. Woodbrook Elementary School was renovated, expanded and modernized, a $16.3 million project that came in $500,000 under budget.
Several schools had different learning spaces modernized, which included renovation work at Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools and all middle schools, as well as furniture upgrades at Monticello and Murray high schools and all elementary schools.
That project is projected to be under budget by $700,000. Some modernization work still is planned for this summer.
Finally, work continues at Western Albemarle High School to expand and modernize science labs.
The board also discussed its next significant construction project — building a new high school student center. The School Board’s capital budget includes $4.9 million for design work and land acquisition for the 600-student high school center. Quinn Evans Architects, a Richmond-based firm, was selected to complete the design work, and four firms were interviewed.
The center is aimed at alleviating capacity issues at the division’s three comprehensive high schools. Currently, the division is piloting the center model at Albemarle Tech, which opened this school year.
The board will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday next week to hear Haas’s funding request for fiscal year 2020. The budget should be adopted by Feb. 5.