A nonprofit leader and parent hopes to become the Scottsville district’s representative on the Albemarle County School Board.
Ellen Moore Osborne, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle, will formally launch her campaign at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in the second floor lobby of the County Office Building. Osborne said she wants to close the division’s achievement gap among students of color and those who are economically disadvantaged or have disabilities.
“I know that Albemarle County has been talking about the achievement gap forever,” she said. “But I’m wondering what would it look like if we really bore down on the issue … We’ve made some progress in terms of initiatives to address it, but we haven’t gone all-in on it.”
Osborne said she is familiar with the division’s various initiatives to close the gap, and she wants to be part of that movement. Her twin boys are juniors at Monticello High School.
“My kids have had great experiences in the Albemarle County school system,” she said. “ … It’s been really good for us, but I know that’s not the case for everybody.”
The School Board seat is open this year after Steve Koleszar decided not to seek re-election. He’s served on the School Board since 1996. Osborne is the only candidate so far to announce a campaign for the seat.
Osborne said she has an interest in serving the community in a broader capacity. Since 2011, she’s led the Literacy Volunteers, which provide tutoring in reading and writing, as well as English language instruction, to adults in the region.
“I’ve seen what it’s like for people who don’t get what they need from K-12,” she said.
Osborne said she’s interested in growing career and technical education in the division and the Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center.
“That’s a lot of what we do at Literacy Volunteers,” she said. “We help people get certifications and improve their skills, so they can move into jobs that pay living wages as opposed to being stuck in a minimum wage job. That’s something, professionally, that I’ve been working on with the adult population for the past five years.”
One of her sons also has attended CATEC and had a positive experience.
“I’m pretty impressed,” she said of CATEC. “ ... I want to be a part of something successful. It’s growing and I think it can grow more.”
As she gathered signatures, Osborne said she heard concerns about special education, access to the Extended Day Enrichment Program and the wait list for preschool.
“A lot of people are feeling like it’s very hard to get what their kid needs, not knowing who to call,” she said. “Sometimes I think that while there are a lot of programs and options, I’m figuring out that maybe not all the parents know what those options are and how to access those.”
Osborne considers herself a reasonably involved parent and has had a few in-person conversations with her sons’ guidance counselors about course options for them.
“If I hadn’t been in that guidance counselor’s office and pushed about what things were available, you know my kid would be stuck taking some class he’s not interested in. So how do we make these options more easily understood for parents?”
The initial campaigning has included getting to know more about other schools.
“I really hope to be an advocate for the southern end of the county,” she said.