November 1, 2007
Three school officials and two members of city council are visiting Charlottesville’s sister city Poggio a Caiano. They say the purpose of this trip is for the schools to potentially spark a student cultural exchange program.
“This trip costs us less than $5,000, actually it's only $4,800 for three people to go,” said Dr. Alvin Edwards, Chairman of the School Board.
“For the two city representatives it will cost less than $3,000,” explained David Brown, Charlottesville Mayor.
Those attending the trip include Superintendent Rosa Atkins, Associate Superintendent Gurtrude Ivory, and Dr. Alvin Edwards, from the city Mayor David Brown and Vice-Mayor Kendra Hamilton.
You may ask why you're paying for Hamilton to go if she isn't seeking council re-election and her last day serving the city is just a few months away.
“She established a lot of ties in Poggio when she went previously. When Poggio people came here she was involved with all the events and she has a real good relationship and I think a lot of insight that will be helpful,” Brown said.
The trip seems to be already starting on the wrong foot. Now some members of the school board have spoken out saying this cultural exchange is not a priority for Charlottesville schools and funding it is wrong.
The interim school board member Charles Kollmansperger says there are a lot of other areas they need to focus on right now, but Doctor Alvin Edwards says the potential exchange is in the school's strategic plan, although it doesn't directly say so.
“One of the things that came up in 2.54 and also 3.54 that talks one about increased collaboration with other school divisions the other one talks about considering partnerships outside organizations to expand extracurricular opportunities, so yes it is a part of our strategic plan,” explained Edwards.
Edwards added it would be irresponsible for city officials to establish an exchange program and send local children thousands of miles away from home without checking into the living situation first.
Edwards has offered to pay for his part of the trip which would bring the cost of the trip to around $3,200 for school officials.
As far as Hamilton’s trip, she says she asked other members of council if they wanted to go and they turned the opportunity down.
They are scheduled to leave next Wednesday and return the following Tuesday.