Charlottesville City School Board Reviews Legislative Priorities

November 26, 2012

The Charlottesville City School Board met with Delegate David Toscano Monday morning to go over legislative issues they anticipate for the coming year. The board is making sure its legislators know where they stand on the hot-button issues regarding education.

Toscano said his main focus is money.

"I'm really concerned about the funding," said Toscano. "I want to try to increase the funding for K-12 education in the Commonwealth."

Toscano and the board worked their way through a list of legislative priorities for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session.

The list included the board's stance on whether or not homeschooled students should be able to participate in school sports programs.

"We don't think it's a good idea that parents who have made a decision not to send their child to a school can have their child go represent the school on the sports field when they don't have the same academic standards, they don't have the same discipline standards," said Charlottesville City School Board Chair Ned Michie.

Another hot topic, according to Michie, is virtual schools. City schools are working on expanding their offering of virtual classes, but their concern is the money.

The board opposes any legislation that would require funding to "follow the student" if he or she chooses to attend a virtual class in another school division.

"We think that's a bad idea for localities to have to send money to other localities based on a child's decision," Michie said.

The board also let it be known that it opposes merit pay based on test scores, but noted it supports "evidence-based, locally-developed differentiated compensation models in order to improve recruitment and retention of teachers, administrators and classified staff."

When it comes to charter schools, the board supports charter schools that are governed by local school boards but opposes legislation that would limit a local school board's authority over a charter school within the division.

Exact proposals won't be known until the new year, but Toscano has some predictions.

"I think you're going to see some proposals for more charter schools," Toscano said. "I think you're going to see some proposals that will perhaps lessen some of the mandates on school divisions."

Toscano said the General Assembly will consider a wide variety of bills in 2013, many of them in the education arena.

The General Assembly convenes on January 9.

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