Schools

( 3 Votes )

When I wrote my homework column, called “Dear school system: Let my son be a child” (Sept. 21 issue), I had no idea that my deep-rooted questions regarding the impact of public school life on childhood would resonant so profoundly with my neighbors.

The column rocketed to the top of the Fluvanna Review’s Facebook statistics, eventually becoming the highest-performing post in the paper’s history. The overwhelming response was even more notable because the post was an opinion column, not a shocking news story. Clearly I had struck a chord.

But I also had no idea when I wrote my column that anyone would think I was impugning the teacher who assigned the homework in question. In fact, I went out of my way to ensure that I did not. I mentioned multiple times my own experience as a teacher, made sure I spoke about school systems as a whole rather than teachers, and included the following paragraph at the end of the column. It bears repeating.

As a former teacher, I am keenly aware of the pressure dynamic in education. School Boards and superintendents bear down on principals and teachers. But they, in turn, can be held hostage to state and federal regulations that can tie desperately-needed money to test results. Though there is much to celebrate in public school systems, there is much that needs to change.

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( 0 Votes )

Elementary schoolsFormer Columbia school may become canine training facility

The former Cunningham Elementary School, vacant for four years, will again see students under its roof if an approved sale to The Light Academy, a Fluvanna-based private school, goes through.

The fate of the former Columbia Elementary School is less certain after the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors deferred a decision Wednesday night (Sept. 20) regarding whether to sell to a law enforcement canine training facility or to a couple seeking to develop affordable apartments.

Cunningham school

Supervisors unanimously approved the sale of the former Cunningham Elementary School near Kidds Store to The Light Academy, a private Christian school, for $118,750.

Currently The Light Academy is located in Centre Court, a shopping center outside Lake Monticello.

“Right now we play in a parking lot,” said Joyce Parr, director of The Light Academy, to supervisors. “While we have ample space, it would be ideal to have [additional] classrooms… It would be nice to expand to have some green space or grass to play in.”

Currently The Light Academy educates 50 students in kindergarten through 10th grade. Parr said she hopes the school will be able to expand through the 12th grade and add a preschool, since “everything seems to be over by the Lake” and she is unaware of any preschool options in the Cunningham section of Fluvanna County. Add a comment

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( 14 Votes )

Don’t get me wrong. I value education. I plead with my children to do their homework, to think about their future, and to deal with short-term pain (homework) for the sake of long-term gain (happiness through a successful life).

But sometimes I question the lengths to which our school systems go to make this happen.

When do kids get to be kids? Must they spend their childhood in a perpetual state of overscheduled goal-oriented activities? Experts warn us against this, but frankly, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to cut out of the schedule, especially when particular homework assignments come home. 

I am divorced so my kids split their time between my house and their father’s. Because of our work schedules and the fact that I am no longer a stay-at-home mom, the kids now spend most of their afternoons at day care after school. Monday is the only day that they can count on coming home on the school bus and being little kids the way they used to be.

So is it any wonder that, given their affinity for gluing themselves mindlessly to screen time, I let them use Monday afternoons to set out on their bicycles and explore the neighborhood with the children who live nearby? I could, of course, tell them that homework comes first, but by the time they’re done with their assignments their friends will be inside for dinner – and the one afternoon my children have in the week to whittle sticks with friends and throw rocks into the woods will be lost.

I don’t want to teach them that homework – and by extension, school – robs them of their one afternoon to play outside as normal kids. They need to value the education that school provides. But they also need to value time in the woods after school with friends, unencumbered by adult responsibilities.

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( 1 Vote )

Linda StaigerLinda Staiger’s name won’t be on the ballot for Columbia District School Board, the state electoral board decided Friday (Sept. 8).
Staiger said she will be running as a write-in candidate.

Her opponent, Andrew Pullen, began looking into specifics of Staiger’s candidacy immediately, he said.

Pullen filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Registrar Joyce Pace asking “for all of the candidate paperwork like any candidate should to see who signed petitions and for opposition research,” he wrote in an email Sept. 6 responding to whether he or someone in his campaign filed the FOIA.

Pullen wrote that he and others in his campaign heard rumors Staiger didn’t live in the Columbia District.

She does.

Staiger lives at 2949 Ridge Road and said she has since 2004. Add a comment

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( 1 Vote )

School busAll Fluvanna County school buses are now compliant with a safety standard that requires buses manufactured after a certain date to have an additional parking brake feature.

School buses with automatic transmissions do not have a park setting. In order to park, a bus driver puts the vehicle in neutral then engages the parking brake. But if the parking brake were to become accidentally disengaged – say, by someone tripping and falling against it – the bus could begin to roll.

“The issue was discovered when the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) transportation person was out in the field and was doing spot tests,” said Julie Grimes, VDOE communications manager.

A safety device called a brake interlock prevents this possibility. “On buses equipped with a brake interlock, it is not possible to release the parking brake without first depressing the brake pedal,” according to VDOE. Add a comment

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