We have now arrived at the 332nd day of the year and have surpassed 90.9 percent of the year. There’s a small break from the holiday as November prepares to give way to December. There’s no time like now to begin experiencing this edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement, a newsletter and podcast that seeks to keep track of a lot of moving pieces and strives to explain the calculus. I’m Sean Tubbs, fully admitting a lack of mathematical knowledge but willing to learn.
On today’s program:
A veteran of the U.S. Navy and student at the University of Virginia School Law is seeking the Scottsville seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors
Ellen Osborne is seeking a second term to represent the Scottsville District on the School Board
Albemarle County Schools seek outside help to explain why achievement gaps remain persistent
A look at legislation already filed for the next General Assembly
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Today’s first shout-out: LEAP wants to help you prepare for winter
Crisp air and colorful leaves. Hot cocoa. Snow days. There are plenty of reasons to get excited about fall and winter, but the return of high heating bills isn't one of them. Your local energy nonprofit, LEAP, has been empowering Virginians with energy efficiency and solar solutions since 2010. With programs for all income levels, residents can access upgrades like insulation, LED bulbs, low-flow fixtures, and affordable rooftop solar systems. Visit www.leap-va.org to learn more, and fill out the LEAP Services Inquiry form to lower high heating bills and stay cozy this winter.
Pruitt announces candidacy for Scottsville seat on Albemarle Board
A small group gathered on the steps of the Albemarle County Office Building Saturday afternoon to support the first candidate to make a formal announcement to run for the Board of Supervisors.
“My name is Mike Pruitt, and I’m a Democrat running for the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to represent the Scottsville District,” said Mike Pruitt.
Pruitt grew up in a small town in Anderson County, South Carolina he said was about an hour away from a city where people could find work. A former mill had closed, leaving no major industry.
“As I got older, I realized that this wasn’t a place I could stay,” Pruitt said. “Decades of disinvestment meant that there were no opportunities and growing up in the 90’s as a kid lime me, I didn’t always feel the most welcome.”
Pruitt got a military scholarship and spent over ten years in the Navy including two combat tours of duty before taking a position as an analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence. He’s now a student at the University of Virginia School of Law.
“When I was preparing to end my military service, I think the thing I was really excited about was the opportunity to finally have a home so I took that decision seriously,” Pruitt said. “I never felt welcome where I grew up and all of the eight different places I lived while I was in the Navy, they never felt like they were there to last. Living in Albemarle has been my first chance at a real home.”
Pruitt said Albemarle is a prosperous place in a beautiful part of the world, but not everyone is sharing the same experience.
“The folks who actually work in our schools and our transit system and our police force often have to commute from Fluvanna, from Greene, from Nelson, from Waynesboro because they can’t afford to live here.” Pruitt said. “I had a good job and I saved for years and even I need two roommates to be barely able to make the payments on a townhouse here.”
Pruitt said development alone cannot bring down the cost of housing, and that governments need to continue to devote funding in this area.
“We need to actually deeply invest in affordability,” Pruitt said. “We need to invest in our non-profit partners and we need to fight for stronger inclusionary zoning and proffers. We need to then say, once we’ve done all that, we need to knock on the doors of Richmond and we need to say, that’s not enough, we still need better, stronger tools. We need tenant protection, mortgage assistance.”
Pruitt also said workforce development needs to do more to provide people with good-paying jobs that have a future. He also spent time at the Urban Institute where he helped create apprenticeship programs across the country.
“As tech continues to grow in the hub of Charlottesville, we need to make sure that they’re hiring database engineers, they’re hiring graphic designers, and security specialists from vocational and technical training programs right here in the county rather than trying to hire out of the Beltway in northern Virginia.”
Osborne to seek re-election to School Board
Pruitt was introduced by Ellen Osborne, the Samuel Miller representative on the School Board.
“Today I’m here to support Michael Pruitt in his run for Albemarle County Board Supervisors,” Pruitt said. “It helps when the School Board and the Board of Supervisors have a good working relationship.”
Osborne also took the opportunity to announce her reelection campaign.
“My motivation stays the same as it was in 2019,” Osborne said. “My children had an excellent experience in Albemarle County schools and I believe that should be the case for every child.”
Osborne said the first two and a half months of her term were in person before the CoVID-19 pandemic.
“And navigating the pandemic took a lot of our time and energy,” Osborne said. “Our plans got a little derailed so there’s still a lot to do.”
Osborne said there are two big things she wants the Board to do. One of them is to alleviate overcrowding in a school system that has nearly 14,000 students according to this year’s profile on the Department of Education website.
“I hope that by the end of my next term we’ll have a new elementary school in the southern feeder pattern and we’re still actively considering solutions for the high schools,” Osborne said.
Osborne said the school system is seeking a consultant to take a look at why achievement gaps continue to persist.
Pruitt also thanked Osborne.
“From the very first moment I met Ellen I think the thing that really struck me was that it’s very immediately clear the amount of compassion that drives her in this work and that that’s what motivates her to do this work and I’m so proud and honored to be able to run along side of [her,]”
There are also School Board elections in the Rivanna District, the White Hall District, and the at-large seat. Both the School Board and the Planning Commission have a seat that covers the entire county, unlike the Board of Supervisors.
Second shout-out: WTJU presents Unsilent Night
WTJU is pleased to host the third annual Charlottesville edition of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night,” a luminous soundscape played by the audience on mobile devices & bluetooth speakers as we walk through the streets of Charlottesville’s downtown. A group will convene at IX Art Park, 522 2nd Street SE and will then promenade along a carefully chosen route through downtown Charlottesville, creating a unique mobile sound sculpture which is different from every listener’s perspective. Advance registration is requested at WTJU.net/unsilent2022.
Albemarle County Schools seek consultant to study persistence of achievement gaps
Albemarle County Schools have issued a request for proposals for a firm to better understand why many students consistently remain behind. (view the RFP)
“Results for our students of color are not the same as other demographics groups,” reads the background for the request for proposals. This is what Ellen Osborne was referring to earlier in this newsletter.
The request cites data from the Spring 2022 Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) which shows that younger Black students require additional reading support than students who are not Black.
The consultants will be asked to:
Audit the school division’s practices to “ to better understand ACPS’s failure to end the predictive value of race in reading and math achievement, particularly in K-5 reading and math, as well as high school Algebra 1”
Conduct an analysis of the root causes of the achievement gap
Identification of best practices to “provide action steps for school and division level leaders to enact organizational improvement.”
The proposals are due on December 5.
2023 General Assembly bills so far include voting age change to 16
There are 44 days left until the 2023 session of the Virginia General Assembly begins, and this is a good time to begin looking to see what legislation has been pre-filed.
Delegate Tim Anderson has another Constitutional amendment to limit Virginia Senators to three terms and Delegates to six terms. (HJ458)
Another bill from Senator Bill DeSteph would require school libraries to have policies requiring parental consent before checking out any material that includes any sexual contact of any kind. Details of what that entails in SB787.
Finally for this rundown, Delegate Tony Wilt has filed a bill to repeal the requirement that the State Pollution Control Board implement a low-emissions and zero-emissions requirement for new vehicles after the year 2025. (HB1378)
Reading (and listening) material for a Monday
Very special lighting of the Lawn will unite the community after tragedy, Jane Kelly. UVA Today, November 22, 2022
State of Local Journalism, Dave McNair appears on WINA’s Charlottesville Right Now with Courteney Stuart, November 23, 2022
Virginia skill-game lawsuit pushed back again over disputed budget amendment, Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury, November 28, 2022
Opinion: Could Del. March oust Rep. Griffith? Can state Sen. Hudson beat Del. Deeds? Here’s what the math shows, Dwayne Yancey, Cardinal News, November 28, 2022
Housekeeping for #463
This is episode #463, which is a prime number. There will be another one of those in four installments, but at this point it is unclear when the #467 will be released. For the rest of the year, I will be producing perhaps one fewer newsletter each week as I plan ahead for 2023 and all I would like to have accomplished when we get to this point next year.
What does that entail? I wrote an update to Patreon subscribers yesterday that you can take a look at if you want to invest further in Town Crier Productions. Those who are both Patreon supporters and Substack supporters get shout-outs! For those who get those and are not using them yet, check your email.
No matter which way you pay, should you choose to do so, paid support goes a long way to fueling me to try to be as vigilant as I can be as the world spins around and around. If you pay through Substack, Ting will match your initial subscription. Either way, do consider Ting for high-speed Internet. If you sign up at this link and enter the promo code COMMUNITY, you’ll get:
A second month for free
A $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall
Now, back to what you were doing before you listened to this first ever installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement to come out on a November 28. No cards of acknowledgment are required.