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School Naming Reviews Moving Forward with Virtual Meetings

DATE: April 27, 2020
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

School Naming Reviews Moving Forward with Virtual Meetings; Advisory Committee Members Sought for Recommending New Charter School Name; Sutherland Advisory Committee Also Resumes This Week

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Earlier this year, at its February 27 meeting, the Albemarle County School Board approved a new concept—the merger of a middle and high school to form one new school. Now, the Board soon will be approving a name for the combined school.

Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, students from the current Community Public Charter School and Murray High School will attend the same school.

“Over the past year, our students, staff and parents have been discussing the advantages of coming together as one school. There is a great deal of excitement about the potential this will unlock, about the additional opportunities we will have to share resources, complement one another’s strengths, and work across grade levels,” said Chad Ratliff, who serves as the principal for both schools and will be the principal of the new school.

Evident from those discussions, Ratliff said, was the enthusiasm of his school community for the opportunity they will have to suggest a new school name.

Last month, this process began when the principal sent out a request for volunteers to serve on an advisory committee to recommend a new name. The public meeting health requirements put in place by Governor Ralph Northam to prevent the spread of COVID-19 paused this process.

Since then, a local Albemarle County continuity of government ordinance was approved, permitting public bodies to meet and conduct business online. Ratliff noted the success of the School Board’s recent use of Zoom to conduct its monthly meetings and said the same approach will be used by the charter school advisory committee to complete its research and deliberations.

Separately, a community advisory committee now reviewing the name of Sutherland Middle School will use the same online format to resume its work.

Those eligible to serve on the Murray advisory committee include teachers and staff, students and parents of current students, one parent from both an elementary and a middle school in the county, and two residents who do not currently have a child enrolled in either school. In accordance with School Board policy, the committee is required to reflect the diversity of Albemarle County and promote equity of voice and thought.

Following an organizational meeting, the committee’s next order of business will be to approve a community online survey to solicit school names. These names will be the subject of a community meeting. Based on the input from this meeting, the committee will choose 10 of these names to be the subject of a second public meeting that will invite comment about them. The committee will then send three names as finalists to Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas. Haas will make the final recommendation to the School Board for their approval.

Those interested in serving on the charter school advisory committee are asked to either send an email with their contact information, their relationship to the school, and their reason for wanting to serve to SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org or enter this same information on the School Name Review Google form at https://forms.gle/T9jEccP7jbd9oKCQ6.

“Selecting a new name for our school is a highly meaningful way for all of us to come together, to think deeply about the values and strengths and future of our school community, and to suggest a name that best reflects these qualities and our aspirations,” Ratliff said.

Following the same online meeting format, the Sutherland Community Advisory Committee will resume their deliberations on the school’s current name and possible alternatives. The committee was appointed on February 25 and held their first meeting on March 2.

A community survey to gather suggested names for the school was completed and a public meeting seeking comments on those names was scheduled for March 25. The health requirements ordered by the governor led to the postponement of that meeting.

Questions about the naming process for either the charter school or Sutherland can be emailed to SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org. Information about the School Board’s policy on the naming or renaming of schools and the status of all reviews can be accessed on the school division’s School Naming Review website at https://www.k12albemarle.org/acps/division/school-naming-review/Pages/default.aspx.

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