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Virtual Public Meeting This Monday Will Provide Sutherland Community With Opportunity to Comment on School Name

DATE: May 6, 2020
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Virtual Public Meeting This Monday Will Provide Sutherland Community With Opportunity to Comment on School Name

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Members of the Sutherland Middle School community will have the opportunity this Monday evening, May 11, to offer their views about whether the name of their school should be changed.

A community advisory committee, appointed earlier this year and including parents, staff and other community representatives, will be conducting a virtual public meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be live-streamed at http://streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/player.htm?xml/publicmeeting.xml.

Monday’s discussion will focus on the results of a community-wide survey that was conducted in March. Respondents were asked to suggest whether the school name should reflect the school and community’s location, the historical and cultural character, or school division values. More than 400 people offered their opinions and suggested either retaining the school’s current name or a new name.

The majority of survey participants, 56 percent, said the school and community’s location should be the primary consideration in the name of the school. Another 26 percent opted for the school division’s values of excellence, young people, community, and respect. The historical and cultural character of the school and community was cited by 18 percent.

Full survey results, including the list of proposed names, are posted on the school division’s School Naming Review web page at https://www.k12albemarle.org/acps/division/school-naming-review/Pages/Sutherland-Middle-School.aspx.

Speakers on Monday evening will be asked to comment on the list of names from the survey or to offer new suggestions.

Following the virtual meeting, advisory committee members will narrow the list of names under consideration to 10, which will be the subject of a second public meeting on Thursday, May 28. Eventually, the committee will recommend three names to Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas. He will forward one name to the School Board for a final determination.

“I want to again express the appreciation of our school division to the community members who are serving on the advisory committee, especially as we work through the current public meeting restrictions in place to protect against the spread of COVID-19 illness,” said Jasmine Fernández, who is facilitating the work of the school community’s advisory committee.

“Every person on our committee has talked about the impressive level of interest we’ve seen in the Sutherland community through the online survey. We hope as many parents, students, staff and residents as possible will join us this Monday evening to be a part of this important process to decide the name of their school,” she added.

Those wishing to offer comments on Monday evening are asked to sign up prior to the meeting by emailing SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org. They will receive instructions on how to access the meeting as a speaker and will be called upon to speak in the order in which they have signed up. Each speaker will be provided with up to three minutes to complete their remarks.

The name of Sutherland Middle School is under community review in accordance with a new School Board policy that has led to a review of all 14 schools in the division which are named for individuals. Earlier this year, the first school to undergo a community review was Cale Elementary School, which will become Mountain View Elementary School on July 1. 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.

Mortimer Sutherland, for whom the school presently is named, was a teacher and later principal in the school division, retiring in 1946. Between 1954 and 1962, he served on the Albemarle County School Board and then the Board of Supervisors.

In the event the advisory committee selects the school’s current name as one of its three finalists, the committee will examine the criteria for any school named for an individual. This review will include determining if Sutherland made contributions that are of local, state, national, or world-wide significance and if his personal and professional conduct exemplify current school division values.

Sutherland’s community advisory committee was appointed on February 25 and held its first meeting on March 2.

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