Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) has partnered with VMDO Architects, a local architectural firm specializing in K-12 education, to conduct a Middle School Facilities Master Plan. The project will include a comprehensive study of the division’s middle schools with the goal of developing a 20-year master plan to address, improve and resolve capacity challenges and renovation needs. Throughout the project, which is now underway and will continue through the end of the 2023 calendar year, there will be multiple opportunities for students, families and staff to engage with and inform project work.
The first community engagement opportunity is this Wednesday, April 26, when the Office of Community Engagement will host a virtual Middle School Master Plan Community Information Session. The meeting, which will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Zoom, will include an overview of the project, a dynamic presentation, interactive discussion, small group breakout sessions, and multiple question-and-answer opportunities. Attendees will be able to share their opinions and priorities for the plan using their cell phone or any interactive device that can read a QR code.
Community members who would like to participate in the April 26 information session can join the meeting using the following link:
“We are looking forward to an exciting, interactive information session,” said Daphne Keiser, Assistant Superintendent for School Community Engagement and member of the Middle School Master Plan Steering Committee. “We encourage students, family members, teachers, and other staff to join us on Wednesday evening, to ask questions and share ideas! This is a stellar opportunity to learn about this important work and also to help shape the development of our middle schools of the future,” she said.
The school division includes five comprehensive middle schools, plus Community Lab School, which serves students in grades 6-12. While the division’s middle schools currently provide adequate space to serve its students, there are looming overcrowding issues at Henley Middle School in Crozet and at Journey Middle School on Lambs Lane in Charlottesville. The decision to move forward with a comprehensive study and development of a master plan is based on such factors as projected enrollment growth and the age and condition of the division’s middle school facilities.
“As part of their work to determine the best solutions for ensuring high-quality learning experiences as well as transformative and equitable resources for all, the project team will evaluate and consider several complicated issues,” said Chief Operating Officer Rosalyn Schmitt, who is also serving on the steering committee. “Our middle schools vary in age, size and condition; several of them serve multiple feeder patterns; and each of our middle school communities has unique needs,” she explained.
“While the end product of our work is a master plan that provides valuable direction over the course of the next 20 years, the plan also will produce immediate and short-term recommendations to address the challenges and unique needs facing our middle schools,” said Building Services Senior Project Planner and steering committee member Lisa Walker. “We’re looking forward to a productive partnership with VMDO Architects, who competed to lead our design team through a comprehensive Request for Proposals process,” she added.
Overseeing the study and master plan development will be a steering committee, a stakeholder committee, and a design team led by VMDO Architects. Joining Keiser, Schmitt, and Walker on the Middle School Master Plan Steering Committee are two middle school principals, Kasaundra Blount from Burley Middle School and Josh Walton from Walton Middle School; Director Lindsay Snoddy and Environmental Program Manager John Coles from Building Services; Eric Irizarry, Community Engagement’s Director of Equity, Family, School and Community Relations; Executive Director of Secondary Education, Jay Thomas; and Megan Maynard, Lead Coach for Career and Technical Education.
The steering committee anticipates finalizing the selection process for the stakeholder committee in May. The committee will seek participation from teachers, parents/guardians, and students from each of the division’s middle schools, as well as teachers and parents/guardians of students in grades 4 and 5 from each of the division’s three feeder patterns. A member of the Albemarle County School Board will serve on the committee, as well as representatives from ACPS departments and advisory committees and various County of Albemarle officials.
Community members can follow the progress of the project on the division’s Middle School Master Plan web page. Following the April 26 community information session, a recording of the meeting will be posted to the project web page as well as the division’s YouTube channel.
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Deputy Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer