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Local Government, Civic Affairs and Education

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A new report by the Virginia State Board of Education says there remains a persistent achievement gap for certain student groups and the state faces a growing shortage of high-quality teachers. The report was officially presented to lawmakers and Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday, and it calls for elected officials to rethink how schools are funded. The report says the increasing reliance on local funds versus state money to pay for public schools is “inherently inequitable.” The report said Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in the country but has a “regressive” system deprives high-poverty school systems of adequate money. The report also highlighted declines in reading proficiency by Virginia students on a national test compared to two years ago.

(from Downtown Lynchburg Association) Deck the Hills, Downtown Lynchburg Association’s November 30th event, has been canceled due to forecasted rain. A smaller tree lighting ceremony will still take place from on Sunday, December 1st from 5pm-6:30pm at the Craddock Terry Hotel. Changes to the event include:  Cancellation of performances from the Jefferson Forest Cavalier Theatre, Heritage High School Marching Band, Kuumba Dance Ensemble, The Red Shoes, and Jiggy M.

·      Santa will be available for photos from 5pm-6:30pm but will no longer be reading stories.

·      Complimentary hot chocolate will be offered in addition to items for purchase from Shoemakers

·      The trolley will still run on Saturday, November 30 (for Small Business Saturday), and not Sunday, December 1

Stay tuned to the Downtown Lynchburg Association Facebook and Instagram page for updates.

Photo: UofL

The University of Lynchburg has named a Scottish-born woman as its next president. Alison Morrison-Shetlar was introduced this morning. She is currently Provost at Western Carolina University. She will succeed Kenneth Garren, who retires at the end of June. Morrison-Shetlar will be Lynchburg’s 11th president, and the first woman to hold the position.

NEWS RELEASE: LYNCHBURG, Va. — The University of Lynchburg has appointed Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar as its 11th president.

Her term will begin in July 2020 after the retirement of Dr. Kenneth R. Garren, who has served Lynchburg as president since 2001.

“Dr. Morrison-Shetlar is accomplished as both an educator and a leader in private and public higher education,” Nathaniel Marshall, chair of the Board of Trustees, said. “She has shown a commitment to quality teaching, research, and collaborative leadership. We are excited to work with her and to introduce her to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University in the coming year.”

In 2014, Morrison-Shetlar became the provost at Western Carolina University. While leading Western Carolina’s academic program through a time of expansion, she also served in other capacities — including 18 months as interim chancellor and nine months as interim vice chancellor for development and alumni engagement. Her accomplishments at Western Carolina include implementation of the NC Promise Tuition plan; development of innovative new academic programs; completion of a successful, comprehensive fundraising campaign; and management of the campus through a period of constant construction and growth in the student body.

She also has held leadership roles as dean of Elon College of Arts and Sciences at Elon University, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Central Florida, and director of faculty development at Georgia Southern University.

Morrison-Shetlar brings a wealth of international experience to the presidential post. A native of Scotland, Morrison-Shetlar earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry and a doctorate in biomedical science from Dundee College of Technology (now Abertay University). She was the founding chair of the molecular biology unit at the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund, Germany, and a teacher-scholar at Bochum University in Bochum, Germany, and at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London.

She will be the first woman and the first person born outside the United States to serve as president of the University of Lynchburg.

“I was drawn to presidency at the University of Lynchburg because I believe in the values of the University and the excellence of the students, faculty, and staff,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “The University of Lynchburg prepares students to be engaged, contributing citizens who embrace diversity and inclusive excellence. There is a deep commitment to community engagement and developing leadership potential for the growth and enrichment of all. These characteristics mirror my own passion for making a difference in the lives of others, and they are why I wish to become part of the University of Lynchburg family.

“I am honored to have been selected to be the University of Lynchburg’s 11th president and will work with passion, enthusiasm, respect, and humor to ensure the success of the mission, vision, and goals of the University.”

She said students she met at Lynchburg tipped the scales for her.

“It was the students that I met while walking around campus, who didn’t know who I was or why I was there, and who were eager to tell me how much they loved being at this University and how much they appreciated the support of the faculty and staff,” Morrison-Shetlar said. “They expressed to me the difference that experiential learning opportunities made in their education and choice of career, graduate or professional school, and it was the students that let me know that I was going to become a part of a vibrant University community. The students are the reason that we do what we do — their success is our success!”

The presidential search was launched in 2018 after Garren announced his upcoming retirement. Partnering with the search firm WittKieffer, the University asked students, faculty, staff, and alumni to share their thoughts on the profile for the 11th president. More than 100 candidates applied for the position.

“The Presidential Search Committee reviewed many highly qualified candidates, but, ultimately, we believe that Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar’s qualifications match the University’s needs perfectly,” said Dr. Kathryn M. Pumphrey, a trustee and lead co-chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “Dr. Morrison-Shetlar brings with her a diverse skill set which includes collaborative leadership, a strong academic background, fundraising acumen, and a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing higher education today.”

Morrison-Shetlar’s tenure comes after an ambitious period of growth. During Garren’s 19-year service as president, the institution increased the number of graduate programs offered and grew its graduate student population more than fourfold. It built or renovated facilities including Schewel Hall, the Graduate Health Sciences building, Drysdale Student Center, on-campus townhomes, and the newly minted Westover Hall, a nearly 90,000 square-foot residence hall with student housing and academic space. Lynchburg sports teams have won about 90 conference championships during Garren’s tenure, as student-athletes continue to excel in academics as well. A new general education program was implemented in 2019.

In 2018, Lynchburg College changed its name to University of Lynchburg to reflect its growth and the breadth, depth, and quality of its academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Future plans include renovations and expansions of science classrooms and research facilities, as well as athletics facilities.

Holy Cross Regional Catholic School will close at the end of the current school year. The Richmond Catholic Diocese says it is the result of declining enrollment – down by more than 60% in the last 18 years. Holy Cross opened in 1879.

NEWS RELEASE: (RICHMOND, VA) – Today, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s Office of Catholic Schools announced that Holy Cross Regional Catholic School in Lynchburg will permanently cease operations at the end of the 2019-2020 school year in June.

“More than ever, we want our schools to flourish as they form and nurture our young people in the Catholic faith,” said the Most Rev. Barry C. Knestout, bishop of Richmond. “It is with sadness that we announce the closure of a Catholic school that has been part of our diocese for 140 years. I want to express my gratitude to the many teachers, staff, administrators and families for your service and dedication to Holy Cross and the support you have given and provided to the students. Please keep the Holy Cross Catholic School community in your prayers during this time.”

For the last 17 years, Holy Cross Regional Catholic School’s enrollment has declined by 61 percent between the 2001/02 academic year compared to the 2019/20 academic year. The decreased enrollment has resulted in increased financial challenges.

“This announcement is painful for our Holy Cross Catholic School students, families, faculty, staff and alumni. We realize the impact this will have on them,” said Kelly M. Lazzara, superintendent, Office of Catholic Schools. “We will do all we can to support our families by offering them access to resources to assist during this period of transition. Additionally, we will work with our students so that anyone who wants to continue their Catholic education will be welcomed at one of our neighboring schools.”

According to the National Catholic Education Association’s (NCEA) annual report, enrollment decreased 18 percent nationally for Catholic schools in the last decade compared to a 12 percent decline experienced by Catholic schools in the Richmond Diocese during the same time period.

“The closing of a Catholic school is a decision that is not taken lightly, and the determination was made only after numerous attempts were made in recent years to support the financial operations of the school,” said Chief Financial Officer Michael J. McGee.

Since 2012, the diocese offered guarantees so Holy Cross Catholic School could obtain over $3 million in low interest-rate loans to give the school time to implement strategies to grow enrollment and raise additional funds.

“In addition to the financial support provided by the parishes of the diocese, the McMahon-Parater Scholarship Foundation allocated additional needs-based financial aid to Holy Cross. Even with the allocation of additional funds, the school had annual operating losses ranging from $95,000 to $360,000 in each of the past five fiscal years,” said McGee. “Unfortunately, despite these significant efforts, the financial condition of the school continued to decline to the point that closing the school became unavoidable.”

Holy Cross Regional Catholic School has served the Lynchburg community with a Catholic education since 1879. It is one of six Catholic schools located in the Southwest region of the state.

In all, the Richmond Diocese has 30 Catholic schools serving more than 8,400 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The last time the diocese closed a school was Holy Trinity Catholic in Norfolk in 2010.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Republicans have canceled a meeting where they were to present GOP-backed proposals to curb gun violence.

State Sen. Mark Obenshain said Friday that he had canceled next week’s planned meeting of the state’s Crime Commission because of the results of Tuesday’s legislative elections.

Republicans tasked the commission earlier this year to come up with ideas on how to improve public safety in the wake of a mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam had instead wanted lawmakers to vote on gun-control measures during a special session.

Democrats ran aggressively on gun control in legislative elections and won majorities in both the state House and Senate on Tuesday.

Northam said he expects lawmakers to pass several gun-control bills next year.


NEWS RELEASE: Superintendent Crystal Edwards and E. C. Glass Principal Jeffrey Garrett will be holding a community meeting this evening at 5 p.m. in the E. C. Glass High School Civic Auditorium to share  updates and have a conversation with you about recent events in the community last week, which preceded the events that happened in the school causing concern about safety.

Thank you to all the students and families that alerted the administration to the perceived threat posted to social media. LCS administration sent a message out to all E. C. Glass families and staff to raise awareness to the situation.  The Lynchburg Police Department investigated and was not able to verify that there was a credible threat to E. C. Glass or any Lynchburg City School.

Be assured though, that LCS takes all threats seriously. We also understand the social media posting created concerns among parents, students, and staff. We know that many parents made the decision to keep their students at home based on their concerns. We also want you to know, and understand, that we care very much about your children. Our teachers, staff, principals, and SROs care!  While many students were absent (absences will be excused) our staff was here at school for our students.

Please join us this evening for this community meeting at 5 p.m. in the E. C. Glass High School Civic Auditorium . Also in attendance will be members of the Lynchburg Police Department and other community organizations who support our schools.


Some schools in Lynchburg, Bedford County and Campbell County are among those in line for new Virginia school security equipment grants. Governor Northam today awarded $6 million in grants to 340 schools in 70 school divisions. The goal is to better protect students and teachers.

A full list of area schools included in the grant can be found toward the bottom of this news release:

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today awarded $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants to help protect students and teachers in 340 schools in 70 school divisions. The grants will pay for video monitoring systems, voice and video internal communications systems, mass notification systems, visitor-identification systems, access control systems, two-way radios, security vestibules, and other security upgrades.

“Virginia’s public schools must be safe learning environments where our children can grow, thrive, and prepare for a lifetime of achievement,” said Governor Northam. “That’s why I asked the 2019 General Assembly to more than double the maximum grant allowed for each school division, and worked with state lawmakers to double the total annual appropriation for this critical program. This funding represents an important investment in the safety and security of our students and teachers in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

The criteria for making the awards — developed by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services — give priority to schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades. This year — at the recommendation of Governor Northam’s Student Safety Workgroup — additional weight was given to applications from elementary schools.

“The Commonwealth’s most precious resource is our children,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “These school security grants allow schools to implement innovative technology which will help protect Virginia’s students every day.”

The maximum annual award for a school division is now $250,000, compared with $100,000 previously. Next year, the total annual appropriation for the program will double, from $6 million, to $12 million.

“On behalf of my colleagues in schools across the commonwealth, I thank Governor Northam and the General Assembly for their leadership in providing our schools with additional resources to protect students and teachers from potential threats, and to respond effectively to emergency situations,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane. “In many cases, the School Security Equipment Grant Program provides funds for divisions and schools to address specific vulnerabilities identified during annual school security audits.”

The divisions awarded school security equipment grants are as follows:

  • Albemarle County — $27,777 for Mary Carr Greer Elementary
  • Alleghany County — $164,415 for Alleghany High and Sharon Elementary
  • Arlington County — $6,100 for Taylor Elementary
  • Augusta County — $117,075 for Riverheads High, Stuarts Draft High, and Wilson Memorial High
  • Bedford County — $38,906 for Bedford Elementary, Big Island Elementary, Otter River Elementary, and Staunton River High
  • Bristol — $83,961 for Joseph Van Pelt Elementary
  • Brunswick County — $25,866 for Red Oak-Sturgeon Elementary
  • Buena Vista — $100,633 for Enderly Heights Elementary, F.W. Kling Jr. Elementary, and Parry McCluer Middle
  • Campbell County — $35,145 for Altavista Elementary, Leesville Road Elementary, and Rustburg Elementary
  • Carroll County — $4,325 for Oakland Elementary
  • Charles City County — $46,834 for Charles City County Elementary and Charles City County High
  • Charlotte County — $65,566 for Bacon District Elementary, Central Middle, Eureka Elementary, Phenix Elementary, and Randolph-Henry High
  • Charlottesville — $26,924 for Jackson-Via Elementary and Johnson Elementary
  • Chesapeake — $173,325 for Deep Creek High, Greenbrier Middle, and Hugo A. Owens Middle
  • Chesterfield County — $250,000 for Falling Creek Middle
  • Craig County — $50,400 for McCleary Elementary
  • Culpeper County — $66,558 for Farmington Elementary, Pearl Sample Elementary, and Sycamore Park Elementary
  • Cumberland County — $58,067 for Cumberland Elementary
  • Danville — $16,637 for Grove Park Preschool
  • Dickenson County — $180,191 for Ervinton Elementary, Ridgeview High, and Ridgeview Middle
  • Dinwiddie County — $34,674 for Dinwiddie County Middle, Dinwiddie Elementary, Southside Elementary, and Sutherland Elementary
  • Fairfax County — $236,102 for Crestwood Elementary, Dogwood Elementary, Parklawn Elementary, Riverside Elementary, and Whitman Middle
  • Franklin County — $34,699 for Boones Mill Elementary and Sontag Elementary
  • Galax — $48,000 for Galax High and Galax Middle
  • Grayson County — $25,221 for Fairview Elementary and Independence Elementary
  • Greensville County — $57,156 for Edward W. Wyatt Middle, Greensville County High, and Greensville Elementary
  • Halifax County — $223,558 for Clays Mill Elementary, Cluster Springs Elementary, Halifax County High, Halifax County Middle, Meadville Elementary, Sinai Elementary, South Boston Elementary, and Sydnor Jennings Elementary
  • Hampton — $201,846 for A.W.E. Bassette Elementary, Aberdeen Elementary, Alfred S. Forrest Elementary, Armstrong Elementary, Barron Elementary, Benjamin Syms Middle, Booker Elementary, C. Alton Lindsay Middle, Captain John Smith Elementary, Cesar Tarrant Middle, Christopher C. Kraft Elementary, Francis Asbury Elementary, George P. Phenix Elementary, Hampton High, Hunter B. Andrews PreK-8, Jane H. Bryan Elementary, John B. Cary Elementary, John Tyler Elementary, Kecoughtan High, Luther W. Machen Elementary, Paul Burbank Elementary, Phillips Elementary, Phoebus High, Samuel P. Langley Elementary, Thomas Eaton Middle, Tucker-Capps Elementary, and William Mason Cooper Elementary
  • Hanover County — $4,942 for Beaverdam Elementary, Cold Harbor Elementary, and John M. Gandy Elementary
  • Harrisonburg — $11,132 for Thomas Harrison Middle
  • Henry County — $41,383 for Axton Elementary, Drewry Mason Elementary, Fieldale-Collinsville Middle, and Laurel Park Middle
  • Hopewell — $223,213 for Carter G. Woodson Middle, Dupont Elementary, Harry E. James Elementary, Hopewell High, Patrick Copeland Elementary, and Woodlawn Pre-School Learning Center
  • Isle of Wight County — $41,122 for Hardy Elementary and Westside Elementary
  • King and Queen County — $38,223 for Central High and Lawson-Marriott Elementary
  • Lee County — $88,071 for Dryden Elementary, Elydale Middle, Flatwoods Elementary, Pennington Middle, and St. Charles Elementary
  • Lunenburg County — $7,830 for Kenbridge Elementary, Lunenburg Middle, and Victoria Elementary
  • Lynchburg — $121,510 for Dearington Elementary/Innovation, Heritage Elementary, Robert S. Payne Elementary, Sandusky Middle, and William M. Bass Elementary
  • Madison County — $163,891 for Madison County High, Waverly Yowell Elementary, and William H. Wetsel Middle
  • Manassas City — $1,586 for Jennie Dean Elementary
  • Martinsville — $80,553 for Albert Harris Elementary, Martinsville High, Martinsville Middle, and Patrick Henry Elementary
  • Mathews County — $20,796 for Thomas Hunter Middle
  • Mecklenburg County — $80,763 for Chase City Elementary, LaCrosse Elementary, and Park View High
  • Montgomery County — $80,145 for Christiansburg Elementary, Christiansburg Primary, and Harding Avenue Elementary
  • Nelson County — $64,203 for Tye River Elementary
  • Newport News — $239,134 for B.C. Charles Elementary, Carver Elementary, David A. Dutrow Elementary, Deer Park Elementary, Denbigh Early Childhood Center, Discovery STEM Academy, General Stanford Elementary, George J. McIntosh Elementary, Hidenwood Elementary, Hilton Elementary, Horace H. Epes Elementary, John Marshall Early Childhood Center, Joseph H. Saunders Elementary, Kiln Creek Elementary, L.F. Palmer Elementary, Mary Passage Middle, Menchville High, Newsome Park Elementary, Oliver C. Greenwood Elementary, Point Option Alternative School, R.O. Nelson Elementary, Richard T. Yates Elementary, Riverside Elementary, Sedgefield Elementary, T. Ryland Sanford Elementary, Willis A. Jenkins Elementary, and Woodside High
  • Norfolk — $237,018 for Azalea Gardens Middle, Berkley/Campostella Early Childhood Education Center, Blair Middle, Booker T. Washington High, Chesterfield Academy Elementary, Coleman Place Elementary, Crossroads Elementary, Easton Preschool, Granby Elementary, Granby High, Ingleside Elementary, Jacox Elementary, James Monroe Elementary, Lake Taylor School, Lake Taylor High , Larrymore Elementary, Lindenwood Elementary, Little Creek Elementary, Mary Calcott Elementary, Northside Middle, Norview Elementary, Norview Middle, Oceanair Elementary, P.B. Young, Sr. Elementary, Sherwood Forest Elementary, St. Helena Elementary, Suburban Park Elementary, Tanners Creek Elementary, The Academy of International Studies at Rosemont, Tidewater Park Elementary, Walter Herron Taylor Elementary, Willard Model Elementary, William H. Ruffner Middle, and Fairlawn Elementary
  • Norton — $135,287 for Norton Elementary
  • Nottoway County — $8,535 for Blackstone Primary, Crewe Primary, Nottoway Intermediate, and Nottoway Middle
  • Orange County — $77,940 for Locust Grove Middle and Taylor Alternative Education Complex Feeding Site
  • Patrick County — $15,943 for Patrick County High and Patrick Springs Elementary
  • Pittsylvania County — $160,372 for Chatham Elementary, Gretna Elementary, and Kentuck Elementary
  • Portsmouth — $207,167 for Brighton Elementary, Churchland Elementary, Douglass Park Elementary, Hodges Manor Elementary, I.C. Norcom High, James Hurst Elementary, John Tyler Elementary, Lakeview Elementary, Mount Hermon Preschool Center, Olive Branch Preschool Center, Park View Elementary, Simonsdale Elementary, Victory Elementary, Westhaven Elementary, and Woodrow Wilson High
  • Prince Edward County — $34,621 for Prince Edward County High and Prince Edward Middle
  • Prince George County — $6,654 for William A. Walton Elementary
  • Prince William County — $48,637 for Dale City Elementary, Enterprise Elementary, and Kerrydale Elementary
  • Radford — $72,479 for Belle Heth Elementary, John N. Dalton Intermediate, McHarg Elementary, and Radford High
  • Richmond — $171,673 for Armstrong High, Franklin Military Academy, and John B. Cary Elementary
  • Roanoke — $104,223 for Addison Aerospace Magnet Middle, Breckinridge Middle, Fairview Elementary, Fishburn Park Elementary, Garden City Elementary, Hurt Park Elementary, Lincoln Terrace Elementary, Monterey Elementary, Patrick Henry High, Roanoke Academy For Mathematics and Science Elementary, Westside Elementary, and Woodrow Wilson Middle
  • Rockbridge County — $92,000 for Maury River Middle School and Natural Bridge Elementary
  • Scott County — $174,156 for Duffield-Pattonsville Primary, Dungannon Intermediate, Fort Blackmore Primary, Hilton Elementary, Nickelsville Elementary, Rye Cove Intermediate, Shoemaker Elementary, Twin Springs High, Weber City Elementary, and Yuma Elementary
  • Smyth County — $106,664 for Atkins Elementary, Chilhowie Elementary, Marion Elementary, Marion Middle, Northwood High, Northwood Middle, Oak Point Elementary, Saltville Elementary, and Sugar Grove Elementary
  • Southampton County — $84,483 for Capron Elementary and Southampton Middle
  • Spotsylvania County — $4,991 for Harrison Road Elementary
  • Staunton — $33,320 for Bessie Weller Elementary
  • Suffolk — $208,892 for Elephant’s Fork Elementary, John F. Kennedy Middle, and Kilby Shores Elementary
  • Tazewell County — $66,536 for Abb’s Valley-Boissevain Elementary, Dudley Primary, Graham High, Graham Intermediate, Graham Middle, Richlands Elementary, Richlands Middle, Tazewell Intermediate, Tazewell Middle, and Tazewell Primary
  • Virginia Beach — $144,197 for Arrowhead Elementary, Bayside Sixth Grade Campus, Bayside Elementary, Bayside Middle, Birdneck Elementary, Brandon Middle, Brookwood Elementary, Diamond Springs Elementary, Fairfield Elementary, Glenwood Elementary, Green Run Elementary, Green Run High, Hermitage Elementary, Holland Elementary, Indian Lakes Elementary, Kempsville Elementary, Kempsville High, Kempsville Meadows Elementary, Kempsville Middle, King’s Grant Elementary, Landstown Elementary, Lynnhaven Elementary, Malibu Elementary, Newtown Elementary, Parkway Elementary, Pembroke Elementary, Pembroke Meadows Elementary, Point O’View Elementary, Providence Elementary, Red Mill Elementary, Rosemont Elementary, Rosemont Forest Elementary, Salem Elementary, Thalia Elementary, W.T. Cooke Elementary, Williams Elementary, Windsor Oaks Elementary, Windsor Woods Elementary, and Woodstock Elementary
  • West Point — $20,796 for West Point Middle/High
  • Winchester — $43,792 for Frederick Douglass Elementary and Garland R. Quarles Elementary
  • Wise County — $31,166 for St. Paul Elementary, Union High, Union Middle, and Wise Primary

 A local match of 25 percent is required of most divisions. Three school divisions with composite indices of local-ability-to-pay of less than 0.2 — Buena Vista, Lee County, and Scott County — and the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind are exempt from the local-match requirement.

The School Security Equipment Grants program was established by the 2013 General Assembly in the aftermath of the December 14, 2012, mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

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