In 1966 — as overt ‘Massive Resistance’ to school desegregation had all but faded across the Commonwealth of Virginia — the City of Charlottesville opened Buford Junior High and Walker Junior High – two roughly identical school buildings that were erected to serve separate halves of one city’s seventh-, eighth and ninth-grade students. The dual middle school model created a de facto system of racial segregation between Charlottesville’s north and south sides — whereby Walker was a predominantly white student population and Buford a predominantly Black student population. Years later, the school division concluded that the only way to develop parity was to reconfigure Walker and Buford into their present upper elementary / middle school model -- with all the City’s fifth and sixth graders attending Walker and all of its seventh and eighth graders attending Buford.

In 1966 — as overt ‘Massive Resistance’ to school desegregation had all but faded across the Commonwealth of Virginia — the City of Charlottesville opened Buford Junior High and Walker Junior High – two roughly identical school buildings that were erected to serve separate halves of one city’s seventh-, eighth and ninth-grade students. The dual middle school model created a de facto system of racial segregation between Charlottesville’s north and south sides — whereby Walker was a predominantly white student population and Buford a predominantly Black student population. Years later, the school division concluded that the only way to develop parity was to reconfigure Walker and Buford into their present upper elementary / middle school model -- with all the City’s fifth and sixth graders attending Walker and all of its seventh and eighth graders attending Buford.

The challenges associated with brief student tenures (21 months each) at these two schools -- to say nothing of the aging facilities -- have resulted in markedly diminished enrollment in City schools starting in fifth grade and has prompted the City of Charlottesville to again reconfigure their present allocation of grades in the elementary and middle schools in order to further academic and equity goals. VMDO has been leading the planning, public outreach and design for each of three preliminary concepts for Walker and Buford’s campuses.

The challenges associated with brief student tenures (21 months each) at these two schools -- to say nothing of the aging facilities -- have resulted in markedly diminished enrollment in City schools starting in fifth grade and has prompted the City of Charlottesville to again reconfigure their present allocation of grades in the elementary and middle schools in order to further academic and equity goals. VMDO has been leading the planning, public outreach and design for each of three preliminary concepts for Walker and Buford’s campuses.

Under the proposed reconfiguration, Buford will house sixth through eighth grade, and Walker will serve as a centralized preschool. Pending City Council approval, VMDO will next proceed with the schematic development phase of the recommended schemes with the goal of completing construction bid documents by late 2022. This project represents the largest potential capital investment for the City of Charlottesville in many years and the greatest opportunity to positively transform the school division and its students in generations.

Under the proposed reconfiguration, Buford will house sixth through eighth grade, and Walker will serve as a centralized preschool. Pending City Council approval, VMDO will next proceed with the schematic development phase of the recommended schemes with the goal of completing construction bid documents by late 2022. This project represents the largest potential capital investment for the City of Charlottesville in many years and the greatest opportunity to positively transform the school division and its students in generations.

Client: Charlottesville City Schools

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Discipline: Elementary + Middle Schools

Filed in:

, K12, Primary + Elementary Schools, Middle + High Schools