Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Regionalism: The dividing line

Here in Fredericksburg, regionalism (or the lack thereof) has come up a lot lately. (Refresh your memory here, here and here.) But just an hour down I-95, the topic has come up as debate rages over Richmond’s public schools.

This story in Richmond’s Style Weekly talks about how Virginia’s strange arrangement of city-county separation plays into the problems in urban schools, transit, social services and other government systems.

From Chris Dovi’s story:

“The division between cities and counties and the distribution of resources is a … regularly discussed issue in political circles,” says Sean O’Brien, director of Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia.

O’Brien laments that it was his university’s founder who promoted the principle of separating agrarian societies from urban centers, a principle that informed Virginia’s current destabilizing political division between cities and neighboring urbanized counties.

The 1970 state law that ended the ability of Virginia cities to annex from counties is due soon for reauthorization, he says. It’s a perfect time to renew the debate over regional cooperation, he says — and perhaps consider Jefferson’s city/county division.

Dovi goes on to suggest that merging city and county school districts might help keep Virginia’s cities from finding themselves with school populations with poverty levels much higher than their county neighbors. But the story provides plenty of evidence that as long as a firm line separates cities from counties, that’s not a likely solution.