In my years of involvement, I have seen many improvements in ACPS. We are fortunate to have many talented and dedicated teachers and staff who nurture and encourage our students, helping them to develop into wonderful young adults with a wide variety of skills and talents. Still, there is always more work to be done.
- Student Achievement – There is good news regarding student achievement and academic opportunities. This year a record number of TC Class of ’18 graduates are heading to college. A record 72% of TC students taking AP exams earned a score that qualified for college credit. The addition of the Health Sciences Governor’s Academy with GW University gives TC students new career path coursework that will allow them to earn up to 22 college credits while at TC.
As the former Chair of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, I am ecstatic about the number of students going to college but I want every student to have a plan for life after TC. I will advocate for further expansion of opportunities for secondary students to explore additional career paths and types of post-secondary training.
All ACPS schools accredited for the 2018-2019 school year. Even so, there are still areas in need of improvement. Providing the necessary resources to give all students the opportunity to be successful is critically important so individual schools will have supports and resources tailored to their specific needs. Implementing our TAG and Special Education evaluation recommendations will lead to improvements in delivery of services across the system.
- Teachers/Staff – It is critical to recruit and retain the best educators and staff by offering competitive salaries, excellent training, and a healthy work environment. I have supported salary increases every year and will continue to do so. The recent Human Resources department audit will provide a framework for improving teacher recruitment, retention, mentoring, accountability, and job satisfaction that are all important in a successful school system.
- Facilities – Capacity issues were very much in the news when I joined the board in January of 2016. While the seat deficit continues I’m pleased about the progress. In September 2018, we opened the first new elementary school in Alexandria since 2000. This project took a lot of work, creativity and, frankly, courage. It was something that hadn’t been done in our City before. It turned out to be a great decision and allowed the completion of Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School much more quickly and at a lower cost than a traditional school building project. In addition, the new Patrick Henry K-8 school opening at the end of the year will provide additional elementary and middle school capacity. Our latest CIP includes funds for additional high school capacity. The planning process for finding the best solution for high school capacity expansion starts this fall.
Maintenance continues to be an area in need of improvement. The Facilities Department audit was a good first step to making a plan for overcoming years of deferred maintenance. The study confirmed that the average age of our buildings exceeds the national average and that the funds allocated for maintenance are below the industry standard. This is why it is important to receive the funding necessary to maintain our buildings and implement the Long Range Facilities Plan for modernization.
- Community Involvement – We are lucky to have so many parents and other community members who are passionate about helping our students and who share their many talents on a regular basis. We need to encourage increased participation by improving communications and removing any potential barriers to involvement. A successful school system benefits the entire community!
- Fiscal Responsibility – In order to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness several department audits were conducted over the past 3 years. Implementing the recommended changes has enabled ACPS to provide better service to all stakeholders, both internal and external. In addition to an audit of our Facilities department, Payroll, Procurement and Human Resources departments were also audited. ACPS continues to win recognition for excellence in financial reporting and procurement processes.
- Health and Wellness – This component of the new ACPS Strategic Plan calls for promoting physical, social and emotional health. I believe this holistic approach can lead to better academic outcomes and a healthier community. That’s why I was happy to advocate for increased opportunities for recess and other physical activity during the school day. In June, the minimum time requirement for recess was increased by 50% for Pre-K through 5th graders.