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Alexandria School Board Race 2018
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Votes

Alexandria School Board Race 2018

16 Candidates in Race for School Board

Bill Campbell

District A

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

Twice-elected seeking a third term to keep ACPS moving toward becoming a high-achieving district. I've negotiated Superintendent contracts, approved five operating/capital budgets, opened new schools, redistricted and collaborated with Council.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Implement audit recommendations. Cultural competency training. More targeted interventions. Improve learning spaces. Reduce class size. Improve communications to families. Additional restorative practices and community circles. Add Pre-K slots.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Athletics and extracurriculars are lower relative priority but still vital for high achieving districts. A culture of high achievement should extend to every facet of effort to include academics, operations, facilities and extracurriculars.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

Public-private partnerships should be maximized. We hired a Director of Grants and Partnerships to explore all opportunities. Successes include DASH Bus, grants for in-class breakfasts and wonderful partnerships with NOVA and GW University.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

We need to listen to stakeholders/experts and make a wise, cost-effective decision. If we can provide diverse, 21st Century learning opportunities and minimize the size of brick and mortar structures, this would seem ideal. One TC, multiple spaces.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

This is a false choice. No school district will ever get “the full amount it thinks it needs”! Board members must be cognizant of citywide needs and respect our taxpayers. We must prioritize and try to creatively partner and maximize all investments.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

We missed opportunities with redistricting especially in the east. Potomac Yard should be Cora Kelly and Mt. Vernon. Some JH areas should be Maury and some areas in the JH neighborhood, with new $1M+ houses could walk to JH but are bused elsewhere.

Jacinta Greene

District A

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I was born into a family of educators and my passion revolves around literacy, advocacy for disadvantaged women and children. I served as Volunteer Chair for the Alexandria Democratic Committee and serve on the Alexandria Commission for Women.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Capacity in our schools and a 21st century learning environment for all children is my top priority. I will look closely at the data released by the High School project task force and make the best decision on the number of additional schools needed.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

My lowest priority is “Athletics & Extracurriculars.” While I do think after-school programs are vital to children’s development, when faced with other more pressing problems such as drastic overcrowding in T.C. Williams, they must take priority.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

I believe that education is a shared responsibility between the schools, community, and families. I will work to increase our partnerships with nonprofits and businesses but will oppose measures such as vouchers and charter school efforts.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

As I mentioned above, I want to look closely at the data being released by the High School project task force in determining the best solution for our high school students.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The School Board’s responsibility is to advocate on behalf of the needs of the school system. Alexandria’s local government is intimately connected and we should be aware of when something could be detrimental to the students, teachers, and parents.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I have concerns with the implementation of the restorative justice program and how the lack of adequate coordinators is impacting the full roll-out of the program. Additional resources are needed to ensure this program is correctly implemented.

W. Christopher Harris

District A

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

As a lifelong Alexandrian, product of ACPS, coach, and father of three ACPS graduates I am running because I care about the school system that nurtured me. My history of service to the city and my engineering background would be an asset to ACPS.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Upgrading facilities is of the utmost importance. I propose that we address all critical issues that pose safety and health risks to our children. While keeping the community informed, we will act in a timely and transparent manner.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

As a former coach I am aware of the supplemental resources that come from parents, boosters, and community partnerships. These additional contributions historically fill in the gaps of program shortfalls. Thus reducing the need of priority funding.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

I agree with the notion of exploring various funding options. As a product of the ACPS School system, I believe the extent of our public-private partnerships should not compromise our current ACPS structure.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

As equity remains a concern, I believe our efforts are better spent making TC Williams more reflective of our accomplished city of Alexandria. Building schools by districts constrains the advances in a more equitable school system.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The school board should ask for the full amount as it is a direct correlation between a stronger school system and a more stable economic base. It proves to be a worthwhile direct investment that deserves the city's financial attention.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Deferring maintenance has impacted facilities all across the school division. I would have worked collectively with other school board members and facilities to ensure benchmarks were set and upheld.

Michelle Rief

District A

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m a professional educator and my three children attend Alexandria public schools. I’m running for School Board to fix our aging schools and end overcrowding, to desegregate our academic programs, and to re-prioritize learning over testing.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

To improve facilities and overcrowding I will work with City Council to immediately implement the recommendations of the Joint City-Schools Facility Investment Task Force. I will also aggressively advocate for efficiencies in maintenance delivery.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

The other issues listed represent more pressing and urgent needs for our students.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

I strongly oppose charter schools and vouchers because they divert public money to private, unaccountable entities. We should be cautious of the strings attached to private funding and ensure partnerships further our mission of educating children.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

Research shows that smaller high schools produce better outcomes for students, which is why I favor a second high school. If we pursue this option, my highest priority will be ensuring an equitable educational experience for all students.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The School Board must be fiscally responsible and inform City Council of the budget needed to effectively operate our public schools. City Council and School Board members should partner together to determine how best to meet these needs.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I opposed the rushed decision to eliminate the modified (year-round) calendar at Mount Vernon Community School, which ignored the input of hundreds of parents. I would have spent more time engaging the community on this issue.

Marc Solomon

District A

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

My wife, son, and I live near Jefferson-Houston. We love this city and with one more kid on the way, we will have kids in ACPS for the next 19 years. I’m running for School Board because I want every child to have a secure, world-class education.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Every issue we have is exacerbated by poor capacity and infrastructure. I released a comprehensive strategy to fix our capacity and infrastructure problems through smart, honest, and transparent planning. Check it out at www.votesolomon.org.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Hiring more experienced teachers is important, but not as important as hiring and retaining great teachers. A young, innovative teacher may offer new perspectives and ideas to improve our system.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

Public-private partnerships fill vital roles in our education system already. They can be used to expand our Career and Technical Education programs and help achieve universal pre-K. However, I do not support charter schools.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

I lean towards more campuses. Cramming 5000 kids into space meant for 2500 will reduce overall resources for all, making it less equitable. If we do build more schools, I will insist they offer the same great experience, and same diversity, of TC.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

We absolutely need to request the full amount needed initially. School Board needs to come to the table with a plan to make our schools great every year. If we need to negotiate, we will, but our starting point needs to be the resources we need.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Cora Kelly was to be rebuilt between 2015-2018, and thus no major scheduled maintenance was performed. That plan inexplicably changed in 2015, resulting in more expensive maintenance issues and less capacity. We need to set plans and stick to them.

Christopher Suarez

District A

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I grew up in a single-parent household and education transformed my life. As a young father, former sixth grade teacher, education non-profit co-founder, and special education lawyer, I want to ensure all kids receive a top-notch education in ACPS.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

To reach underperforming subgroups, we should (1) hire and retain culturally responsive teachers; (2) provide teachers with training in differentiated instruction; (3) strengthen after-school programs; and (4) use data to refine our interventions.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

While important, our students have several extracurriculars and athletics at their disposal. Our most urgent needs are to improve educational opportunity for all, foster inclusive school communities, and address our capacity and infrastructure woes.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

Private philanthropy and corporate partnerships can provide resources to our students and I support them. However, I am against vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools because we must focus our resources on improving ACPS’s existing schools.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

I would favor expanding T.C. Williams so that we can keep our diverse community together and ensure resource equity for our high school students. I am open to multi-school solutions, but any solution must be guided through a lens of equity.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The school board should request the full amount it needs to effectively serve our kids. That said, we must be fiscally responsible, minimize unnecessary expenses, and think creatively with council around how we can fully fund our schools.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

When we rebuilt Jefferson-Houston, we missed an opportunity to create a mixed use space that could have generated business tax revenue and facilitated partnerships between the school and the business community.

Cindy Anderson

District B

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am running in order to give back to the community that has given me so much. My qualifications include over 20 years of experience in the ACPS community as a student, parent, volunteer, and nonprofit board member.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Our work requires moving forward on multiple fronts simultaneously. My overarching goal is to address capacity and infrastructure issues while continuing to improve academic achievement and providing each student with an opportunity for success.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

While I support athletics and extracurricular activities, this issue didn’t rise to the level of the others. The stadium renovation would be included in “Upgrading Existing School Facilities”.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

We already have public-private partnerships, community partners, private philanthropy and certain types of service contracts. I do not think vouchers, tax credits or charter schools would provide any benefit to our students.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

We are in the middle of a public engagement process to determine the best solution for our students. I look forward to open, honest discussions.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

School Board members do not have the level of detail available to City Council regarding budget tradeoffs, therefore it's not appropriate for us to try to weigh the City's needs against those of ACPS. It is our role to communicate ACPS budgetary needs.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Not renovating the GW cafeteria in 2015 as proposed by the staff. Funds restricted for use in cafeteria projects were available for this purpose. The delay caused increased costs and left staff to struggle with antiquated equipment.

Jewelyn Cosgrove

District B

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

As an Alexandrian with a growing family, I have twenty years ahead of me in Alexandria City Public Schools. With my extensive knowledge of advocacy and policy-making, I can find common ground, identify solutions, and achieve results.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Many of our schools are aging buildings with years of backlogged maintenance projects. These need to be addressed without sacrificing addressing long-term capacity. I propose pushing City Council to pursue municipal bonds to pay for immediate fixes.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Our density issues are closely tied with the challenges in our infrastructure and capacity. If we address facility maintenance and capacity, we'll be able to have manageable class sizes and configurations to maximize learning experiences.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

I am supportive of public-private partnerships, particularly in support of after-school and before-school programs that enrich the student experience. Where we can, we also need to leverage partnerships creatively to address budget constraints.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

With the timeline we have ahead of us and the history behind us, I believe enlarging the Minnie Howard campus is our most prudent option. That said, we have time before the projected 5,300 student population to consider additional campuses.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

We need to be explicit about the needs of our school system with Council. Recognizing the balance they'll need to strike, we should communicate critical asks, trade-offs, and more if full funding is not offered, but we need to fully fund our schools.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I am a process person. Problems can be avoided with good processes — checking city code requirements on projects, checking for title-following liabilities on the purchase of new buildings, etc. These are process mistakes we can fix.

Margaret Lorber

District B

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

My children attended ACPS and I worked for our school system for 9 years as Bilingual Parent Liaison. I seek re-election to follow through on my commitment to promote equity, expand capacity, and increase supports needed for academic achievement.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We must reverse the low expectations for our minority students and those with disabilities through a system-wide culture shift with serious equity training. We also need intensive support for teachers and students and stronger accountability.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

ACPS has excellent programs in music, art, and athletics, and they deserve continued support. New resources, however, must be focused on closing the achievement gap, repairing and expanding school facilities, and addressing overcrowded classrooms.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

The Health Sciences Academy at TC with GW University and free DASH passes for students show the potential for these partnerships. Our board created a position to leverage private resources as well as grants from public sources for the school system.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

There is an opportunity to rebuild Minnie Howard into a full secondary school. We need to consider whether the individual needs of 5,000+ students might best be served by 2 separate high schools with extensive pooled resources and programs.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The Board’s responsibility both under law and morally is to seek the resources to provide a quality education to all of our students. We should continue a positive relationship with Council but not shrink from articulating our needs.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

In 2014-15 the then School Board embarked on a redistricting program that was premature, given that we didn’t know where new capacity would be. That decision led to needless stress on the community. It should have awaited capacity decisions.

Veronica Nolan

District B

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’ve spent 20 years working hard for students to receive a quality education. As a member who understands the landscape, builds relationships, and operates efficiently, our community will receive a return on investment if I’m re-elected.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Regarding facilities we need to work with a sense of urgency and hold the current work accountable. In the long-term we need to have a viable maintenance plan and work with council to ensure there's funding to address our current priorities.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Early learning is critical to a child's success. Thankfully this is an area Alexandria does well thanks to the Education and Early Care work group comprised of city, school and nonprofit leaders. It's a true example of successful collective impact.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

I have 15 years experience of public-private partnerships and if done properly it can have impact. I think we could utilize more local experts to enhance our students' education through volunteers, philanthropy and joint city facility services.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

Alexandria should be innovative in solving the capacity crisis and be driven through an equity lens. I think creating distinct niches that allows students' unique needs to be met under the umbrella of one city school could be a viable solution.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

I think it's both because the schools' needs are significant while there is a limited pool of funds. It's important to show the full amount needed while being realistic when making the budget ask that there are competing demands for the city.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I was the lone vote of dissent for a policy that allowed registered nurses to provide minimal medicinal care. I trust our nurses given their level of education and our significant low income population who don't typically receive medical care.

Abigail Wacek

District B

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I went to grade school in Alexandria, graduated from T.C. Williams, and have lived here since 2010. I am running for school board because I think that our schools should be better than they are. We need to do more for our students and our city.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We must work with and listen to our teachers to ensure that we understand what works and what doesn't in the classroom from the people who would know best. We need to value experienced, effective teachers and we need to retain our newer teachers.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

The City of Alexandria currently provides access to mental health resources through the Department of Community and Human Services. Our students already have access to mental health resources through these existing city services.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

ACPS should keep an open mind for any opportunity that would better the lives and performance of our students. With each opportunity, however, ACPS should conduct a thorough evaluation of the partnership to understand fully all obligations.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

I would favor expanding the existing TC. This will allow the city to pool resources so we do not need to pay to build two tracks or two sports stadiums. Instead, we can spend more money reducing class size and hiring and retaining good teachers.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The School Board must weigh the schools' needs against other city costs. The School Board must work with the City Council to coordinate budgets to avoid redundancy and waste. The schools’ financial health cannot be separated from that of the City.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The stadium lights at TCW. This issue is emblematic of ACPS's backwards fiscal priorities, placing sport over education, and was a betrayal to the community. I would address this issue by keeping the promises the city made to those neighbors.

Meagan Alderton

District C

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I've been in education for 15 years as a special education teacher, district level leader, and now consultant. I am running because we need knowledgeable educators on the board if we plan to change the trajectory for student outcomes in this city.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We must require universal screening practices, and the subsequent implementation of evidence-based intervention programs at every single school. This should no longer be optional if we are serious about closing the achievement gap.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

I am a big supporter of school athletics, but I am more concerned about producing academically successful student-athletes. We want athletes who are thriving at full academic potential. So the most intense focus must be on academic outcomes.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

Though I don't find anything wrong with private philanthropy or partnerships, extreme caution should always be taken regarding the intentions and requirements of funders. Public money needs to stay in public education. No charters in Alexandria.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

I would favor building one or more campuses. When looking at the long range facilities plan, which includes capacity projections, its difficult to imagine one campus being sufficient over time. With that said, I am open to any all possibilities.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

Ask for the full amount you need. Thoroughly educate city council on why you need what you need. Work together as a team (council and school board) to get as close to 100 percent funding as possible, with 100 percent always being the ultimate goal.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

New textbooks were purchased for schools this past year. However, the mechanisms for teacher input were not very effective. I think it’s essential that teachers have more direct access and communication with the board, to avoid a loss in translation.

Ramee Gentry

District C

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running. In the past three years on the school board, we have accomplished a number of important efforts, including redistricting, a new elementary school, a new superintendent, and increase of accredited schools. I hope to build on this momentum.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it. The years of deferred maintenance coupled with increased enrollment makes facilities a priority. Targeting underperforming subgroups will help us reduce the achievement gap, which is vital to the success of individual students and our division.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

I find the lack of an “average” option frustrating. I only rank the social/emotional and family resources lower because we have demonstrated a strong commitment to funding these areas in recent years, and can focus on maintaining and enhancing these.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

Public-private partnerships are actively pursued. Health Science Academy partnership with the George Washington University is one example, and we will continue to seek P3s, in-kind donations, etc. I oppose vouchers or charter schools for Alexandria.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

Whichever option will ensure that every high school student is afforded the same opportunities for courses and extracurricular activities. I look forward to hearing the recommendations from the visioning process that is still ongoing at this time.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

If the City Council, School Board, City staff, and ACPS staff are engaging in a truly collaborative manner throughout the year, there will be a shared vision and understanding, which will allow us to secure the funding we need for our schools.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Budgets/policies have many different elements. I haven’t always had every add or delete I wanted, but responsible governance means striving for consensus and compromise, which I have done throughout my term, and why I am comfortable with every vote.

John Lennon

District C

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running. I'm an ELL teacher with service on PTAs, advisory committees, and as a classroom tutor. I co-chaired ACPS 2020, am endorsed by Alexandria teachers, and am focused on achievement gaps, special needs students, school safety, and strategic planning.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Initiatives must increase emphasis on early childhood education (K-5), closing achievement gaps in middle and secondary grades (6-12), and adjusting curricula and counseling for special needs students to ensure maximum inclusion at all grade levels.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Sports and extracurricular activities offer essential skill-development opportunities, and currently meet expectations at an acceptable level. Academic excellence and equity are ACPS' top priorities for all students in all grades, and must improve.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

ACPS should limit outside funding to mission-driven partnerships like the Health Sciences Academy. Alexandria taxpayers should provide primary funding for ACPS without reliance on non-focused gifts. No vouchers, tax credits, or charter schools.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

There should be one high school — TC Williams — with any new or renovated facilities designed to accommodate 21st century curricula. No decision on buildings should be made until those curricula are defined in a secondary education strategic plan.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

ACPS and City Council must agree on long-range, community-driven, publicly-vetted strategic goals that incorporate population growth, economic and business development, fiscal forecasting, and periodic adaptation to avoid unexpected funding requests.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I did not like the decision to cut funding for social studies books; it struck me as a small-dollar cut with disproportionately large consequences. I would have found the money somewhere else.

Dianara Saget

District C

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am the daughter to Dominican immigrants, an ACPS alum, a dedicated mother, a successful licensed insurance agent, and a parent advocate. I've had some experiences with ACPS that have inspired me to run for school board and curate change.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Minority suspensions are high on the elementary level. I would like to have ACPS's restorative practices and processes reviewed. I would also propose an annual school-wide staff and administrative training to ensure and uphold the practices.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

Early care and learning is a low priority for me. ACPS opened the Early Childhood Center (ECC) this year and it is proving to be a staple hallmark for early care, learning, and intervention in Alexandria.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

ACPS should consider public-private partnerships as these type of partnerships could help with the capacity issue.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

I would prefer separately districted campuses because T.C. Williams is at its max, and I don't see how or where another building could be added.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

I would propose that the school board ask for the full amount; however, when asking, the budget needs to be realistic and should include a surplus for exceeded expenditure.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The Parker Gray stadium lights are not a priority. We should shed light and focus on lessening the achievement gap, as ACPS is currently ranked among the lowest in the state.

Heather Thornton

District C

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I represent the roughly 85 percent of Alexandrians who do not have school-aged children, but who still take pride in our community’s schools and are passionate about making sure our students have the necessary resources to support their success.

For your highest priority issue area above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I am focused on boosting student success in the classroom, especially for underperforming subgroups. For any school that does not receive full accreditation, ACPS must analyze deficiencies and use that analysis to develop a corrective action plan.

For your lowest priority issue area above, sum up why you think it's lowest.

With the hire of the new Director of Athletics and Student Activities, we are on a steady path to recruiting renowned coaches and producing top-tier athletes. This firmly rooted foundation gives us space to focus on other urgent priorities.

To what extent, if any, should ACPS seek to employ or authorize public-private partnerships (e.g., private philanthropy or partnerships; service or management contracts; vouchers or tax credits; charter schools)?

ACPS already has strong partnerships with private and local organizations. Supporting the Office of School, Business & Community Partnerships to enhance these relationships is a top priority for me.

If expanding high school capacity comes down to (1) making T.C. Williams bigger or (2) building one or more additional, separately districted campuses, which would you favor?

I advocate thinking beyond catch-all solutions. A second school, satellite campuses, increased partnerships with local colleges/universities, experiential learning, and retrofitting existing buildings should all bear serious consideration.

When requesting funding from City Council, should the School Board lean more toward (1) asking for the full amount it thinks it needs; or (2) weighing the schools’ needs against citywide cost ramifications (tax rate, debt, budget tradeoffs)?

The Board's responsibility is to ensure that all students succeed. It therefore has no choice but to objectively evaluate the needs of our schools, and to request that City Council fully fund the requisite budget that will meet those needs.

What School Board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

It’s clear there's a dwindling trust between local government and the community, as shown by the drama surrounding the T.C. Williams stadium renovation. The Board must rebuild trust through enhanced transparency and community outreach.