EDUCATION & SCHOOLS
Excellence in Action [pdf]
2014-06-19 TCW documents [pdf]
2011 cip for Schools
2017-03-07 A couple of news articles explained the reasons why City Manager Mark Jinks did not support fully funding the schools’ request. Nan’s reading is that monies from the ACPS operating budget could be moved to capital improvement and the ACPS was not positioned with a plan to use $613 M in the near future.
2017-02-28 SHA members observed the first meeting of the new T. C. Williams Community Advisory Committee and noted that it did not deal with residents’ concerns as called for in Condition 69 of the DSUP but rather general topics related to life at the high school.
2017-02-08 The School Board transferred $5.7 M budgeted to add capacity to Polk Elementary School to the rebuilding of Patrick Henry School (which will have no new capacity for elementary school students) because the design selected by the School Board for Patrick Henry is going to be more expensive than the design preferred by the residents.
2017-01-26 The final decision by the School Board on redistricting schools on Seminary Hill was pleasing to SHA families.
2017-01-12 SHA decided to NOT send representatives to the new T. C. Williams Community Advisory Committee and sent a letter to the Superintendent to that effect. Members of the Advisory Committee created by Condition 69 in the DSUP will likely observe meetings of this new committee.
2017-01-12 Bill Goff distributed FOIA documents about Patrick Henry School indicating ACPS staff deliberately left out the negative aspects of their preferred Option A1 but included the negative aspects of residents’ choice Option C1 when presenting information for decision-making to the School Board.
2017-01-02 SHA’s Board of Directors has concerns that the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) continues to mismanage funds and to design and build unwanted facilities. Taxpayers have no visibility into how ACPS funds are moved. City Council appears unable or unwilling to investigate. Elected School Board members basically say “trust us” there is no “slush” fund. Yet time after time we have seen ACPS projects go over budget between 40% and-240% and have no idea from where the additional funds came.
City Council now has a request before it for an additional $611.1 million over the regular school budget, which they say would be used to provide more school facilities. If Council approves this increase, it will then need to come up with a way to pay for it; most likely a combination of tax increases and issuing bonds.
The Alexandria News has run a couple of related articles:
2016-12-14 SHA members held a discussion about the main concerns with the schools. Thanks to School Board member Cindy Anderson and SHA Board Member Bill Goff who anchored the discussion and to School Board Vice Chair Chris Lewis who attended. From a list of 12 concerns, the following were discussed:
The ACPS gives taxpayers the least bang for the buck
The apparent disconnect between City Staffs
Management of funds by the ACPS
The ACPS proposal for four new schools at a cost of $515 Million
The failure of the Patrick Henry Elementary School expansion process
The resolution to create a new TCW Community Advisory Board.
2016-12 The ACPS proposed spending $515 million on four new schools—both acquisition and renovation—to meet what they claim are “unexpected” increases in school enrollment. The School Board then increased the amount and asked City Council for $611.1 million for new schools.
2016-12 Additional redistricting Options #8 and #9 were proposed for elementary-schools that took into account concerns of Seminary Hill families. Hopefully one of them will be adopted by the School Board on January 26, 2017.
2016-12-17 City Council approved the DSUP for the new Patrick Henry School over the objections of Seminary Hill and Brookville-Seminary Valley residents who preferred a smaller, cheaper school. The decision to go with the ACPS preferred option was justified by the turnout from one of 18 public meetings where families of students—who were told that the option the Advisory Group preferred was unsafe—won the day. At City Council, the school principal spoke emotionally in support of the DSUP for this bigger complex—she said she was hired to rebuild the school—although the elementary school will remain the same size just other things are added; i.e. middle school students and a rec center that will operate during school hours.
2016-12-17 City Council rearranged the docket items for their meeting and moved the Patrick Henry School DSUP to be last item which made it during dinner hour. Thus, Nan was unable to speak in favor of the Advisory Group’s smaller, cheaper option and did not reiterate her concerns about the non-transparent process.
2016-12-07 The Planning Commission approved the DSUP for the new Patrick Henry School over the objections of SHA and Brookville-Seminary Valley residents who preferred a smaller, cheaper school. Option A1 that went to the Planning commission is now going to be built even bigger and be more expensive than was first proposed. Another floor was added and Dominion Virginia power lines will have to be moved.
2016-10 The School Board approved the Superintendent’s resolution to create a new version of the T. C. Williams High School Community Advisory Committee, which he intends will replace Condition 69 of the DSUP to TCW. ACPS is asking for two SHA representatives to serve on this new advisory committee. SHA is getting legal advice about this Resolution before committing to participating.
2016-10 After two years of work, the Patrick Henry Advisory Group chose option C1 as the preferred design for the new school because traffic would remain on Taney Avenue instead of being put on local streets and because it maximized green space. The School Board disregarded the Advisory Groups recommendation and adopted the ACPS preferred option A1 in a swift non-public process that violated transparency. The A1 Option has a larger rec center than is needed and will require expensive physical designs, such as a retaining wall and reworking Dominion Virginia easements.
2016-10 The SHA Board of Directors approved a letter to the School Board in support of the wishes of families on Seminary Hill—options 4, 5, and 6—to have their 20 children remain at MacArthur School, as they have for the past 35 years.
2016-10 The SHA Board of Directors endorsed a letter from longtime members of the T. C. Williams High School Advisory Community critical of the ACPS Resolution to establish another T. C. Williams Community Advisory Committee, which would include all residents in Alexandria. During a public meeting on 27 Sept 2016, School Board Member Bill Campbell enthusiastically admitted that this proposal was recommended by the ACPS legal consultant Duncan Blair because trying to alter the purpose and makeup of the Advisory Committee was an easier road to achieve ACPS objectives than trying formally to rescind Provision 69 of DSUP 2013-0014.
2016-09 Families on Seminary Hill—who have 20 children at the elementary-school level—are concerned about the ACPS redistricting plans. Options 1, 2, and 3 would move their children from MacArthur School to Patrick Henry School. Options 4 and 5 and a potential Option 6 would leave their children at the school they now attend. Members strongly support Options 4, 5, and potential 6.
2016-09 The T. C. Williams High School Advisory Community has yet to meet to discuss problems the neighbors have because of the use of the school property. The School Board is attempting to establish a T. C. Williams Community Advisory Committee, which would include all residents in Alexandria and likely rival the Advisory Committee comprised by school administrators and the immediate neighbors mandated by the SUP for TCW.
2016-09 The ACPS proposed that the City purchase an office building from Duke Realty at 1701 N. Beauregard Street for about $42 million then convert it to an elementary school. Since the building has no green space, a playground would be built on the top level of the garage.
2016-05 After two years of work, the Patrick Henry Advisory Group chose option C1 as the preferred design for the new school because traffic would remain on Taney Avenue instead of being put on local streets and because it maximized green space.
2016-05-19 The School Board approved option A1—instead of the Advisory Group’s choice C1—as the preferred design for the expanded Patrick Henry School. Inadequate time—less than 12 hours—was given to review hundreds of pages of documents related to the alternate proposal. The ACPS explanation for preferring A1 because it is cheaper than C1 is unfounded.
2016-09-15 Nan and other residents spoke to the Mayor and City Council in opposition to the A1 design for the expansion of Patrick Henry School. This design now has the school 11,000 sq ft larger, which further reduces green space, the easement on the site by Dominion Virginia Power was never factored in, and no maximum price has been guaranteed for building this option.
2016-04-19 Members of the Alexandria School Board will meet with Seminary Hill residdents on Tuesday, April 19th, at 7:30 pm in the parish house of the Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill. Topics under discussion may include the installation of lights on the T. C. Williams stadium, the expansion of Patrick Henry Elementary School, and the management of funds by the ACPS.
2016-03-10 The Virginia Theological Seminary is constructing housing for married students in the center of their campus. Building materials are being stored on a field near Quaker Lane.
2016-03-10 The T C Williams Community Advisory Committee met in December and shared plans about an ‘upgraded’ TCW stadium, which includes lights for the field. No permit has been filed, yet.
2016-03-10 The expansion of Patrick Henry Elementary School that includes a recreation center project is moving quickly. An architect was hired and three options proposed for the new buildings. Residents are concerned about the size of the recreation center that will be built at the expense of outdoor recreation space. The City’s Department of Parks & Recreation did not have good answers to residents’ questions. SHA sent a letter to the City about the need for green space in this project. Residents would like more parking on site.
2015-12-10 Area 2 Representative Carter Fleming reported that the T C Williams Community Advisory Committee will meet on December 16 at 5:30 pm.
2015-12-10 SHA representative Mary Biegel reported on the fast-track schedule for the Stakeholders Advisory Group regarding the Patrick Henry Elementary School and proposed Recreation Center project. The School Board is discussing changing the school from K-5 to pre-school to grade 8 and moving the main entrance to N. Latham Street. Plans are supposed to be them by June 2016; the school will cost $40 million. In addition, the City’s Parks and Rec Department is proposing a “medium-size” sports complex be built on the playing fields at an additional cost of $5.8 million. The neighbors do not want to lose the playing fields and open space. They also are opposed to moving the school entrance to Latham because that street cannot handle more traffic, especially the busses.
2015-11-12 The School Board is considering plans that will impact Seminary Hill residents. The Board of Directors plans to meet with them early next year to discuss ways to improve the quality of education in the City; especially the need for more classrooms. Plans are under consideration to expand Patrick Henry from an elementary school to pre-K through grade 8 and add a huge recreation center. We are hearing that T. C. Williams High School needs to be expanded. The feasibility of putting lights on the T. C. football stadium still looms.
2015-10-08 SHA nominated Mary Biegel to be the SHA representative to the Stakeholders Advisory Group regarding the Patrick Henry Elementary School and proposed Recreation Center project. The School Board is discussing changing the school from K-5 to pre-school to grade 8 and moving the main entrance to N. Latham Street. The City’s Parks and Rec Department is proposing a large sports complex be built on the playing fields.
2015-10-08 SHA held a candidate forum for five running for School Board in our District B: Cindy Anderson, Kelly Booz, Mini Goff, Margaret Lorber, and Veronica Nolan. They answered questions and came to appreciate some citizen concerns. After the new School Board is sworn in, SHA plans to meet with them to continue the discussion of concerns about expansion, again, of T.C. Williams High School and the difficulties of the relationship begun in 2007 between the ACPS and the Department of Parks & Recreation about maintenance and use of school fields.
2015-09-10 SHA Area 1 Representative Lilian Patterson reported that the T.C. Williams High School staff wanted to expand the Neighborhood Advisory Committee into a town meeting, open to more Alexandria residents. This goes against the charter that established the school and its expansion where the Advisory Committee is spelled out in the SUP #69. SHA members strongly opposed expanding the membership of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee and City staff advised TCW staff of the unique nature of this committee.
2015-09-10 SHA Area 2 Representative Carter Flemming reported that the TCW loud speaker system for outdoor events (i.e. football) is VERY loud.
2015-06-12 The City’s plans for the new Patrick Henry Recreation Center, 4625 Taney Avenue, may have impact not only on Seminary Hill residents who live near the elementary school—traffic and parking—but also on the height restrictions on school properties. The Park and Recreation Commission is pushing for a really large complex in the Brookville-Seminary Valley Civic area just 2.5 miles from our Chinquapin Park facilities.
2015-06-11 The City and the ACPS jointly developed a work program for a Long Range Educational Facilities Plan that sounds incomplete. Two items to be added: analysis of students who attend school outside their neighborhood and the challenges of capacity at the high school (report estimates that an additional 1,035 students will be added by 2024). During a School Board meeting in March, Minnie Howard was expected to have 1,000 students, which is more than it can handle. The number of undocumented illegal immigrant children taken in by the City is unclear; figures talked about in the press and among residents range from 65 to 623. At the rate of $17,000 per pupil annually, ACPS would need between $1.1 million and $10.6 million more annually to educate these figures.
2015-06-11 The School Board promised funds for landscaping in 2007 between the T. C. Williams football stadium and neighbors’ backyards. Those funds appear to have been used for other purposes—even though Council recommended landscaping be installed when discussing TC’s lighted tennis courts—so now there will only be a fence.
2015-05-14 The sound system at TC Williams High School continues to violate noise regulations.
2015-04-10 Principal Maxey is retiring. Area 2 Representative Carter Fleming reported that, with the advent of spring, the sound system at TC Williams High School is blaring.
2015-03-12 The Chief Accountability Officer of the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Clinton Page spoke about the draft ACPS Strategic Plan being developed by a 25-member Stakeholder Committee of residents. SHA members raised many questions including some about priorities, goals given budget constraints, and implementation. He said this was not part of this plan. He also responded after the meeting with an explanation of how the cost per pupil per year for an ACPS student is calculated to be about $17,000.
2015-03-12 The ACPS will present its draft Strategic Plan to SHA residents at the March monthly meeting.
2015-03-12 The ACPS will present its draft Strategic Plan to SHA residents at the March monthly meeting.
2015-01-08 The ACPS budget is opaque because of state laws governing elected School Boards. Virginia State Law prohibits the Mayor from making a “line item veto” of any particular School Board item in the budget process. Therefore, the only thing the City can do is place a “cap” on the overall School Board budget request.
2015-01-08 The new tennis courts at T. C. Williams are expected to be completed by May 30, 2015. The cost is now $1.2 million (up from the original $445,000 and the approved $800,000). The Alexandria School board used “monies” from various accounts to fund the project.
2014-12-11 Heather Zdancewicz of the Virginia Theological Seminary, reported that the new chapel is coming along on schedule and should be dedicated in March 2015.
2014-11-11 At the Annual Meeting, members had an excellent presentation on ACPS Strategic Planning Process by John Lennon the co-chair of the committee. It was disappointing that no one from ACPS attended. John promised to keep us apprised of the progress of his committee.
2014-10-23 Episcopal High School will hold a Friday night football game under the lights in Hummel Bowl. The Board is not considering permanent lighting on the stadium at this time.
2014-09-11 The new chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary is expected to be completed and dedicated in March 2015.
2014-09-11 The ACPS is seeking members for a Strategic Planning Committee and residents of Seminary Hill should consider applying for a seat on this committee.
2014-06-09 During a one-hour public meeting with the School Board, several members of SHA explained the reasons for Condition #85 of the DSUP for T. C. Williams High School that prohibits lights on the football stadium.
2014-06-12 The SHA Board of Directors continues to support Condition #85 of the DSUP for building the 2004 expanded T. C. Williams High School: "No permanent stadium lighting shall be installed at the School stadium or on any other athletic fields, including the proposed new practice field."
2014-06 The City documented that the ACPS has failed to implement the landscaping at T. C. Williams High School that was required when the school expanded in 2004, but no plan or timeframe for implementation is available. Members of the School Board said on 9 June 2014 that they never realized this was an issue despite the fact SHA members had raised it in 2013 when the ACPS was planning new tennis courts. SHA President Nan Jennings had distributed photos to the Mayor and City Council showing the ACPS failure to provide a buffer on 14 December 2013: Docket Item #8, Development Special Use Permit 2013-0014, 3300 King St. - T.C. Williams High School Tennis Courts.
2014-05-15 The T. C. Williams Community Advisory Committee, which is supposed to meet quarterly but never has, will meet on May 15 at 4:30 pm.
2014-05 In response to a question from City Council, the landscaping at T. C. Williams High School was surveyed and found to be in non-compliance with the DSUP. No plan or timeframe for implementing the landscaping, yet.
2014-05 Area 8 residents observe that the artificial turf field at Hammond has only ONE trash can and desperately needs more.
2014-01 City staff is proposing MORE lights at T. C. Williams High School; the installation of 15 mph school flasher signs on King Street. This proposal will go to the Traffic and Parking Board on January 27. The Board meets at 7:30 pm in the Council Chambers, 2nd floor, City Hall, 301 King Street. Speaker forms are required and not accepted after 7:45 pm.
2013-09 The Diocese of Arlington withdrew its proposal to hold religious services at Bishop Ireton High School and to have the school serve as a City performing arts center. Nearby residents objected because the school has only about 250 parking spaces but the auditorium can hold 775. Other sites are available for these activities that also have adequate parking.
2013-08 The Alexandria School Board voted 8 to 1 to release Superintendent of Schools Morton Sherman from his contract that ran through June 2015. A search is on to find a new leader who can fix the City’s nonperforming schools.
2013-08 The City and ACPS are developing long-range plans for facilities to accommodate the increases in student population; it has grown by 2,600 in the past five years. The public is invited to all meetings.
2012-02-09 SHA Area 2 Representative reported on two items related to T C Williams High School. (1) The arm on the gate for the emergency road behind TC is broken so this road is always open to traffic. (2) The City is considering improving the tennis courts at Chinquapin for use by TC students. SHA members remarked that these courts are facing the wrong direction and as a result players always have the sun in their eyes.
2012-03-04 SHA requests for information from the ACPS and the School Board about the Hammond field plans have yet to be answered.
2012-02-09 SHA Area 2 Representative reported on two items related to T C Williams High School: the arm on the gate for the emergency road behind TC is broken so this road is always open to traffic and the City is considering improving the tennis courts at Chinquapin for use by TC students. SHA members remarked that these courts are facing the wrong direction and as a result players always have the sun in their eyes.
2012-02-09 SHA invited the Alexandria City Public School staff to present plans for the installation of athletic turf on the upper athletic field at Hammond Middle School and the redesign of bus lanes.
2012-01-12 SHA heard that the ACPS will put students in classrooms at Landmark Mall.
2011-07-24 More than three weeks after SHA submitted a FOIA request to the City re the lights on the upper athletic field at Hammond Middle School, no documents have been received.
2011-06-07 Planning Commission voted 4-2 in favor of the Alexandria City Public Schools’ application for an SUP to put lights on the upper field at Hammond Middle School. Next step City Council on June 25 and/or an appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
2011-06-07 SHA letter clarifying the City’s process to date re SUP for lights on the upper field at Hammond Middle School and that City staff are not impartial on this matter.
2011-06-06 The Director of Planning & Zoning denies SHA’s request to delay the hearing at the Planning Commission and adds that she “will prepare the formal zoning determination . . . requested.”
2011-06-06 SHA asks the Director of Planning & Zoning postpone the hearing at the Planning Commission because of the “complicated factual and legal issues with significant policy implications.”
2011-06-03 Superintendent of Schools Morton Sherman forwarded two City memos—both responses from James Spengler, the Director of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities dated May 26 and May 27—in response to SHA’s first letter on May 18. No response from the City’s lawyer.
2011-06-03 The Director of Planning & Zoning responded to SHA’s second letter with her “initial thoughts” instead of a ruling.
2011-06-01 SHA sent a second letter to the City asking the Director of Planning & Zoning for a ruling on the process and what applies to the application.
2011-03-10 The next public meeting about the Alexandria City Public School’s proposal to upgrade a field at Hammond Middle School—artificial turf and permanent lighting on the field at Seminary Road and Pickett—has yet to be scheduled.
2011-02-28 The Alexandria City Public Schools’ mentoring program—100TCKids—is seeking volunteers. Contact Meredith Wade at (703) 836-3951 or email@example.com.
2011-02-08 The public meeting about the Alexandria City Public Sschool’s proposal to upgrade a field at Hammond Middle School—artificial turf and permanent lighting on the field at Seminary Road and Pickett—was well attended by SHA citizens. City staff and contractors were unable to address concerns or answer questions from the public. They decided to defer the filing of the plan and to hold more meetings in the future.
2011-01-13 David Gartner reported that the Virginia Theological Seminary organized a committee to rebuild the chapel that was destroyed by fire last year. The new chapel will likely retain some historical features but may have amenities not built in the earlier building, such as a vestibule adequate restrooms. Stay tuned for information about fundraising. He also added that the Seminary is planning a major project to put in pipes for heating and air conditioning that may impact the Episcopal High School. He added that the Seminary's new café has yet to open but has applied for a City liquor license.
2011-01 The City is proposing permanent lighting on the athletic fields at Hammond Middle School. A public meeting is scheduled for February 8 at 7:30 pm in the auditorium of the school as part of the Special Use Permit (SUP) process needed to install the lights.
2010-10-14 No one in the Alexandria City Public Schools or the City Council has responded to SHA’s letter of September 25, 2010 objecting to the violations of the DSUP for T. C. Williams High School.
2010-10-14 The new principal at T. C. Williams High School—Suzanne Maxey—has agreed to be the guest speaker at the SHA Annual Meeting of November 9 and has asked for suggestions of topics to cover. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2010-06 SHA sent a letter to Dr. Morton Sherman, Superintendent of Schools, about the failure to regulate the use of the public address system in Parker Gray Stadium at T. C. Williams High School. Some users of the system violate Alexandria noise regulations and adversely impact life in SHA areas 1 and 2. The letter also called for the recreation of the Community Advisory Committee to work with T. C. Williams School officials. The Vice Chairman of the ACPS School Board Sheryl Gorsuch responded to SHA's letter to Dr. Sherman, liking the idea of a community advisory committee and will "get back . . . soon."
2010-05 T.C. Williams high School has a new principal, Suzanne Maxey, who has 26 years' experience in Prince George's County Schools and 7 years in Montgomery County Schools.
2010-05-13 Steve Harkness—Area 2 alternate representative—reported that noise from TC Williams' sound system is unacceptable but a resolution is not likely until after the new principal and new athletic director are hired.
2010-04 Construction at Polk Elementary school—an expansion of the gym and wells for ground heating—will run through July during weekdays and maybe on Saturdays.
2010-04-08 SHA is leaning toward having a panel at the annual meeting in November about the rating of T C Williams High School as "persistently low achieving."
2010-03 Burke Library held a March Madness Book Sale & Festival.
2010-03 State and Federal governments designated TC Williams High School as a “Persistently Lowest Achieving school.” The City spends more than $19,000 per student.
2010-01-14: Residents had a good meeting with T. C. Williams School officials about problems, such as noise and field issues.