Editorial: Alexandria Times endorses school board candidates

Alexandria Times endorses slate of school board candidates 

Alexandria City Public Schools seems perpetually at the crossroads, and this year is no different, which makes selecting the next school board all the more important.

Think about it. In just a few years, we’ve seen the district weather a budgeting scandal; draw the ire of older students for reshuffling its adult education program; irk Parker-Gray residents by floating the possibility of a public-private partnership for a new Jefferson-Houston School; and watch a fourth-grade teacher plead guilty to possessing child pornography.

And don’t forget the district’s struggles with subpar state test scores, aging and crowded buildings, and the academic achievement gap between whites and minorities.

Many good things occur in city schools every day, but the problems facing the district weigh heavily on taxpayers — with or without children in the system. Leadership is required and quickly. We need strong voices on the school board, unafraid to listen to the community, hold the superintendent accountable and question administrators.

In that vein, the Alexandria Times is endorsing William E. Campbell, Karen Graf and Helen Morris in District A as well as Kelly Carmichael Booz, Justin Keating and Marc Williams in District B.

Campbell has championed fostering better connections with the city’s minority, special needs and English language learner students and their families. Too often these Alexandrians fall through the cracks. And too often these residents feel alienated from their school district. His emphasis on connecting with the city’s underserved students is refreshing.

Graf brings a healthy skepticism to the seemingly unending implementation of new initiatives. She advocates eliminating programs that siphon off taxpayer dollars by replicating initiatives and taking stock of the district’s existing resources.

Morris is the sole incumbent running in District A, and we have no doubt the board’s many newcomers will rely on her experience, particularly during the upcoming budget season. She also is a Jefferson-Houston neighbor and will serve as an important liaison with the community as the school is rebuilt.

Carmichael Booz wants a more transparent ACPS as well as community involvement before policy decisions are made, whether through the district’s online presence or in person. She rightly recognizes the district has not done enough to engage the community.

Keating would call on administrators to prepare a more detailed budget, giving residents and elected officials a chance to more closely scrutinize the district’s spending habits. He also wants the board to become the “face and voice” of ACPS, which is a step in the right direction when public perception is that the board serves as a rubber stamp for the superintendent.

Williams, like Morris, is an incumbent — the sole incumbent in District B — and he will bring much-needed experience to the board. He also advocates using the community involvement process crafted for the Jefferson-Houston School project for other major improvements. We don’t think the district should limit this model to construction projects, but Williams’ proposal lays down a solid foundation for the future.

Three candidates are running unopposed in District C: incumbent Ronnie Campbell, Pat Hennig and Christopher Lewis. While endorsements are not necessary, we welcome the different perspectives they will bring to the board.

Now just remember to turn over that ballot Tuesday and make your voice heard — whether you agree with us or not.

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(3) Readers Comments

  1. I can’t believe you endorsed Williams and Morris for school board. There have been several news articles about money misspent by ACPS and hiring and/or contracting with Dr. Sherman’s friends. In addition, while Dr. Sherman loves to talk about improving education for minorities, our schools have become more segregated and the gap in test scores between minorities and whites has grown under his “leadership.” Any parent can tell you that the schools are dramatically worse since Dr. Sherman became superintendent. Yet, the school board renewed his contract at an incredible salary rate. All incumbents on the school board need to go.

    • You have to be kidding me or you (Alexandria Times have been fooled). To endorse Campbell, based on “being a champion for better connections”! WOW! I thought it takes more than connections in this city, here is someone who isnt a face for our minority communities, why dont you just go to the community. You have individuals who have been on the front lines day in and out (Joyce Rawlings). To endorse someone based on there gift to “GAB” is a very clear definition as of what this city has become. I have attended various debates and meetings, this guy has talked a good game but has no proof of anything he has done in our minority community. Then you endorse a individual who is apart of the distruction of our school system, Alexandria Times you have truly looked at this with a closed eyed! I truly hope voters look at the intergrity and the facts behind each candidate. We dont need any more “Pipe Dreams”!

      Have you heard of the saying ” The Loudest Person in the Room……you can fill the rest in”.

      • This smacks of that age-old plot by COL Lynch and others to develop mindsets that pit folks of color against one another. For the record, I love Joyce Rawlings, agree that she has been on the “front lines” fighting for minority causes throughout her life and I will most certainly continue to be there with her here in Alexandria. I did not run for school board AGAINST Joyce Rawlings. I simply ran for A SEAT on the board. There were six candidates who ran aggressive campaigns to secure a board seat. I am humbled and honored to have been elected and I’m roaring to go. On perhaps my 2nd day living in the city, I joined the Alexandria Branch of the NAACP. On the 1st day that I enrolled my son in Jefferson-Houston and my daughter in GW, I signed up to the PTAs. By the end of the week, I was recruited to serve as the JHAA PTA President. Since that time, I have worked closely with Alexandria’s children of color as a mentor, chaperone and “surrogate father”. On any given weekend, our home is teaming with children from the “Berg”, the “Village”, Adkins and elsewhere. I have worked closely with Mayor Euille, Roy Priest, Sheila Whiting, Glenn Hopkins, the late Lenny Harris and others always with a focus on issues affecting Alexandria’s families of color. Six years ago, our family took the ultimate step and took in one of Alexandria’s wayward youths as our own. Please let the record reflect that this is one brother who is well past needing to prove his “blackness” to anyone! That being said, I encourage any and all persons who can assist ACPS with improving our connections to low-income families of color to STEP UP. Help me take this “gift for gab” and use it to improve the educational outcomes of Alexandria’s children. It truly will take a village of support if we are to secure lasting positive gains.

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