School Board defers gifted plan … again

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The long-awaited decision on the 2006-2011 local Talented and Gifted Plan for Alexandria Public Schools was deferred in a 5-to-4 vote by the School Board.

The contentious plan, which has been in effect since the last TAG plan expired in June 2006, will be sent to the boards curriculum committee for further review.

Before the vote, Alexandria School Superintendent Rebecca Perry said that although imperfect, the TAG plan should be passed and then amended later by the board.

Perry stated that there were only two options on the table to pass the plan or reject it meaning that the expired plan would be put into effect and that staff would have to begin the process of redrafting a new plan.

No one is objecting to changing or amending, Perry said to the board, adding, The reality is that we do have to follow the rules of the road.

But, said board member Scott Newsham, knowing bureaucracies, as soon as something is passed, then the board is on to the next thing and the TAG plan ends up staying the way it is.

Perry did not discuss a third option deferral which would allow the school system to operate with the plan as it has since last year and allow further evaluation by staff and the Curriculum Committee.

Although the state approved the plan, it is widely acknowledged that there is a lack of clarity at the state level as to how certain aspects of the plan would be implemented.

Rather than have something staff wants, delaying it another month or two isnt going to make a difference since weve waited so long to make it perfect, said former TAG Advisory Committee member David Rainey.

Im a lawyer. You dont put things in a plan that youre not doing and dont plan to do, said board member Arthur Peabody.

  • Higher enrollment

Peabody alluded to unrevised due dates in the plan that have not been altered since last year as well what he sees as insufficient outreach strategies for minority students.

Critics have said the TAG program, which comprises mostly white students, racially segregates minority students.

Sherry Delaney, a member of the TAG Advisory Committee, said the current plan has resulted in a 15-percent increase of students enrolled in TAG courses.

After the vote, Claire Eberwein, School Board chair, told staff that until amendments to the plan are made and ultimately passed by the board, to continue operating the TAG program as it has been run since the plan was deferred last year.

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