Opinion: Council candidate Scott Gordon: ACPS budget needs work

Opinion: Council candidate Scott Gordon: ACPS budget needs work

To the editor:

The following open letter was addressed to members of the school board, superintendent, ACPS central office staff, teachers and residents of Alexandria.

My name is Scott Gordon, and I write this today not as a candidate for Alexandria City Council but as a husband, father and concerned resident.

I’d like to make just a few comments regarding the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget cuts as they’re related to a number of expenditure increases directed to the superintendent’s office.

I fear with these cuts, ACPS may be slowly moving our already financially and physically strained school system backward. The proposed cuts to special education staff limit the potential learning opportunities of children with more complicated learning needs. The elimination of a visiting science teacher position weakens an already, statistically, weak area of study in Alexandria and limits the exciting and energizing engagement between students and the subject. The 10-percent decrease in funding for extended learning opportunities does just that — decreases additional learning opportunities for students and adults of all ages. The budget stagnancy for ELL teachers is going to hurt the learning potential of the many Alexandrians who enter our school system having English as a second language.

Cuts and budget stagnancy can sometimes be explained by fiscal trouble on a citywide level. However, these cuts have been suggested alongside a number of increases I believe are without merit, and these include nearly $222,000 in budget expenditure increases specifically designed for the ACPS Office of the Superintendent.

Now is not the time for raises; now is not the time to employ assistants for assistants while we cut teaching and staff positions at 54 percent of our middle schools.

Responsible spending should be the idea of the day.

Every available cent should be allocated toward the future of the children sitting in our school’s classrooms and those that shortly will. With all due respect, this budget is representative of a future of mediocrity for our schools and, I for one, refuse to accept mediocrity when it comes to our children’s education.

I hope you’ll consider my words and look carefully at the budget as you work toward its approval.

– Scott Gordon
Candidate for Alexandria City Council