Your View: New city manager must make academic performance a top priority

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To the editor:

We strongly agree with your point that closing the achievement gap begins outside the classroom and it finishes behind the desk (Children left behind, August 18). All Alexandria citizens should be concerned about Alexandria City Public Schools poor performance, as indicated by the standardized test scores. It is embarrassing to see Alexandria schools consistently lag in the very lowest tier of districts across the state. One simple constructive step is for the Alexandria City Council to provide oversight for the school budget, and to ensure that all city departments are working together toward a common goal: student achievement. 

Accountability for our schools performance and the expenditure of taxpayer dollars designed to benefit children are too diffuse in our city. The search for a new city manager is an opportunity for the city council to create greater transparency and accountability. Aside from parents, the schools bear most of the responsibility for positive educational outcomes, but other city departments contribute to the health, safety and instruction of our communitys children.  

The council should select a new city manager who will provide active oversight of our schools operations and ensure all city departments work together in the best interests of our citys students and their academic achievement.

The new city manager should have significant experience with school operations. The new city manager should show an interest and commitment to actively engage in school system operations, which is a city department. The superintendent needs a partner, an advocate and a clear-sighted critic who represents the interests of the council and the taxpayers they represent.

The new city manager should have high expectations for our youths academic performance and be willing to roll up her or his sleeves to make sure that all of Alexandrias resources are contributing effectively towards that objective. 

Ideally, the new city manager can act as a surrogate for the councils priorities and would be able to articulate a vision for all city departments (including the school system) to collaborate and coordinate to dramatically improve the educational opportunities for our citys children.

Our children are students in the public schools and we love living in Alexandria. Its time for ACPS to be better stewards of our tax dollars and its time for the city council to make scholastic performance a mission for other city departments.

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