By Karen Graf
It is campaign season and Alexandrians must decide on the candidates they are going to put in office for the next three years for city council and the Alexandria City School Board.
This is your chance to choose how you want the school system to be run for the next three years. Consider voting for candidates who are invested in the success of the schools and understand how schools fit into the city’s strategic goal of being a community that supports and enhances the wellbeing, success and achievement of children, youth and families. Ultimately, successful schools lead to a strong business community and engaged neighborhoods, which will continue to make Alexandria a desirable place for investment.
The times are different — the schools are full and more families are staying in Alexandria than ever before. Over the past three years, ACPS has seen more than 1,600 new students and, incredibly, the increases are being seen at sixth and ninth grades.
Let’s run a campaign for our school division. We need to tell everyone about the progress in ACPS and help put the schools at the center of our community. Not only are our current families invested in the schools, but the city also is home to many alumni and future families, who all want to enjoy the benefits of a robust school community. Additionally, ACPS is creating structures to promote strong community partnerships that help advance academics and outdoor space.
The next school board will still face a slew of challenges in its three-year term, including the need for creative thinking for our capital projects to support whole building modernization projects, balancing capacity needs with fiscal responsibility. The next school board will inherit momentum of increasing Standards of Learning test scores but will still need to continue this focus and see improvements carried through into the subgroups that we know
are most at risk.
While Patrick Henry Elementary School and T.C. Williams are now fully accredited, we as a city must ensure that the supports are in place for Jefferson-Houston School to accomplish that goal next year. Superintendent Alvin Crawley, in his focus on high performance, also has started research on the expansion of world language instruction at the elementary school level and continues to model solutions for expanding summer school.
Under the leadership of Crawley, who is a high-performing educator himself, ACPS is gaining momentum in a positive direction that is showing results. This season, whether or not you have children in the schools, make sure you vote. It is important to invest in candidates you think will most wisely support the needs of our youth with your tax dollars. Pay attention to the school board race and vote in the November 3 election to show that you value the educational system in our city and believe in the progress of ACPS.
The writer is the chairwoman of the Alexandria City School Board.