By Denise Dunbar | [email protected]
A new mayor and city council were not the only officials sworn in during the past week: Alexandria also has nine newly minted school board members, three from each of the city’s three districts, who were sworn in Monday night at T.C. Williams High School. As with city council, the new school board is comprised of mostly new members, with five newcomers joining four incumbents.
District A, in the eastern part of the city, has all new representatives: Jacinta Greene, Michelle Rief and Chris Suarez. District B, encompassing the center of Alexandria, returned all three incumbents: Cindy Anderson, Margaret Lorber and Veronica Nolan. While District C, in the city’s West End, returned Ramee Gentry, who served as board chair the past two years, along with newcomers Meagan Alderton and Heather Thornton.
The swearing-in ceremony was emceed by Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Ed.D. The T.C. Williams Junior ROTC presented the colors, while the school’s choir performed two songs, including the national anthem.
The evening was not without a dash of controversy when the school board members voted to elect their new chair and vice chair. Anderson was unanimously selected by her peers to be the new chair. Nolan became the board’s vice chair by an 8-1 vote, with Rief dissenting.
Rief later explained in an e-mail why she voted against Nolan.
“I’m troubled by the campaign contributions Ms. Nolan received as reported by the Washington Post on Nov. 25,” Rief said.
Nolan raised $48,035 during this election cycle, according to vpap.org, the most of any school board candidate. Of that, $23,300 was donated by Leadership for Educational Equity, a group affiliated with the nonprofit Teach for America.
The Washington Post article raised concerns about the connection between LEE and the charter school lobby. The website for LEE describes the organization as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan, leadership development organization working to end the injustice of educational inequity by inspiring and supporting a diverse set of leaders with classroom experience to engage civically and politically.”