Ask the Super: ACPS Superintendent Sherman Answers Your Questions
ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman addresses issues of new and future elementary schools, the status of the Cora Kelly playground and the fiscal 2013 budget.
The following questions were submitted to Patch by parents of students in Alexandria City Public Schools. Do you have a question for ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman? Send it to email@example.com. Please include your name and contact information if a Patch editor needs to contact you.
Question: How does the school system decide where to build a new school? I understand at least two new elementary schools are needed in the city. How can parents get involved in that decision-making process?
Sherman: The first three new elementary schools will be rebuilding or adding on to existing schools: Jefferson-Houston School, Patrick Henry and Cora Kelly Elementary. We have added modular units/rooms to Charles Barrett, James Polk and Patrick Henry, with more proposed for Polk and Barrett.
When we look at the existing crowding throughout our school division and look at our projections for the next four years, we know we will have a tight situation become worse. As new development takes place at Potomac Yard and the Landmark area, we will need a new elementary school in each of those parts of the city. The city planners met with the School Board to share the plans and to outline expected enrollment increases, which then becomes the core part of decision making.
Question: What is the current status of the Cora Kelly playground? The children there have essentially had no playground since the fall and the Cora Kelly community would like some clear information about what is going on with the playground and a timetable for completion.
Sherman: We are working to come up with a new plan to finish the Cora Kelly playground, including an option to move the playground nearer to the school so that it is entirely on school division property. I have proposed including $220,000 in the 2013 CIP budget to complete this important project.
Question: The city just passed its fiscal year 2013 budget and allocated about $180 million to ACPS for that fiscal year. Do you think that’s adequate funding for what ACPS needs to achieve? Is that how much you asked for?
Sherman: The actual city allocation to the school division is $1.23 million less than the School Board-approved budget. The City Council reduced its allocation by the amount that the state legislature increased in direct aid to ACPS; therefore, the total amount of funding equals the Board-approved budget, but compels a reduction in a reserve account to have expenditures and revenues balance.
I believe that it is increasingly clear that a form of revenue sharing similar to what Arlington County has in place must be considered. This approach determines a percentage of the total city or county budget that would go to the school division...and regardless of good times or bad, or more or less direct state aid to the school division, the local allocation would be clean and direct and understood by all.