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ACPS Superintendent, Mayor Tour Schools Tuesday

Members of the School Board also will join the tour to usher in the more than 13,000 students beginning the 2012-13 school year with ACPS.

Members of the School Board for Alexandria City Public Schools, the school system’s superintendent and Alexandria’s mayor will be touring a handful of schools on Tuesday morning, the first day of school for many families in the area.

ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman and Mayor Bill Euille and other officials will begin the first day of school at by welcoming the more than 3,000 students there.

Officials also will tour T.C. Williams’ Minnie Howard campus, which houses T.C. Williams’ freshman class of 697 students, as well as , Francis Hammond campus, William Ramsay Elementary School and Patrick Henry Elementary School.

ACPS rings in the new year with, 13,000 students, including 600 new students.

Schools on a non-traditional calendar already started their school year on Aug. 1.

Sherry Henderson September 04, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Autoexec.bat, if the many layered problems with the Alexandria City Public School system could be solved by blaming it all on one-party rule in the City of Alexandria, it might be easy to fix. Sure, I'll agree, the Alexandria Republican City Committee is a joke, but then everyone in Alexandria also knows that the ARCC is a joke. The problems with the ARCC comes from a malaise or lack of caring to fix the problem by either party. There just isn't anyone with any cohones that will come forward to fix ACPS, which can and should be fixed very soon, before another generation of Alexandria children suffer from having a poor education.
Autoexec.bat September 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Fair enough. Nevertheless, I believe that ending one-party rule is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving ACPS.
Cathryn S September 04, 2012 at 06:15 PM
The School Board election is a non-partisan election. The City Council does not have control over ACPS policy
Sherry Henderson September 04, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Autoexec.bat, once again, the issue with fixing the Alexandria City Public Schools system is based clearly on 'The Peter Principle', not on one-party rule in the City of Alexandria. And, in regard to the issue of one-party rule, mainly the Democrats, that will be a fact of life for at least the next 50 to 60 years. If you don't like one-party rule in Alexandria, maybe you should move to Fairfax County, where there are a ton of more Republicans, and, they've also got a much better school system than the City of Alexandria, too.
Autoexec.bat September 04, 2012 at 06:48 PM
So it's "Love It or Leave It" then, huh? Nice. I could better stomach one-party rule if the schools improved to a degree that allowed me to continue living in Alexandria rather than having to move to Fairfax County which features nominally more diverse political representation and - as you pointed out - much better schools, coincidentally or not.
Sherry Henderson September 04, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Autoexec.bat, Fairfax County far outshines the City of Alexandria in almost every category, but it's probably not fair to compare them, side-by-side, as the city has about one-tenth of the county's population. The City of Alexandria's schools have been a mess for many generations, and they will continue to be a mess for many more. But to your issue of one-party rule, as you've noted, comes from Democrats ruling the roost in the City of Alexandria for many generations, too. There are a lot of Republicans in Alexandria, quite a few of my friends who are loyal members of the G.O.P., but they are not associated with the Alexandria Republican City Committee. Democrats aren't to blame for the terrible conditions of the Alexandria City Public Schools. It just comes down from years of ineptitude, pure and simple. My guess is that you're a Republican. If you think that a Republican can fix ACPS, try talking to Frank Fannon and seeing what he can do.
P S September 05, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Do any of you have kids at tc? Doubt it with your comments. Sure acps needs work, but nothing like this. I do have 2 kids there now.
Sherry Henderson September 05, 2012 at 04:28 AM
P S, I have no children at T.C. I wouldn't put any of my children in any public school within the boundaries of the City of Alexandria. But I do know friends who have children who go to T.C. and their children have said that 'thugs' (their words) run the school, and that there's an undertone of acceptability in regard to the use of drugs, underage sex, and there have also been many off-campus rapes. All I can do is hear from students who go to T.C. who have told me about how much they hate it there, that they wish they were going to a private school, or maybe going to school in Fairfax County. The ACPS needs work? That's a huge understatement. But, as I've said before, the problems with ACPS have gone on for generations, and, unfortunately, they will continue to go on, not getting fixed, because, honestly, if someone really cared, our schools would be in much better shape than they are today. Also, people in Alexandria really don't care about how ACPS is run, either, because if they did, they'd be up in arms. So there has been an overall malaise that has attached itself to ACPS that makes it so that no one wants to touch it, and because of that, no one wants to fix it. Children in Alexandria have to suffer though, and that's not right. I'm quite sure that there are parents and their children who think that ACPS is great because they don't know any better and they don't realize that their schools are rated as some of the worst in the Commonwealth. Alexandrians need to wake up!
Linda Kelly September 05, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Yikes, Sherry, your view of the system does not comport with my personal experience whatsoever. Honestly, before my kids were old enough to go to school, I had heard frightening stories too, but our experience has been very good. What I have observed is that kids who come to school ready to learn and with parental support can get a great education. (Did you know you can take Chinese at the middle school level? Unbelievable!) There is a ton of opportunity and the teachers--well, many of them are just fantastic. As for drugs and underage sex, well, I suspect they have those things in private high schools, too. Many off campus rapes? Are we sure about this one? And--if true, how is that the fault of ACPS? Are you sure you are not just repeating unsubstantiated rumors?
NoBS September 05, 2012 at 11:22 AM
"Autoexec" - Sherry is correct, the school board is non-partisan. Party affiliation is not listed on the ballot for that office. In point of fact, the chairman of the school board for many years until Sheryl Gorsuch took over earlier this year was Yvonne Folkerts, who is as Republican as they come. Check the list of people who donated to her campaign and you'll have your proof. One party rule, as you call it, is not the issue (never mind that there are 2 R's on council who help determine the budget for ACPS). I also disagree that people don't care about ACPS. The problem is a do nothing school board. School Bd member Helen Morris told me on Saturday that there it would cost about $1 million to buy out Sherman's contract and that there is "no will" do fire him for cause. The school board agreed to that contratual term. They must all be fired in November at the polls.
Sherry Henderson September 05, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Linda, all good points. You're right, I'm just passing on comments from students who are children of friends of mine who all go to T.C. now and have told me, and their parents, what a train wreck the place is. I'm sure through their eyes, it's the end of the world. To your point about many off campus rapes, you're right, that's not the fault of the ACPS, and I'm sure that many private schools also have some of the same problems T.C. has now, but I'm also sure that any other school has probably also dealt with problem issues in a much more expedient fashion. There are many problems with ACPS, some of which they're addressing head on, so they're not completely ignoring anything that's too glaring, but there are so many to address that sometimes I wonder if Dr. Sherman and the Alexandria School Board look at their task as mind numbing. What needs to be done is a complete overhaul of the way schools are managed in Alexandria. There really needs to be a 'school czar' put in charge to make swift and deliberate changes that can be implemented quickly to turn ACPS around for the better. If not, ACPS will continue to stumble and bumble down the same path of misfortune that they've been on for years. As I've also noted, people in Alexandria, overall, aren't upset with ACPS and how it's run because children are a low priority in the city. It's a product of sheer numbers that most home owners in Alexandria, well, a majority, don't have children in ACPS and don't care about how it's run.
Heath Wells September 05, 2012 at 05:28 PM
What everyone is talking about is why I decided to run for school board. If you live in District A, please consider voting for Heath Wells. I believe that it is the job of the school board to guide the superintendent and replace him if he is not effective. Instead, the current school board just renewed Mr. Sherman's contract, for three years. The fact is that he could have been let go last summer without penalty, but that option is gone for the new school board until 2015. http://www.acps.k12.va.us/news2012/nr2011092301.php Further, violence is a problem in the Alexandria school system. Alexandria reported in the most recent Virginia Department of Education report card (2010-2011) twice (29) the number incidents of "weapons offenses" as Arlington (16) in spite of Arlington having twice the number of students (Alexandria 12k versus Arlington 21K). https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/reportcard/ But pointing fingers is easy. If elected, I promise to stop the current board habit of insiders talking to insiders and excluding parents. That will require work and patience, but I think it will help students learn. Heath
Kim Moore September 05, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Wow. Basing assumptions on rumor is not helpful. Reading these comments, I could be led to believe that ACPS is run by non-chalant, inattentive oafs who regard our students as styrofoam peanuts, and that TC is run by gangs. So far, I have seen none of that in our schools. MVCS has been a great experience for my kids. My friends' older kids are doing really well at GWMS, and what my husband describes as his daily experiences as a TC (now in his 17th year there) do not come anywhere close to the kinds of rumors/assumptions that some have posted. To Gail, I expect that between salary and benefits, it would take about $1 million to buy-out Supt. Sherman's contract. I have not been a fan of his on all issues and am not defending the dollar amount. Doing the math, his salary and benefits would come to about a million dollar buy-out. Layer on top of that the cost of an executive search for a new Superintendant, plus paying that new person while paying out a terminated contract. That would total far more than a million. I have had significant concerns about the layers of administration at Central Office. To me, those hirings need to stop. If posters have actual statistics about violent offenses at TC, then please share them. Providing rumor and innuendo does nothing to advance this conversation.
NoBS September 05, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Kim, my point is that the school board never should have renewed Sherman's contract. I agree with you that there are questions to be raised about the layers of administration in the central office. Sherman awarded a contract to Chris Dodd's wife's business. People I know in CT told me that Dodd and Sherman are close, and Sherman had hoped that Dodd would run for governor up there and Sherman wanted to "buy in" to a plum appointment later. Go read this older Patch story and the related comments. http://oldtownalexandria.patch.com/articles/school-board-chair-defends-superintendent-s-actions
Lee Hernly September 05, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Kim - Student respondent in annual wellness survey at TC said the top major health needs/problems for students at T.C. Williams are: http://www2.acps.k12.va.us/student-services/health/teen-wellness-center/survey-results.php Drug & Alcohol cases have doubled at TC (via VA Board of Education): http://www.localkicks.com/just_in/drug-alcohol-offenses-double-in-alexandria-schools
NoBS September 05, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Thank you for posting those links, Lee. People need to face the facts about TCW. 29 weapons offenses in the last year for which there are statistics...48 offenses against students...Sherman supporters need to read a dose of reality.
Kim Moore September 06, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I wish that were not any offenses to report. However, the report was about ACPS, not just TC. Using the 48 offenses of student v. student, that is a frequency rate of less than .004 percent in ACPS (12,700 students). If you apply that to the estimated population (2,700) of TC Williams, that is 2%. Based on that data, posts about ACPS as being rampant with violence appear unfair and unwarranted.
NoBS September 06, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Kim, that report is mostly about TC. It speaks to the high school level.
P S September 06, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I see a lot of blather about drastic reorganizations etc. What I don't see is what concrete steps that you think would make TC or any part of ACPS better. Until people give direction to Sherman or school board that they fail to implement, then to spend money to fire him is a ridiculous waste of resources. Do I love his work? no, but he is not that bad. What should be done? Please provide the answers and we will all work to implement that. My girls have been in ACPS since kindergarten and if it were half as bad as gossip says, they would not be there!
Lee Hernly September 06, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Kim - I never said that the problem was rampant (actually said it was growing...) at T.C. but, when students ID the problem and the evidence shows the issue has doubled in two years with no solutions given, then there's a 'growing' problem.
P S September 06, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Also, those of you who have been commenting clearly have an interest in education, so I suggest you make an appointment to actually visit your neighborhood school or TC. Seeing with your own eyes is the best antidote to rumor. In my opinion, the worst problem for the short to medium term is elementary school crowding. As alexandria approves infill development after development, younger students increase at a fast rate. And most don't seem to be moving away or going to private schools, contrary to urban legend, so now ACPS is bursting. For that I do blame city council and board of ed for not insisting on expansion and setting aside school land as we go along.
NoBS September 06, 2012 at 03:37 PM
PS, part of the problem is that Sherman won't take direction. Not from parents, at least. He does his own thing and hands out contracts to his friends.
P S September 06, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Gail, please share with us what specific actions that you have wanted that have not been carried out. I'm ready to step up and advocate. And Mr. Hernley I've looked at your links which were interesting, but rather dated (2011-0 and 2011). Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find anything more recent either.
NoBS September 06, 2012 at 07:11 PM
PS, there were details released last year about a contract that Sherman awarded to the wife of former US Senator Chris Dodd of CT. Sherman is friendly with the Dodds. Dodd was considering a run for governor at the time. I don't have the link handy but you can goggle various consulting contracts that Sherman has awarded. I want Sherman to be fired and a full investigation of possible misuse of ACPS computers and networks by all employees. I want all current sole source consulting contracts cancelled and no more sole source awards allowed. I want Sherman and his office to personally repay ACPS for unnecessary office renovations and new furniture. I want the central office downsized and the money saved to be used toward bonuses for good teachers.
NoBS September 06, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Here is a link to the ACPS page that details some sole source awards. This is just the start. http://www.acps.k12.va.us/financial-services/purchasing/
NoBS September 06, 2012 at 07:29 PM
And a three part article from 2010 about Mort. Part two is linked here. http://watchdog.org/37298/odw-alexandria-superintendent-pays-thousands-to-long-time-friend/
Lee Hernly September 06, 2012 at 08:30 PM
The gang @ Red Alexandria has covered Morton Sherman and his cronyism too. This link is a good start: http://redalexandriava.com/2012/06/14/morton-sherman-why-are-we-the-taxpayer-paying-for-his-car/
P S September 06, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Ofthe "29 weapons offenses" how many, if any, involve any threat or assault? These statistics include things like kids bringing their pocketknives or BB guns to school with no violent intent. Also I'm a TC student and there has definitely been a decrease in fighting over the past couple years. More importantly you will rarely be involved in or affected by a fight if you don't choose to be.
Kim Moore September 08, 2012 at 01:31 AM
PS' views about troubles in TC reflect what I also understand to be true; fights/antagonism are between kids who know each other. Lee H., I did not say that you noted problems at TC as being rampant. I said that "posts" (there were many) about rampant violence appear unwarranted. As I have posted many times regarding other school issues, I disagree with a number of Supt. Sherman's decisions. His efforts regarding classroom improvements have had merit, though he sought too many at one time. I strongly disagree with the number of consultants and new administrative positions that he has employed. ACPS is a community of talented teachers and students. Slamming the entire system based on rumors is not fair to our students and teachers. If ACPS is so bad, why are so many people finding ways to send their kids to our schools? I want the school system to dedicate more efforts to remove the kids who live in Fairfax and PG Counties, and the District so that our funds are focused on Alexandria kids.
Lee Hernly September 24, 2012 at 03:50 PM
If 5 out of 6 new students are taking ESL classes, what kind of 'new' students is the school system attracting? To say 'why are so many people finding ways to send their kids to our schools?' is very misleading.

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