New School Board Includes Six First-Time Members

Vice Chairman Helen Morris ousted from District A.

Six first-time members were elected to Alexandria School Board on Tuesday in an election that saw current Vice Chairman Helen Morris ousted from District A.

District A candidate Stephanie Kapsis, a former department director at Teach For America and elementary school teacher at P.S. 1 in Brooklyn, N.Y., earned the most votes (11,261, 24.56 percent) of any candidate in any of the city’s three geographic districts.

“I am incredibly honored to receive the support of the Alexandria community,” Kapsis, a first-time candidate, wrote in an email to supporters late Tuesday night. The final results were not available until early Wednesday morning because of a delay.  

Karen Graf (20.36 percent) and Bill Campbell (18.02 percent) were also elected from a six-candidate field in District A.

“I feel absolutely blessed and confident to have Steph on the board,” Graf said. “With her professional experience, she can grasp content quickly and indentify where we might have missed criteria to make a decision. … Bill has a unique experience in having had kids in every level of ACPS. He’s also a Jefferson-Houston parent and has a firm understanding of achievement gap challenges. “

Campbell edged Morris, also a Jefferson-Houston parent, by just 658 votes to claim the district’s third seat. Campbell ran an unsuccessful bid for the board in 2009.

In District B, newcomer Kelly Carmichael Booz, the director of civic education at the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, Va., claimed 25.88 percent of the vote. Newcomer Justin Keating (20.64 percent) and incumbent Marc Williams (20.42 percent) were also elected out of a five-candidate field.

"I am thrilled and humbled to serve on the Alexandria School Board," Booz said. "We have a lot of work to do in Alexandria with the school budget facing us first thing in January. As we get to work, I am committed to adding greater transparency and communication with the community as we tackle capacity issues and work to close the achievement gap and raise the bar for all students."

Three candidates ran uncontested in District C. Former School Board member Pat Hennig received the most votes (34.23 percent), followed by first-time candidate Chris Lewis (33.28 percent) and incumbent Ronnie Campbell (31.03 percent).

Ronnie Campbell and Williams are the lone incumbents on the new board, which will take office in January.

NoBS November 07, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Clint, I don't think it was lack of backbone by voters in B. I think a lot of people just didn't pay attention to the school board race and didn't know the candidates. Several voters told me they skipped voting for school board altogether. I was handing out lit for Kelly Carmichael Booz yesterday and I managed to get a good number of voters, but Marc had people at the polls as well. He is popular with many families in the George Mason precinct and did well at MacArthur too, among others. We'll target him next time and get the word out for other candidates. At least now Marc is completely outnumbered on the school board. I think he expects to be made chair based on his tenure. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
Edmund Lewis November 07, 2012 at 10:19 PM
The School Board elect are from three districts. Each district represents a number of different schools. At the beginning of the new term each board member should go to all of the schools within their distrcit, introduce themselve to the teachers, and provide all of the teachers with a simple survey. Two questions. What is working well within ACPS? What is not working well within ACPS? Allow the teachers to submit their answers anonymously at the end of the meet and greet session. Board members should then read, compile, and share the results from their district schools with the entire Board at one of the first Board meetings. If there are common praises, build on those. If there are common concerns, address them. The teachers who work with our children over 190 days a year, often 8 or more hours a day, sometimes on weekends and over the summer, would offer the best insight and feedback about the state of affairs of our school district.
Kyrah Drasheff November 08, 2012 at 12:39 AM
I'm sad that MIke Brookbank didn't get elected. But thank goodness we have six new members on the School Board. What needs NOT to happen now is for the new board to come under Sherman's "spell". I'm a newly retired teacher who has subbed a few times this past month. The teachers are having to do even more redundant, ridiculous, unnecessary tasks. I know of one teacher who stayed at school until 10:30 on a Friday night trying to complete a very difficult task that had to be done but probably was unneeded. My former colleagues have told me that they are spending hours (more than the usual hours they spend on schoolwork) on this stuff after they get home. I have heard several master teachers say they want out. This is after working 20 years in a profession they have loved. Morale among teachers is at an all-time low. They just want to teach the children. But when one has to spend all of one's time doing needless chores, and completing other useless items, they can't. Sherman and his cronies are driving people out. Edmund, I really appreciate what you said about asking TEACHERS to come forth . Since Sherman has been here, however, the teachers have been afraid to do this, because our superintendent seems to be vindictive. During the past four years, I haven't spoken to one teacher or parent who is favor of Sherman. Hopefully, this board will send him on his way. He has wrecked this system. PS: Go to the Tenafly and Cherry Hill sites to see what their opinions are.
NoBS November 08, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I had random strangers for Tenafly and Cherry Hill emailing me when I sued Sherman. Their comments were eye opening. Sherman has a quite a history of alienating communities and granting conracts to his friends. He did it in Connecticut and New York too.
CTW November 08, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Good idea Edmund on having them visit. However, in cases like District B, some Patrick Henry constituents voted in the District B school board, but District C actually includes PH (unless my map-reading skills have fallen by the wayside) and the area immediately surrounding it. I know the school board is intended to represent all of ACPS, but would be nice to at least have a say in who is representing my neighborhood school.


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