Alexandria Letter: Lacking Accountability

Alexandria Letter: Lacking Accountability

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am sure you are aware of the discord related to the development at the Patrick Henry School and Rec Center. The ACPS and School Board chose Option A1 over the advisory committee's recommendation of C1 claiming it was cheaper. Within two weeks, the ACPS discovered that A1 did not take into account the cost of the third floor nor the cost of moving Dominion Virginia's power lines. Option C1 does not have either of these additional expenses and has less square footage. These additional costs should have been easily anticipated in advance — reinforcing the trend that the School Board (excluding new members) and accompanying staff are simply incompetent and are unable to deliver a project on budget. Consider the high school over run Jefferson Houston, tennis courts, etc. Continuing with A1 is a waste of taxpayer money.

The School Board has absolutely no regard for DSUPs as is evidenced by their back door attempt to change the nature and composition of T.C. Williams Advisory Committee. During the construction of the new T.C. Williams High School, the city and the School Board came to the abutting neighborhood asking to have the football stadium remain in the rear of the school rather than in the front of the school as was the wishes of the architect. The neighborhood citizens granted this request and two documents were then signed by all parties to outline the concessions made by the city and the School Board. Document 68 allowed for the formation of a forum to monitor the construction of the new school and discuss any issues and problems with this project while document 69 stated that a permanent forum be formed to answer any issues related to the ongoing operation of the high school. The current School Board now wants in to abolish the existing agreement and form a new advisory committee with as many members as possible so as to dilute the the voices of the neighborhood The School Board has rushed this item through public debate in an effort to vote on this by Oct. 27.

The current advisory committee has met since 2007 and members have copies of minutes from these meetings that the ACPS has purposefully not shared with the School Board or the superintendent. The new resolution adds new members to the advisory board who do not live adjacent to the school. Karl Movitz, the planning director, sent an e-mail on Jan. 11, 2016 to ACPS Chief of Operations Clarence Stukes expressing his doubts about the new proposed advisory saying it was inconsistent with the standard city practice and did not meet the intent of Condition 69 of the DSUP #202-044 to provide a permanent forum for discussion and resolution of neighborhood issues that arise as a

result of the ongoing operation of the new high school. Despite the words of Mr Movitz, the School Board heeds no one and so they proceed with this action.

School Board budgets are grossly underestimated resulting in the need for millions more or they are overestimated leaving the ACPS with huge windfalls that are viewed as profits and freely spent.

Citizens you better wake up — this air of arrogance and the notion of non-accountability permeates the old guard on the School Board. Understand it is citizen tax money that they are spending and you are getting zero return on your investment.

Bill Goff