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February 20, 2012 Published in Schools, Top Stories

School Board Add/Delete Items Raise Community Ire

By Carla Branch

The Alexandria School Board is scheduled to approve the Alexandria City Public School system’s fiscal year 2013 operating budget on Thursday, Feb. 23. Board members submitted their lists of suggested additions and deletions late Friday night. These items will be discussed at the final School Board budget work session tomorrow night.

ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman proposed reducing the number of weeks of intersession at the two modified calendar schools from five weeks to three weeks. The cost of one week of intersession is $85,000 per school, which does not include the cost of transportation or food. Sherman proposed adding three weeks of extended learning time at all elementary schools, which would be designed by each school and could include extending the school day, a summer program or any other creative extended learning opportunity.

Four Board members – Board Chair Sheryl Gorsuch, Mimi Carter, Blanche Manness and Ronnie Campbell – proposed re-instating those two weeks and adding funding for intersession coordinators at both Samuel Tucker Elementary School and Mt. Vernon Community School. Budget additions require Board members to suggest commensurate deletions. Gorsuch and Carter would eliminate funding for the International Baccalaureate coordinators for elementary and middle school and funding for continued implementation of the IB program at the preK-8 schools such as Jefferson-Houston, the five middle schools and ninth and tenth grades at T. C. Williams High School.

ACPS has spent about $250,000 so far to move toward implementation of the IB program, which is a tenet of the ACPS education plan:

International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

All middle and PreK-8 schools as well as 9th and 10th grades at T.C. Williams High School will use the IB Middle Years Programme as a framework for student learning. The IB-MYP focuses on students aged 11 to 16 and provides a framework of academic challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become critical and reflective thinkers.

The IB-MYP consists of eight subject groups integrated through five areas of interaction that provide a framework for learning within and across the subjects. All ACPS students will be required to study language arts/English, world language, humanities, sciences, mathematics, the arts, physical education and technology. In the final year of the IB-MYP, students will engage in a personal project that will allow them to demonstrate the understandings and skills they have developed throughout their middle school and high school years.

In all, Board members proposed a net change of $2.1 million to Sherman’s proposed operating budget, according to a chart prepared by ACPS Interim Chief Financial officer Stacey Johnson. If the Board approves an operating budget larger than the superintendent's proposed budget they must do so by a two-thirds majority.

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