In one of their shortest meetings of the year, school board members took less than two hours to act on preschool changes, building plans and girls’ sports.
At their April 4 meetings, board members debated and approved changes to the Early Childhood Plan, approved the final design plans for Glebe Elementary School and resolved concerns regarding Title IX, the 1972 federal law that guarantees boys and girls equal access to all educational resources, including sports facilities provided by schools.
TITLE IX CONCERNS at Washington-Lee High School prompted school officials to adopt changes in practices and facilities without controversy. In fact, the plan to resolve the issue didn’t even make the board’s list of action items and was instead approved by a 5-0 vote on the consent agenda.
Superintendent Robert Smith denied that the school ever violated Title IX. Nevertheless, after one student complained, school officials began looking into ways of resolving the student’s concerns amicably.
New plans will involve changes to facilities and to policies. Renovations to the 50-year-old building are scheduled to begin soon and will take several years to complete. Girls sports will receive two additional score boards, among other improved facilities. Athletic department policies will be changed to divide locker room space more evenly, say school officials.
CHANGES TO EARLY Childhood Education plans brought dissention among board members. A section of the adopted plan outlines the programs APS intends to implement “as human, physical, and fiscal resources allow.” One item stated the intention to “Provide in every elementary school preschool options for families through the VPI program and/or the Montessori program in concert with existing admission policies.”
Board chair Elaine Furlow united with board member David Foster to oppose the item. “Regrettably I am going to vote against this one,” she said.
Foster argued that some schools may not have a need for preschool classrooms, so board members would be committing themselves to an unnecessary expense by approving the new plan.
Board member Mary Hynes pointed out that of the county’s 22 public elementary schools, eight currently lack preschool. But of those eight, she said, six have “robust” special education programs for preschool-aged children.
Other changes to the Early Childhood Education Plan passed unanimously and without controversy.