Alexandria To the Editor:
I think it’s safe to say that the only reason Mort Sherman decided to resign as superintendent of ACPS was that he found he could not control/manipulate this new school board as he had done with the previous board.
Several points need some clarification: because the former school board voted to extend Mort's contract through 2015 rather then 2014, this school board had no other choice then to work out a financial settlement in order for him to resign effective Aug., 31, 2013. However, we cannot let this new school board off the hook.
As the "managers of ACPS" they need to learn how to manage. This means keeping a paper trail, documenting all of the mistakes, financial issues, budget issues, creating some kind of foundation and Mr. Sherman's continued resistance to providing school board members with the information they requested, i.e., Shelter Care; Foundation materials and getting this information to them in a timely manner. Insubordination equals termination. Had they done this, then there would have been cause to terminate Sherman's contract.
However, they cannot rest easily even with Margaret Walsh stepping in as acting superintendent. Continued documentation via emails, letters, school board minutes, etc. must be part of their job. Anyone who has worked in the public/private sector knows this happens and provides the "proof" for termination. It’s difficult to believe that none of our school board members don't know about "documentation."
It cannot be overlooked that Marc Williams, the only no vote, was on the previous school board that voted to extend Mort's contract. Fortunately, Ronnie Campbell did the right thing as a member of the previous board by voting with the majority.
I know I would like to see the data showing that school enrollment will be increasing within the next few years. Because it has become so expensive for families to continue to live in Alexandria, especially for those who rent and families wherein their income is only about $50,000-60,000 a year, it seems to me that many of these families will be moving away. Further, future development projects in Alexandria are geared for singles and/or couples with disposable income and not families.
This should not be a "green light" for City Manager Young, Mayor Euille and all members of the council to increase funding for ACPS in its next budget. Until ACPS can get its "financial house in order," an overall cleaning out of staff in central office including the many consultants Mort continued to hire without any regard for any Alexandria taxpayers’ money, our local elected officials cannot increase any more funding to ACPS.
As this school board begins a search for a new superintendent, they must do a better job of vetting whomever they decide to hire. Paying $250,000 plus all of the benefits that go along with being superintendent for this very small school district must be an open discussion with every member of the community who wants to get involved and cares about ACPS. There is no reason any superintendent should receive that amount of money for a public school district no matter where this school district is located. Forget the usual "talking points" that ACPS won't be able to find someone without paying them too much money. Rubbish. It’s now time to move forward and for the school board to get it together.