Alexandria T.C. Williams Advisory Committee has been meeting in its current form since 2007 to resolve issues between the local neighborhoods and the high school. At the Oct. 27 School Board meeting, the board sought to formalize the group as a Superintendent’s Committee. However, in a move to ostensibly widen the discussion and be more inclusive to the community, part of the proposal included adding civic and business associations further away from the school than the current committee membership. Adjoining neighborhoods would have two members, while further community organizations would have one.
But members of the adjoining neighborhoods saw the potential changes as a move to shut out voices of dissent who had opposed the School Board on issues like lighting the T.C. Williams football field.
“The School Board is pushing forward a process by diluting a something that’s been in place because the participants disagree with that agenda,” said Andrea Mackie, whose home backs up to the school’s football field. “The issue is safety. The issue is how poorly that property line has been kept for the last 15 years. The issue is how poorly monitored the property line is as students are still hopping the fence into my back yard to cut class.”
Bill Goff, a nearby resident, accused the School Board of attempting to “stack the deck” against neighbors.
School Board Chair Karen Graf argued in favor of the expansion of the committee to include neighborhoods within line of sight of the school, but other board members said they recognized the neighbors’ concerns that having representatives from areas further from the school would dilute local voices.
The Advisory Committee was approved, but the membership was changed so only neighboring associations were included as community members, with representation determined by proximity to the school.
Funds To Increase Capacity
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) can address its capacity needs by 2027, but according to Superintendent Alvin Crawley, it will cost $515.7 million.
At the School Board meeting on Oct. 27, Crawley proposed a $224.6 million increase over the previous year’s Capital Improvement Plan budget to address the school system’s’ capacity needs. One of the largest projects in the proposal would tear down the Minnie Howard Campus of T.C. Williams High School and build a much larger second high school in its place. Modernization and additional capacity would also be added at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, George Mason Elementary School and Matthew Maury Elementary School.