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Alexandria Public Schools Will Begin After Labor Day for 2011-2012 School Year

Alexandria School Board votes to withdraw resolution requesting a pre-Labor Day start date, expresses frustration with state

Alexandria’s public schools are not starting the 2011-2012 school year before Labor Day.

The Alexandria School Board voted on Thursday night to withdraw a resolution requesting from the state that it start the school year prior to Labor Day.

"I do not believe we’ve been served well by the state," said School Board Chairman Yvonne Folkerts.

The board has been trying for about a year to work with Virginia on the city’s request that Alexandria City Public Schools open before Labor Day. ACPS leaders  said an earlier start date would benefit children and teachers who would gain more learning time.

During the course of the talks with the Board of Education, it became apparent to School Superintendent Morton Sherman that the state was not heartily in favor of the idea. In response, on Apr. 28 Alexandria changed its request so that elementary schools would not be included in the request for a pre-Labor Day start date.

But then on Thursday night, the board finally said enough is enough and withdrew its request that would have covered middle and high schools.

The crux of the problem lies in the state’s interpretation of the law requiring all public schools to start the year after Labor Day.

“I recommend that we approve the calendars for K-12 and move ahead and allow this fight to take place another day with other discussions,” Sherman said during the Thursday night board meeting.

School Board member Marc Williams said, “I’m not happy with the outcome” and compared the process to the famous Peanuts scene with Charlie Brown and his sister Lucy where the football keeps getting moved.

Williams asked, and the board agreed, to ask the state for formal advisory guidance on what it might accept so that Alexandria could secure its goal.

Board member Blanche Maness agreed that the process was frustrating, and said, referring to the state Board of Education:  “Their business is to oversee the entire state and support us at the local level. I think it would be incumbent upon them to give us guidance versus to say ‘deny’ and ‘you didn’t do this and didn’t do that.’ If we taught our children like that we’d really be in trouble.”

Board Vice Chair Sheryl Gorsuch praised Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka for his work on the issue as he also sits on the State Board of Education.

Krupicka told Patch on Friday he’s disappointed that there isn’t going to be a waiver application and hopes the city will bring it forward next year. 

“I don’t think our school district should have to get permission from the state to set their calendar” he said. “It’s a completely inappropriate use of state power to micromanage local school district challenges. “

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