Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and state Secretary of Education Laura Fornash will visit T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria on Thursday, Aug. 15 for a community forum on struggling schools.
Alexandria School Board Chair Karen Graf and Vice Chair Justin Keating will join McDonnell and Fornash as panelists in the forum, which will run from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. in the T.C. Williams rotunda.
The event is open to the public, but space is limited.
Keating said he wants to keep the discussion aimed at assisting the students that need help, and not just focus only on Alexandria’s Jefferson-Houston School.
The K-8 school in Old Town has lost accreditation and is open to potential state takeover under McDonnell’s newly created Opportunity Educational Institution.
“We want to get away from that,” Keating said. “If the [Governor and Fornash] want to exchange ideas and discuss helping struggling students and struggling demographics of students, that’s what we want to talk about. Jefferson-Houston isn't the only school in Alexandria with these demographics.”
In a press release announcing the forum, Graf said the Alexandria School Board believes “local control is the best way” to create successful schools and students “even when this work is met with great challenges.”
Graf said the board's objectives for the forum include discussing strategies and approaches for improving student progress and expressing a need for partnerships between local districts and the State Board of Education.
She also plans to explain the board’s scope to help advance student achievement.
"We know that we can help students achieve at high levels," Graf said in the press release. "I know that our school board, teachers and ACPS staff can find solutions to continue academic improvement — we owe it to our children to work together and approach this challenge as a community.”