The Alexandria City School Board last week voted to re-elect Karen Graf as its chair. Graf served as chair in 2013, her first year on the school system’s governing body.
Christopher Lewis was elected vice chair at the Jan. 9 meeting. School Board member Justin Keating served as vice chair in 2013.
“Our Board is made up of members with diverse styles and opinions, but for the past year, Karen has skillfully led our group in a way that builds consensus and focuses on our shared priorities, especially high academic achievement for all students,” Lewis said in a press release. “It is an honor that my colleagues selected me to serve with her as vice chair.”
Graf and Lewis were both elected to the school board in 2012. Graf represents District A, while Lewis represents District C.
Graf said her goals in 2014 include completing the search for a new system superintendent, a process the board recently opted to accelerate. She also plans to focus on how to best support school staff and the superintendent “as we continue to grow academic success among our students.”
Graf recently expressed some frustration with Bob McDonnell (R), who singled out Alexandria City Public Schools during his final State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 8 in Richmond.
Lewis said in addition to selecting a permanent superintendent the board has several critical decisions to make before the school year concludes, including a approving a review of the city’s middle schools and some difficult budget choices.
District A School Board member Bill Campbell said this week the school system is looking at somewhere between an $11 million and $14 million funding gap.
“With an increase in enrollment and an amount close to $14,000 per student, we’re looking at $7 million just to meet the increases,” Campbell told the Del Ray Citizens Association. “Then there’s a higher cost to do business. And our retirement system, we have to pay more and then there are losses in state and federal grants.”
The budget proposal from the superintendent is due Jan. 23.
“It will take both a team effort among the Board and a community effort among all Alexandrians to keep us moving forward,” Lewis said. “I'm confident Karen and I will form a strong team in guiding our Board and community through these important decisions."