Alexandria City Public Schools will distribute food on a modified schedule to families during spring break next week, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. announced on Thursday.
“We have been able to partner with the city, which I’m really excited about, to continue to have our grab-and-go meal distribution on next week,” Hutchings said in his daily video. “It will not be at all of our sites, though. It will only be at T.C. Williams next week.”
The grab-and-go meals will be available next week on the Chinquapin Park and Recreation Center side of T.C. Williams High School on Wednesday, April 8, and Friday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“We will resume our normal scheduling of our meal distributions at all of our sites as well as our mobile pop-up sites when we return back on April 13, so there is a modified meal distribution next week but we will still have meals, and I’m really excited about the fact that we will still be able to provide meals for all of our families,” Hutchings said.
Spring break ends on Monday, April 13 and students will be expected to resume their studies on Tuesday, April 14.
In the meantime, ACPS is partnering with ALIVE! to provide families with up to four bags of groceries on Saturday, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. in the John Adams Elementary School parking lot [5651 Rayburn Avenue] and at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center [25 W Reed Avenue].
Otherwise, Hutchings said that he was looking forward to having downtime and not responding to emails for a week.
“I know I’m not going anywhere but in the house, but I’m looking forward to just unplugging and not doing the videos and not responding to emails all day,” he said. “Just taking some downtime that is well needed, and I hope that you all will do the same, that you’ll get some rest.”
Staff photo by James Cullum
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced T.C. Williams High School to not have a traditional prom or graduation this year, and Alexandria City Public Schools are working on alternatives.
Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. and T.C. Principal Peter Balas broke the news to more than 700 graduating seniors last week that the ceremony at George Mason University’s Eagle Bank Arena on June 13 has been canceled.
“Graduation… is not going to happen as it traditionally does because of the large gatherings that graduation or a commencement ceremony requires,” Hutchins said in one of his daily videos. “But we are still working with our seniors and also with our staff members to develop an innovative approach to actually have some form of a commencement ceremony or graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 and we’re going to have more information for you all about that soon.”
The 2020 yearbooks are also nearly complete and will be sent to students.
T.C. senior Peter Moser told Theogony, the school newspaper, that while it’s disappointing to miss prom and graduation, “I would rather have my grandparents alive.”
“There’s a huge risk to having both of those events, so canceling them was the right choice,” Moser said. “Hopefully, we will still be able to have a graduation ceremony in the summer or something.”
Governor Ralph Northam on March 23 ordered all schools to be closed for the remainder of the year. Alexandria’s public schools were already shut down until the end of spring break, and ACPS staff are currently working on a continuity plan for the rest of the year.
“We’re working right now with the Virginia Department of Education,” Hutchings said. “They will be submitting a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education to waive some of the graduation requirements, so that we can ensure students are not penalized for the school closures that will occur for the remainder of this year.”
The state department of education is also submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Education to wave requirements for students who still need to take standards of learning exams or earn industry credentials.
“Once that application is approved, we will be able to still have our seniors, graduate with a standard or an advanced diploma from TC Williams,” Hutchings said.
T.C. will also not have its traditional National Decision Day, where seniors commit to colleges with letters of intent.
Balas sent a letter to students informing them of the decisions and said that advanced placement exams will still be taking place, but will be shorter and online. The exam schedule will be available on April 3 from the College Board.
“I know this is going to be hard on you,” Balas wrote. “These events are rites of passage as you complete your senior year at T.C. Although we know we won’t be able to recreate the experience in the traditional manners, I plan to work with my Titans to come up with alternatives. Our students have been sending me some great ideas about how we can still celebrate this time in your lives.”
Photo via ACPS/Facebook
Alexandria City Public Schools have added three “grab and go” breakfast and lunch distribution locations for children over the age of two.
Food distribution at all the ACPS locations has also been limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to encourage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered the school system for the remainder of the academic year.
“We’re trying to really not have families out every day and staff out every day,” ACPS Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. told the City Council/School Board Subcommittee in an online meeting on Tuesday. “Last week we had these meals available every day. We are really trying to adhere to the guidelines of social gathering.”
The new locations are:
- Mason at Van Dorn Apartments at 140 S. Van Dorn Street, from 10:45-11:15 a.m.
- Brent Place Apartments at 375 South Reynolds Street, from 11:20-11:50 a.m.
- Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court, from 10:45 – 11:15 a.m.
ACPS is also offering meals at these locations between 8 a.m. and noon:
- T.C. Williams High School [3330 King Street]
- William Ramsay Elementary School [5700 Sanger Ave]
- Francis C. Hammond Middle School [4646 Seminary Road]
- Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology [3600 Commonwealth Avenue]
- Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School [1501 Cameron Street]
Daily update for Weds, March 25:
👉 Info for @TCWTitans seniors
👉 Students transitioning to the next grade level next year
👉 3 new pop-up meal locations
More: https://t.co/ru8xh0Q3xG pic.twitter.com/dMUUlVMLDe
— Alexandria City Public Schools (@ACPSk12) March 25, 2020
Alexandria City Public Schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.
Governor Ralph Northam made the announcement on Monday, effectively closing all public schools in Virginia.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that he and his team need a few days to finalize a continuation plan for students.
“Tomorrow, we are expecting more guidance from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) around graduation requirements, high school credits, Standards of Learning (SOL) testing, and how to move forward with continuity of learning that meet Special Education requirements,” Hutchings said in his daily 3 p.m. video announcement.
Hutchings added, “Once this information is released from the VDOE, we will begin to share our refined plan for the extended school closures with our families and staff.”
Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted that the move is “heartbreaking as it is expected.”
The announcement by the @GovernorVA this afternoon that our schools will not be reopening this school year is as heartbreaking as it is expected.
We ALL have work to do now to ensure the health and welfare of our kids during this vulnerable and sad period of their young lives.
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) March 23, 2020
There are more than 15,700 students in ACPS, which is releasing staff updates at noon every day and notices to families every day at 1 p.m. in ACPS Express. Student attendance is not being tracked during the shutdown, and teachers are legally prohibited from grading any work or providing new learning material to students.
There are currently six positive cases of COVID-19 in Alexandria.
“I can’t say I’m shocked because I knew it was gonna happen,” said a student at T.C. Williams High School. “It’s crazy to think about. I feel bad for the seniors because they’re missing the best parts of high school.”
Every elementary school student was given instructional packets to take home, and students in grades 3-12 went home with Chromebook laptops. The school system has also provided educators with instructional suggestions, and have ordered them to constantly connect online with students to make sure they are thinking academically.
We know you have many questions following @GovernorVA's announcement today. Send us your questions at https://t.co/cWEWn9PeYi. We will address them in the next few days via @DrHutchings' daily video Q&A at 3pm (https://t.co/s7Les6Zvnn) and in our FAQs (https://t.co/pnAlLWEuaL). pic.twitter.com/HDjXXxrNwg
— Alexandria City Public Schools (@ACPSk12) March 23, 2020
The COVID-19 shutdown has brought an early summer slide to Alexandria City Public School students.
On Friday, the School Board discussed the issue in its first online meeting since canceling all in-person meetings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed the school system until April 14.
“I know we’re probably all concerned this is a whole new definition of summer slide that many of our lower-income kids are going to be experiencing,” School Board Vice Chair Veronica Nolan said, and asked if any additional outreach could be made to children in lower-income families.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that ACPS, during the month-long COVID-19 system-wide shutdown, is legally prohibited from grading any work or providing new learning material to students. Every elementary school student was given instructional packets to take home, and students in grades 3-12 went home with Chromebook laptops.
“It is definitely important for all of us to know that summer slide is real,” Hutchings said. “And it’s not just for our students who are low income, but all of our students at this time, because we are not able to provide any new information to students right now.”
Hutchings said he is planning on opening schools back up after spring break ends on April 13, although the nature of the coronavirus has resulted in historic shutdowns throughout the area.
“Right now we are planning on opening on April 13, but we do have a continuation plan if we are ordered by either the governor or the Virginia Department of Education to keep our schools closed past that date,” Hutchings said. “We’re working on a plan if we were to have to do that and what that would look like.”
There are more than 15,700 students in ACPS, which is releasing staff updates at noon every day and notices to families every day at 1 p.m. in ACPS Express. Hutchings also hosts a daily webinar at 3 p.m. during the week.
Hutchings and other superintendents from around Virginia are meeting online once a week with James Lane, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. Discussion topics include getting waivers for students to account for time lost in the classroom and what happens if school is closed for the rest of the year.
“That is our question every week, ‘So what do we do if schools remain closed through the end of the school year? How do we get that time back in regards to instructional time for our students?'” Hutchings told the board. “And then what does that look like? Are we going to have waivers for our schools for July versus September or August?”
The school system has also provided educators with instructional suggestions, and to constantly connect online with students to make sure they are thinking academically.
“We have a conference with the teachers once a week,” a T.C. student told ALXnow. “The work takes like four hours a day, normally. Most people are doing the work, because you will be very behind next year if you don’t… I do like two-thirds of it.”
School Board Member Meagan Alderton asked about erecting signs outside of schools, since receiving an email she received from a parent about a packed playground at Matthew Maury Elementary School.
“The email was about looking across the street and seeing tons of kids and tons of people playing on the playground together,” Alderton said. “Can we do something about that? Can we put some notices up to support this notion that we are social distancing, so lets please not convene 20 on the playground at our school?”
ACPS Chief Operating Officer Mignon Anthony said that signs will soon be erected warning people to not congregate. All ACPS playgrounds and facilities are officially closed to the public.
On food distribution, Hutchings said that staff are finalizing the details on a mobile pop-up, which will provide for people who can’t make it to the other food distribution locations. He also said that staff will soon have a multilingual phone hotline for parents with questions about receiving food.
The entire meeting is below.
Image via ACPS
[Updated at 12:10 p.m.] Alexandria City Public Schools on Monday will start providing two days worth of free breakfast and lunch meals for any enrolled ACPS student on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8 a.m. and noon. at five new distribution points.
“Meals consist of cold breakfast and lunch, including fresh fruits and vegetables, salads and sandwiches for multiple days per the student’s need,” ACPS spokeswoman Julie Allen told ALXnow.
T.C. Williams High School will now distribute food as a grab-and-go paper lunch pickup only.
No food distribution will occur on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The limited days for distribution is to support the practice of social distancing and to limit social gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new locations are:
- William Ramsay Elementary School (5700 Sanger Ave)
- Francis C. Hammond Middle School (4646 Seminary Road)
- Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology (3600 Commonwealth Avenue)
- Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School (1501 Cameron Street)
No sign up or registration is needed to receive meals.
Alexandria City Public Schools is working on multiple contingencies for the coronavirus pandemic, including closing until the end of the school year.
The school system is currently closed until the end of spring break, April 14.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said at a City Council meeting last night (Wednesday) that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is working on getting waivers from the U.S. Department of Education so that students will move on to the next grade level.
“As of right now, I do know that the VDOE [Virginia Department of Education] is working with the federal government to submit waivers for this specific area to make sure that we’re transitioning kids today, as well as for our graduating seniors, who are expected to graduate in June,” Hutchings said.
ACPS on Thursday is also expected to release the locations for new food distribution sites around the city. Up until now, meals to students and their families have been distributed from one location at T.C. Williams High School. Multiple locations will keep students, parents and ACPS staff from congregating.
“[Parents] are curious about what happens with their kids… if school gets closed for us this year?” City Councilman Canek Aguirre asked Hutchings.
Hutchings said that under the proposed waivers, Alexandria’s nearly 16,000 students would not be held to the same year-to-year standard as usual.
“For example, SOL [Standards of Learning] testing, grading credit promotion requirements — we are looking to get some form of waiver so that students can can continue to stay on track with their lives,” Hutchings said.
Hutchings is conducting daily webcasts at 3 p.m. and providing updates to parents every day at 1 p.m.
Alexandria City Public Schools handed out 5,000 free meals on Monday — the first day of the system-wide shut down that is forcing nearly 16,000 students to stay home for a month.
Approximately 20 ACPS kitchen staff prepare the meals, which include breakfasts and lunches, in the T.C. cafeteria. Meals include milk, bagels, breakfast bars, fruit and vegetables, sandwiches and nonperishable items. Families are encouraged to take home up to a week’s worth of provisions to reduce trips, regardless of their eligibility for free and reduced-price meals.
Sara Bennett, the assistant director of school nutrition services, said that ACPS plans on providing just as much food every day during the shutdown, and is cautiously optimistic about the weeks ahead.
“We’re hoping to keep getting food delivery for the types of food that we would like to provide,” she said. “Right now, we got a delivery today and we are stocked up for this week, and hopefully next week. We’re gonna keep our eye on it.”
Alexandria City Public Schools announced on Friday that all schools would close until April 14 — after spring break.
T.C. Williams Principal Peter Balas — wearing blue plastic gloves — spent hours assisting with the dispersion of food. In the lead up to the announcement of the month-long COVID-19 ACPS shutdown on Friday, Balas was participating in up to three daily conference calls with Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. and other principals.
“It’s been a period of lot of learning as every hour goes on,” Balas said. “And there’s also a lot of answering questions that people have or trying to find out answers to questions if I don’t know the answers, and just being available.”
Balas added, “I think all of it is surreal. Even if you drive down on the road, just seeing how there isn’t traffic at major intersections, it feels a little surreal to me… I would just urge everyone to take all of the necessary precautions seriously so that we can get past this.”
T.C. Williams High School has about 4,000 students and is the largest high school in Virginia.
On Friday, every elementary school student was given instructional packets to take home, and students in grades 3-12 went home with Chromebook laptops.
Hutchings is adapting to the new normal — a closed school system. He’s providing live daily video updates at 3 p.m., and on Monday was also at T.C. helping to distribute food.
“I think the the learning component and the meals are the two most important aspects of us running schools,” Hutchings said.
“We are going to be working with Virginia Department of Education, and the State Superintendent around some guidelines on what that looks like for all kids,” Hutchings said. “So I think that now, this is more of a statewide kind of issue that we’re all going to have to just adjust to figure out.”
Melissa Deak, the director of school counseling at T.C., also helped give out food. She leads a team of 21 school counselors who are teleworking from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the week.
“Kids come into our offices every day, so they need that connection,” Deak said. “So, we’re reaching out to them to let them know that even if we can’t see each other, we can definitely communicate.”
Sindyog Jaturongkasamrint, a dealer at the shuttered MGM National Harbor, picked up food at T.C. with his 11-year-old niece and 10-year-old nephew.
“The food helps because we don’t know how long this shutdown is really going to last,” Jaturongkasamrint said. “The kids love it. He loves to play video games and she loves to watch movies.”
“The gymnasium at Ferdinand T. Day looks cool,” Alexandria City Councilman Canek Aguirre said. “I’m excited to see that move forward.”
Construction of the 55-foot-tall, 8,709-square-foot addition is slated to begin this summer and be completed by spring 2021. The gymnasium would take up 4,762 square feet and also be used for school assemblies. The addition includes office space, storage and restrooms.
Since the initial project was approved in 2016 and amended last year, the addition will be built to achieve LEED Silver instead of adhering to the city’s Net Zero policy, which went into effect on March 2.
According to a city staff report, there will be two points of entry into the gym from the third floor of the school and the gym will be supported by 12 columns in a parking garage.
(Updated at 7 p.m.) Alexandria City Public Schools will be closing Monday until April 14 — after spring break — due to the coronavirus outbreak, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. announced in an email at noon on Friday.
“Although the Alexandria Health Department is not recommending schools to close at this time, multiple issues are impacting the ability for our schools to function effectively and efficiently,” Hutchings wrote. “Therefore, all ACPS schools will be closed as of Monday, March 16, 2020. We are currently planning to close until after spring break (April 6-13, 2020) and will continue to monitor the situation throughout this period of time.”
ACPS has a plan to feed students on free and reduced lunch. Starting Monday, the school system will provide free emergency meals for “any child under 18 and any family who needs it.”
According to the school system, there are two ways to access food while schools are closed:
- Individual Meals to Go: Any child between the ages of 2 and 18 – whether or not they are eligible for Free or Reduced Price Meals – can pick up a meal to go in a bag. Stop by the Chinquapin Drive side of T.C. Williams High School (door 14) between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to pick up a meal-to-go. You do not need to fill out any forms to pick up a meal-to-go.
- Family Meal Packs: You can order a family meal pack online and pick it up at the drive through pick-up point outside Chinquapin Recreation Center (Chinquapin Drive side of T.C. Williams High School, door 14) between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m the following day. If transportation is an issue, please remember to check the box to request meal delivery. Fill out the form to request a family meal pack: https://www.acps.k12.va.us/emergency-mealform
ALXnow was the first to report the closure on Friday morning, and the news comes a day after Hutchings appeared in a web conference with city and health officials, saying that the school system was not closing and was closely monitoring the pandemic.
Fairfax County closed schools Friday and cancelled all school trips and extracurricular activities. Loudoun County closed its schools from Thursday until March 20. Arlington Public Schools have cancelled or postponed non-essential events, schools in the District will be closed the remainder of the month starting March 16, and all public schools in Maryland are closing from March 16 through March 27.
Additionally, Bishop Ireton High School announced that it would be closed on Friday.
A message from Head of School Kathleen McNutt on Bishop Ireton’s closure on Friday, March 13, 2020. pic.twitter.com/rBwd7gOS20
— Bishop Ireton High School (@bishopiretonhs) March 13, 2020
The city reported its first presumptive positive case of coronavirus on Wednesday night, and earlier this week Hutchings reported that some students and staff at five schools were self-isolating in their respective homes.
The full message to parents is below.
Dear ACPS Families,
During the past several days we have heard concerns from parents and staff about keeping our schools open while the coronavirus response escalates in our region and around the country. Please know the safety and well being of our young people is always the top priority in ACPS. The mental, physical and emotional health of our students is at the forefront of our decision-making during this coronavirus situation.
At this time, we have no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in our schools, and the Alexandria Health Department has not determined community-spread of the coronavirus in the City of Alexandria. We have a number of staff and students who are self-quarantining and will be out for several weeks. Closures in our region are also impacting our ability to fully staff our schools.
Although the Alexandria Health Department is not recommending schools to close at this time, multiple issues are impacting the ability for our schools to function effectively and efficiently.
Therefore, all ACPS schools will be closed as of Monday, March 16, 2020. We are currently planning to close until after spring break (April 13, 2020) and will continue to monitor the situation throughout this period of time.
Our food services team is making arrangements for students to be provided meals while schools remain closed. Additional details will be sent later today.
During our closure, a daily update will be sent out via ACPS Express around 1 p.m to all families and community members who are signed up to receive these updates. Sign up for ACPS Express now. There will be a webinar at 3 p.m. every day to answer questions from families. We will send more information with specific details about this on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Please make sure your contact information is current in our system so that you can receive all correspondence from the school division during this time. Please contact your registrar today if you need to update your contact information in our system. For more details, see the FAQ on the ACPS website, information below or visit our coronavirus webpage at www.acps.k12.va.us/coronavirus
We thank you for your support during this difficult time and appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve our students and staff throughout this closure. More details about operations during closure will be provided later today. Daily updates will begin on Monday, March 16, 2020.
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
What work will be happening in our school facilities while schools are closed?
Every building will be deep cleaned while schools are closed. Other contracted work will continue as planned.
How can I get internet access at home?
Sign up for Comcast Internet Essentials. Visit www.internetessentials.com.
- Comcast is offering a FREE 60 day service and then $9.95/month
- New customers receive a free self-install kit that includes a cable modem with a Wi-Fi router. There will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.
- For assistance call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
How do I continue to get updates?
Make sure your contact information is up to date and you are able to receive information at this critical time.
Any member of the community can sign up to receive updates via ACPS Express. Sign up for ACPS Express now. An update will be shared via ACPS Express daily at 1 p.m.
An outline of emergency communication methods can be found on the ACPS website.
How will my child learn while schools are closed?
Instructional packets are going home today for elementary school students. Those students who have access to Chromebooks will be taking them home today. Instructional packets will be posted on the ACPS website for easy access.
Will there be other instructional supports?
ACPS-TV will be running educational content from 9 a.m. through noon each day. More information will be sent out on Monday.
Will there be continued access to food?
ACPS School Nutrition Services is continuing to develop a plan for providing food for students in need. Further information about meal availability will be communicated in the near future.
Families in need may also contact our local food pantry at https://www.alive-inc.org/ or 703-837-9300.
What should I do if someone in our family experiences coronavirus-like symptoms?
Individuals who need medical care should contact their primary care physician to report their illness or contact Neighborhood Health.
Some students and staff at five Alexandria City Public Schools have been advised to stay home and self-monitor for signs of COVID-19, and the school system is working out the logistics of shutting down completely.
Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. discussed the school system’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in a web conference on Wednesday.
As of yet, no one in the school system has tested positive for the coronavirus, but Hutchings said that an undisclosed number of students and personnel have been advised to stay home from the T.C. Williams Minnie Howard campus, Charles Barrett Elementary School, Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School, Cora Kelly School and Jefferson Houston PreK-8 IB School.
“We do not have anyone at this moment that has tested positive for coronavirus in Alexandria City Public Schools,” Hutchings said. “This is a situation that continues to evolve, and we’re in constant communication with the health department.”
The city reported its first presumptive positive case of coronavirus on Wednesday night. Nearby, the coronavirus has prompted Loudoun County Schools to close from March 12-20. Students in Alexandria are currently being provided with disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer, and school buses are being disinfected twice a day, according to Hutchings.
Hutchings said that the school system is working on a continuity plan and what shutting down the school system would entail. That includes how a meal program for students on free and reduced lunches would be conducted.
“This situation is not going to be over tomorrow, this is going to be a long haul,” he said. “This is going to require an indefinite amount of time to really resolve and we are not in a situation where we have been recommended or required to close our schools and to move into an online distance learning kind of service.”
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted Thursday morning that city administrators are making “decisions without precedent.”
Please remember: There are dedicated public administrators at every level of government who are right now making decisions without precedent.
They are using the best facts they have and with the knowledge that they will impact many, including those most important to them.
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) March 12, 2020
In case the school system does shut down, Hutchings said it would provide some households with computers and information on discounting their monthly internet service. He added, however, that in the event of a shutdown, students would not be primarily learning online.
“We do not want our kids on a screen all day doing instructional work,” Hutchings said. “If we were put into a situation where we had to close our schools, we still want our students to have an educational experience outside of the classroom. That is going to require us to provide our families with hard copies of learning activities.”
Hutchings added, “And these are learning activities and not lessons, because this is not new information that we’re going to expect someone in the household to teach our young people if we happen to close our schools, but it is more so enrichment activities. It is extension activities of work that they’ve already been exposed to in their classrooms, as well as different, engaging opportunities for them just to keep their learning experience viable and engaged.”
Looking ahead, spring break in Alexandria is April 6-13, and Hutchings said there are no plans, so far, to push back graduation in June for T.C. Williams High School seniors.
After months of confusion, the city and Alexandria City Public Schools plan on creating a committee to evaluate the co-location of affordable or workforce housing on the grounds of public schools slated for renovation.
“I feel like as a board that we’re being kind of we’ve been already left behind in this process. And and so I think that that we need to try to remedy that in some way,” School Board Chair Cindy Anderson said at a joint budget work session on Wednesday night.
Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings Jr. told council and the board that he and City Manager Mark Jinks are in agreement that a committee of city and school staff needs to be formed.
“That will allow us to begin to do some research and to be able to bring — not only to the board, but also to the city council — what are the implications of trying to have affordable housing on a school site, what are the potential opportunities here in the city of Alexandria and what has happened in other jurisdictions across the country,” Hutchings said.
No timeline was presented as to when the committee will be formed.
In January, the school system apologized to the community after a feasibility study was released showing the potential co-location of affordable housing at George Mason Elementary School and Cora Kelly School. Since then, the city manager’s office has made clear that Alexandria’s affordable housing crisis must be solved with creative solutions, and school staff agreed to include affordable housing options in future schools slated for development (with the exception of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School).
Alexandria has pledged to produce or develop 2,000 affordable housing units by 2025, and an additional 1,950 units by 2030 in order to meet its regional housing goal set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, which aims for the region to produce 320,000 affordable housing units in that period.
Conspicuously absent from school system’s co-location presentation at the work session was any mention of affordable housing. Other types of co-location that the school system participates in were included, including recreation and wellness centers, administrative office buildings and a library.
Erika Gulick, the ACPS director of capital programs, planning and design, said that the city and school system need to start planning for potential development sites around the city.
“This is a discussion and we will need to be prepared when we do have new developments like Landmark Mall and Potomac Yard,” Gulick said. “And if we expect to have school facilities there, what would co-location look like there?”
ACPS Chief Operating Officer Mignon Anthony said that the school system should have more community meetings so that residents aren’t caught off guard as they were with the George Mason feasibility study in January.
“I think that one of the things that we could do differently next time is have a community conversation at the very beginning, before the architect even starts the feasibility study,” Anthony said. “We thought we were going to collect all the information and then go to the community and tell them this is what our preliminary findings are.”