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School buses preparing at Alexandria City High School (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Alexandria School Board unanimously approved a collective bargaining resolution Thursday night, setting the ground rules for how the school system will negotiate with staff on wages and benefits.

Dawn Lucas, president of the Education Association of Alexandria, was pleased with a number of changes that she recommended the Board make to the proposed resolution.

“I feel like we’re in a good place,” Lucas said. “Our teachers and staff are going to have seats at the table, and their voices will be heard.”

School Board Chair Michelle Rief said that Alexandria City Public Schools wants to come to a collective bargaining agreement by the end of 2024.

“I think it’s a milestone moment for our school division,” Rief said. ” I want to thank the Education Association of Alexandria, our ACPS staff and community members who were engaged in this process. We heard your feedback, we incorporated your feedback and I’m very pleased with where we landed with this final collective bargaining resolution.”

The school system is currently experiencing a staffing crisis. Last October, EAA sent the Board an employee certification on behalf of licensed teachers. That submission gave the Board 120 days to adopt a framework for the resolution.

Among the changes to the draft document was Board Member Abdel Elnoubi’s recommendation to remove a 30% voting threshold for employees to establish two unions for bargaining. Those units can now be chosen with a simple majority of staff.

Elnoubi said that the Board’s work on the resolution was the best experience he’s had throughout his single term.

“I got to roll my sleeves and do work and get involved in the work from the beginning and be part of the process,” Elnoubi said. “I don’t think as board members we get to do that a lot, so that was a really good experience, to feel that we are actually solving problems and working hands-on.”

The Board also increased the number of yet-to-be-determined bargaining topics from four to six, and left the door open for more topics if voted on by the bargaining units. Additionally, after the first agreement expires after three years, collective bargaining to administrative staff.

ACPS middle school teacher David Paladin Fernandez was also pleased with the resolution. Fernandez is running against Lucas for EAA president in a union election this summer.

“I do appreciate the immense amount of work that the Board has done to improve this document from where it was last week when it was first released,” Fernandez said. “The fact that they struck out the voter participation threshold is a tremendous win for not just employees here in ACPS, but for Democracy itself.”


Alexandria City High School English teacher Eva Irwin was at a loss for words when her name was called and the packed gymnasium erupted in applause.

This afternoon at a school assembly, Irwin was recognized as a top-tier teacher and surprised with the $25,000 Milken Educator Award.

It’s the first time that an Alexandria City Public Schools teacher has won the award, which has been presented to approximately 3,000 other educators over the past 37 years. There is also no formal nominating process or application that goes into selecting recipients.

“As you can tell, I’m shaking,” Irwin told the audience of students, teachers and administrators. “This is the last thing I ever expected.”

An English teacher with more than 100 11th-grade students, Irwin said that she tries to get her students to feel ownership with their assignments.

“I don’t have any children on my own, so they really are like my kids,” Irwin later told reporters. “I really try with my students to have a lot of collaboration. My teaching style is very student-centered, so I really try to get them to feel like they have ownership over their learning offered a lot of choice and how they can you know, complete assignments based on their best learning modalities.”

Philanthropist Lowell Milken started the awards in 1987 to recognize early-to-mid-career teachers.

“You cannot apply for our award,” Milken told the audience in the ACHS gymnasium. “We find you.”

The event was also attended by Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons, Alexandria School Board Chair Michelle Rief and ACPS Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt.

Milken told Irwin that the funds will help her unleash her potential.

“As we unleash that additional potential, we are expecting even greater things of the future,” he said.

Irwin said that the money will pay for her $23,500 master’s degree in educational and instructional leadership from Virginia Tech.

When asked about how the recipients of the award are chosen, Milken said that the foundation works with state boards of education, and that names surface through other sources to the Milken Family Foundation.

“I’d love to tell you, but it’s a secret,” Milken told ALXnow. “I think that what we can identify with this group of nearly 3,000 is that they’re all strong instructional leaders. They’re also powerful mentors for other teachers and they’re invested in their communities.”

The Alexandria School Board discusses collective bargaining in their work session on Thursday, March 14, 2024 (via ACPS)

The Alexandria School Board made significant changes to its proposed collective bargaining agreement resolution with staff on Thursday night.

In a work session that ran until nearly midnight, the Board amended the 17-page draft resolution, which sets the rules for negotiations on a three-year agreement. The draft resolution reveals a slow rollout for the Alexandria City Public Schools bargaining process that will only reach full fruition in future negotiations, with the school system currently focusing on reaching an eventual collective bargaining agreement on six yet-to-be-determined topics with a portion of employees.

The document was heavily criticized last month by the Education Association of Alexandria (EAA) union. EAA was adamantly opposed to the draft recommendation that 30% of licensed staff and support personnel vote to create two separate employee unions, or bargaining units, to represent them.

“We got some things and others we did not,” EAA President Dawn Lucas said. “We are not in agreement with any voter thresholds and don’t want limitations on bargaining topics.”

Last October, EAA sent the Board an employee certification on behalf of licensed teachers. That submission gave the Board 120 days to adopt a framework for the collective bargaining resolution, with a full board action expected on Thursday, March 21. ACPS wants to come to a collective bargaining agreement with staff by the end of the year, School Board Chair Michelle Rief said earlier this year.

School Board Member Abdel Elnoubi got majority support from his colleagues to remove the 30% voting threshold for employees to establish unions for bargaining.

“I don’t think anyone in this town was elected with 30% of the vote, not the mayor and City Council, and not us,” Elnoubi said. “I think it’s a burden that’s unnecessary.”

Board Member Chris Harris said he felt challenged by removing the 30% threshold.

“I’m challenged by this,” he said. “I’m just not sure what the engagement looks like. There could be two people. That could be a handful of people make a decision for an entire business unit. I’m not okay with that.”

The draft document now stipulates that employee unions can be established by a simple majority of staff within their respective employee groups.

The Board added Member Ashley Simpson Baird’s recommendation to increase the number of bargaining topics from four to six, and adding a sunset clause removing all restrictions on the number of topics that can be bargained after the first agreement expires.

Also approved was Vice Chair Kelly Carmichael Booz’s proposal to expand collective bargaining to administrative staff after the first agreement expires.

School Board Member Tim Beaty, a former leader with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, won a recent special election by campaigning on the importance of collective bargaining. He added language that will make the school system pay for the union elections.

“To me, the election is an obligation of the government that’s holding the election,” Beaty said. “We’re not trying to state what the rules are for the election, but we will pay for the election.”

ACPS middle school teacher David Paladin Fernandez is running against Lucas for EAA president. That election is expected to be conducted in May and the results released before July 1.

Fernandez sat through the nearly four hour meeting and walked away hopeful. Changes he’d like to see are management providing mailing lists of staffers to the EAA on a quarterly basis, and adding a “just cause” clause forcing the school system to tell employees why they are being disciplined or fired.

“EAA needs this to pass,” he said. “I like the level of discourse. It’s not something we see often out of the School Board. I’m largely happy.”


Alexandria School Board Members went all-in Wednesday night in asking City Council to fund its budget by approving a massive tax increase.

Mayor Justin Wilson told the Board at a budget work session on Wednesday night that its fiscal year 2025 $384.4 million combined funds budget request would result in a historic tax increase. The Board, in turn, said that the funding could stem the school system’s staffing crisis.

“To be candid, the combination of the operating requests and the capital requests is probably about a 6 cent tax increase, which is not viable,” Wilson said, adding that it would be the largest tax increase since the 5.7 cent tax increase of 2017 raised the average residential property tax bill by more than $300.

The Board’s proposed budget, which was approved last month, surprised Wilson and other Council Members, who said they were left in the dark with its development.

“I’ve heard nothing around a strategic look at how we pay folks,” City Council Member John Taylor Chapman told the Board. “I know many of you personally. I know you care about what you do. I know you are professionals. So, when I say ‘Hey, I expect you to bring a great budget to Council and Council is going to fund it,’ I don’t expect you to be just willy nilly. I expect you to be focused and I think that’s who you are.”

School Board Chair Michelle Rief countered that the Board has been strategic in its thinking, and that she prioritizes the 2% market rate adjustment for staff as the most important addition that needs funding.

“In my opinion, to sort of go out publicly and tell us to fight for the thing that we need and then come here and tell us that we’re we’re asking for too much, I think might be a political strategy on your part,” Rief said.

Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, who is running for mayor, said that the city should raise taxes to fully fund the school system’s budget request.

“I know it’s a sacrifice for all of us,” Jackson said. “I mean, we all live here in the city, and raising taxes would be a sacrifice.”

Jackson was the only Council member to not criticize the school system’s budget during the meeting.

“I just feel like we need to get close to what they’re asking for, if not fully funded,” Jackson said. “I think raising taxes also will mean that hopefully we’re not cutting our services and that our services are remaining at the optimum level for our residents and our businesses, but also making sure that our schools are remaining competitive and keeping our community stronger.”

School Board Member Tammy Ignacio was brought to tears while recounting the stresses that staff and students are experiencing.

“We have got to be able to compete with our surrounding jurisdictions,” Ignacio said. “In my 32 years in education, I have never seen it this bad. I have never seen the level of kids in a classroom without a teacher in front of them.”

City Council will set a maximum tax rate next week, allowing the City Manager to pursue some of the Board’s proposed additions, which include $4.2 million for staffers who did not get step increases in fiscal year 2021 and a $5.4 million (2%) market rate adjustment for all eligible staff.

Council Member Alyia Gaskins, who is running against Jackson in the Democratic mayoral primary, said she is in favor of advertising a higher tax rate to consider the additions.

“We have to deliver a balanced budget that responds to the needs of our community and that means doing right by our teachers and students,” Gaskins said. “If in the end we decide an increase is necessary, then I will be leading the charge to figure out relief for those who cannot keep affording these increases, like seniors on fixed incomes or others who are one tax increase away from not being able to afford to live here.”

School Board Member Abdel Elnoubi, who is running for City Council, said that he’s asking them to make an unpopular decision during an election year.

“It’s your decision to decide whether you want to raise taxes or not,” Elnoubi said. “If you do that, if you decide to raise taxes, I’m 100% with you… Let me just address the elephant in the room. It is an election year and as a School Board Member I’m in a less tough position.”

Four City Council Members are seeking reelection, and two members are running for mayor. Elnoubi and School Board Member Jacinta Greene are also running in the June 18 Democratic City Council primary.

Elnoubi said that from Council’s perspective, the Board gets to take credit for the increased funding while City Council has to deal with the consequences of raising taxes.

“That’s very viable, that is the political reality of things,” Elnoubi said. “What I will tell you is we are doing what we think is right for the school system… I would be derelict in my duty if I don’t ask you for what we need, understanding full well you may not be able to give it to us, which is fine.”

Wilson said that the Board needs to work closer with Council to craft not only this budget, but future budgets.

“It is impossible for us to resolve the gap on both the capital and operating side,” he said. “So we are going to pick a number and to come to some conclusion to our process, and it’s going to be challenging to arrive at that number without some really good input from the School Board as to what that should be.”

School Board Member Tim Beaty said that living in the city is becoming more expensive, and that the additions are focused on teacher retention.

“We were doing what we thought was best in order to keep the quality of what we’ve got,” Beaty said. “I’m frustrated that this leads to this huge difference between what we need and what’s available in the budget.”

City Council will adopt its final budget on May 1.


Alexandria’s annual George Washington Birthday Parade brought the usual pomp and circumstance befitting the country’s first president.

This year’s parade marshals were the recipients of the prestigious Living Legends of Alexandria award. The theme of this year’s parade was “George Washington: Alexandria’s Living Legend.”

A number of political candidates marched (or rode) in the parade, including mayoral candidates Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and Alyia Gaskins, as well as Sheriff Sean Casey and Clerk of Court Greg Parks. City Manager Jim Parajon also marched, as did his counterpart in the school system, Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg also marched in the parade with the “Coalition to Stop the Potomac Yard Arena.”

Alexandria’s next parade is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Old Town on Saturday, March 2.

Students get on school buses at Alexandria City High School’s Minnie Howard Campus prompted an evacuation and early dismissal, Dec. 10, 2021. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria City Public Schools officials want to reach a collective bargaining agreement by the end of this year, and a resolution to approve the process will be presented to the School Board next week.

The draft collective bargaining resolution was reviewed last Thursday by the Board’s Collective Bargaining Committee, and Board Chair Michelle Rief said that the school system has a goal of coming to an agreement with staff by the end of this year. Such a deadline means that any major changes to staff benefits and compensation would be realized with next year’s passage of the Fiscal Year 2026 budget.

“Just to be clear, we are looking and doing this, depending on how it goes, this year in 2024,” Rief said last Thursday night.

In October, the Education Association of Alexandria (EAA) formally started the process by sending the Board an employee certification submission on behalf of all licensed teachers. That submission gave the Board 120 days to adopt a collective bargaining resolution with a deadline of Feb. 13. The Board will be presented with the resolution for adoption at its upcoming meeting on Thursday, Feb. 8, and a full board action is expected at the March 21 school board meeting.

“This is something that can go really well or really not well,” said Board Member Meagan Alderton. “I think we are on the path of doing really well, and so we need to continue that path and be deliberate and intentional about everything we do.”

ACPS is looking for a three-year agreement that covers four topics, which have yet to be identified. Those topics could include wages, benefits and terms and conditions of employment, and every subsequent negotiation can include the addition of two additional topics, according to the draft resolution.

The school system is currently experiencing a staffing crisis, and the proposed $374 million fiscal year 2025 budget provides a full step increase and a 2% market rate adjustment for eligible staff. It does not, however, provide a cost of living increase.

ACPS middle school teacher David Paladin Fernandez has been vocal in asking the Board and city leaders for wage increases for staff.

“Educator retention and pay are serious issues, and I want to see ACPs leadership making bold choices,” he said.

Alexandria was first Northern Virginia jurisdiction to pass the measures for employee rights and wages in 2021, after former Governor Ralph Northam announced statewide implementation of the law in 2020. It took Alexandria nearly two years to negotiate collective bargaining for police and firefighters, who both saw increases in pay budgeted into the city’s fiscal year 2024 budget.

Dawn Lucas has been EAA president for nearly a decade and said that the organization will be tapping into its membership in the coming days to elect a bargaining representative and identify bargaining issues.

“I would have never thought this would happen, for us to have collective bargaining rights in the state of Virginia,” Lucas said. “When that happened, we knew
that we could possibly be on the path to come into this day.”

The draft resolution says the following:

Whereas, in April 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation permitting local governing bodies, including school boards to enter into collective bargaining agreements with respect to any matter relating to employment provided by the public body adopts an ordinance or resolution authorizing as much; and

Whereas, pursuant to section 40.1 Dash five 7.2 C of Virginia code, any school board that has not adopted a resolution providing for collective bargaining may receive any employee certification was the federal majority of employees who self identify as a bargaining unit, and within 120 days of receipt of such employee certification shall take a vote on whether to adopt or not adopt a resolution to provide for collective bargaining; and

Whereas, the Code of Virginia does not require or any school board to adopt the resolution authorizing collective bargaining; and

Whereas, on October 16 2023, the school board clerk received an employee certification submission from the Education Association of Alexandria on behalf of all licensed teachers; and

Whereas, the school board has 120 days from the date, the certification was submitted, or until February 13, 2024, to take a vote to adopt or not adopt a resolution to provide for collective bargaining,

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Alexandria City School Board hereby agreed to adopt this resolution authorizing collective bargaining by licensed teachers and any other school board employees deemed appropriate by the Alexandria City School Board; and

Be it further resolved that the Alexandria City School Board shall adopt a collective bargaining resolution no later than 60 days after the adoption of this resolution; and

Be it further resolved, that the execution of this resolution is conclusive evidence of Alexandria School Board’s approval of this action.

Tim Beaty asking for signatures to run in the January 9 special election for the open Alexandria School Board seat, at the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s monthly meeting at Alexandria City High School on Dec. 4, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 11:30 p.m.) Tim Beaty, the retired former global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was declared the winner in tonight’s special election for the open School Board District A seat. He defeated Gina Baum, an Alexandria City Public Schools parent and former longtime member of the city’s Park and Recreation Commission, and will be sworn into office next week.

Beaty won the election 1,270 votes (56%) to Baum’s 962 votes (43%), and 5.5% of the registered voters in District A (41,335 voters) cast ballots on this rainy Tuesday. District A includes Old Town, Del Ray, Potomac Yard and Arlandria. The results will be certified in the Alexandria Voter Registrar’s office near City Hall on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work,” Beaty told ALXnow. “I’m very grateful for everyone who endorsed me, from the two other School Board Members in District A, to the teachers union, four City Council Members and Sheriff Sean Casey. The endorsements were a reflection of some good friendships and relationships that I’ve been lucky to be involved with over the last few years.”

Baum called Beaty to concede at around 9:15 p.m.

The District A seat became available in late November when School Board Member Willie Bailey abruptly resigned, prompting the Alexandria Circuit Court to order the special election for Jan. 9. Beaty will serve out the remaining 11 months of Bailey’s term before the next School Board is sworn into office in January 2025.

Baum told ALXnow that having the month of December to campaign for political office was a daunting challenge.

“I think I started off slow, and started to gain traction with the (online candidate) forums when people heard my thoughts about improving schools, academic achievement and restoring teacher’s steps,” she said. “Hopefully that will influence the current budget process. The teachers really got the short end of the stick last year with their steps being frozen. Falls Church City is offering teachers step increases and a 3.5 COLA adjustment for an average 6% increase on top of their higher pay scale. ACPS leadership is not willing to compete at that level or provide that to our educators, who quite frankly deserve it.”

Beaty’s been a substitute teacher at two ACPS elementary schools since his retirement from the Teamsters two years ago, and will have to quit earning an ACPS paycheck in order to be a School Board member. He was previously global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and says that he wants to help the school system, get closer to a collective bargaining agreement with ACPS staff. He’s lived in Alexandria for a decade, has six grown children and is married to a Fairfax County Public Schools elementary school principal.

“I would really like to push hard in the direction of getting union recognition and collective bargaining much further along than it is now,” said Beaty. “I would also really like to make myself particularly available to the efforts that the school system is making with the Latino community so that they can take full advantage of the system in educating students.

Beaty’s seat, along with the eight other school board seats, is up for grabs in the Nov. 5 general election. Beaty says he will decide in the next few months whether he wants to run for the same office in November and complete a three-year term.

Tim Beaty and Gina Baum, the candidates in the Alexandria School Board’s Jan. 9 special election for the open District A seat (staff photos by James Cullum)

There’s less than a week to go until the Jan. 9 special election for Alexandria’s open District A School Board seat, and things are getting interesting.

With a focus on helping Alexandria City Public Schools craft a collective bargaining agreement with staff, retired labor leader Tim Beaty has secured key endorsements from the two other School Board Members in District A — Board Chair Michelle Rief and Jacinta Greene, as well as from City Council Members Canek Aguirre and Kirk McPike, Sheriff Sean Casey, NOVA Labor and the Education Association of Alexandria teachers union.

His opponent Gina Baum, a former longtime member of the city’s Park and Recreation Commission has positioned herself as a candidate willing to fight with her colleagues on the dais and to ask City Council to pony up millions to restore step increases to teachers.

The candidates have had a few notable public appearances since the seat opened up in November. In a Liberally Social podcast moderated by Alexandria Democratic Committee Chair Sandy Marks on Dec. 26, Baum expressed concern over a perceived lack of public discourse between the Board and the public, and questioned whether School Board Members are operating within their guidelines by when going into closed session during meetings. They also spoke Tuesday at an Alexandria Democratic Committee meeting, and last night in an Alexandria PTA Council forum.

“I think one of the oddities with this board as opposed to some of the other boards I’ve served on in the city is that we on other boards actually fight with each other,” Baum said on the podcast.  “I’m finding with this board for whatever reason, there seems to be a lack of open public discourse in our community, I believe feels like that, that they’re hiding things from us, right and they’re not being transparent. “

Beaty, on the other hand, positioned himself as a Spanish-speaking bridge-builder who wants to improve relations with non-English speaking families within the school system.

“I think we have to help parents understand what their kids are going through,” Beaty said. “I think I can I can be part of a link to do that.”

Beaty’s been a substitute teacher at two ACPS elementary schools for the last two years, and was previously global strategies director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He says that he has 40 years of collective bargaining experience and that a good agreement will result in staff retention.

“My experience throughout my life is that a strong relationship between labor and management does a lot of good for the efficiency of any institution where it exists,” he said in the podcast. I think it’s important that we recognize our teachers by letting them form a union, by encouraging them to form a union and to encourage this process of collective bargaining, leading to a contract. I think it’ll attract it’ll help maintain our current staff.”

Baum is a managing broker with Keller Williams Metro Center. She has not been endorsed by any groups, but has gotten the endorsement of a number of individuals, including former Mayor Bill Euille, and one current public official — City Council Member John Taylor Chapman. If elected, Baum said she would get the support of her colleagues to ask City Council to find upward of $8 million to solve a staffing crisis by restoring step increases for teachers.

“I would suggest that (ACPS Superintendent) Dr. Kay-Wyatt and the School Board write to Council and say, ‘We need this amount of money because we have to restore teacher’s steps,'” Baum said on the podcast. “They deserve their salary increases. They deserve the cost of living increases, and it’s a political year. All of our council members are going to be running a campaign. We have the campaign for the mayor happening. I think if we go to them and say this is for our teachers, they will, in fact, find the money.”

Baum said that the proposal is procedurally possible, drawing criticism one Council expert, who called it a “fairy tale.”

“Sure, it’s possible,” said the source, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. “I mean, anything is procedurally possible. The reality is a completely different thing. All you have to do is look at the budget right now, and that the school system had to take $50 million out of the Capital Improvement Program budget. How are we going to find the $8 million for teachers? Don’t get me wrong, it’s an admirable thing to do, but you don’t just find money out of the blue and do this overnight. Where you realistically find it is within the collective bargaining process.”

ACPS approved funds to develop an official ACPS plan and policy for collective bargaining with employees in the current budget.

The District A seat became available when School Board Member Willie Bailey abruptly resigned, prompting the Alexandria Circuit Court to order the special election for Jan. 9. The winner will serve out the remaining 11 months of Bailey’s term before the next School Board is sworn into office in January 2025. It also means that the seat, along with the eight other school board seats, is up for grabs in the Nov. 5 general election.

ACPS headquarters and clock (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A School Board work session on restructuring the makeup of the Board stopped short late last night after one member, Willie Bailey, walked out of the meeting.

Board Members were hammering out whether to expand terms from three to four years, stagger elections and switch from districts to at-large elections. The work session was held after a two-hour Board meeting and ended after 11 p.m. because the Board no longer had an in-person quorum after Bailey left.

Bailey said he was so tired that he could not register the details of a presentation on the restructuring options. The moment when Bailey spoke out was not captured on the public video and the video only shows him standing up to leave.

“I don’t know if I want to continue with this,” said Bailey, a deputy fire chief for Fairfax County and former Alexandria City Council member. “I don’t know about you guys, but maybe it’s because I’m old. As it gets late and we continue talking about the same stuff… It’s just me, but you all can finish up. I’m done.”

Before his abrupt exit, the Board had whittled down their preferred restructuring alternatives to three options, all of which increase terms to four years, maintains the nine-member structure and have staggered elections starting in 2027.

After he left, Board Chair Michelle Rief questioned whether the work session could continue without a quorum.

The meeting convened with Rief and Members Jacinta Greene, Ashley Simpson Baird, Meagan Alderton, Abdel Elnoubi and Bailey in-person. Vice Chair Kelly Carmichael Booz and Members Tammy Ignacio and Chris Harris online.

Alderton left earlier in the evening, without announcing why. When Bailey left, only four in-person members remained, which meant the Board no longer had a quorum. The work session ended shortly thereafter.

Just before Bailey walked out, Rief had proposed postponing the discussion to a later work session because it was getting late. Members Simpson Baird and El Noubi disagreed and said that the Board was already in session and should finish the meeting.

“I have a hesitation about continuing to dedicate a lot of airtime to this topic when there are so many other things that we are working on and talking about,” Simpson Baird said. “I think we’ve already spent too much time talking about this and I’d like to see us come to something a little bit more concrete rather than continue to kick the can down the road.”

Although the School Board decided on some preferred options, others were still up for discussion when Bailey left.

It is likely that the discussion will be reprised in a future work session. ACPS told ALXnow it is working on response to questions about whether Bailey regrets walking out and if he wants to continue serving on Board.

The nine-member School Board has been elected in concurrent three-year cycles coinciding with City Council elections since 2012. But the Board’s high turnover after the Nov. 2021 election saw six new members joining three incumbents, and members say school leadership suffers when more than half of the body spends upward of a year getting accustomed to their offices.

In order to enact these changes, the School Board must approve a resolution, followed by a City Council public hearing to revise the city charter. If the charter change is approved, the Virginia General Assembly will then vote on making the change official in the Virginia Charter.


School is back in session, and this year Alexandria City Public Schools wants to make sure kids go to class.

That was the message from outside George Mason Elementary School (2601 Cameron Mills Road) this morning, where Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt and School Board Chair Michelle Rief joined teachers and staff in welcoming back students. Kay-Wyatt said her priorities this year are on improving the welcoming culture within ACPS, academic achievement and absenteeism.

Kay-Wyatt said she didn’t get much sleep the night before school started.

“We really want to focus on making sure that all of our family and our students are welcome into our schools,” Kay-Wyatt said. “We’re also going to be focused on instructional practices and academic achievement. And then my third priority for the year is around absenteeism, and really focusing to get strategies and initiatives in place to make sure that our students are in school within school on time, so they can engage in all that we have to offer them.”

More than 15,000 ACPS students got up early for school today. In the wake of the pandemic, chronic absenteeism increased exponentially over the last several years within the school system.

It’s also the first school day for new George Mason Principal Christopher Finan.

“Our staff has been working very, very hard to get ready for this day,” Finan said. “Our teachers, our instructional assistants, our custodians, our cafeteria staff, our front office staff, everybody has been working very hard. I’m happy to say we are ready to go and excited to have students and staff back inside of our building. This year at George Mason we are focusing on our teams, leveraging all of the passionate, dedicated and skilled individuals, our staff, our families, our community members to ensure that we support student success across the board.”

Rief asked that parents reach out to the School Board as it embarks on next year’s budget.

“We welcome your input as your School Board,” Rief said. “We have a very full agenda this year and we want to hear from our parents.”

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