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CivFed’s May 2021 Meeting

My report of the May meeting for the Arlington County Civic Federation with my votes and positions.
ACCF Now using Zoom polling of all votes for voting delegates.
Nomination Committee for CivFed board:
• More At-Large seats that current nominees – need people to be At-Large!
• Currently no nominee for Treasurer
• Submit nominations by June 12
School Board/APS Presentation:
Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Francisco Duran
• Hosting free vaccines for 12-17 yo.
• Provided schedule for vaccinations at Walter Reed Community Center through May 23
• Fall in-person schooling:
○ PreK-12 in-person for 5 days per week
○ Normal bus schedule
• K-12 Distance learning option, separate from school of record
• Proposed FY 22-24 CIP Projects:
○ New career center in 2026
○ Relocate Arl Community High School
○ Air quality improvements
○ (more good info I missed before the next slide)
School Board Chair Monique4APS – Monique O’Grady for Arlington School Board
• Overarching goals include “multiple pathways for student success”, connecting students to trusted adults for academic and personal growth, looking at new policies, and renaming schools (Key) [Theo: why renaming schools is taking priority r/n?]
• Revised enrollment projects going down by 525 students [Theo: which seems absurdly low-balling and optimistic, IMO]
• 85% of budget goes to staff salaries and benefits.
• Staff getting 2% COLA pay increase, plus mid-year STEP increase.
• Class size increase by +1 in grades K-5.
Superintendent (FD), SB Chair (MO), Reid Goldstein for Arlington School Board (RG), Christina Diaz-Torres (CDT), Barbara Kanninen (BK), Priddy for School Board (DP) Q&A:
• What good has come of past year of COVID?
○ FD: focusing on early literacy & helping become “one school system”
○ MO: seeing PTA step up has been great. Teachers have not just taught, but also learned. Collaboration with county board members. Students appreciated that classes were recorded.
• What will we carry forward from now on?
○ FD: excited about virtual learning, which works for many students. “parents have told me their children thrived with virtual learning”. Enhance devices in the classroom to become “classroom of the future”. [Theo: I’m skeptical of high-tech in classroom and virtual learning as permanent solution]
○ RG: “we don’t actually know what long term effects will be”. Teacher retention will be seen. Forming compensation study for next budget cycle. Enrollment projections may be unreliable. Will be using data to try and figure out all problems.
• Any incremental buckets of cost due to COVID? Any budget needs going forward?
○ FD: Many new budget concerns. Hired additional custodians, assistants, hybrid monitors, bus drivers. Thanks to fed and state $$, we were able to address one-time costs. Loss of revenue due to economic conditions will hurt [Theo: I’m skeptical what revenue loss could happen since APS budget went up, and property taxes total dollars are going up].
○ CDT: kept all staff employed during COVID, requiring finding millions of $$. Path forward isn’t going to just be maintenance, but also righting wrongs from the past for staff.
• How will inflation and rising construction costs change plans?
○ FD: Career center may be moved up from 2026-27. Have to make sure we meet students needs.
○ BK: we were in a “crisis” for seat needs and capacity. We are no longer in crisis. We’ve built 5,000 seats. Very economical solutions like reconfigurations. Career center expanded to be 6-12, expanded Montessori program in old building, new small community high school on same site, add a small green space. ETA 2025 [Theo: seems very optimistic for such a big redevelopment while planning is still in early stages, but hope it succeeds]
• What about vaccination requirements in APS?
○ TD: Only VA Dept Health can require. APS doesn’t have that power.
○ DP: we have expanded the opportunities for vaccination w/ education, multiple languages, and sites.
• My question for the Q&A: “What more could be done for incentives for teachers to do summer school? It seems the recent attempt failed due to poor compensation for the summer, plus teacher burn-out.”
○ FD: 5k students met eligibility requirements for summer school, which was a big number. It was too much a challenge to meet those needs. Challenge isn’t just incentives, but conflicts of forces.
○ RD: Ffx teachers have traditionally helped teach Arl summer school, but Ffx is doing their own this year, so no Ffx teachers are available.
• What non-COVID emergency planning has been / will be done?
○ FD: appropriate staff at each school for emergency situations
• What is APS/SB going to do? (comment from floor gets cut due to rudeness and displaying anger)
○ FD: we provided opportunities to do hybrid. We are concerned about learning lost. We are getting additional resources to help.
○ BK: we’ve thought through concerns. Last fall, it was clear we were headed into a surge. We needed to be safe. We changed to hybrid when infection rate allowed so. We can’t change how you teach multiple times during a school year. That’s too disruptive.
○ MO: thank you to our teachers, who have been suffering same as parents and everyone else.
• Is it true many students were unaccounted for?
○ FD: we reached out, but turns out they had moved or dropped out of school system entirely. In some cases, we did provide resources and help.
○ DP: in one school example, less than 10 students unaccounted for.
Allistair Watson is Diversity “DEBI” Committee. Presents with Alicia Jones McLeod:
• Wants to advise Civic Associations to boost diversity.
• Plans to present resolution at next CivFed meeting for call to increasing diversity in CA’s and CivFed.
• Questionnaire showed discontent with school redistricting, transparency.
• Recommends Land use reforms, including higher density [Theo: very much in favor of that]
• My Question: Any focus on election reform (such as Ranked Choice Voting) for improving diversity?
○ CivFed chair Allan Gajadhar brought up TiGER team’s work in Direct Message.
• There will be a resolution for voting at next month’s CivFed meeting:…/2021-05%20ACCF%20DEI…
Proposed Amendment to ACCF Bylaws for allowing a ‘dormant’ Civic Association to retain membership by simply paying back dues instead of having to reapply for membership.
• I voted in favor. Preliminary results are passing with 88%.
No in-person CivFed banquet this year.
• Awards committee is proposed, with 5 members.
○ I voted in favor, with it passing at 95%.
Resolution on County Manager and Board supervision of PPG failures such as 6-month overdue report, public privacy concerns not addressed, and
• (John) Voters For Vihstadt brings up grave concerns, calling this “explosive”. Requests a user-friendly plain English breakdown of the issues. [Theo: I agree 100%. I’d picked up on some of these issues in the April 20 county board meeting last month and was surprised it hadn’t been talked about more –