Port City Notebook

News, views and random observations around Alexandria

What is the Status of Redistricting?

School board candidates report that they are fielding many questions from anxious voters about redistricting. Parents are concerned that school buildings this year are more crowded than ever and are wondering about the redistricting process and timetable. Some of them believe that the process is much further along than it really is.

home_news_postitThe major action that the school board has taken to date is retaining J.R. Reingold & Associates Inc., a communications consulting firm based in Alexandria, to engage the community throughout the process. Among other tasks, Reingold will be helping to choose the members of the Redistricting Review Committee from among the 120 applications received from community members. Even though the committee members were scheduled to be notified by October 1, the School Board now expects the committee to be voted on at its October 15 meeting.

The current redistricting timeline calls for the School Board to vote in February on a final plan for new boundaries for elementary and middle schools, which would then be used to place students for the 2016-2017 school year. But with the intense community interest in this topic, the already-delayed start date for the Redistricting Review Committee and the two-week winter break for ACPS, it seems more plausible that the new boundaries will be announced by next September’s school opening but won’t be effective until the 2017-2018 school year.

The next meeting of the Redistricting Steering Committee, which is made up of Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley, ACPS Chief Academic Officer Terri Mozingo, ACPS Chief Financial Officer Stacey Johnson, ACPS Chief Operating Officer Clarence Stukes, School Board member representing District A Stephanie Kapsis (Chair of the Redistricting Steering Committee), School Board member representing District B Kelly Booz, and School Board member representing District C Chris Lewis (School Board Vice Chair and Vice Chair of the Redistricting Steering Committee), will be held on Monday, September 28, in the school board meeting room at 134 Braddock Place.


Don’t Pay For Financial Aid Advice

If you’re a parent of a junior or senior, you probably received a letter this week from a company called “College Admissions Assistance” indicating that your son or daughter has an upcoming appointment to discuss financial aid with a college adviser. The letters are written in such a way as to give the impression that T.C. Williams High School has scheduled the appointment on your student’s behalf. Not true. The letters are sent by a for-profit company wanting you to pay for advice that you can get for free from the college advisers in the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria office and the college and career center at T.C.

The latest round of letters prompted Scholarship Fund Executive Director Beth Lovain to re-issue a press release encouraging parents to beware of these services. Lovain writes, “Some T.C. Williams High School students have been receiving letters from private companies offering to help determine college admission and financial aid eligibility. Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) parents are urged to ‘do their homework’ before scheduling an appointment with a for-profit company that offers financial aid services for a fee. Parents should instead contact the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, which provides the same services for free to T.C. Williams families. Additionally, please be aware that students should never have to pay or provide a credit card number to apply for any scholarships or academic honors.”


An Exciting Open to the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Season

Families with children who have an interest in both music and movies should take note of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s season-opener next Saturday, October 3, at 8:00 p.m. in the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall on the NOVA Alexandria campus. As Maestro Kim Kluge describes the program, “Director George Lucas approached the composer John Williams to adapt the music from Gustav Holst’s The Planets to a new series of films that Lucas was calling Star Wars. Williams responded that he could do far better than merely arranging Holst’s music—he could write an original score. And thus was born some of the most popular, enduring and influential film music ever composed.” Both pieces will be performed by the ASO this Saturday.

The program will also include Williams’ well-known theme from E.T. as well as Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie and “March to the Scaffold” from Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique. Tickets for youth (18 and under) are only $5, while single-concert tickets for adults range from $20 to $80. Brand new subscribers receive a 50% discount off of a season subscription. Call the ASO office at 703-548-0885 or go to http://www.alexsym.org/tickets/.


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