This a a copy of the press release that was jointly released by School Board Candidates, Smerdon and Kaye in response to the Falls Church News Press guest editorial by current School Board Chair, Justin Castillo.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2015
The Falls Church Times
The Falls Church Post
Note to Editors: In a guest editorial in the Falls Church News Press, School Board Chair, Justin Castillo, published a guest editorial. We wish to take issue with what Mr. Castillo did not say in his commentary.
With regard to enrollment, increases have been driven in a substantial manner by the uncontrolled apartment growth in recent years which has added 100s of more students to an over-stretched infrastructure. In this regard, the “Little City” is looking more and more, apartment project after apartment project, like a big city.
Our state rankings on Standards of Learning (SOL) passing rates for economically disadvantaged students and English Language Learners are far from stellar. Only about 2/3 of our economically disadvantaged students passed their reading and math SOLs and only 3 out of 4 economically disadvantaged kids graduate high school in 4 years. We continue to pat ourselves on the back for educating kids who would be successful in any school system in the country—what about our most vulnerable children?
The dictated approach for a possible new George Mason High School is a private public partnership (PPP) – which have a troublesome history. PPP schemes are more often than not used by elected officials in the short run to dodge borrowing limits and avoid real estate property tax increases. In turn the City will hand over massive tax breaks to a developer – and incur possible future liabilities if the project fails (all at the expense of taxpayers).
With regard to public participation for a new high school facility, there was only one truly public ‘visioning’ session for the GMHS/MEH campus and the follow up meetings were invitation only. The public meeting was a contrived affair that presented only the option of building a new high school and “visioning” focused on sleek buildings, bike paths, and commercial development—with no mention of teaching and learning.
With regard to the Mt. Daniel expansion, the proposed project is a poorly planned and executed affair. The planning to obtain Fairfax County buy-in was non-existent to zero. It is very uncertain if Fairfax will allow the planned expansion to occur. Now the taxpayers of FCC are paying interest on an $11M bond and no work has been conducted. This is a fiasco.
Contact and Additional Information:
Mr. Kaye also has an MBA from The University of Chicago and his law degree is from Georgetown University.
Dr. Smerdon is a nationally recognized education specialist with a doctorate in Education from the University of Michigan.
Mr. Kaye can be contacted at KayeForFCCSchools@gmail.com
Dr. Smerdon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.