Sunday, August 14, 2016

Teacher Evaluations, School Construction, and Other Matters

Last Tuesday, August 9, the School Board had a short meeting followed by a longer joint meeting with the City Council. I'll briefly cover both.

In the School Board meeting, the Board granted a waiver so that not every teacher needs to be formally evaluated this year. Instead, an interim evaluation will be conducted through the goal setting process. In addition, FCCPS will convene an evaluation review committee of teachers and administrators to recommend improvement in the evaluation process. I strongly support this effort, given the complaints from teachers I have head about the evaluation process, and I am pleased the Superintendent recommended this change.

The SB also heard an report on what school facilities could be built on the Fellows property. In short, there are several options for a one-grade school on the site. I asked what more might be done if S. Oak St. was closed in part so as not to be a through street, but that was outside the scope of the work done for this presentation. I know that is a controversial matter, and welcome your feedback.

On future agenda items, I raised the commentary in the Falls Church News Press from the Lasso Editorial Staff, asking that prior review of articles by the Principal be ended. I think this issue is an important one worthy of SB discussion. I also suggested that the SB ask the students at George Mason, such as a journalism class as a class project, to propose a change to the policy that requires that the Principal review articles. I think weighing the different concerns and making a fair proposal would be an excellent exercise.

We then moved to the joint meeting with the City Council on the GM/MEH expansion project. The very best part was that the entire joint meeting was PUBLIC - no closed session - in the greatest tradition of Falls Church democracy. I think there was substantial consensus that it would be hard to make any decisions before the Mt. Daniel matter is decided, but many or most also felt that we could start work now to develop options. To that end, many agreed that the City should hire a process consultant to help frame the questions, and ensure options are developed and the public is engaged. I am one of those people.

I know, you (like me) are worried about money. I was frustrated with the continuing use of consultants to work on the PPEA project for GM/MEH long after (in my view) it was clear that the project needed to be terminated. Here, however, I think the City needs a neutral facilitator who had experience in these situations before, to ensure we identify all the things we need to do and questions we need to answer, and that we move forward in a transparent, inclusive, and efficient way. I'm happy to answer further questions on that.

That's enough for now. Please feel free to send me any questions at

(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Teacher Evaluations and GM/MEH

Tomorrow night the SB resumes meeting after a short summer hiatus.  There are a number of items on the agenda, but two I'd like to highlight.

The first is a proposal to move away from evaluating every teacher every year, to focus more on goal setting, and to establish a committee to make recommendations for changes to the evaluation system.  Given the results of the teacher survey, and what I have heard from teachers, this seems like a good step to me.  I'd love to hear from you, especially those who are evaluated under the system.

The second is a discussion with the City Council regarding next steps on the GM/MEH expansion project.  This should be an open discussion, so please come and give us your feedback.

The meeting is at City Hall.  The School Board meeting is at 6:30 pm in Chambers, and the joint meeting with the City Council is at 7:30 pm in the Dogwood Room.

(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board.)