How will Redistricting in Alexandria Affect Lyles Crouch?

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Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy in Alexandria, Virginia

What will redistricting do to Lyles Crouch’s Core Knowledge Curriculum and Traditional Academy Status?

I must say, as a parent of a Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy student, this concerns me greatly on two fronts.

  1. My son LOVES the curriculum there and
  2. He LOVES the teachers, staff, and most especially, has made a LOT of friends there.

The Lyles Crouch PTA sent out this notice to parents about Monday’s redistricting meeting. What are your thoughts on redistricting in Alexandria, Virginia? I’m for grandfathering them all, what about you? You can add your name to the grandfathering petition (linked to below) at this link.

Dear LCTA Parents and Teachers,

We want to draw to your attention some developments in the redistricting process that could have a serious impact on Lyles-Crouch and the elements that have made it the successful neighborhood school we all have grown to love and respect, including LCTA’s smaller class sizes and the special focus school status our Core Knowledge curriculum currently is designated.

As part of the redistricting process, the School Board is looking to revise and update certain policies – two of which could have a negative impact on LCTA. Copies of the proposed policies are available online (PDF).

First, under the current policies, LCTA is afforded an express exemption from the student-teacher ratios that apply across the rest of the district. Since Core Knowledge was implemented in 1999 in an effort to transform LCTA from an under-enrolled and underperforming school, the School Board has designated us one of several schools within a “Focus School Model.”

Within that model, it was decided that class sizes at LCTA would be smaller to accommodate our curriculum and the school’s physical space. In 2010, after much discussion with PTA about the need to move class ratios up to accommodate the increase in the neighborhood enrollment, the class sizes were increased to 18:1 for Kindergarten; 20:1 at 1st Grade; 22:1 at Grades 2 & 3; and 24:1 at Grades 4 & 5. These numbers are two students LOWER than the mandated School Board class size caps at each grade level in the other elementary schools (22:1 at K, 24:1 at Grades 1 & 2; and 26:1 at Grades 3-5. The proposed policy ELIMINATES the language for an exemption at Lyles-Crouch to have smaller class sizes. Without the protective language, we will be forced to accommodate larger class sizes.

Second, LCTA’s beloved Core Knowledge curriculum is no longer protected under “programs” as it was previously. For the past 16 years, LCTA was designated a “Focus School.” Under the proposed revised policies, LCTA will now be lumped in with “exemplary programs” that follow the ACPS curriculum and merely “supplement” the ACPS curriculum and are not full curricula on their own. By no longer seeing LCTA’s Core Knowledge curriculum as a stand-alone program, LCTA loses the special protective language to follow its own curriculum as it previously was, and families outside our school zone lose the option to opt in to our curriculum if there is space. Not only do we need to preserve our Focus School designation and Core Knowledge curriculum, we also would hope ACPS could use our mentorship as one of 8 Core Knowledge schools of distinction to promote aspects of our Core Knowledge program in other schools in the City. We all know first-hand that it works, and our 2015 Virginia Report card demonstrates our success at all levels, across all student groups and subject areas.

If these policies go through as currently written, we predict that the Core Knowledge program and smaller class sizes will not survive much longer, putting at risk the elements that have made LCTA as successful as it is. We need to rally parent support to attend the School Board’s meeting Monday night at 7:00 pm, contact the School Board, and make their voices heard. Maury, Patrick Henry and Charles Barrett have had full teams of active and engaged parents present at meetings to voice concerns about issues to them. LCTA cannot be quiet. Silence and apathy will not preserve the core elements of our successful school. Your support is needed NOW!

On another note, within the policies, the topic of grandfathering is still up for debate. While we understand the potential long-term need for redistricting, we believe families should be allowed to choose to keep their children (and their siblings not yet at ACPS) in their current schools via a gradual phased-in (grandfathering) approach. Maury currently has an active campaign to ensure that all current Maury students and their siblings will get to finish their education at Maury. If you wish for the same at LCTA, the time to weigh in on the issue is now. The ACPS School Board met last night, but by 11:00 pm was unable to cover all the items on their agenda, so some of these issues are being moved to a special meeting on Monday night. If you support full grandfathering for those impacted by redistricting, please sign the petition at this link, your voice will be added to the growing list of families who are advocating to #GrandfatherThemAll.

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Jay Roberts
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I’m sensitive to changes that affect school kids.

It happened to me in the early 70s when the school districts got changed three years in a row. Between that and normal changes i.e. elementary to junior high to high – I was in five different schools in grades 6-10 (despite living in the same house).