The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Evans shares thoughts on county focus

Mason District representative to the FCPS School Board Sandy Evans speaks with tjTODAY editors.

Q: What progress has the School Board made in the superintendent search?

A:  We just went through a process where we asked community members, including students, to tell us what characteristics they want in a new superintendent. Part of the conversation about the superintendent search was about how open the search should be.

We have developed a list of individuals who will come in and confidentially interview the finalists and then give us their thoughts. This list includes parents, a couple students, community members and representatives of teachers’ organizations.

Q: The budget is going to be tight again this year. What is the status of the budget?

A: This year has been a lot more low key and so far is a little smoother than some of those in the past have been. The major issues with the budget will come in May because by May, we will know how much we’re getting from the county, how much we’re getting from the state, and exactly how much we’re going to have to cut back. We’ll do the difficult decisions in May.

Q: Would it be a good idea to have other counties contribute to TJ’s renovation?

A: I think we’re right to ask the surrounding jurisdictions to contribute to construction costs. In the past, we have not asked for other jurisdictions to do maintenance, but we’re doing a complete renovation at this school, and I think because their students do come here and have the benefits of the school, it is fitting that the surrounding jurisdictions contribute to that.

Q: If base schools changed their start times, how would TJ be affected?

A: My guess is that TJ would not be affected. We passed a resolution last year to try to start all of our high schools after 8:00 a.m., so we are in the process of hiring a consultant to take us down the path and tell us how we can do it.

The change it probably would result in would be transportation. Right now most kids go to their base high schools and then shuttle over, so if all of the schools started after 8:00 a.m., we would have to change that. It might be more like what you have in the afternoon, where you have buses going to the neighborhoods.

Q: What is the school board’s opinion on the disciplinary process?

A: We’ve been concerned about the length of time it took to get through the process. I was seeing some students who were out of school for two or three months while they went through the process, and that’s not helping anyone.

Some of us felt that there were too many involuntary transfers. Everyone wants a safe school, but were we transferring students out of school because they were a danger to that school or simply because we hadn’t thought of a better approach to dealing with a student who made a mistake?

Q: What are the arguments against bringing parents into the disciplinary process sooner?

A: Some principals have said that the parent might come in and tell the student to say nothing, or that a parent might even tell a student to lie or might somehow disrupt the process of finding out what was going on.

Q: How does the school board view school-to-school differences in the disciplinary process?

A: Consistency is one of the things we need to nail down. We don’t want one school to have completely different rules from another school, but at the same time, we want to give principals the flexibility to use common sense.

The overall guidelines have to be consistent throughout the county, but the principals do know what the issues with their schools are.

Q: What improvements need to be made in terms of school safety and security?

A: One of the things we did was have all of the schools review their safety precautions. Dr. Dale made a point of saying that the first line of defense is for anybody who sees something that is out of line to report it.

I would love to see the federal, state and local governments provide for funding and services for mental health needs. That’s one of the reasons I feel so strongly about the later school start times, because our students are not getting nearly enough sleep.

Q: How will the school board choose the parents and teachers who interview superintendent candidates? 

A: We decided that the Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA) would be the one choosing the parents. They’re asking anyone who’s interested to file an application with the FCCPTA, and they will look through those applications and attempt to get a mix of parents from different cultures and different geographic areas

On the teachers, we’ve asked each of our three teacher organizations to send a representative. That includes the Fairfax Education Association, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, and the Association of Fairfax Professional Educators.

(This article originally appeared in the February 28, 2013 print edition.)

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