Live blog from PTSA meeting


Tonight, Principal Vince Randazzo is addressing parents about the possibility of installing new cameras. He has opened up a dialogue with parents to get their opinions. The second half of the meeting will feature comments from ten candidates running for the school board.

6:50 p.m.: “One of the things that prompted this was food fights,” Mason District School Board member Sandy Evans said.

6:51 p.m.: “If we authorize [the cameras] for everything, then the principals can decide where in the school they will go,” Evans said.

6:55 p.m.: “I don’t want to get too excited one way or another…What we really need to think about it the reasonableness of what we want our school culture to be. Will it add to it? Will it detract from it,” Randazzo said.

6:55 p.m.: “Tonight, we need to have this discussion to decide where we want to go,” Randazzo said.

6:56 p.m.: Parents break into groups of five to discuss their opinions on the topic.

7:25 p.m.” PTSA begins requests for funds from teachers.

7:33 p.m.: Emily Slough announces that on Dec. 13, parent representatives from Westfield HS will do a presentation about substance abuse.

7:35 p.m.: Slough announces the candidates that are present. Meghan McLaughlin, Ned Hurley, Sandy Evans, Ilryong Moon, Steve Stuban, Sheree Brown Kaplan, Ted Velkoff, Ryan McElveen, Lin-Dai Kendall and Lolita Mancheno-Smoak are present.

7: 35 p.m.: Steve Stuban takes the podium. He is running for the At-Large candidacy. “I on the other hand, am running without the endorsement of a political party. I am a true independent,” Stuban said. Stuban does have endorsements from several faculty boards. He became interested in the school board because of “the stiff arm and the deaf ear” he got from the school board when he tried to make disciplinary reforms.

7:40 p.m.: Ted Velkoff takes the stage. “My girls got a great education and I’m running for school board because I want to see that your children and your neighbors receive the same great education my girls receive,” Velkoff said.

7:41 p.m.: Ilryong Moon begins his speech. “My experience on the board for 12 years…will provide stability and consistency on the school board.” Moon came to the U.S. when he was 17 in 1974 from the Republic of South Korea. “If I had stayed in Korea, I might not have been able to go to college,” Moon said. He has been practicing law for 27 years, and his office of law is found in in Annandale. He frequently takes walks on the school track and in Ossian Hall Park, which is why he believes he knows the school and the community.

7:44 p.m.: Meghan McLaughlin begins her speech. “Many of you know that I worked very hard as Co-Founder and President of Fair Grade,” McLaughlin said. She founded Fair Grade because she saw the harmful effects of the harsh grading policies. “Again, it was trying to bring about effective change.” She notes that she has been endorsed by “amazing advocacy groups”.

7:46 p.m.: Ryan McElveen begins by saying he has deep ties with FCPS. He notes that he is against the fees for student athletes. McElveen wants to make sure FCPS is creating global citizens.

7:49 p.m.: Lolita Mancheno-Smoak wants to focus on responsive leadership and wants to make efficient use of tax payer money. “I have the great honor of having been endorsed by Govenor McDonnell too,” Mancheno-Smoak said.

7:50 p.m.” Lin-Dai Kendall begins by talking about how she was born in Honduras and then came to the U.S. because of the opportunities. “I intend to bring to the school board my analytical approach and I intend to bring much needed budget oversight and transparency,” Kendall said.

7:53 p.m.: Nell Hurley discusses how she began to know AHS by working on the boundary study. “It didn’t work out the way I think any of us wanted, but I’m glad how we worked together,” Hurley said. “I understand financial problems when you’re in high school…I understand the problems with special ed…I understand the problems of mobility…I understand diversity, I’ve lived diversity.”

7:55 p.m.: Sandy Evans begins her speech. “We have been through a lot together on the last year and a half on the board,” Evans said. She notes how she fought to remove AP/IB fees. “The people of AHS were absolutely magnificent,” Evans said about the boundary study. “I fought to keep Wakefield Forest and parts of Bren Mar Park here. We have a heartbreaking vote.” “I’m an activist voice for you.”

7:58 p.m.: Sheree Brown Kaplan discusses how the community deserves a responsive school board. “I will require transparency in decision making,” Brown Kaplan said. “I will ensure at least one school board member understands special education and students with disabilities.” “I’m known for asking the tough questions.”

8:00 p.m.: Emily Slough begins asking questions from the community members. Each person has a minute and a half to respond. Lin-Dai Kendall has the first question about communicating with those of other languages. She notes that knowing the largest minority language gives her “a leg up.” “The best thing we can do is involve the community,” Kendall said.

8:03 p.m.: Meghan McLaughlin also responds to the question.”My suggestion is that this school system needs to get serious,” McLaughlin said.” We’re missing something here. There should be a way to use task forces to bring their ideas.”

8:05 p.m.: Ted Velkoff says that he is proud to live in FCPS because people embrace tolerance and diversity.

8:07 p.m.: The third question is about changing the vote to remove Wakefield Chapel from AHS since it was tied. Ryan McElveen responds. “Like many parents here, I was disappointed in the results from that study.” He says that going to Marshall HS and seeing diversity is what made him what he is today. “As we move forward, looking at boundary studies, we need to remember that schools are about communities.” “I will be a voice for diversity.”

8:09 p.m.: Ilryong Moon notes that he voted to keep Wakefield Chapel. He notes that he felt terrible and disagrees with the decision, but he stands by it because that it how democracy functions.

8:10 p.m.: Meghan McLaughlin answers a question about overcrowding, in terms of non-boundary options instead of removing students from the school. “I firmly believe that as a school board member, it’s not about my point of view,” McLaughlin says. She notes that she wants to advocate for her constituents and then discuss ideas with the 11 other members on the board. “I will want to represent your views, your concerns and bring your voice to the table.”

8:12 p.m.: Steve Stuban also responds to the question. He says he would be willing to consider non-boundary options.

8:14 p.m.: Ted Velkoff receives the next question about the barriers faced by needs-based schools. “I think that there is no greater investment that we can make for society is than early-child development,” Velkoff said. He also talks about the division between schools inside and outside of the beltway.

8:15 p.m.: Ryan Elveen responds that students should start early with pre-school. “One of the things that we should be doing to supplement priority schools…is to offer grants to teachers to have programs that reach out to those families.”

8:16 p.m.: Sheree Brown Kaplan responds to a question about No Child Left Behind and its effectiveness. She says there was one good thing that it collected data, but that it is bad because it forces teachers to “teach the test.”

8:18 p.m.: Ted Velkoff also responds to the question, noting the kids need to be graduating with the skills they need.

8:19 p.m.: Nell Hurley talks about the challenges facing AHS. She discusses the period of retrenchment facing AHS and how the school needs to maintain a core in IB classes. “When you’re losing the population, you’re losing that base of the rich classes Annandale offers.”

8:20 p.m.: Sandy Evans answers how she will bring credibility to FPack. “We’re having a conversation with FPack about how they are going to do their jobs,” Evans said.

8:27: Steven Stuban is asked who he would have reached out to a political party if he was not an employee of the federal government. He notes both Democrats and Republicans reached out to him. He also has endorsements from other advocacy groups. “I’ve got these restrictions…so if you want to give me your endorsement I’d be glad to accept it.”

8:30 p.m.: McLaughlin says that she believes that the elections should be non-partisan. “It is the nature of how things are now in Fairfax County…We need to look at a new way to do our elections.”

8:30 p.m.: The candidates are now given ten minutes to further address any of the questions posed.

8:35 p.m.: Steven Stuban says that the school board election is one big challenge facing AHS. He says that the county needs a transparent school board. He is in support of needs-based funding.

8:38 p.m.: Sheree Brown Kaplan says she is fully in support of needs-based funding. She thinks that the school board needs to make a policy about enhancing parental involvement, something that can be mandated for all of the schools.

8:40 p.m.: Ted Velkoff wants to encourage all parents come to the meeting at AHS on Dec. 13 from the “Protect Group” that is going to speak about substance abuse. He also notes his own experience about redistricting. “I’d like to hear from you about how this boundary process has gone on…The intent was to try to open up the process earlier.”

8:44 p.m.: Ted Velkoff notes that Delegate Kaye Kory is at the meeting.

8:44 p.m.: Lin-Dai Kendall says that she has seen boundary decisions to be costly and end up upsetting many communities.

8:45 p.m.: The second round of questions has begun.

8:45 p.m.: Steve Stuban addresses the importance of arts in the schools. He played many instruments during his education. He was also the lead in several school plays. “All of these experiences outside the classroom add to your development,” Stuban said.

8:46 p.m.: Ted Velkoff says that the arts are very important in his own life and in his children’s lives.

8:47 p.m.: Sandy Evans says answers a question about boundary changes in terms of the socioeconomic effect of losing Wakefield Chapel and Bren Mar Park. “I fought really, really hard to keep from losing the neighborhoods that we have at Annandale High School,” Evans said. She does not think that revisiting the decision would yield much, but notes that the changes in the socioeconomic balance are too high. She thinks that it was an “unfortunate vote.” “I think that we need to move on and we need to see what we need to do next.” She thinks that the only rationale from revisiting the issue is that if the predictions of seveve overcrowding fail.

8:50 p.m.: Ilryong Moon says that by 2016, free and reduced lunch numbers will be 70 percent. He said then he could reconsider the decision, but until then he would not. He says he will carefully watch the numbers.

8:50 p.m.: Sheree Brown Kaplan discusses addressing the special needs programs while the overall population is exploding.”We don’t have a rising population of students with disabilities. It’s been consistent at about 14 percent. Annandale is about 13 percent, so you’re in the average,” Brown Kaplan said. “I’m not really sure of what the impact would be of the space issue, I’m looking more from the sense of the students’ needs.”

8:53 p.m.: Meghan McLaughlin discusses her ties with Fair Grade and how some honors classes are not offered. “We want to have that middle-level option,” McLaughlin said. She notes that Superintendent Jack Dale is not data driven, but she would push him if she was elected.

8:55 p.m.: Lin-Dai Kendall says that the curriculum should be well rounded, that will “provide better education access to all of our children.” She does not oppose a multi0-tiered system, but that the overall system also needs to be strengthened.

8:56 p.m.: Nell Hurley addresses the differences between herself and Meghan McLaughlin, her opponent for the Braddock district seat. “I am simply more qualified, I have more experience, I have more kids,” Hurley said. “I think we have pretty much the same values, I think I put a little more emphasis on watching the budget.”

8:59 p.m.: Meghan McLaughlin responds by saying that she was part of the voice that pressured the county to make cuts during the budget crisis two years ago. “My opponent Nell, does not have that record,” McLaughlin said. “I am working to get results.”

9:00 p.m.: Ilryong Moon addresses what two candidates he would vote for in the At-Large positions if he was not writing. He notes the sacrifices a person has to make to be a school board member. He then talks about cheering on his children. “I was the loudest cheerleader,” Moon said. Before he can address which candidates he supports he says “And my time is up,” as the buzzer goes off. He then quickly says that he thinks they are all qualified.

9:03 p.m.: Lin-Dai Kendall again addresses mid-level honors courses. “I have four children, and all four of them are different, and all four of them faired differently in different subjects,” Kendall says. She is in favor of a multi-tiered system.

9:05 p.m.: “The theme of my campaign is to continue the trail-blazing spirit of our schools,” Ryan McElveen said.

9:09 p.m.: Sheree Kaplan Brown discusses how she wants to support the system and make it better.

9:10 p.m.: Lolita Mancheno-Smoak discusses the ways the county can address the campaigns to push back high school start times. “It must be dialogue… In dialogue, I learn from you, you learn from me,” Mancheno-Smoak said. She notes that presentations are informative, but do not foster collaboration.

9:13 p.m.: Sandy Evans says the proposal for changing high school start times was inadequate two years ago, but it was a good start. She wants to focus on the teenage biology.

9:14 p.m.: Ted Velkoff discusses how he will address the achievement gap. “There are some disparities across the county in terms of some kids getting into certain programs,” Velkoff said.

9:15 p.m.: Ilryong Moon also addresses the question. “The gap has been reducing, I know that there is still a pretty substantial gap, but it is reducing,” Moon said.

9: 15 p.m.: Lolita Mancheno-Smoak says she has a large concern about the disparities between minorities. She believes that the data will prove that nothing has really changed.”It is imperative that we start looking at the early years of development,” Mancheno-Smoak said.