APS Expects Staff Exodus to Continue

by Katie Pyzyk September 26, 2012 at 10:30 am 11,810 128 Comments

(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools has a lot on its plate in the next several years, as the system takes on boundary changes and building new schools to ease overcrowding. But an issue that’s quietly crept into the system is the increasing loss of senior staff members.

A concerned resident, Hans Bauman, told ARLnow.com that he pored through public records and compiled a list of more than two dozen principals and senior staff members (after the jump) who had left APS since 2010. He called the amount of turnover “unsettling.”

“I am not sure how to assess whether all this turnover is ‘normal’ but I keep hearing concerns about management practices from every single APS person I talk to and I really was stunned when I compiled these lists,” Bauman wrote in an email. “Though the block scheduling fiasco, the current transportation mess, the class size increases and other APS missteps have gotten lots of press, I do think this almost more worrying trend hasn’t been really daylighted.”

APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos confirmed that all of the employees on the list had indeed left their positions, but she said most retired and some took promotions within the system or with other school districts.

“We know that APS has a ‘senior’ corps of highly qualified staff approaching retirement, and it is something we have been watching for a number of years now,” said Erdos.

The situation will only intensify in the coming years. Erdos said in the next decade, there are 63 administrators and around 1,200 other staffers who can retire with full benefits. To be eligible for full retirement benefits, employees must be at least 50 years old with 30 or more years in the Virginia Retirement System.

Of the 1,200 staffers eligible for retirement, more than 600 are teachers. Currently, APS employs more than 2,100 teachers, including some who are part-time.

In addition to the loss of staff due to retirement and relocation, extra employees are necessary to accommodate the growing number of students in the system. Although she didn’t have the breakdown of how many were hired due to expansion and how many were to replace departing staff, Erdos noted that APS hired 230 full-time and 45 part-time teachers for the 2012-13 school year.

“Every year during the budget, we add staff when needed based on the projected enrollment for the coming school year,” Erdos said. “As for the staff who are hired annually, the new staff are a mix to replace retirees and to add staffing to address growing enrollment.”

The loss of senior employees is why Erdos said APS is focused on grooming current staff for more advanced leadership roles. For example, it funds classroom assistants aspiring to become teachers, and supports administrators looking to advance to positions such as principal. It also actively seeks out new teachers by recruiting at colleges and universities around the country, recruiting through publications and professional organizations, and by holding two career fairs each year.

“This is a growing national trend,” said Erdos. “In the next decade, we expect that this trend will continue to be a challenge for APS and all school districts across the country.”

Bauman, however, attributes much of the turnover to mismanagement by Arlington Public Schools.

“The amount of turnover since 2010 is stunning: One third of elementary school principals; Two thirds of middle school principals; Two thirds of the assistant superintendents,” he wrote. “I believe some of this loss can be attributed to the recent emphasis the Board and the Superintendent have placed on generic spreadsheets, standardized tests, and — perhaps most significantly — a huge increase in the use of outside consultants.”

“Outside opinions and objective measures do indeed have a place in every well-run organization. But the recent attrition trend suggests this approach may be going too far,” he continued. “Building space, schedules, staffing, and bus routes have been treated as cells in Excel rather than the complex, unique situations that we can and should manage with greater care in a system of our size.”

See the list that Bauman compiled, after the jump.

Senior APS staff departures since 2010:

  • Edgar Miranda, Ashlawn Elementary School Principal
  • Sandra Lochhead-Price, Campbell Elementary School Principal
  • Cheryl Relford, Drew Model Elementary School Principal
  • Yvonne Dangerfield, Hoffman-Boston Elementary School Principal
  • Laura Annan Glascoe, Jamestown Elementary School Principal
  • Patricia Anderson, McKinley Elementary School Principal
  • Lolli Haws, Oakridge Elementary School Principal
  • Jerry Caputo, Arlington Career Center Principal
  • Margaret Gill, Gunston Middle School Principal
  • Sharon Mondé, Jefferson Middle School Principal
  • Chrystal Forrester, Swanson Middle School Principal
  • Kathy Francis, Williamsburg Middle School Principal
  • Doris Jackson, Wakefield High School Principal
  • Marguarite Gooden, New Directions Principal
  • Mary Beth Chambers, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Management Services
  • Dr. Alvin Crawley, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services
  • Dr. Mark Johnston, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction
  • Dr. Salah Khelfaoui, Assistant Superintendent of Information Services
  • Meg Tucillo, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services
  • Patricia Robertson, Mathematics Supervisor
  • Margaret Gilhooley, Gifted Services Supervisor/Interim Assistant Superintendent of Instruction
  • William O’Connor, Director of Design and Construction
  • Dr. Julie Crawford, Director of Special Education
  • Gregory Sutton, Director of Transportation
  • Janet Quantrille, Special Programs Supervisor

  • Mike Hessling

    I don’t know if Mr. Bauman considered that some staff may have moved between schools. Yvonne Dangerfield is now Assistant Principal at Taylor Elementary.

  • Observer

    Might want to read between the lines… That’s an awful lot of assistant superintendents leaving their positions. Seems almost as if they’re almost fed up with something. Or someone, perhaps?

    Would be curious to see if there is a trend in relation to who takes over their positions.

    • S. Arlington or Bust

      That’s what I was thinking – and surprised that the article did not mention the fact that there’s a new superintendent in town…

      • Patti

        I hope there is some house cleaning underway. There is so much internal promotion, and very few leaders in the top ranks – just “yes” people who are afraid to make waves and support new ideas. Almost no one in the top ranks live in Arlington. They don’t advertise new positions anywhere except the school system’s website, which doesn’t even allow position announcements to be searchable, forwarded or shared by hyperlink to someone who might be interested.

    • Ballston

      I imagine that some of them are leaving to become superintendents at other schools? This is pure speculation, but I’d assume school superintendent is the same as any other executive position where people move around as they try to move up the ladder?

      • Observer

        To a certain extent. Remember last year, the whole Williamsburg MS principal debacle? Maybe she didn’t go about things in the best way, but she did bring to light some very real issues.


      • Josh S

        You may be confusing superintendent with principal. THere is only one superintendent per school district, or system. Right, with only a very limited number of such positions available, moving to take one wouldn’t be uncommon. But to think that any of the recent turnover is because of people going on to become superintendent elsewhere? Not a factor.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    Where do I send my Resume?

  • drax

    Even Bauman notes that we don’t know if this level of turnover is unusual. That’s the first question to be answered.

    • John Fontain

      I think that comment was telling. Bauman is basically saying “I don’t know that this is unusual, but this is unusual.”

      • Bluemont

        It’s ridiculous that ArlNow even printed this post! Show me what turnover looked like before 2010 and whether this is statistically higher. This is irresponsible “journalism.”

        • D’oh

          Agreed. The numbers are meaningless without context and denominators.

        • anon

          Completely agree. This is truly stupid “reporting.” A member of the public expresses concern about a statistic with no comparative data. One look at these minutes ( http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/29/October_13-Minutes.pdf ) from an APS committee Bauman was on shows that he knows about the importance of comparative data when it suits him.

        • Joey

          At least they got some comments from an APS official, and she did not take much exception with the data provided. She definitely didn’t freak out like some of you people. They even acknowledged the impending number of retirements they are having to address.

          I see nothing wrong with the article as a whole.

          • anon

            Here’s why it’s a poorly researched article: “Bauman, however, attributes much of the turnover to mismanagement by Arlington Public Schools.” Moreover, earlier in the article Bauman attributes it all to “missteps” in the Murphy era. Without comparative info, this is a straw man argument. He might as well claim that it’s due to global warming.

  • Noisecomplaint

    This is not a new problem or a problem limited to senior staff and APS. For the past decade there is a revolving door of teachers and police officers (albeit for different reasons). APS offers excellant training to its staff which is often times used by new teachers for the first several years and who then take their skills to better paying districts like Montgomery Co, DC, or Fairfax. My son’s science teacher is just one of many who lives with 3 other teachers in order to be able to live near (not in) Arlington. God Bless her, I couldn’t see myself knowingly entering a profession that is so underpaid.

    As far as the PD…almost half of every single recruit class they have hired in the past 10 years has been fired, resigned, or gone on to greener pastures. Millions wasted over the years and the Board lets them do it.
    The joke among county employees is that you don’t receive your ID card until after 5 or 6 years of working here. That should tell you all you need to know.

    • Louise

      What excellent training are you referring to (for new teachers)? Also–you receive your ID card as soon as you are hired.

      • Noisecomplaint

        If you’ve worked for the county since 97 you should know the training offered…check your email every once in awhile. And the part about the ID’s was a reference to a joke that you obviously have not heard.

        • Louise

          Perhaps you are referring to professional development? That is pretty standard to most school systems in this area.

  • CW

    Not particularly surprising. Arlington schools, despite what people say about them here, are some of the best in the country. Probably looks great on a resume. Given the price of housing, etc. around here, why wouldn’t one cash out? Move out of state, take a 25% pay cut, buy a house that costs 1/4 of what it would here, not need to pay car taxes and stickers, etc..

  • South Awwlington

    What happened to the days of ONE Super and ONE Assist Super?

    Why such top heavy administration? We could get three or more entry- level for each redundant administration position that was eliminated.

    This isn’t just happening in Arlington either.

    • South Awwlington

      Entry level teachers that is.

  • DK

    The problem is not limited to APS. In FCPS we are experienceing the same thing. It’s cyclical. Right now we are in a period where many employees are hittig retirement age, especially senior administrators, and so the turnover is quite high. We expect that to settle down some as we are hiring more and more younger people every day who are just beginning their careers.

    • John Fontain

      Good thing there is an oversupply of talented, young, energetic teachers chomping at the bits to take their place. Our kids will get teachers with more energy and enthusiasm and the pay rates will be less due to their lack of tenure.

      • drax

        Just what we need – inexperienced, underpaid teachers!

        • John Fontain

          Having seen both the old crusties and the young energetic teachers, I’d take the young ones for my kids each and every time.

          And please explain how paying market rates for new hires makes them underpaid.

          • drax

            Market rates. Right.

          • DCBuff

            Where are your facts, drax? How are APS teachers, new or otherwise, “underpaid” or “inexperienced?” My child’s teacher last year was new to APS, but had a decade of experience teaching in NYC. The school regularly hires teachers who have experience in other school districts. So, you (yet again) spout off without the very facts you demand of others.

          • drax

            John’s the one who said he wanted less experienced teachers, not me. Not just new hires, but ones with less experience. Maybe he’s right about them being new blood, but that’s what he said, not me.

            My comment about market rates was really about the fact that there isn’t really a free market in public school teachers, but that’s a whole new topic.

        • SomeGuy

          I didn’t notice in JF’s comment where he was advocating for “inexperienced, underpaid teachers.”

    • Meg

      We have a superintendent here in Arlington whom we would very gladly return to Fairfax!

      • DK

        We don’t want him back. He’s all yours!

  • Louise

    Hans is right. This is unusual. And the change began about the time our current superintendent was hired. We are losing great teachers and staff because people do *not* like the changes he has imposed on us–and because of the way he treats teachers.

    • BluemontFred

      This happened when Rob Smith took over as superintendent as well. It happens, people retire or move on. I wonder how many jobs Hans has on his resume and how long has he stayed at those jobs? Most of the people on that list have been at APS for a long time. People are allowed to retire or move on.

      • Louise

        Yes, they are allowed–but I’ve worked for APS since 97 and never seen so many folks leave ’til now–especially the assistant superintendents. As for the poster farther down, showing that the spots vacated are being filled by APS employees–that’s not the point Hans is trying to make. What he’s showing (and I see it too, from the inside) is that *more* people are leaving than usual. I think we’ve lost more assistant superintendents over the past three years than the 10 previous years combined. It’s not a good sign.

    • drax

      Prove it is unusual. Then prove it’s because of the superintendent.

      This will require you to find stats from other school systems to find out the retirement rates to compare to ours, and then a survey of most of the retirees to find out what their reasons for retiring were.

      We’ll wait.

  • chris

    I too enjoyed Mr. Baumanns intentional conflation of correlation and causation (try saying that three times fast). –I don’t know whether this level of turnover is normal or abnormal– he says, but later says –I don’t like the way the school system is run, so its clearly abnormal turnover and obviously caused by the policies I don’t like.–

    To be clear, I don’t like some of the school system decisions myself, but what I really don’t like is pseudostatistics. It’s unfair. Find out what the norm is in turnover for a system with arlingtons profile before you start throwing conclusions around.

    • Bluemont


      • School Dad

        If you actually heard his testimony, he did not throw conclusions around. He raised questions about the data, which is exactly what a parent who is concerned about these trends should do. Retirements may be one option, but the present superintendent does seem to be somewhat polarizing. Some people love him, some hate him. So the important thing is to ask questions and find out what the issue is, if there is one. It might have been nice if the School Board had asked some of these questions earlier this year before automatically renewing the Superintendent’s contract.

        • Mick

          I doubt the school board is capable of being neutral. They hired the fellow. To let him go after 3 years would suggest they flubbed the hire.
          Any organization’s first impulse would be to double down. Meanwhile staff members are voting with their feet.

  • leewayparent

    I agree with Hans. This has been a great school system but it’s turning into a “reform-minded” one, whatever that means… Too much fascination with test scores and other metrics; too little communication with parents, teachers, and other staff.

    • drax

      Well, yeah, that’s happening nationwide, driven by No Child Left Behind.

      • darsasx

        “We need to know how many TOTAL drivers there are from each state driving in the District each day before we can judge.

        (And remember, many District residents don’t drive at all)”

        I think the problem with failure to understand logic and statistics existed weeelllll before NCLB.

        • drax

          I think my comment stands, while yours is pointless.

          • DCBuff

            I’m not sure the nationwide trend is less communication with parents, etc., but NCLB has directed education resources in APS and throughout the U.S. Virginia, among a number (30+?) of states, has sought waivers from certain criteria of NCLB, which should (in theory) swing the pendulum back toward center. And yes, there is a pointless comment or two in the thread.

  • Gymmyray

    Employee satisfaction has dropped precipitously since Murphy took over. Absenteeism is up 20%!

    • DCBuff

      High absenteeism–that really helps the kids. How grown up of the grown ups, if true.

    • Meg

      It’s not necessarily a conscious decision, DCBuff. People who are unhappy at their jobs and who feel stressed and unappreciated get sick more, have more lingering injuries, and have a harder time getting well again. The problem is not that the teachers are malingering, but that APS is not supporting its teachers.

  • From the Inside – Out

    It’s a top-down problem here. My way or the highway + ego of the person at the top = loss of good people

  • lurker

    Of the 25 on the list, 16 positions were filled by APS employees:

    Judy Apostolico-Buck, Early Childhood, Coordinator replaced Edgar Miranda as Ashlawn Elementary School Principal

    Maureen Nesselrode, ASFS assistant principal, replaced Sandra Lochhead-Price as Campbell Elementary School Principal

    Jacqueline Smith, Assistant Principal at Drew replaced Cheryl Relford as Drew Model Elementary School Principal

    Kenwyn Schaffner, assistant principal at Randolph Elementary School replaced Laura Annan Glascoe as Jamestown Elementary School Principal

    Colin Brown, assistant principal at McKinley Elementary replaced Patricia Anderson as McKinley Elementary School Principal

    Lynn Wright, assistant principal at Oakridge replaced Lolli Haws as Oakridge Elementary School Principal

    Nancy Opsut, assistant principal at the Arlington Career Center replaced Jerry Caputo as Arlington Career Center Principal

    Bridget Loft, assistant principal at Wakefield High School replaced Chrystal Forrester as Swanson Middle School Principal

    Chris Willmore, assistant principal at Wakefield High School replaced Doris Jackson as Wakefield High School Principal

    Philip Bonar, science and math teacher at New Directions replaced Marguarite Gooden as New Directions Principal

    Cintia Johnson, Claremont Immersion principal replaced Meg Tucillo as Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services (Ms. Johnson’s position was filled by Jessica Panfil, te former Pre-School Program Coordinator for APS

    Kristi Murphy, of the department of Special Education replaced Dr. Julie Crawford as Director of Special Education

    Meg Tuccillo and Connie Skelton are serving as Acting Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, replacing Dr. Mark Johnston as Assistant Superintendent of Instruction

    Raj Adusumilli (Director, Enterprise Solutions, part of Planning & Evaluation) is serving as Interim Assistant Superintendent of Information Services, replacing Dr. Salah Khelfaoui, Assistant Superintendent of Information Services

    Margaret Chung returned to APS to replace Patricia Robertson as Mathematics Supervisor

    Wendy Carria, APS School Psychologist/Pupil Services Specialist, replaced Janet Quantrille as Special Programs Supervisor

    From the DC area, John Chadwick replaced William O’Connor as Director of Design and Construction

    From Alexandria Public Schools, Kimberley Graves replaced Yvonne Dangerfield, Hoffman-Boston Elementary School Principal

    From Alexandria Public Schools, Keisha Boggan replaced Sharon Mondé, as Jefferson Middle School Principal

    From Fairfax County, Cheryl McCullough replaced Margaret Gilhooley, as Gifted Services Supervisor

    From Falls Church Public Schools, Ann McCarty replaced Kathy Francis as Williamsburg Middle School Principal

    Deirdra McLaughlin, chief administrative officer from Bethesda’s French International School replaced Mary Beth Chambers, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Management Services

    From Montgomery County, Brenda Wilks replaces Dr. Alvin Crawley as Assistant Superintendent of Student Services

    From Montgomery County, John Matthews is serving as interim director of transportation, replacing Gregory Sutton as Director of Transportation

    From West Virginia, Lori Wiggins replaced Margaret Gill as Gunston Middle School Principal

    • South Awwlington

      Encouraging to see:

      1.) APS promotes qualified candidates from within
      2.) APS employees choose to continue their professional career with APS

      Doesn’t sound like bad news for Dr. Murphy at all.

      • Nate

        I’m not sure you can assume #1.

        • South Awwlington

          Some of us look at a glass as half full, others NSM.

          • Josh S

            NSM=Not so much?!?

            I need a drink.

      • GymmyrayGymmyray

        APS does nothing to promote from within. It’s a huge load of sh-t.

    • School Friend

      Just an FYI Kenwyn was asst. principal at Jamestown not Randolph.

  • thegreater

    Anybody bother to use Google? Just running a few of the more distinct names through it, I figured out Doris Jackson retired, Alvin Crawley is now the Superintendent of PG county, and Lolli Hawes is a super in DC. Looks as if many of these folks have either retired or moved up in the education ranks, and are being drawn out by other communities. That should be viewed as a strength – that folks would devote their whole careers to the area or be desired by other area districts – not some indictment of APS.

    The district has a lot of issues, but turnover common to any large work organization is not evidently one of them.

    Tempest, meet teapot…

    • thegreater

      And as noted above, Meg Tucillo and Yvonne Dangerfiled are still in the system. It should also be noted that Kathy Francis is the Williamsburg principal who resigned in a very public spat with APS, so her departure certainly could be considered a result of the APS “changes”.

      • GymmyrayGymmyray

        They hire back the retired administrators as expensive “consultants.” The tax payers are getting nailed!

  • APSinsider

    APS employees KNOW it is because of the superintendent. I am glad that a parent is finally bringing the issue to light. Sadly the school board slipped in another three years on his contract over the summer when no one was looking. More emphasis on public relations, and less on instruction. Doesn’t listen to his own staff, but relies on expensive outside consultants. This much turnover is atypical in APS. And many who we have lost were really good at what they did. Too bad there isn’t any competition in the school board race. Those who are on the board now need to be voted OUT.

    • South Awwlington

      Didn’t the Board President insert herself into the current position at the behest of a cultural group?


    • southarlington


    • geri

      Thank you. Answer…Patrick Murphy, Patrick Murphy, Patrick Murphy!!!!!!! He is the problem

  • APSNumberOne


  • APSinsider

    She is as qualifed as any of them to serve. I thought that was a non-issue since the practice is usually to rotate the board seat among the members. Once they are elected, one would hope that they would be qualified to serve as chair once they have had a couple years experience in the membership role. The issue, for me, is rubber-stamping the policies of an incompetent superintendent just because THEY hired him.

    • Meg

      I actually think that Violand-Sanchez is one of the better ones.

  • APSNumberOne

    Board leadership should rotate among members, as it does.

    • South Awwlington

      Three Board Members is relatively small when considered against student population…I would advocate for adding two more School Board seats and establishing wards – for both school and county. Maybe then we will have some real competition and select better leaders who truly represent the population.

      • DCBuff

        The school board is the five you call for, not three.

        • South Awwlington

          Whoops! Thanks for the correction. I would still suggest that adding two more seats and forming wards would better serve all involved…except for those currently sitting who would probably lose their seats.

  • Mark G.

    Couple things going on here:
    The list has names of people that needed to go. They weren’t carrying their weight and they were a drain to those that were. Then I see some retirements and some advancements to positions in or out Arlington. Only a couple I am not sure of. Don’t see much of a story in this. I would much rather the superintendent clean house than let dead weights stay.
    Murphy is good at encouraging growth, even if it means to grow, the employee leaves the Arlington system.
    What is more astounding is the opposite picture… The caliber of the people moving into these positions is extraordinary. The school system is attracting so many top performers. Many parents have been raving about the new principals. The entire climate at many schools has changed dramatically. In some of these schools the climate was of complaint, mistrust, poor communication and bad mouthing. Not so anymore (although given some of the griping from so-called school employees that complain so much about Murphy, its obvious he could clean house more!)
    Good job Mr. Murphy.

  • Proud of Arlington Schools

    I am sick of the griping. shut up already. It is impressive what this school system has accomplished in a few short years. My bet if you are griping you are part of the problem.

    • Dr. Murphy

      Is that you Dr. Murphy?

      • Pat F

        Wouldn’t take that job for all the money in China! But I do confess, I met the guy once.

    • Louise

      Our school system is top notch. But it could be even better if the superintendent changed the focus back to the whole child instead of obsessing over data and test scores. We need to be sure our children are learning to be good citizens, not just good test-takers.

      • Josh S


        • leewayparent

          I couldn’t agree more!

          • smart aleck

            I could: +1,777

    • Anon

      I’m sick of the griping too. But….APS has not accomplished much in a few short years…at least not much in the way of educational outcomes. Even the recent SAT score increases don’t say much. SAT scores correlate very highly with income levels. Arlington income levels have increased (is it median income that Arlington is now at the top five in the US?). SAT scores have increased, as income levels have increased. It would say something if APS could show that SAT scores increased without regard to income. For example, have they increased among the population of students in the free and reduced lunch program? If so, that’s an accomplishment. But, this would require the assessment office to do more than superficial research so I don’t expect we’ll get this info…..

      • Louise

        In fact, anon, all of that data is readily available. It’s called the school report card and you can access it from the state DOE website.

  • Toxic

    I know several long-timer (but still mid-career) APS employees who are top-notch people (have worked with them in volunteer roles, and seen them in action at APS).

    To a person they all have mentioned the toxic environment created by Dr. Murphy. To speak out against him, is to endanger your position. Dissent is NOT welcomed. At all.

    There is no doubt that for a certain period of time, the outcomes will be the same. Organizations can run on cruise control for a bit. But over the course of the next few years, we will likely see the degradation caused by the loss of many of these long-time employees and the disenfranchisement of a host of others.

    The school board needs to step up and lead, not let Dr. Murphy run roughshod over all that was good in the system.

    • Toxic fired employee?

      You are hanging with a different circle of school employees. I have met so many that can’t say enough GOOD things about the Murphy leadership. Some guy here was accused of being Murphy; perhaps you are the fired principal?

      • Louise

        Name one.

      • And maybe…

        You are Dr Murphy’s Chief of Staff….

      • drax

        Anyone who disagrees with you must have an ulterior motive.

    • Beth M.

      I know a lot of current principals, administrators, and teachers in APS. The vast majority are updating their resumes and working on getting out of Arlington. Morale is dreadful and there is a climate of fear and retaliation. Dr. Murphy has the school board in his pocket, but his own staff can’t stand him. The “Arlington Way” means nothing to him — he is completely disdainful of the concerns of parents and teachers, and does whatever he wants to do.

      • Observer


      • That’s the real story


      • APS teacher

        Agree 100%. Our principal was pushed into early retirement by Murphy.

  • Patrick W.

    Doubt we will see a change in a school system as large as Arlington

    Wish it could happen.

  • Fairfax schools

    We will take Murphy in a heartbeat! You guys have no idea what it’s like to carry dead weight in your staff. Give him to us!!
    As far as school board goes, ours is too big and it’s difficult to get action on anything. I think you pay your school board members $20k a year for a full time job. No wonder all the complainers won’t run for a seat.

    • Meg


  • APSNumberOne

    OMG, take him! He is your product, and you are welcome to have him back again!!!!

  • Linda Hardin

    Looking between the lines should include a survey of non Ed center staff. This problem starts and ends the present superintendent. He came in with no regard to the “Arlington Way ” It seems to be his way or the highway. Arlingtonians do embrac change. Teachers embrace change if they know it will help educated their students. Also Arlington has one of the weakest school boards in history. They don’t do their homework on the issues and let the superintendent dictate. He is working for them. They need to held accountable too. A former teacher and parent of 4 Arlington Public School graduate.

    • South Awwlington

      I think the “Arlington Way” is intended to refer to consultation of the tax paying public when it comes to municipal governance and projects/implementation.

      There isn’t and “Arlington Way” to negotiate the price of groceries, getting out of a speeding ticket or a bar tab. You can’t hijack the term and apply it to every aspect of life inside the county borders.

      • Iluv S. Awwlington

        “The Arlington Way” has another name…”Democracy.” I vote for returning to it.

        Linda is right. Regardless of municipal projects, “The Arlington Way” is a cultural value embraced by a highly educated citizenry accustomed to participatory decision making. The school system has shifted away from this practice, perhaps emblematic of the change our nation continues to go through since 9/11, or perhaps because of the rapid population growth seen in the last few years–but whatever the cause, the effect appears to be a growing dissatisfaction with the executive leadership–which is a real shame, because Arlington has many dedicated educators working for the best interests of students and their families. The high volume of turnover in leadership positions does not appear to be bolstering the public’s confidence in what has been a steady level of service over the years.

      • Meg

        The “Arlington Way” most certainly does apply to education issues. In her New Year’s day address, Board Chairman Mary Hynes gives a short explanation of what the “Arlington Way” means, and her example was when, as a young mother, she was invited to advocate for a change to a new policy in the school system. The definition of the Arlington Way is that the voice of the community is heard in all civic matters. No, it is not about speeding tickets or groceries, but it is certainly not limited to zoning issues.

  • Astounded

    So in 87 posts not a single person isn’t the least concerned with the fact someone at the age of 50 can retire with full benefits if they have worked for 30 years for APS. Do the math, taxpayers will likely paying their benefits for more than the time they worked fr APS. And, if some people that are 50 today, retire today, could actually receive benefit years for more years then they have lived to date.

    • drax

      “Full benefits?” What exactly is that? How do you know? That’s an incredibly vague term, and not verified anyway.

      Please go find out what the actual retirement package is for APS at age 50 and 30 years of service, post it here, and then tell us if its outrageous.

    • Louise

      APS retirement benefits are pretty crappy. Don’t fret, you won’t be paying much. BTW, not sure how many folks in education can start at the age of 20.

    • Maggie

      That’s more generous than the Feds used to be with the CSRS … at least the feds had to be 55 with 30 years of service. Now they are under the Social Security rules … which also need to be changed to increase the age. Yep … we need to do something to increase the retirement age here.

      • GymmyrayGymmyray

        Why increase the retirement age? That makes no sense. APS can save money by getting more staff to retire earlier while the state continues to gut teacher retirement.

        • Josh S

          It only “makes no sense” because of a particular point of view. Did you know that when Social Security was created the age at which you could begin recieving benefits was higher than the life expectancy at the time?

          The “golden years” are just as arbitrary as any other social construct.

          If society can’t afford to pay for two decades or more of retirement, I don’t see why it shouldn’t attempt to redefine retirement, especially since people do stay healthy for a lot longer than they used to.

      • drax

        Not sure why age should matter, just years of service.

        Letting them go younger would actually save money because older workers have higher salaries (and more medical expenses).

    • GymmyrayGymmyray

      Anyone who can survive teaching in Arlington for 30 years deserves a full crappy VRS retirement.

      • Louise


  • Budget woes

    Good point on retirement. And on target for retirements of late. The system has changed and more is in the making. People a retiring now to take advantage.
    I can’t imagine how hard it is to change a mindset or “Arlington way” . Dr Murphey has been fighting an uphill battle. I know though, that our schools AND our children are better off than they were 3 years ago. I am impressed with the caliber of talent that has joined Arlington schools. I am happy with the direction of my school is going in. Do I think the man is god? Not by any stretch of the imagination. I do think he is doing a good job though. Needs to work on those people skills though.

  • Dr. Murphy has to go

    It is time for Dr. Murphy to go. Fairfax can have him back.

  • Teacher

    I can’t comment on any of the specifics here but I do know first hand that morale is at an all time low since Dr. Murphy came to APS. I’ve been in APS 19 years and this used to be a fun, rewarding place to teach. Now it is a place to work.

    • School Friend

      I feel the same way!

  • Slb

    To me the dissatisfaction isn’t with Murphy. It’s with my job. More and more responsibilities and accountability. Less recognition and keeping up with cost of living. It is the state of education in the country right now, not Arlington County. I had the same dissatisfaction under Smith.
    The worst thing though are all the parents nik picking and acting like their child deserves more- more attention, more time, more resources. It is a constant state of not meeting expectations on all fronts because they are unrealistic expectations. Murphy doesn’t matter either way, tone the parents down. If they would let up on their unrealistic demands they could see what kind of job we do. Maybe Murphy feels that way about it too. I can’t wait to get out and retire. Soon. Soon.

    • Teacher

      With Smith, I felt that my voice mattered; with Murphy, I know mine doesn’t. I feel like a cog in a wheel as compared to a valuable member of a team. I think he is a bully and not so fun to work for.

    • Meg

      What you say is true, but I think if you had a truly qualified superintendent, he would be working to alleviate that burden. Arlington is massively top-heavy, and the number of bean counters and administrative staff dreaming up new standards, regulations, and expectations is astounding. However, all they come up with are MORE expectations for teachers. A good superintendent would be coming up with more support, more teachers, more feet on the ground to serve the students, not just more impossible expectations for teachers.

      • Resident

        Can assure you that the vast majority of the new standards, regulations and expectations are driven by the State and Federal regulations, not by Arlington school officials.

        That said, morale is low across the school system, including Ed Ctr staff especially among those who work directly to support students and staff at schools.

    • Arlntv


  • Frustrated

    I am frustrated by the malicious slamming of a decent administrator. Gabbie,meg, teacher, etc. you are inciting division and not being fair to a decent man. He isn’t the best, by a long shot. But look what he is up against—A county board that doesn’t treat the school system as a partnership but as an adversary. Stingy with money that can make a difference in teachers pay and in student success.
    —A growing enrollment, even more expensive, a growing special needs enrollment.—staff and teachers so stuck in the muck, resisting change and griping about every ounce of extra they have to do. The bar has to be raised, it was falling fast. Everyone has to take on extra. —lastly the people who spout off and incite rage when they have little or no knowledge of the whole picture.

    • Resident

      Lumping all teachers as stuck in the muck and resisting change and griping?

      As with all of these forums… you do not know who is speaking or if their typical reaction to any change is to complain or if they have valid concerns until you meet them.

      As for slamming of decent administrator… not a bad human being… no one has said that… but he has poor communication skills, very top down management style… and is VERY political. His goal is not to be the Arlington superintendent… that is very clear. We are but a stepping stone…

    • Meg

      Stingy with money? Arlington is one of the best-funded school districts in the country. Average annual expenditure is almost 20K per child. Nationwide average is half that, and many districts spend far less. APS has a revenue sharing agreement with the county — no matter what, a certain % of money is theirs; they never have to request funds from the county. During the real estate boom, APS was pulling in more money than they even budgeted for in case of surplus. Whatever issues APS has, they are not caused by lack of funding. How they choose to spend that generous funding is completely within their control.

    • Mick

      Sock puppet?

  • Frustrated

    Sorry that was a frustrated communication. Our teachers,most, are some of the best in the country. I don’t know Murphy’s plan anymore than you do, but I am certain he could have had a better paying and higher status job before he renewed his contract. Most superintendents don’t stay too long.
    True his leadership style could use some work.
    I think he is doing a good job. Teachers, senior staff and school board all have expressed frustrations with him but he is still better than most. Hopefully he will hear your frustrations and work harder to show a human side.
    If you want to find what’s wrong, you will. Just as easily you can find what’s right. And by far it outweighs the wrong. Think some people can change their platform to what we can do better than what is wrong.

    • Mick

      Dear Frustrated,

      The guy literally could not get the job in winchester, va, He had applied there before he glammored the APS board.

  • corebasic

    If closing the gap and raising the test scores are that important, wouldn’t you suppose that admin personnel should be trained in the core subjects? How amazing that after a couple of years of teaching in PE and a couple of years in a Admin position that kind of experience would qualify you to evaluate classroom teachers in a discipline they have mastered? And doesn’t it seem unfair that those same core teachers are expected to jump through many more hoops on the evaluation scale to just prove “worthy”? When do core teachers get applauded for the great scores they turn in year after year? Positive affirmation of hard working teachers is just as important as a positive classroom environment and making a “fun” experience for the students in those hardworking teacher’s classrooms. Teacher morale IS at an all time low. It has nothing to do with teacher stage or age, just too many expectations on all fronts. Students are capable. Students will learn. Students always have and will learn at the appropriate rate for each of them. Stop all the interference with more and more smart goals and management plans and let teachers and students each do their jobs. Bring in administrators with significant recent classroom experience. This is not just an Arlington problem but the current mass exodus of principals and Ed Center personnel should say something about the highest level administrators feeling their hands are tied just as much as the teachers. One even reminded teachers that they should never let anyone tell them they are not doing an excellent job with their students. Wonder to what or whom that was referring.

  • littlehouse

    June 19th Dr.Murphy announced the hiring of Dr. Karen Sanchez-Griego as Assistant Superintendent for Instruction .That post is being filled by the retired Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Ms.Tuccillo and no one knows what happened with Dr.Sanchez .Go figure!


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