Simon will be taking over for Susie Warner, who was district director for former Rep. Jim Moran (and then for Beyer) since 1990. Warner is retiring as of Wednesday, June 1.
“We really looked hard for someone who was deeply embedded in the community,” said Beyer. “It’s tough to bring in someone who doesn’t know too much about the community, so finding Noah was like a godsend.”
Simon says he resigned from the School Board to care for his two kids.
“My schedule wasn’t fair to my kids who were 8 and 10 at the time,” said Simon. With his children now a bit older, Simon decided it was time to re-enter the workforce and, given his continued community involvement, he found a natural fit with Beyer’s office.
“Everyone that I have talked to since the news has come out about how he is going to start as our District Office Director has been full of praise, so I am really looking forward to working with him,” said Beyer.
(In the intervening years, Simon remained active in the community. He is currently the PTA president at Swanson Middle School, vice chair of the Dream Project board and a board member of Doorways for Women and Families.)
A district director typically handles specific constituent requests, for help with Social Security, pensions, visas, immigration or other issues.
Simon will be busy: so far in 2016, Beyer’s office has opened 546 individual constituent service cases. For all of last year, the office handled 1,179 cases.
“Constituent service is most enjoyable for me.” Simon said. “I am very interested in conflict resolution, so my skills will transfer well. I am not coming in to fix broken things, because nothing is broken, I plan to keep things going.”
Nancy Van Doren, who’s running unopposed to replace Noah Simon on the Board, is being considered for the appointment.
The three remaining members of the Board — Chair James Lander, Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez and Abby Raphael — have approved a process by which Van Doren could be appointed at a special meeting on Friday, Sept. 12 at 8:00 a.m.
“The interim appointment will help to ensure fair and responsive leadership to represent the citizens of Arlington County and to make certain that decisions made during this period of transition reflect support by at least three members of the five-member body,” Arlington Public Schools said in a press release.
Simon resigned from the School Board earlier this summer. Sally Baird, who had already decided not to run for re-election, officially resigned from the Board last week, prompting the remaining three members to consider an interim appointment.
Residents will have a chance to voice their opinions on the appointment during a public hearing at the School Board’s regular meeting on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
“The public hearing will provide an opportunity for citizens to comment on whether Nancy Van Doren… or any other potential candidate(s), should be appointed,” APS said.
Baird’s seat will remain vacant until the Nov. 4 election, which includes two competing School Board candidates: Democrat Barbara Kanninen and Audrey Clement, who’s affiliated with the Green Party. In May, Van Doren finished second to Kanninen in the Democratic endorsement caucus for that race. After Simon announced his resignation, however, Van Doren was the only candidate to step forward.
Van Doren is a mother of four and an Arlington Public Schools volunteer.
Simon announced his resignation, effective Aug. 1, at this morning’s school board meeting. He said he was resigning to spend more time with his two children, following the death of his wife, Kedron, on Dec. 30.
“Simply put, I’m doing this because the board work has made me a part-time father,” a visibly sad Simon said in a statement at the end of the meeting. “The last 6 months have been particularly difficult. I’m a broken man emotionally and physically.”
Simon said he hopes the timing of his resignation will allow the special election to replace him to take place on the same day as the general election this fall, thus saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Simon was elected to the school board in 2012 as a Democrat-endorsed candidate, and is serving a term that was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.
“I feel badly that I cannot fulfill my entire commitment to those voters,” he said. “I want to thank the Arlington parents and the Arlington community at large for teaching me as much as I can learn about Arlington. This is not a decision I wanted to make. It’s a decision I needed to make.”
A former Capitol Hill staffer, Simon has a son and daughter who attend Arlington Science Focus School, according to his official APS bio.
In May, Simon decried the state of civil discourse on school issues in Arlington, after parents upset at a budget proposal said that school board members “don’t care about children with special needs.”
The Jamestown Elementary School PTA issued the following statement about Simon’s resignation:
Noah Simon has been an exceptional public servant. He has listened and he has led. He has learned and taught, We have been very fortunate to have his time and ideas and tremendous devotion to all our children while he served on the School Board. He has helped make Arlington schools better today, and set good things in motion for the future. We will miss him greatly.
Nancy Van Doren, who was unsuccessful in her attempt to win the Democratic endorsement this spring to replace retiring school board member Sally Baird, hailed Simon’s service and announced that she will seek his seat.
“Noah is a well-respected, well-loved member of the School Board and Arlington community. He has set a very high mark for effective, thoughtful, and compassionate service on behalf of Arlington’s children, families, and educators,” Van Doren said in a press release.
“It is a critical time in our community as we work to manage our growing school system,” she continued. “I am prepared to meet the challenges facing our schools and therefore am announcing today that I will seek election to the seat that Noah is leaving.”
Greg Greeley, who ran against Van Doren this spring and also lost to now-Democratic endorsee Barbara Kanninen, released a statement Tuesday afternoon thanking Simon for his service and supporting Van Doren’s bid to replace him.
“Nancy has my wholehearted support and endorsement,” Greeley said.
Earlier in this morning’s meeting, James Lander was elected chair of the school board from 2014-2015 and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez was elected vice chair.
“On behalf of the entire School Board, we want to thank Noah for his tireless and exceptional commitment to the school community, especially in the midst of the grief he and his family have experienced during the past few months,” Lander said following Simon’s announcement. “We understand and support his difficult decision to resign, and were fortunate to have such a passionate and committed colleague on this Board during the time he served.”
Also at the meeting, Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s contract was renewed for four years, in a 4-1 vote. The contract renewal was not on the board’s published agenda.
Photo via Facebook
The following letter to the editor was submitted by Mary Hynes and Noah Simon. Mary is Vice Chair of the Arlington County Board and a former School Board member. Noah is an Arlington County School Board Member. This letter represents their individual views.
Arlington residents value education. We are, after all, a community where 70% of residents hold bachelor degrees and over 25% hold advanced degrees. We see the commitment to education daily – in engaged parents, committed teachers, active PTA’s, and strong business partnerships. That commitment has been demonstrated for more than three decades by voter support for upgraded and expanded schools.
Still, our community now faces school enrollment levels that we have not seen for nearly 50 years in Arlington. People want to live in Arlington because of our high quality schools and to entrust their children’s education to our dedicated school professionals.
We know that Arlington supports education because of the way our tax dollars are spent. As has been true for decades, both the County’s and the Arlington Public Schools’ FY15 budgets reflect Arlington’s sustained commitment to public education and academic excellence. And the School Board maintained the community’s vision of a high quality education for all students while aligning community priorities with fiscal prudence.
In terms of dollars invested in education, the APS budget totals $539.4 million, an increase of 3.1 percent. It includes a County transfer of $432.2 million as well as one time payments that provide an even higher percentage increase. The increases address the growing enrollment trend that shows no sign of slowing in the next several years.
This schools investment represents approximately 47% of Arlington County’s locally generated revenue. We spend more on schools than on any other community priority. We invest far more per pupil – approximately $19,200 — than other jurisdictions in our region, largely a product of low class size and high quality teachers. Considering that only 13 percent of Arlington households have school-age children, the community’s commitment to education is substantial.
What do Arlington students and residents get for this education investment? Successful students, great schools, expanded adult education opportunities, high graduation rates, strong higher education attainment rates, more efforts to eliminate achievement gaps, and a highly ranked education system that attracts quality businesses and employers.
Here are a few highlights from the budget:
- A reaffirmed countywide commitment to current low class sizes;
- Additional County transfer funding to address enrollment growth;
- Full funding for all available Pre-Kindergarten slots in recognition that early childhood education is critical to student success — Arlington remains the only Northern Virginia county that uses all available state funding for Pre-K;
- Funding to prepare students to meet the demands of a global marketplace by eliminating early-Wednesday release at three schools and enabling those schools to implement the Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) Program;
- A strong commitment to students with special needs;
- Numerous opportunities for Advanced Placement courses, athletic participation and arts education;
- A 2 percent salary increase and $500 one-time bonus payment for employees; and
- Opportunities for adult English language learners to earn their high school diploma and enhance their future career opportunities.
Our community knows that education is a key contributor to our economic growth and to the success of future generations. That is why Arlington is so committed to having excellent schools.
As the needs of the school system change over time, we remain committed to addressing those needs. Today, enrollment growth is one of the most pressing challenges we face. That is why the County Board and School Board are working together to come up with solutions and resources – including a look at how we can take a fresh look at how best to structure a revenue sharing agreement to manage taxpayer funds efficiently and plan effectively to keep our schools strong.
With the passage of the County and Schools budgets, attention now shifts to the Capital Improvement Planning (CIP) process. In the coming weeks, the Schools capital plan will request funding to meet enrollment needs. Getting more seats into the pipeline – at all levels – is a priority that both Boards are committed to meeting.
It will take all of us — parents, educators, civic associations, School Board and County Board colleagues – the entire community – to solve the challenge of school capacity in a timely and responsible manner. Arlington remains committed to providing the best in public schools – and we are committed to keeping it that way by growing our economy, investing for the future, and aligning community priorities with fiscal responsibility.