APS is circulating a proposed change to its gift policy for employees that would limit the amount of gifts educators can receive to $50.
The School Board will consider adopting the policy at its meeting Dec. 5, according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. There is already an APS gift policy on the books, but it only has guidelines for gifts purchased for employees with APS funds.
The draft policy defines a gift as “cash or cash equivalent; any gratuity, discount, favor, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, services, transportation, lodging and meals … and any items, event, activity or other thing(s) having monetary value given to or on behalf of an employee for his or her use or personal benefit.”
The policy reads as follows:
Employees may accept gift valued at a total of $50.00 or less during a school year from any one student, individual, family or organization, including PTAs and Booster organizations. In no instance shall an employee accept a gift for services performed within the scope of the employee’s duties or given with the intent to influence an employee’s actions. Any single gift valued at more than $50, or gifts totaling more than $50 from one giver during the course of a school year, must be returned to the giver.
The policy “provides clear guidance” on what type and value of gifts APS employees can receive from students,, their family or outside organizations, which the current policy does not, according to Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Management Services Deirdra McLaughlin. It remains unclear how teachers will be tasked with appraising the value of gifts such as hospitality or services.
Water Main Work Complete — Arlington County crews completed repairs on a 30″ water main near Arlington Boulevard and N. Irving Street Friday. As of Saturday, parts of the county that experienced low water pressure as a result of the repairs were back to normal service, according to the Department of Environmental Services.
New Asst. Superintendent Appointed — The Arlington School Board has appointed a new Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. Connie Skelton, a 22-year APS employee who started her career as a middle school science teacher, has been appointed to the position effective immediately. She replaces Dr. Mark Johnston, who was one of numerous senior APS staffers to depart since 2010. [Arlington Public Schools]
Vote on New Williamsburg School Expected Feb. 7 — School Board members are expected to vote on the concept for a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus on Feb. 7. The $43 million school project has attracted scrutiny from Fairfax County due to possible traffic impacts. [Sun Gazette]
Fmr. CIA Officer Sentenced — John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer who lives in Arlington, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. Kiriakou pleaded guilty in October to intentionally disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent to a journalist. [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
‘Unleashed’ Open at Pentagon Row — Unleashed by Petco, a new pet store, has opened at Pentagon Row (1101 S. Joyce Street). The store offers “everyday pet essentials along with top-shelf natural, raw, organic, dehydrated and freeze-dried nutrition.” [Petco]
Clarence Stukes, the Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations at Arlington Public Schools, is retiring at the end of January, an APS spokesman confirmed Monday evening.
Stukes has announced his retirement and his last day at the school system will be at some point later this month, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. Bellavia said he did not know whether Stukes was taking a job with another school system.
As the top administrator in the Department of Facilities and Operations, Stukes is responsible for overseeing facilities planning, capital improvement programs, aquatics, building and grounds maintenance, custodial services, energy management, and transportation. In August, Stukes was caught up in a wave of parent anger over changes to enforcement of the school system’s busing policy.
Stukes defended the busing policy, but also pointed out that this was the first time in his tenure that the school system did not add buses to make up for growth in enrollment.
Stukes joins a long list of principals and senior administrators who have left Arlington Public Schools since 2010. While the departures have concerned some school watchers, APS officials attribute the phenomenon to the fact that a “senior corps” of school staffers have been approaching retirement.
“It is something we have been watching for a number of years now,” APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said in September.
After he leaves, Stukes will likely be replaced with an interim Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations while APS advertises to full the position on a permanent basis, Bellavia said.
The Arlington Public Schools Transportation Director has retired, just weeks before APS will go back in session with a new, recently-announced voucher-based busing system.
Transportation Director Gregory Sutton’s last day on the job was yesterday, Aug. 7, Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos confirmed to ARLnow.com today. Erdos would not say whether Sutton’s retirement was announced in advance or whether it was an unexpected resignation. She did say, however, that the process to replace him will not begin until later this year.
“We do not share the private reasons that employees share when they notify us of their decisions,” Erdos said. “We have an interim team of transportation managers who will lead Transportation while we begin our personnel process to fill the position later this year.”
Sept. 4 is the first day of school in Arlington, and this school year students who take the bus will be required to present a voucher in order to board an APS school bus. The move to a voucher-based system — announced in two separate letters to parents — follows the release of a report last fall that concluded Arlington’s school bus system was under “a great strain” and reaching a “breaking point” systemwide.
The report recommended a reorganization of management and administrative staffing at the school system’s Transportation Services department, among other steps.
Flickr pool photo by Afagen
Bill Would Open Classrooms to Parents — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has proposed a bill that would require local school boards to “ensure that the parent or legal guardian of a student or prospective student enrolled in the school division may, subject to reasonable notice and with minimized disruption, act as an observer in the child’s classroom.” The bill is in response to a Washington Post column about a couple whose request to observe a class at Arlington Traditional School was denied by school officials. [Washington Post]
Lyon Hall Named ‘Best Beer Bar’ — Lyon Hall (3100 N Washington Blvd) has been named one of America’s 100 Best Beer Bars by Draft Magazine. “Its bartenders have a passion for of-the-moment beer, and no one will care if you drink your 21st Amendment Back in Black straight from the can,” the publication said. [Draft Magazine]
Board Wants Speedier Farmers Market Permit Process — The County Board asked Arlington County staff to speed up the permit approval process for the planned Westover Farmers Market. Organizers — who would like to open the market in May — have said that the permitting process has been proceeding at a slower-than-hoped-for pace. [Sun Gazette]
During his seven years in the position, Johnston has overseen an increase in test scores and a decrease in the achievement gap between white and minority students. He also worked to create the school system’s career advancement program for teachers, which rewarded high-quality teaching.
Johnston will officially retire on Sept. 1. No successor has been chosen, and a national search process is being planned.
In addition to Johnston, the school system is seeking a replacement for Mary Beth Chambers, who is retiring in September as the Assistant Superintendent of Finance.
Photo via AGI