Schools and Education
Matt’s Commitment to Education
Having started his career teaching in a low-income neighborhood in Houston, Matt knows the value of a quality education. He brings this unique experience to the County Board, and is proud to work to ensure that all Arlingtonians get the education they deserve. As a member of the Budget Advisory Council for Arlington Public Schools from 2014 to 2018 and Chair of that committee in the 2017-2018 School Year, Matt understands that the school system faces significant fiscal constraints and that investing in our schools is critical. Matt has also served on committees charged with addressing the opportunity and achievement gaps that disproportionately affect students with disabilities, low-income students, and students of color.
Guaranteeing Quality Education for all Arlingtonians
Quality education has long been one of Arlington’s defining characteristics. Arlington Public Schools (APS) consistently ranks among the best in Virginia, and the County Board’s commitment is vital to elevating the school division to one of the best in the country. While the County Board is not heavily involved in APS budget details, it plays critical roles in allocating funds for the budget, serving as a partner and bonding authority, and streamlining coordination planning for efficient school construction. Funding is particularly critical now since APS is facing a budget shortage and expanded capacity demands. Arlington needs additional classrooms and buildings to continue its tradition of excellent education and make sure that all students have the skills to succeed in the 21st century economy.
The County Board must continue partnering with APS to ensure that investments in the school system and construction are cost-effective. That said, Arlington’s long-term economic growth will be heavily influenced by the quality of its schools and our community’s ability to work together to close opportunity and achievement gaps. Therefore, Matt believes that allocating funding for construction of high school seats is vital for both addressing capacity demand and securing Arlington’s future. Additionally, Arlington must value its teachers and school staff to attract and retain the talent that makes its schools world class.
Progress on High School Seats and Next Steps
On May 19th, 2019, the County Board unanimously approved a permit request from APS to adapt the Education Center on Washington-Liberty (W-L) High School’s campus from administrative offices to classroom use. The work is scheduled for completion before the 2021-2022 school year, and will increase W-L’s capacity by 600 students.
In 2020, the County and School Board agreed to shorten the time period of focus for capital improvements due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Matt supported that decision along with the commitment to return to a 4-6 year Capital Improvement Plan in 2021. Building the schools necessary to educate all students will be a critical priority for that 2021 plan.