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GWMS PTA Meeting

Jan 9, 2018

In attendance
PTA Leadership
President, Cindy Martinez metzlinez@gmail.com
Treasurer, Darcey Arnold darceyarnold@comcast.net
Secretary, Ann Tucker ann.tucker@gmail.com
VP for Fundraising, Stephanie Babin swbabin@gmail.com
Membership co-chair Jaime Dawson jaimemdawson77@comcast.net

GWMS Leadership
Principal, Jesse Mazur jesse.mazur@acps.k12.va.us
8 th Grade Academic Principal, Lance Harrell lance.harrell@acps.k12.va.us
7 th Grade Academic Principal, Carmen Sanders carmen.sanders@acps.k12.va.us
6 Th Grade Academic Principal, Jeanette Jackson jeanette.jackson@acps.k12.va.us
Dean of Students, Christopher Speich christopher.speich@acps.k12.va.us
TAG Coordinator Stacy Palmer, stacy.palmer@acps.k12.va.us

ACPS Leadership
Interim Superintendent, Dr. Lois Berlin superintendent@acps.k12.va.us
Director of Communications, Helen Lloyd news@acps.k12.va.us
Debra Yap, Assistant Director Operations and Maintenance, Department of Educational Facilities
James Bartlett, Assistant Director, Health, Safety & Risk Management, Department of Educational
Facilities james.bartlett@acps.k12.va.us
School Board Chair Ramee Gentry ramee.gentry@acps.k12.va.us
School Board Member, Ronnie Campbell, ronnie.campbell@acps.k12.va.us
School Board Member and GWMS Liason, Veronica Nolan veronica.nolan@acps.k12.va.us

Meeting Minutes:
I. PTA Business
Cindy Martinez introduced the PTA Executive Committee, GW Staff, and ACPS representatives in
attendance, and conducted a brief PTA business meeting, including a quick Treasurer’s update from
Darcey Arnold. We have raised $15,369.19 towards our goal of $34260, and have spent $4,816.97. Our
cash on hand is $19,612.76.

Meeting minutes from the December meeting will be presented and voted on at the Feb meeting due to
the special meeting focus of the GW building and closure.
II. TAG Presentation
GWMS Tag Coordinator Stacey Palmer presented information about TAG services at GW, the TAG
referral process and student differentiation in classrooms and in pull-out sessions. TAG referrals for this
school year close on January 31, 2018. Her slides are attached, and please contact her with any
III. GWMS Building and Maintenance
Dr. Lois Berlin, acting Superintendent
Dr. Berlin gave a summary of the issues in the GWMS building and across the city. She described the
process of fixing GW (and other aging ACPS buildings) as “Whack-a- Mole”, where just as one thing gets
fixed, another thing breaks. ACPS is dealing with old buildings that are difficult to maintain, and the cold
snap recently stressed the beleaguered systems to the breaking point. She introduced Debra Yap, the
Assistant Director of Operations and Maintenance to give a description of what went wrong with GW.
According to Ms. Yap, the prolonged extreme temperatures caused many problems, especially in a
heating unit near the Head Start wing of GW that was not working. The cold temperatures in the Head
Start classrooms caused their dismissal for a number of days. There was never a gas leak – only the
smell of gas as they tried to restart and then repair the heating unit. A problem was identified with a
gas line coming into the building and a bad regulator was replaced. Then they discovered another part
had to be replaced and it was completed. During the repair of this heating unit, gas built up a bit and
was sucked into the intake vents and dispersed around the building. This caused the repeated gas smell
evacuations, but concentrations of gas were never at dangerous levels in the school building. APCS
Facilities believes that the repair/replacement of this unit has solved this particular problem with the
smell of gas.
In a separate incident, that caused Wednesday’s shut down of GW, there was a burst water pipe that
flooded the electrical room. The burst pipe caused the water pressure in the building to go down, and
therefore pressure in the fire sprinkler system to go down. This triggered Tuesday afternoon’s fire alarm.
The fire department was called in and noted the dangerous water in the electrical room under the
school building. The Fire Department called for the closing of the school. On Tuesday afternoon, power
to the entire building was shut off, and teams worked into the evening to clean up the water and dry the
electrical systems. Next electricians will be brought in to fix the wet electrical systems. Water and
electricity do not mix, so safety required the continued closing of the school on Wednesday. Following
this work, city inspectors must examine the situation and clear the building before school can be re-
opened. There can be no promises that other problems will not be found as they do the work today, but
they are hopeful school will resume on Thursday. No promises were made.
Jamie Bartlett, from ACPS Health, Safety & Risk Management, discussed the fact that they are mitigating
the dangers in the building for staff and students. Mr. Mazur fell on some stairs on Monday while trying
to investigate the water pipe break, and is on crutches, and ACPS Health, Safety and Risk Management
has been involved.

Mr. Bartlett also handles the mold and asbestos issues in the school. Parents whose children were in
classrooms affected by mold in the walls were notified, and the whole community was notified of mold
air quality tests being conducted in the schools. The mold that was been found in an 8 th grade science
classroom was addressed when students were out of the building for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but
more work in the building will have to continue next summer. (last summer, the German classroom was
also treated for mold problems). Air quality tests for mold have come back in acceptable range for
students to be in the building unharmed, and the school will continue to monitor for any problems. (The
mold issues are thought to have stemmed from moisture/condensation in the AC systems during hot
summer weather).
A question was asked to Dr. Berlin and the facilities staff about how many evacuations there were this
year due to gas smell or fire alarm and whether this was above average. No one had these numbers, but
Dr. Berlin stated that the number of evacuations was way greater than what should be happening. This
is a disturbance to the learning that is going on. Mr. Mazur stated that a number of professional
development activities have been cancelled for teachers so they can work on getting the students back
on track.
The 2019 capital budget for ACPS (CIP) has money for 3 years for GW modernization, to provide long
term solutions to these problems, not just short term fixes. Work renovating the cafeteria and HVAC
systems will start this summer.
Other questions and comments focused on communication to parents and students, and parents asked
for more information to be sent as quickly as possible. Parents were also concerned about safety of their
children in the building, and the superintendent emphasized the districts’ focus on Safety and Security.
There was a channel 7 reporter at TC Williams, but ACPS asked him not to enter the meeting. Some
parents were upset by this. Parents discussed the need to improve ACPS’s reputation as a fantastic
school system, and to our friends and neighbors in the city in order to bolster support for fully funding
our schools. Dr. Berlin shared that only about 15% of Alexandria households have children in the public
school system, and only about 10% more are in private schools. The majority of Alexandria residents do
not have school-aged children.
Concerns were raised for the Head Start students affected by the heating issues, and about the
relationship with city council and school board passing the buck on responsibility. Ramee Gentry, school
board chair, shared that there has been a significant increase in the number of joint meetings and
communication between these two entities, but that they will continue to make efforts to improve the
working relationship between schools and city.
Some meeting attendees expressed the need for parents to engage in the local community to support
funding by city council. Our PTA Council will be providing timelines for the city budget process and
information on opportunities to speak to city council, and talking points for parents to contact city
leaders to raise awareness of the facilities problems at GW and across the city. The GWMS PTA will pass
on information and support all these efforts.
A number of GW students spoke at the meeting, and shared that students are not too stressed out by
the alarms and evacuations, but that they want their school building to be fixed and taken care of. They
all expressed how much they love attending GW. Many parents expressed support for our outstanding
staff and administrators and asked what they can do to help.

The PTA will continue to monitor progress in the schools and update the membership.


Teacher Grant Forms- NOW being accepted…

TEACHER GRANTS now being accepted
Applications are now being accepted by the GWMS PTA for Teacher Grants. For more information please contact: gwtowncrier@gmail.com.



WELCOME GW Community!

Welcome George Washington Middle School Students…

The PTA is off to another amazing middle school year. PLEASE remember to sign up to join the PTA, EVERY DONATION goes a long way to support our students and teachers. Make sure you take note of the upcoming dates on the calendar.

Check out our new website soon for information blasts and new calendar details!

Have a GREAT Week Back to School!




Welcome to GWMS PTA website!


Welcome to GWMS PTA Website | Powering our family community Online.

We are excited to roll out a new PTA website to assist families with up to date events, forms and content.

We have added some of the most common menu navigation options across the top of our website and added some filler content to each of the Pages for informational purposes.

Make sure you check out our PTA Calendar, the Volunteer Form, the Contact Us form and the Online Family Registration form.

Thank you for visiting our new PTA website. If you have any questions, please let us know.

See you soon ~