Last week, the News-Press enthusiastically endorsed the City of Falls Church’s three incumbent candidates seeking re-election to its City Council in the upcoming Nov. 5 election. They are Phil Duncan, Letty Hardi and David Tarter.
This week, we’re equally resolute in our endorsement of three solid candidates for the F.C. School Board: incumbent Phil Reitinger and veterans of years of volunteer service to the City’s schools, Laura Downs and Susan Dimock.
The superior quality of the City’s public school system cannot be denied. It has gained a deserved reputation throughout the region for many years, and has only enhanced that with gains in recent years to extend the extraordinary International Baccalaureate program to the entire K-12 system and to press ahead with key infrastructure components, including the construction of a new Henderson Middle School, major renovations at the Thackrey Preschool, Mt. Daniel and Thomas Jefferson Elementary schools and the current $120 million state of the art George Mason High School, eliminating, despite robust enrollment growth, the use of trailers as classrooms altogether.
City voters since the early 1990s have approved all bond referenda needed to accomplish these results, including by a particularly wide margin in the 2017 election for $120 million for the new high school, as they recognize the value of the system in its own right, including as a component of appreciated residential real estate values. One candidate in this race commented at a forum about how door-to-door campaigning has elicited a broad base of enthusiastic support for the schools in no way limited to citizens with children currently in the schools.
Particularly extraordinary has been way the West End development project has unfolded in the last two years since the bond referendum passed, a virtually flawless process that City Council and School Board members were equally involved in carrying out, along with City Manager Wyatt Shields and School Superintendent Peter Noonan (It’s worth also pointing out that the School Board’s choice of Dr. Noonan for the job in April 2017 has been a major success). The most recent achievement in this effort was the sale of $126 million in 30- and 20-year City municipal bonds Tuesday at a eye-popping 2.71 percent interest rate, a result that will save Falls Church citizens over $30 million in debt service costs over the 4.5 percent estimated rate that they approved with the passage of the referendum.
So, to us, these remarkable achievements deserve to be rewarded with the election of the three candidates for the School Board that have demonstrated the strongest record, by far, of involvement with the school system: Reitinger as an incumbent leading member of the board, and Downs and Dimock with their laudable record of volunteer achievements on PTA and school support entities such as the Falls Church Education Foundation.