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Monday, October 17, 2016

Process for exploring Stuart name change delayed

Stuart High School
Opponents of changing the name of JEB Stuart High School are spreading misleading information about the cost of a consultant to facilitate a working group authorized by the Fairfax County School Board to develop recommendations on a name change.

The school board passed a resolution July 29 calling for the establishment of a working group to consider whether having a school named for a Confederate general is no longer appropriate. The group’s charge includes weighing the pros and cons of a name change and exploring alternative means to pay for it.

The school board had issued a request for proposals for a consultant to facilitate the working group’s meetings, although that process is now on hold.

Consultant costs disputed

A recent news report on WUSA9 quotes opponents of a name change charging Fairfax County Public Schools is planning to spend $100,000 on a consultant. Opponents are also falsely claiming that changing the name would cost a lot more than FCPS anticipates – and are using that argument to lobby against both the name change and the meals tax referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.

School board member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) argued on the WUSA9 broadcast that no money should be spent to change the name because the community doesn’t want it and FCPS is facing budget constraints. “We’re already in a strained position,” Schultz said. “This is where we as school board members have an extra fiduciary responsibility to be cautious where the money is spent.”

The $100,000 figure for a consultant is hugely exaggerated, however. That is the upper limit of what can be put in an RFP under FCPS policy. “That doesn’t mean we’re willing to spend $100,000,” said school board Chair Sandy Evans (Mason).

Superintendent Karen Garza had publicly stated that the consultant would most likely cost $15,000, and in an Oct. 12 email to the Stuart community she wrote, it’s “the expectation that this cost would not exceed $20,000.”

Plans to hire a consultant and appoint members of the working group have been put on hold, the memo states, due to Garza’s resignation and the appointment of Steven Lockard to serve as interim superintendent after her departure.

“While we are still committed to addressing the concerns of the Stuart community,” Garza said, “I believe that since I am leaving my position, it would only be fair to allow the interim superintendent to take over the necessary steps in forming this working group.”

“The whole process is slowing down,” Evans said. “It’s taking a little longer than we hoped. It’s not stopping. We haven’t forgotten about this. It’s still going to happen.”

According to Evans, an objective facilitator is needed to ensure the working group is productive, as “the name change is an emotional issue and people have strong opinions.”

Alternative funding sources

Evans supports a name change, although it took “a long time and a lot of research” to get there. “It makes sense to get the Confederate general’s name off the school,” she said.

The current best estimate by FCPS for the cost of changing the name is $678,000. Opponents, however, are charging it would cost $760,000, while some have said it would be as high as $1 million or even $2 million.

That is misleading, and it’s also misleading for opponents of the name change to try to tie it to the meals tax. “I personally don’t see a connection between the two,” Evans said. Seventy percent of the revenue from a meals would go to FCPS, which plans to use it to raise teacher salaries to a competitive level.

About half of the funds needed for a name change would go for “hard costs” for new signage and the like, which would come from the FCPS budget, noted George Alber, a member of the executive committee of the Fairfax County NAACP, which supports the name change.

The other costs, for things like new football and band uniforms, are generally paid by booster clubs, and those are replaced every few years anyway and should not be included the cost of a name change, Alber said.

If a decision is made to change the name, he said, “the school board, parents, alumni, and members of the community will responsibly work together to determine the timing of the changes that must be made, their actual costs, and alternatives for funding them, including potentially private fundraising.”

Evans is optimistic that the working group will come up with creative ways to finance the name change without digging too deeply into the FCPS budget. For one thing, thousands of people across the country signed a petition in support of the change and they might be willing to donate funds to make that happen.

If funds could be raised from the private sector, that would “change the conversation,” Evans said. “So many people only oppose the name change because of the cost. We need a way to find alternative funding.”

Community engagement

Opponents cite a survey that found a majority of the Stuart community want to keep the school’s name. But Alber said that survey was flawed. It was a self-selected survey, not statistically accurate, and thus, “doesn’t represent the full spectrum of the student body.”

One of the results of the community meeting about the name change last May was that there wasn’t enough community engagement, Evans said. “That is why we created the working group – to get more community engagement.”

Moreover, Alber said, “this should not be a plebescite. Justice, equality, and human rights are never served when the rights of the minority are subject to the whims of the majority.”

And it shouldn’t just be about money, he said. “The decision to change the name of JEB Stuart is a moral question about justice, equality, human rights, and reconciliation.”

In addition to the money issue and survey results, name change opponent Denise Patton, a former history teacher who lives near the school, cited the “distortion of history” during an interview on the WUSA9 report. “JEB Stuart was here at Munson Hill. He’s famous for his Quaker gun deception,” she said. (That involved painting logs to look like guns and fooling the enemy into thinking his troops were well armed.)

For those who support a name change, it’s all about history. “Do we wish to continue to honor and perpetuate a man who treasonously betrayed his country and violated the oath of office he took as an officer in the U.S. Army in order to give his life to preserve slavery?” Albers asked. “Do we wish to continue to perpetuate the Confederate values of white supremacy, slavery, and the denial of human rights to millions of people?”

In addition, he notes, the school was defiantly named for JEB Stuart in 1959 by a school board that “fought desegregation with the full support of the government of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The working group has been charged with coming up with ideas to “honor and preserve the school’s history, traditions, and past achievements, and to memorialize its decades as JEB Stuart High School.”


  1. First time I've read an article with a definite bias. The lead says it all.

    Sandy Evans's Request for Proposal for a renaming committee facilitator clearly stated $100,000 to last until 2020.

    Sandy and Garza backtracked to $15,000 and $20,000. The project was put on hold once WUSA-TV report Peggy Fox got wind.

    See Peggy Fox's tweet about it.

    FCPS wants more money but Evans found money and was willing to spend it to follow a political agenda that has no place in our educational system.

    This project should not be on hold. It should be dropped completely.

    1. "Opponents of changing the name of JEB Stuart High School are spreading misleading information about the cost of a consultant…..The $100,000 figure for a consultant is hugely exaggerated, however…"
      What is misleading? The RFP is issued for up to $100,000 K. Hugely exaggerated? Why isn't the figure in the RFP $15, $20 or $25K?
      What is misleading is Sandy….why couldn't she just explain it in the first place.

    2. The $100K figure is likely a cumulative figure through 2020 which means it will be on contract for about $15-25K per year. If anything that is far below what I would charge to deal with an issue that clearly does not have the popular support that FCPS would prefer.

    3. JEB Stuart has the lowest graduation rate in Fairfax County. There is a problem with the focus of our school board rep!

  2. Will someone please provide a cite for where Superintendent Garza publcly stated the consultant only would cost $15,000?

    The source of the "$100,000 hugely exaggerated figure" for the consultant is the RFP issued by FCPS. Why would FCPS put an upper limit of $100k in an RFP if it only planned to spend $15k? Why would it not just put in the amount it planned to spend rather than what it COULD spend?

    At any point, did Dr. Garza and/or Chair Sandy Evans fully inform the FCPS School Board AND constituents that it would spend FCPS funds on the ad hoc commitee?

  3. Really, we're going to waste $15,000 just because if offends people?? Why not use that money where it's really needed instead!!!!

  4. $15,000 or $100,000 - it is a waste of money. And, just think, they want to re-name it after another person. If they have to re-name, it should be a neighborhood name - not a person!!!

    1. That wouldn't fit the agenda. Why let truth get in the way? When the suggestion came up to rename the school Peace Valley a NAACP member publicly posted….."and the land NOT used for the school was SOLD to White developers, who put the name "Peace Valley Lane" on the road. It’s a segregationist name"
      They may want to read old deeds; Peace Valley Lane was identified as a boundary maker before the school board owned the property.

  5. I doubt if many meals tax opponents like me are particularly concerned about this issue. The bigger concern is that neither the BOS nor the school board has made any commitment to reign in spending. Handing the school board a wad of cash isn't synonymous with reduced taxes. That's why I'm writing this. If the meals tax passes I want to be able to say "I told you so" after the school board burns through that meals tax money money and comes right back with yet another enormous budget request. There's a difference between investing in the future and being gullible. In this case, nothing leads me to conclude that a meals tax will have any impact on those seemingly endless annual property tax increases.

  6. The author of this blog is getting more and more obvious with displaying their bias, but pretending otherwise by declaring only the author and those whose share the author's position know the truth; and opponent's are "misleading."

    This blog has lost credibility.

    1. Fortunately, I think there are a number of us who truly value Ellie's work and dedication. She isn't perfect and she does have bias, but she never claims to be perfect nor does she ever claim to not have bias. But I, and I think many others, have found her work with this blog to be overall incredibly even-keeled.

      One article that doesn't sit well and all of the sudden "this blog has lost credibility". Whatever.

    2. Trump is messing with your brain

  7. Sounds like George Albers and Sandy Evans got to provide signifigant comments to this blog before it was posted. Both of those individuals want the name change to occur. Sandy (not the School Board as the article states) submitted the private RFP (meaning directly sending to a select few) without notifying school board members.

    There is 0 evidence that the school or the residents in the area want the name change. I think if given the choice between better facilities, increasing teacher pay, increasing school activities, or changing a name... most (if not all) would opt for one of the other choices and NOT changing the name. Instead those decietful name changers want to keep asking the question until they get an answer they like and until then, all responses are flawed in some way, shape, or form.

    Not sure how money that comes out of the school budget isn't related to the school deficit as a whole? The school budget is a pot of money, like a soup, if you take out any ingredients, you have less soup.

  8. When exactly were the stats re: JEB Stuart
    having the lowest graduation rate in Fairfax County communicated to parents and the community?

  9. I couldn’t be more disappointed in the NAACP Fairfax branch.

    Tell the truth Mr. Albers. Albers is bending the truth to suit his political agenda (as he is paid to do). Mr. Albers apparently chooses to ignore the fact that prominent members of the 1958 School Board were public supporters of NAACP's David Scull, who fought for desegregation and who successfully defeated Virginia in a case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958. Those same School Board members voted in 1958 to name the school after JEB Stuart because they understood the value of recognizing Virginia history. They were civil rights advocates who kept Fairfax Schools open and desegregated our schools with due speed once Virginia acquiesced to Federal law. Fairfax schools were subject to regulation by the State of Virginia and FCSB could not act unilaterally to desegregating the schools without being shut down.

  10. "It is so important to challenge liars about their lies. Challenge them with the facts." Professor Deborah Lipstadt

    Those who would rename JEB Stuart High School play loose with the facts.

    Secession wasn't treason until four years after the Civil War ended. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned two years and finally released because the government didn't believe it could prove treason. No Confederate was tried for treason.

    Resignation wasn't treason. Union officers Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart resigned their commissions when their homeland, Virginia, seceded. Even ardent anti-secessionist Jubal Early took arms when his homeland, Virginia, seceded.

    The majority of Southerners did not own slaves. Still they took arms to fight the Union when their homelands, their states, seceded.

    J.E.B. Stuart and other prominent Virginians played a pivitol role in establishing the United States of America as an indivisible Union. As the 1958 FCSB prepared for the national Civil War Centennial they recognized Virginia's role and named the high school after prominent Virginian J.E.B. Stuart, who's Confederatecamp was at Munson Hill, less than a quarter mile from the present site of our high school.

    The 1958 FCSB members deserve our admiration. Among them were early civil rights activists and NAACP supporters. They had desegregation plans ready to implement when Virginia ceased its massive resistance. (Virginia closed schools that attempted to integrate) They also valued Virginia's history and recognized the contributions of its citizens in forming the USA we know today.

    1. "It is so important to challenge liars about their lies. Challenge them with the facts." Professor Deborah Lipstadt

      If you are going to quote Ms Lipstadt, some things should be set straight.

      "Those who would rename JEB Stuart High School play loose with the facts.

      Secession wasn't treason until four years after the Civil War ended. Jefferson Davis was imprisoned two years and finally released because the government didn't believe it could prove treason. No Confederate was tried for treason. "

      The govt chose to not try them for treason, for the sake of reconciliation. That does not mean it was not treason.

      "Resignation wasn't treason. Union officers Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart resigned their commissions when their homeland, Virginia, seceded. Even ardent anti-secessionist Jubal Early took arms when his homeland, Virginia, seceded."

      Which does not show it was not treason. Their oaths as officers were not to Virginia.

      "The majority of Southerners did not own slaves. Still they took arms to fight the Union when their homelands, their states, seceded. "

      A, Many who did not own slaves had an economic interest in slavery - as overseers, as merchants who sold to plantations, etc B. Many who did not own slaves aspired to own slaves C. Many who did not own slaves feared that emancipation would mean equality with blacks, and loss of their superior status as whites - secessionists played on this to get support for secession.

      Of course many white Southerners opposed the cconfederacy - Most in East Tennessee - more relevant locally, the Loudoun Rangers, who fought as partisans for the Union.

      There was certainly a choice.

    2. And, none of those choices were treasonous. Northerners owned slaves as well and the Emancipation Proclamation retained slavery in border states.

    3. TO: Anonymous10/18/16, 1:58 PM
      You are correct that reconciliation was a concern. A huge concern. But, Davis's prosecutor did not think he could prove treason. Secession was not deemed treason until 1869. That isa fact.

  11. No money should be spent on a name change. We have history, and we are living history now. Sandy, you represent Mason District schools. You do not have the right to decide we need to spend even $20,000 on a study, much less spend $676,000 minimum for a name change. I hope this issue fades away so we can concentrate on making Jeb Stuart H.S. and all the Fairfax County schools great ones. Do not waste money trying to hide a topic that should be taught in schools.

    1. Yes, I do hope that Virginia's massive resistance to racial desegregation is taught in schools.

    2. It should be taught, in context, and with other facts.

      History is key to developing critical thinking. The critical thinking process requires analyzing facts.

    3. No one has a problem with teaching Massive Resistance. It's the deceit used in this campaign to lay it all on the feet of the 1958 school board, as if Fairfax County alone were the architects of Massive Resistance and had any power whatsoever to stop it. Daniel Duke in Education Empire wrote…."Whether local school systems such as Fairfax County, left to their own, would have moved forward to implement desegregation in the late 50's will never be known. Richmond removed any possibility of local option."
      In the General Assembly Delegates from Northern Virginia openly opposed the Stanley plans as well as calls for even more radical legislation. I'm for teaching all the history.

    4. I would have refrained from naming a new school after a Confederate general if I had wanted to send a message to Richmond opposing Massive Resistance, but that may just be me.

    5. If it is all about protecting history, why is there no school in Fairfax named after General Longstreet? He was also a distinguished Confederate General. Is it because he supported Reconstruction?

    6. Stuart's territory included Munson Hill, which is near the high school. The school location and proximity along with the FCSB policy to name a school after a prominent Virginian all came together. That is on record.

      I don't think the 1958 FCSB needed to prove themselves more. They submitted a desegregation plan early on and prominent members supported NAACP efforts. They recognized Mason District history and as a nation preparations for the Civil War Centennial were underway. Virginia was central to that event.

    7. I don't think the board was concerned with getting the blessings of Richmond. They acted on the history of the land. If they were concerned about pleasing Richmond why would the exact same School Board members have named schools John G. Whittier and Henry Thoreau in the (SB minutes May 5, 1959)? Those names are important because J.G. Whittier was a vocal advocate for the abolition of slavery, and Thoreau was famous for his anti-slavery writings.

  12. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, this article is clearly biased from the start. I read this blog for information, not opinions. I like to know the arguments of both sides, but don't need the blogger to tell me that one of them is wrong. I have done many RFP's in my career in government. No one, who is planning to spend $15,000, writes an RFP for $100,000 -- more than 6 times the estimate. If a vendor cannot make a better cost estimate than that, I wouldn't want them. This is a legitimate issue. I don't think we will ever resolve the difference in views between the politically correct and the others, but the cost of this name change (whichever one is correct) should bring pause to a county whose government is constantly crying (and trying to figure out new taxes) that they don't have enough money for schools.

    1. I can't think of a single contract we let where the contract value was equal to what we planned on funding. You are patently incorrect.

    2. Also, no one cares why you read this blog. If it offends your tender sensibilities so much, then why are you still here?

    3. Nobody cares what the self-important Adam Goldberg thinks.

    4. "Nobody cares what the self-important Adam Goldberg thinks." - says the anonymous troll...

    5. I always knew we were bros Jeff

    6. I have been defeated. I dub thee Jeffery "trollslayer" Longo

  13. Cost was NOT even mentioned in the FCPS name change survey of the Stuart community. The survey results were still NO.

    Stuart is a school where the minorities are the majority. Only 22% of students are white and that number includes Arabs. The NAACP is not representing the student body or the community. They have spoken against a change.

    Go away Mr. Albers. We don't need the NAACP creating problems for us. We have enough problems meeting the educational needs of our students.

    1. George Albers/NAACP is Sandy Evans' special friend ... he has no standing to speak in the Stuart Community name change debate, but she doesn't care. Just look at the 10/20 SB meeting -- when a speaker did not show up to yield his time, all George had to do was yell out from the audience and he was allowed to take the open spot. Really?

  14. This Annandale blog posting is insulting and combative.

  15. Sandy Evans is intent upon perpetuating her personal agenda regardless of the fact that many of the arguments in favor of the name change have been discredited.

    She has also ignored the results of a FCPS survey and a community meeting in order to meet her stated objective.

    Spending $15,000 to $1,000,000 on a name change when claiming that a meals tax is essential to save our schools seems a bit ingenuous.

  16. My understanding is that students, parents & alumni were not in favor of a name change. Someone didn't like the results and is commissioning a "study." No study is needed, leave the name & spend the money on educating the students.

    1. Really the BoS and FCPD should be focusing on education instead of wasting money on nonsense when there are so MANY other priorities. And they want me to pay a meal tax for this stupidity. They may as well flush the money down the toilet. They ain't gonna get a penny or a vote out of me.

  17. We should and must honor JEB Stuart. By failing to follow Lee's orders, he helped the North win the battle of Gettysburg, thus saving the union, and speeding the abolition of slavery!