Alexandria School Board nixes 2nd high school, votes to expand TC Williams

T.C. Williams High School, in Alexandria, Virginia. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

The Alexandria City School Board voted Thursday night to expand T.C. Williams High School, rather than build a second high school.

By a vote of 6-3, the board voted in favor of what’s called a connected high school network that “includes opportunities to partner with higher education institutions and as well as with local industry,” according to the board.

Founded in 1965, and named for the former superintendent who served from the mid-1930s through the mid-1960s, T.C. Williams High School now has three campuses: The main King Street campus is for students in grades 10-12, while ninth graders go to the Minnie Howard campus on West Braddock Road.

In addition, the T.C. Williams Satellite campus offers online learning and flexible scheduling to enable students to graduate high school.

Superintendent of Schools Gregory Hutchings, Jr. told the school board having a single high school will help maintain parity and equity.

“We know that we have inequities at the elementary level, and at the middle school levels, and at the high school,” said Hutchings.

Citing on-time graduation rates of 94% for white students and 90% for black students, Hutchings said, “We are not serving our Hispanic students, and that is something we have to do something about, immediately.”

Maintaining all high school students under the T.C. Williams banner will help even the playing field, according to Hutchings. “We know with one high school, we will be able to ensure all students have access and are fully engaged in a high quality learning environment.”

Hutchings said he has talked with superintendents around the country.

“When you have more than one high school, whether it is a reality or a perception, someone’s going to say ‘they’re getting more than I’m getting — they’re better than I am,'” Hutchings said.

In coming weeks the school board’s education design team will focus on programming for the new high school experience, while an industry advisory board works to hone what could be educational spaces at local businesses.

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