Museum Closed for Work

The Alexandria Black History Museum is closed for renovation, including the installation of a new lighting system in the museum's two galleries. The work is part of a capital improvement project associated with creating a permanent exhibit, "Securing the Blessings of Liberty," which is scheduled to open later this year.

The museum will reopen to the public at 10 a.m. Aug. 8, resuming its regular hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Smith Speaks on Vouchers

Arlington Schools Superintendent Robert G. Smith testified before a Senate subcommittee last week, on behalf of the American Association of School Administrators, about a proposal by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to fund school vouchers.

A multibillion-dollar federal voucher program that is being touted as a way to narrow the achievement gap among students would siphon funds from current federal education initiatives in kindergarten through 12th grade and would be an inappropriate use of public money, the association said in a press release.

The organization said Alexander's proposal, "Pell Grant for Kids," would "direct unchecked public funds toward private schools."

"Public schools are accountable for every dollar spent, including an increased accountability to the federal government through the No Child Left Behind Act," said Smith, who testified before the Children and Families Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He said most public school leaders "oppose the use of federal dollars in the form of vouchers . . . . Such use would represent an inappropriate use of federal funds, would spend federal funds without adequate accountability and would divert desperately needed dollars from our public schools."

Smith said "it would be irresponsible to introduce a new program with a cost of up to $15 billion a year, when [Congress] is not fully funding other federal education priorities such as special education and No Child Left Behind."

"Congress should stick to fulfilling the funding promises already made in areas such as IDEA [special education] and NCLB before branching out to new programs," he said. "We must ensure we are providing the necessary resources to . . . provide America's public education students with the tools they need to succeed in life."

New Transportation Chief

Dennis Leach, chairman of Arlington County's Transportation Commission, has been named the county's Transportation Division director. This is a new position in the county's Department of Environmental Services, created July 1 in the realignment that brought the department together with the Department of Public Works and Office of Support Services.

Leach has served as chairman of the Transportation Commission since 2002. He was chairman of Arlington's Pedestrian Advisory Commission from 2001 to 2002 and has been a member of the county's Site Plan Review Team since 2000.

ROBERT G. SMITH

Arlington schools superintendent