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[Susan notes: ]

Published in Wall Street Journal

To the editor

As a resident and taxpayer of Fairfax County, Va., I read with considerable consternation about the sorry state of the facilities at Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology ("At Top Public School, Rising Stars Dodge Falling Ceiling Tiles," page one, Aug. 28). I thought you might have indulged in a bit of hyperbole in describing appalling conditions at the school. So, both skeptical and alarmed, I toured the school with a member of the Fairfax County School Board and an assistant principal.

You were too easy on the school, not too hard. I was appalled at the conditions I found there and even more taken aback at the lack of a sense of urgency in allocating the resources for fixing them. Fairfax County taxpayers have been very generous to the schools here, and Thomas Jefferson is our crown jewel. Its student body is exceptional, by any standard. Its teaching staff is exceptional as well, and they provide a curriculum appropriate to the gifted students. But something is sadly awry in the capacity and execution of responsibility for maintaining the school facilities at an equally high level.

The taxpayers, the students and the teachers have all met and exceeded expectations. Those responsible for maintaining the building evidently have failed dramatically to meet their fiduciary responsibilities. Sadder still, in my short time at the school I didn't discern that the school system has a sense of urgency to solve the problems, and I fear the talented students and faculty, upon whom much of our future may depend, will continue to suffer for some time.

Larry S. Millstein, Ph.D.

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