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Trailer Classrooms Arrive at Washington-Lee

by ARLnow.com — June 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm 9,678 200 Comments

Five large relocatable classroom trailers received a police escort up Washington Boulevard this morning, en route to Washington-Lee High School.

The trailers are being installed in a parking lot behind the Arlington Public Schools administration building. They will be used as classrooms for Washington-Lee students, starting this fall.

Crews removed trees from the parking lot yesterday in preparation for the arrival of the classrooms. School spokesman Frank Bellavia said he the trees will be replanted elsewhere, with the assistance of the Arlington County arborist.

Washington-Lee’s current building, which first opened in 2008, has a capacity of 1,854 students. Enrollment was projected to reach 1,913 in 2011, with the student population burgeoning to 2,585 by 2016.

Hat tips to J.P. and @reidjoshua

  • Narlington

    it is very sad to see trailers being moved in to the parking lot of a brand new school. You think the School Board would have taken notice of the number of students and built with that knowledge.

    Even if it is not popular and may cost School Board members their seat I think a change is need in the school lines. There is no need for Washington – Lee HS to have a border line that far south if the school can’t handle the amount of students.

    Currently Wakefield is under populated and Washington – Lee is over populated it doesn’t take a math wiz to figure out the lines have to change.

    Lets get it done and stop with the trailers

    • Westover

      While Rt. 50 would be the logical boundry line, unfortunately for Wakefield, such a change would bring a drastic reduction to the home values in those locations. This would effect the individual home owners’ wealth and the county’s tax revenues. Shifting the boundry from W-L to Wakefield is just not the answer. Hopefully they see this and have corrected things for Yorktown’s rebuild.

      The school board did royally screw this one up if trailers are needed so soon after construction was completed. I would rather there be some empty classrooms that we spend money on heating and cooling when birthrates have been low, than to put kids in trailers after a boom.

      • Narlington

        Arlington home values will do fine if they change the lines. That is just a crap answer that if the school lines are changed people will payless for a house. Wakefield is a good school as all the schools in the county, even if the School Board is trying its hardest to screw that up.

        • Narlington

          DC home prices are high in the areas that have low crime but the schools are still junk. The parts of DC that have high crime, have low house prices, and still the school are junk. Arlington will do just as well if not better if they just change the school lines.

          • Arlington, Northside

            And in DC where home prices are high the kids are going to schools like Landon, Bullis, St. Andrews, Holton Arms, Visitation, Gonzaga, Georgetown Prep,St. John’s, O’Connell, etc.

        • Burger

          You most not have looked at home prices in various school districts in Arlington. There is most definitely a premium to life in Yorktown over WL (though only margin difference) and both over Wakefield.

          You can ignore the numbers but they are what they are for a reason.

        • Barbin

          Yes, every school in Arlington is a good school. I would not have a problem sending my child to any public school in the County. And yes, equivalent-sized and appointed homes in south Arlington, with some exceptions, will bring a lower price than in north Arlington. However, when that home was previously purchased, it was equivalently less in cost compared to north Arlington. So, the “capital gain” gap isn’t as great as some are saying.

          • Westover

            But you will be creating a capital loss for the home owner who suddenly is in the Wakefield School district. Arlington Schools are all excellent, but that is relative to the rest of the nation. Currently the North and South sides of the county are not balanced due to mostly demographic reasons, but it is a fact. you will be hurting folks investment in their homes and their kids’ future if you suddenly switch folks to Wakefield.

          • Larchmont

            Maybe the real estate office that sold them on the “school pyramid” will cover some of the loss. Wish they’d stop pushing the pyramid so much.

          • Westover

            The school pyramid is a GREAT selling point and is what attracted many of us to cross the line from Republican safety of Fairfax County into GOP unsafe Arlington. ;) Hope that they can find a way to elevate Wakefield to the level of W-L and Yorktown.

          • edgar99

            Nonsense. All you have to do is look at the 2010 SAT Scores on the APS web site at: http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/12/SAT2010_Ethnic.pdf

            The average score for white students at Wakefield was 611 reading, 597 writing, 596 math for a total of 1804.

            For Yorktown the white scores were 610, 586, 606 for a total of 1802,

            For W&L, it was 614, 590, 608, 1812 total.

            Pretty much identical. The real estate premium that North Arlingtonians are paying is purely a reflection of their preference for segregated classrooms.

          • John

            Comparing the results of white students or any other demographic group does not reflect the school as a whole. Most people already know that white students at all Arlington schools perform at about the same level. The achievement gap is what most schools struggle with. Using your source here are the 2010 SAT scores for each school.

            Wakefield: 492 486 506 (reading, writing, math)
            W-L: 566 540 564
            Yorktown: 581 565 595

            As a school, W-L and Yorktown rank among the top ten in Northern Virginia in SAT scores. While Wakefield’s scores are respectable they do lag behind W-L’s and Yorktown’s. TJ of course is ranked one.

          • John

            Using your same data (from APS), the minority populations at W-L and Yorktown score higher than at Wakefield. W-L and Yorktown have done a better job at closing the achievement gap, but unfortunately for Wakefield the high levels of poverty have made closing “the gap” there more challenging.

          • FirstHand

            Absolutely correct!

        • edgar99

          “Arlington home values will do fine if they change the lines” Arlington property values are purely a reflection of its inhabitants’ preference for racially segregated schools. Sure Wakefield scores the same as Yorktown and W&L when you compare by demographics, but no way in hell will the county ever allow more than a handful of minorities into the white power schools. There is a reason Arlington was the original home to the headquarters of the American Nazi Party.

          • John

            Arlington was very happy to be rid of the American Nazi Party in the early 80s. They brought nothing but trouble. Although thanks to them (indirectly) we now have Upton Hill Park.

            In the 50s the original Wakefield boundary extended well into N Arlington and a portion of the newly constructed Williamsburg Junior High attendance area was zoned to Wakefield. Parents did protest, as W-L had by that time a very strong academic and athletic reputation, and the new Wakefield was at the other end of the county. Race had nothing to do with school boundaries then, as the schools were segregated.

            It would take guts for the school board to propose anything that resembles the schools boundaries of the 1950s – early 1980s. And back then the high school boundaries changed every few years according to population levels.

          • doodly

            Wow, what a loony statement.

      • R.Griffon

        Maintaining a system that doesn’t work in order to preserve someone’s home values is just plain silly as educational needs take a clear precedent.

        And I think to say that they would experience a “drastic reduction” may be overstating it a bit. I’m no real estate agent, but I doubt that a $6-700K property is going to loose $100K in value due to rezoning to a lesser school. We’re not talking about going from a top rated school to the slums here.

        • Mike

          If shifting the boundaries to put more houses in the Wakefield district is thought to cause a drop in property values, just rename the schools. Wakefield should be eliminated and its building used as the Southern Campus of Yorktown.
          “Dear Mr. and Mrs. X,
          Due to a redrawing of boundary lines, your children will now be attending Yorktown High School (southern campus).
          Sincerely, The School Board”

          Problem solved! :-)

          • G

            Haha, good idea.

          • NewsyMom

            +1

        • dk

          ITA. Besides, if there is any correlation between school performance and students’ family income (and is there ever), the quality of Wakefield should improve following redistricting.

          And let’s be real: Wakefield is not the educational wasteland that some seem to be implying in this thread. Just to take one dimension, according to APS stats, 25% of Wakefield students sat for at least 1 AP exam in 2009-10. Of AP exams taken at Wakefield, 58% were scored at 3+ (versus 53% at W-L) and 15% were scored at 5 (vs 13% at W-L).

          • John

            If that’s true… cool. Wakefield has worked hard to improve its AP program.
            But at W-L, roughly half the students take IB. AP passing rates were higher when the school was all AP.

            Also, both W-L and Yorktown rank among the top ten schools in Northern Virginia according to 2010 SAT scores. Yorktown ranks at #5 behind McLean, and W-L at #10 ahead of Robinson. Wakefield does not come close.

        • Westover

          Actually $100K is about the premium for identical houses between Yorktown and Wakefield School Boundaries. And if you have two kids, that is about the price you would pay for four years at our area prep schools, so it is a reasonable price difference.

          • BrownFlipFlops

            I hate to be so rude as to not take an unsupported assertion on the Internet at face value, but how about a couple of comparables? Can you show us two houses that are identical in every way, except for the school district, and demonstrate that $100,000 figure with some empirical evidence?

            I’m not saying there’s no chance you’re right, but that number feels like it fell right out of thin air.

          • this guy

            Well actually, my wife and I are currently house hunting and just looked at two properties in Arlington Forest. One on North 1st Street and one on South Columbus Street, so really only a few blocks apart. They were both 3bd/2ba 1144 sq. ft colonials built in 1940 or 1941 (actually have the MLS printouts in front of me from the folder I’m keeping). Both completely renovated and really not much difference between them. The N. 1st house is $669K and just came on the market last week and the S. Columbus was $609K and on the market for two months and my realtor just emailed me to say it was reduced to $599K…so no not $100K but still pretty significant. The only real difference is the school pyramids. Quite frankly my wife and I who grew up in Arlington & Falls Church public schools respectively and know the local schools well, do think there is a difference and that the North Arlington schools are just better. If those two houses both were in the Barcroft/Wakefield pyramid, why would anyone pay $70K more for the one on N. 1st…as such I would think if the school district line was moved north of 50, that houses value would decrease by that amount. Just my opinion based on seeing those two house the other day.

        • NoVapologist

          I commend the Wakefield supporters for their school pride and you may have some actual stats to back you up, but you are being naive if you think Wakefield is perceived to be in the same league as W-L and Yorktown. A few more years of lobbying Newsweek and you might be able to make a case, but certainly not now.

          I grew up in McLean and there was a shitstorm of epic proportion when they changed the boundaries for Langley and McLean high schools – which is like deciding whether you want to wear Polo or Izod. I can only imagine the suburban rage generated when parents are told that little Johnny is being redistricted out of a nationally recognized high school to an “up-and-coming” one.

          • Arlington, Northside

            Langley Alum myself and remember the up roar in both the late 70′s and mid 80′s when folks were redistricted to McLean. First round allowed families with kids at Langely already to be grandfathered in, but the second round split siblings up. Was not a good scene.

      • FirstHand

        What does ones home value have to do to with EDUCATING the children. They’re worth Every penny.. Yes they need to correct the issues up in Yorktown since those are the families that conceive every 10 months until they reach their desired family size and unleash them five years later.. one by one

    • G Clifford Prout

      While a strong supporter of the County, this just seems nuts. A new school already too small. Something doesn’t seem right. Just sayin’.

    • Narlington

      There may be a way to change the population in the high schools without having to redraw the lines but it will not be liked much by the HB students and parents.

      Make HB the entire building a HS that only has AP and IB programs. if you fail or can’t take all the extra work at the new HB High School then you are sent to the high school in you area.

      That would lessen the number of students at W-L. The strafford progam would have to move to another location but the ols Hoffmen – Boston school has a ton of room for that program.

      I think you could fit about 600 students or so at HB woodlawn and thats 600 students less at W-L, Yorktown, and Wakefield.

      • John

        Based on how high schools operate that would not be feasible. Morevover, H-B Woodlawn is way too popular and will not move out. The school board suggested in the early 90s to reopen Stratford Junior High and move H-B, but that idea was quickly shot down.

        North Arlington does need another middle school though.

    • Older Arlington Resident

      I agree. Some of the things done by the school board (and enabled by the county board) are just rediculous. No one “wins” with this kind of gerrymandering.

    • SusainableArlington

      Why didn’t anyone raise these questions last election? I think it is time people stop reading the papers and start reading the countiy’s plans for increased density. No need to feel bad your not the only one who didn’t get te memo. The school board was either asleep at the wheel or driving under the influence of developers. First Crystal City, then East Falls Church then Columbia Pike. More people, more students.

  • ArlForester

    Good thing we didn’t just pay a fortune to build a brand new school. Was there a sudden influx of new students or did these kids come up from lower grades and the county didn’t account for them? Sorry, this is an embarrassment.

    • NewsyMom

      Sure would love to actually follow some of the W-L students home, since from my informal knowledge, many of the students that are supposed to go Wakefield, have found a way to go to W-L (not for IB program, just for the normal curriculum) by using rental property and business addresses that their parents own in W-L territory.

      Just ask the administrators at Wakefield how many students are supposed to attend Wakefield and then mysteriously end up going to W-L when they really aren’t supposed to. These are #’s that are regularly talked about.

      • John

        “Under the radar transfers” have been happening for many years. This is nothing new.

        W-L is currently not accepting “legit transfers” because of the overcrowding, however both Yorktown and Wakefield are accepting transfers. As Yorktown approaches and exceeds capacity it will also stop transfers.

      • Arl bug

        More important to Wakefield, they need to weed out those who attend Wakefield who do not live in Arlington. Troublemakers that do not help statistics or over the fence reputation.

  • Stu Pendus

    Why did they build the new school too small?

    • Arl2

      They spent well over $100M for the new W & L and now are putting in trailers. Wakefield has undercapacity…..what does this tell the Board and citizens? The lines need to change…or Wakefield needs an IB program. The school board needs to change.

  • Thomas

    Trailers also showed up recently at Ashlawn Elementary school, which (roughly) serves Va Square, Ballston, Bluemont, Dominon Hills and Madison Manor.

    Arlington demographics seem to be rapidly shifting on the younger end.

    • Westover

      Yup, they should not have closed Walter Reed School.

      • Arl2

        Didn’t that space get renovated and go for aftercare for teacher kids?

        • Westover

          Among other things, yes. Would have been much better used as a neighborhood school. Particularly since I know a bunch of county teachers who are actual Arlington residents who sat on the wait list while their kids went all the way through daycare and pre-school elsewhere.

          • John

            They can still reopen Reed as an elementary school–that option has never entirely disappeared. Madison near Chain Bridge and Reed are the best options for conversion to a new neighborhood school.

          • Arl2

            What are they (the school board) waiting for?

          • John

            future bond money.

          • John

            There has also been a shocking “lack of vision.” Reed should have been reopened in the 90s, but it was used as the temporary Long Branch instead when that school was rebuilt.

          • Westover

            I don’t think it will be that easy to convert with the Library taking up half the building now.

          • John

            I believe the new classroom wing and gym facilities were designed to accommodate a future elementary school should the need for one arise. When Reed closed in 1984, the school board promised that it would reopen when the school-age population would support it.

            Converting Reed to a neighborhood elementary makes more sense than reopening Wilson, which has not been a neighborhood elementary school in 50 years. The Wilson land can be redeveloped in line with the high densities in Rosslyn. Central N Arlington badly needs a new elementary school, and Reed is the best candidate. The preschool and other programs can be moved to the new Arlington Mill facility.

          • Narlington

            they can’t just reopen them, the county is now in control of the building not the school board. The county has mad love for Rec centers so it would be hard to think they will give the building and land back to the school board.

          • John

            The county is in control of Madison, not Reed. The school portion of Reed and the playground are Arlington Schools property.

            The County owns Madison and has been very reluctant to give that up in the past.

          • Lou

            My mom goes to senior activities up at Madison, also Lee on Lee Highway.

            Both former schools, but now you have to provide for the senior population too. There’s no easy answer.

          • John

            Yes. The seniors fought attempts by Arlington to convert their facility to an elementary school in the 90s. I’m sure they are ready for another battle.

          • Ann of Tan Gables

            Facilities for seniors can be spread among rec centers; schools need to have a lot of rooms at one site. Are all the rooms in all the county’s rec centers full, all day long? I’d be surprised.
            My kids have done spring break day camps at Madison Center and most of the rooms were unoccupied.

        • Burger

          It is also used as a high school girls that had kids school, too.

          • Westover

            And those girls are generally not from an area anywhere close to the neighborhood.

  • kate

    They did the same thing last week at the Key Elementary School in Courthouse.

  • What??

    There are two HUGE fields on the Quincy Street side where any expansion could be built. I’m at a loss too why this school wasn’t built larger in the first place. I guess our taxes are going to be going up soon to build a new wing. This is really embarrassing. Way to go Arlington Public schools and Arlington County Government.

    • Westover

      They take the place of the old practice fields on which the new building was built.

      • What??

        Oh well, looks like they’ll have to find new practice fields ha.

        • John

          The county has and will be spending money on those fields to bring them up to standards. They will also be fenced in to protect the grass.

          No trailers will be placed on the fields. The additional green space was also one compromise that allowed for a taller school building. The fields are here to stay.

          • Westover

            Apparently they did not build tall enough….

          • John

            The Stafford Street side was also supposed to have four floors of classrooms but the neighborhood and their detailed shadow studies killed those plans.

          • Westover

            NIMBY strikes again. Those neighbors have some of the highest home values in the nation due to that school too…..

          • Arl2

            The shadows of the tall building would scare the children….

  • ArlForester

    I can forgive elementary schools for not knowing how many kids they will have. They know exactly how many kids are in the 5th, 6th or 7th grades when they built the new W-L. This is why I always vote NO on any school bonds. Until they figure out how to stop wasting our money, they should have to make do with what we give them.

    • BoredHouseWife

      Can someone invent an easy way to add onto the roof of the school. It would be more cost effective and would be a less intrusive expansion.

      • John

        The adjacent neighborhood’s very detailed shadow studies preclude planning for a rooftop addition to W-L. But the school was designed to structurally support an additional level.

  • John

    Most of the elementary schools that feed into W-L are getting trailers: McKinley, Ashlawn, Taylor, etc…. Most of the overcrowding is due to the growing elementary schools along the orange line.

    The high school boundaries should revert to roughly the pre-1995 or pre-1984 boundaries. Glencarlyn and Columbia Hts West are very close to Wakefield and bussing those kids to W-L doesn’t make much sense these days.

    • Westover

      True, but the W-L Boundry is all that held that area’s Real Estate value up the last few years.

      • Narlington

        thats not true at all the areas closeness to DC the rise in gas prices and the fact that the county is safe for families is the reason why real estate did well schools play a very small part in the value of a home. Look at DC home prices are high in some place where the schools are crap, house prices or low in the areas of the city that have high crime.

        • Westover

          Talking to folks that moved into those areas and paying a premium over almost identical houses offered in the Wakefield boundry, I will have to respectfully disagree. Switch those neighborhoods over, without first bring up Wakefield’s rankings and scores to W-L’s and Yorktown’s and you will bring down home values, it is just the way it is.

          • John Fontain

            And regardless of how true this is, it is completely irrelevant to whether boundaries should be moved.

          • Burger

            True. But those people are voters and heaven forbid we ask them to make a change to something they don’t like.

            That would actually require leadership on the part of the County Board.

          • Westover

            It is not irrelavent to folks who paid a serious premium to live within the W-L or Yorktown boundries.

          • PhilL

            Yeah, I think the fact that all the visitors from across the river always seem to come to Wakefield for their events kind of points to Wakefield being the suffering stepchild among the high schools.

  • Cate

    One year after my high school (elsewhere) built an additional building, we had trailers back again.

    *sigh* some things never change.

  • John

    The official capacity for the new W-L building was 1,600. It was expanded to just below 1,900 after some changes were made–a music lab that never served its purpose is used as a classroom for example. I believe the new block scheduling also freed up classrooms.

    Until the mid 70s W-L was a grade 10-12 senior high of roughly 3,000 students. It is not surprising that W-L is growing once again. Yorktown will also be overcrowded by at least a couple hundred students in a few years. Boundaries will have to be redrawn once the new Wakefield opens.

    • Stu Pendus

      The new Yorktown will be overcrowded too?

      • John

        Yes. Just look at the 2011-2016 projections on the Arlington schools website. Wakefield is the only school that will be well under capacity (by a few hundred). High school boundaries will have to change.

        • Boomer

          Boundaries should change and the Board/school board needs to look at where the developers are building family size housing, including rental units. If all the growth is south Arlington, make sure the new Wakefield is large enough for future enrollment. In the “Baby Boomer” heyday of the late 1960s and early 1970s the high schools had senior classes of 600 + students (per high school).

          • Westover

            Yorktown needs to be built much bigger.

        • Suburban Not Urban

          Yea yet the county continues to add density and effectively up zone GLUP changes

  • Thomas

    I believe ATS may now be the only elementary school left without trailers.

    • Thomas

      or at least isn’t overcrowded.

    • david

      I don’t think Jamestown has any trailers.

    • R.Griffon

      I don’t think Science Focus has any either.

    • Paco

      ATS has been overcapacity for a long time and there were trailers until a few short years ago. Expect them again.

      • Ann of Tan Gables

        ATS doesn’t get over capacity because it only lets in a certain number of students. Neighborhood schools don’t have that luxury.

        • Guesty

          ATS just added a 4th kindergarten class and a 2nd pre-K VPI program. They are converting a computer lab into another classroom and adding… a trailer.

          It’s my understanding that all the elementary schools have added at least 1 kindergarten class for 2011-2012 (My daughter will be attending ATS as a Kindy in the fall.)

    • Whitney Wilson

      I’m told that ATS is getting a trailer this summer

  • John Fontain

    Here are the current high school boundaries on a map…

    http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/166/highschools.pdf

    • BoredHouseWife

      srsly?

      why?

  • JimPB

    Proposed Prime Directive on School Utilization:
    Boundaries for schools will be adjusted periodically to minimize excess capacity and to obtain the fullest possible utilization of available classroom space in school buildings.

    ——-

    Proposed Prime Directive on School Construction:
    New facilities will be build to provide for the historically largest or projected largest enrollment, whichever number is larger, so that, except in an emergency, e.g., a school fire that destroys classrooms, no child in ArlCo Public Schools will have to be in classroom that is not a designated classroom in a school building.

    • John

      “New facilities will be built to provide for the historically largest or projected largest ”

      Well, they didn’t build based on the “historically largest.” The (then appointed) school board’s decision to demolish the 1925-1975 original W-L building in ’75 was a terrible mistake. The school held over 3,000 students, and the old gym that was just demolished in ’08 had a capacity close to that.

  • TGEoA

    They should put the trailers on the athletic fields at DJO.

    • ArlForester

      The florescent bulbs they use will not be approved by the 5 affected neighbors.

  • Crowded

    It is pretty alarming that the school board and county don’t take this overcrowding threat more seriously. The region as a whole is growing rapidly and Arlington is no exception. The demographic in Arlington continues to be very young. And young people soon marry and have kids. Sure, many will move out of the County when raising kids but plenty will stay. The county needs to start taking this seriously while it still has time to plan. New or expanded schools take a long time to plan, get approvals, and finance. They should be doing this NOW.

  • The Dope of South Arlington

    How much of this increase is due to immigrant children? You know, the ones that “pay more taxes than they receive in services”.

    • Westover

      At the North Side schools? Not much at all.

      • The Dope of South Arlington

        Get out much? The school is 35% Hispanic. A much larger percentage than the county as a whole.

        • John

          The Hispanic population has been in the low 30s for the past 15 years or so and has remained flat. The Hispanic students at W-L largely come from Columbia Hts West which was redistricted to W-L in ’95 to help balance the demographic makeup at Wakefield.

        • Burger

          Um…did you look at the 2010 census, the hispanic population as a precentage of Arlington residents went down v. whites. Only Northern Virginia County to claims as much.

      • Teacher

        Westover – are you aware that WL is only 40% white? This is in comparison to Yorktown, which is 70% white. Just something to think about.

        • John

          This isn’t the 80s where most suburban Northern Virginia schools were overwhelmingly white. People generally know that while the school is mostly white and upper-middle class, W-L is actually a diverse school with no ethnic or socio-economic majority. This is changing, as the affluent and less diverse N Arlington elementary schools that feed into W-L are growing. And I doubt that W-L can continue to serve S Arlington neighborhoods as its population continues to expand.

          The pros and cons of school diversity aside, new residents buy into the school’s excellent academic reputation which include high SAT scores, the high numbers of Natl Merit Finalists and semifinalists, etc. And the neighborhoods that feed into W-L and Yorktown are once again very popular with young families.

        • John

          In the years since the last boundary change Yorktown has remained close to 60% white, W-L around 40%, and Wakefield’s white population has remained below 20%. The school board had sought to avert further middle class flight from Wakefield and better balance the ethnic/socio-economic balance among the three schools with the mid-90s boundary changes.

          Unfortunately the new “gerrymandered” boundaries did little to provide demographic balance at Wakefield, and its test scores, while respectable, have continued to trail W-L and Yorktown. In fact, this mid-90s boundary “experiment” may soon end as those S Arlington neighborhoods that were assigned to W-L will very likely go back to Wakefield (the geographically closer school, which is also under capacity).

    • John

      It’s mostly due to wealthy families with kids along the orange line.

      • Larchmont

        It’s mostly due to middle class families with kids that love Arlington, don’t want a long commute, don’t need a brand new big house for less money, and appreciates being close to DC…oh, and want good schools for their kids.

        • Thomas

          +1

          Lack of an Applebees also helps.

          • Josh S

            Zing!

        • Andrew

          Middle class families can afford houses in Arlington? Guess we have different income definitions for middle class…

          • PikerShorts

            It’s all about what you want to be able to “afford” at the expense of other things. My life partner and I have a household income of $125K at age 28 and I could not imagine being able to afford a 3-4 BR house with a decent-sized yard in Arlington at this point without significantly lowering our current SOL.

            That said, it would be fun to subsist on Ramen, pickles and Beast Light again.

          • Ann of Tan Gables

            Well, that 4th bedroom is going to cost you, and the “decent-sized yard” is not a typical Arlington feature.

          • Actually…

            Ann, you are mistaken; there are many, many houses in Arlington with what most people would call decent-sized yards. What seems to be the average lot size is R6, which is 6000 sq. ft. Many in R6 are actually larger than that, and then there are larger lot categories (R8, etc.).

          • Westover

            We make due in a 3 BR SFH on a true middle class salary, just saved when young and spend sensibly. Also was lucky enough to buy our condo on the southside at the begining of the last boom, so had the gains from that to apply to the house. It can be done, it is not that hard, but you need to be willing to sacrifice in some places too.

  • PhilL

    I had a class in a trailer at Yorktown all the way back in the mid-80′s (although it was “Health” class, which may have been new and since it was part of PE they never really had PE classrooms). I can understand that mid- to late in a school’s life cycle there may be crowding issues, or even low enrollment issues. But to see capacity problems so soon after a brand new building is opened, or looming even before a renovation is done as noted for the new Yorktown above is just infuriating. This can not be tolerated as the norm for our County.

    Somebody blew it, big time.

  • Ugh

    It’s unfortunate that county voters so rarely vote “no” on bond referenda, often just blindly/dimly checking the “yes” box because “schools are good” and “I like parks.” They fail to see that their “I like parks” moments are actually funding doggie amusement parks and school facility debacles like this one.

    If I recall correctly, “we” voters have not refused a bond referendum in 15+ years. By constantly agreeing to fund even crappy measures, Arlington voters have set an expectation that they’re always willing to pay more. Thus the voters enable the county to make poor decisions, e.g. gross underestimates of high school enrollment, and assure the county that it can just keep coming back to the well.

  • Larchmont

    Where is Wakefield going to put their trailers?

    2016 is 3 years before the 1st of my 3 kids will be enrolling at W-L, not to mention ALL their friends in the ‘hood. The post 2016 numbers must be laughable.

  • John

    Wakefield won’t need trailers according to projections. Students there will have a very spacious, brand-new facility, that will be a few hundred under capacity.

    • Joe Hoya

      And 50 kinds of ice cream in the cafeteria, and designated spaces to park their hoverjets.

    • D W

      ^ +1.

      More important, Wakefield’s spacious new facility with plenty of room to grow will help attract new families to South Arlington!

  • What??

    Will the new Wakefield HS have a jail located on site?

    • 5555624

      For all the criminals in north Arlington?

  • Reality Check.

    What is the deal with that HS boundry circle in the Rosslyn area going to Yorktown?

    Also – If you are going to send your kids to public schools you have to understand it is a public school SYSTEM. Buying a house in a certian area does not entitle you to a specific school. You are not sending your kids to private school and buying a school, you are buying a system. Demographics and boundaries change.

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      They changed the boundary after they built the million dollar townhomes there so the rich kids wouldn’t have to go to school at the ethnically diverse W-L.

      • Westover

        W-L is not much more diverse than Yorktown, and there were not that many students living in million dollar townhouses when that change was made. It was a transportation issue if I recall. Those kids can get on I-66 and get up to Yorktown against HOV traffic theoretically faster than they could get up to W-L on the surface streets.

        • dk

          I disagree; W-L is much more diverse than Yorktown. According to the APS website:

          Students county-wide:
          White–46%
          Hispanic–28%
          Black–11%
          Asian–10%
          Other–5%

          Yorktown:
          White–63%
          Hispanic–16%
          Black–7%
          Asian–10%
          Other–4%

          W-L:
          White–37%
          Hispanic–32%
          Black–13%
          Asian–13%
          Other–5%

          Wakefield:
          White–15%
          Hispanic–45%
          Black–27%
          Asian–10%
          Other–3%

          • John

            W-L has hovered around 40% white for most of the past 15 years since the last boundary change. The Hispanic pop has been in the low 30s or occasionally upper 20s. The recent population increase is due to the increasing number of young families in the upper-middle class neighborhoods along the orange line.

            The Hispanic population while it has held steady will very likely decrease as a proportion of the school’s population. Any redistricting will of course change the ethic balance.

          • Juanita de Talmas

            Apparently “Westover” doesn’t know what s/he is talking about.

          • Arlington, Northside

            My kids’ Ethnicity is technically Hispanic, but they are as white culturally speaking as any German or British kid at the school. We know a bunch who fall in the same boat which severely skewers those numbers.

      • John

        They changed the boundary in ’95 when Courthouse and Rosslyn were heavily Latino and Asian. It’s a “boundary island” because the Woodmont, Dover Crystal, and Maywood neighborhoods fought to stay in the W-L boundary. The school board had proposed to send all students north of Lee Hwy to Yorktown, but relented under pressure from the neighborhoods, and after reviewing demographic data that would’ve sent W-L’s “wealthiest” neighborhoods to Yorktown.

        • John

          The boundaries changed for all three high schools in ’95 as a response to the growing rates of poverty at Wakefield.

          This was the era of S Arlington “white flight,” before the HB and Page Traditional lotteries when parents would camp out for days in front of HB Woodlawn to ensure spots for their children. Yes, it was that bad.

        • Lola

          Until recently, there was also an island of Jamestown-bound students in Rosslyn. Now that area is zoned for Taylor, which is jammed, and Jamestown is less so.

          Doesn’t seem to solve anything.

      • Loocy

        The kids who come from the “island” near courthouse are mostly lower income, African American students. The island was zoned into Williamsburg/Yorktown to create more diversity at those schools.

        • John

          Most of the African American students at Yorktown/Williamsburg are from Halls Hill.

          Rosslyn/Courthouse students from the remaining areas of affordable/low income housing are today largely Latino, and there is a small African American minority.

        • Huh?

          Low-income mostly AA neighborhood near Courthouse? Where? The apts near 50?

          • John

            An African American minority in that area would be spread out among the remaining affordable housing apts. There is no AA community in Rosslyn/Courthouse. The historic Black neighborhood in N Arlington is Halls Hill (Lee Hwy between Glebe and Geo Mason).

    • Bluemont Joe

      +1000

    • Westover

      You can say that about buying into the system and not the specific school, but that is not reality. Just look the price differences in houses in outer Great Falls at the line between Herndon HS and Langley HS, or look at Falls Church between Falls Church H.S. and McLean HS. Look at the line between W-L and Wakefield in S. Arlington. People buy based on the expectation of their kids going to the school they bought in to, that is the reality and the school board needs to heed that fact to a certain degree. If they want to move a neighborhood into the “better” school that is fine, but they need to be very careful in doing the opposite from a fairness and political stand point.

      • Ugh

        “…from a fairness and political stand point.”

        Fairness is one thing, but as the prior post pointed out, you buy into the system, and there’s no guarantee that the system will remain unchanged from decade to decade. Just like voting boundaries are redistricted, it should be expected that school boundaries will be too.

        More concerning is that you’d justify how careful they need to be from a political standpoint. I’d prefer our elected officials to do things for the right sensible reasons (e.g. alleviation of overcrowding) rather than for the politically advantageous reasons.

      • Josh S

        Yeah, the School Board needs to make decisions based on the best interests of the school system, the students and the taxpayers. Protecting the property values of a smattering of homes along district boundaries is not on that list or is very, very low and only in an indirect way.
        In any case, I’d look at anecdotal evidence of any property value differentiation based on high school boundary lines within the county very skeptically. Show me a study performed with appropriate statistical procedures put in place to weed out extraneous explanations and then we can talk.

  • Yorktown1

    Both the Yorktown PTA and Civic Association raised this very issue BEFORE the School Board approved the YHS renovation contract. Check out pages 6 and 7 of the School Bd minutes from 1/22/2009:

    http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/176/2008-09/012209mi.pdf

    As we all know, the YHS building will also be too small.

    • John

      Yes, unfortunately it will be way too small. The school board back in ’04 planned for three new 1,600 student high schools. They forgot that back in the ’60s all three high schools had close to twice that population.

      • EFC

        Wow–so the high schools were all structurally larger in the ’60s than they are now? Is that correct?

        If so–what a shame. Why did they downsize them?

        • Lou

          I’m not sure about larger. I can’t think of a time Yorktown was a bigger building than when the recent renovations started.

          There was also a period years ago where the high schools were only grades 10 – 12.

        • John

          W-L definitely had around 3,000 students for a few decades, and was among the larger high schools in the commonwealth until the late-70s. The three Arlington high schools were 10-12 grade senior high schools until 1978 when the 9th grade was moved out of junior highs. The old W-L was demolished in 1975 (except for the 1952 additions–demoed in ’08).

          Wakefield was similarly large, and had close to 3,000 students.

          As a senior high, Yorktown probably had just under 2,000 students in the 60s. It’s building was not as large as W-L’s or Wakefield’s.

  • Hikin’ the Pike

    I’m disappointed in everyone….the story opens a with Police Escort and there are no Charlie Sheen jokes.

    • Lou

      We’re just thinking of the children, bro.

  • Rebecky

    Why not move to a full HS lottery – location of your home within the county would not be a factor and some of the folks who look down their noses at Wakefield because it is so, ahem, diverse, might actually see what really good things are going on there.

    • John

      That’s what many urban cities like Boston do. But in Arlington neighborhoods have long fought to keep their neighborhood schools. I doubt the culture will change.

    • NoVapologist

      W-L ranked #63 in the 2010 Newsweek rankings. Yorktown ranked in the top 75. Wakefield was nowhere to be found. The reason that W-L and Yorktown may be viewed as better schools may have absolutely nothing to do with, ahem, diversity.

      • John

        People often debate the merits of the Newsweek rankings. But both Yorktown and W-L rank among the top ten schools in Northern Virginia according to the 2010 SAT scores. Yorktown ranks at #5 behind McLean, and W-L at #10 ahead of Robinson. Wakefield does not come close.

      • Bob

        US News, however, puts Wakefield among its absolute top schools — ahead of W-L and Yorktown. Each “ranking” uses different metrics. Wakefield is an excellent school.

        • John

          I have not seen that statistic and very much doubt it. Standard and Poor’s abandoned the partnership with US News in its annual high school ranking because of its many flaws that placed for example, Northwestern High School in PG County far ahead of Walt Whitman in Bethesda. Some other highly regarded schools in Bethesda didn’t even make the ranking.

  • APSnumberone

    The school system staff have recommended boundary changes for several years, through several different community processes. Each time the residents fight any change to their school boundaries, so the Board caves in and does nothing. This is why we are in this situation now. We need a Board with the guts to make boundary changes. All Arlington schools are good schools.

    • Westover

      The Board had the opportunity to build new High Schools that would accommodate the numbers of kids that are living in the boundaries, but instead they blew it on nice tile and Smart-Boards.

      • John

        They blew it on cheap tile and drywall… can’t even afford terrazzo floors and CMU walls these days.

        • Ann of Tan Gables

          Did the school board pay for Smartboards? At our elementary school, the PTA bought them.

          • Man of Mean Gay-Balls

            What are Smartboards?

  • MC

    School populations can fluctuate significantly due to demographic bulges. I doesn’t make sense to build for the largest conceivable student population: doing so would leave the school underutilized during most of use life. There is nothing wrong with trailers — they have been used for many decades in this area to handle overflows that can last for a few years.

  • 4Arl

    Paying for expansions could be harder now that some of the debt service limits are getting close. You can’t undo the past choices but you can learn and look for alternative perspectives and candidates come election time.

    • Southie

      Overcrowding? Take the 19K paid in taxes per Arlington student per year and put them in O’Connell. They would have to pass a high school placement test to get in though. And they would not have the same sport field lighting that the public high schools have – not for awhile at least.

  • Loocy

    What is the planned capacity for the new Wakefield building? Here’s my idea: increase that capacity to 2400+ students, and then move the IB program to Wakefield. Rezone as needed so that the students are distributed among the high schools according to capacity. By sending highly motivated IB families to Wakefield, that will smooth out some of the performance differences.

    While Wakefield does have slightly lower performance metrics, it is hardly an undesirable school — I have heard nothing but praise for it from students and parents! True, the neighborhoods in the northern parts of the county generally command a slightly higher price for their homes, but that reflects some difference in the perceived desirability of those homes, of which high school zoning is but one of many different factors.

  • LIAM

    For the school year 2009-2010, student population went up by over 6%. It totally caught the school board by surprise. Coincidentally, that was the same year that Prince William County and Loudon County enacted the immigration status checks for traffic stops. A lot of illegals moved to Arlington, because Walter Tejada welcomed all “immigrants” to Arlington in a public announcement and guaranteed that Arlington Police will not check immigration status. He basically invited all the illegals to move to Arlington. Then the school population suddenly increased by 6%+ over the summer and caught the school board flat-footed. These illegals do not necessarily show up in the census, because they are undocumented and don’t answer or lie on the census sheets about how many people live with them in their homes. I know legal and illegal hispanics who have told me that many of their friends or relatives moved to Arlington from Prince William County lately because they are afraid to drive in PW. Why do we want illegals here in Arlington? They crowd our schools, clog our emergency rooms, push up health care costs, don’t pay income or property taxes and drive up the crime rate. While most are hard working, good people, there are a decent amount who commit violent crimes. The only benefit I see is that their consumption does increase sales taxes for the state and the restaurant tax revenues in Arlington. There is really no benefit for legal citizens, yet there are a lot of negatives. Arlington County essentially harbors illegal aliens. If you want it to stop, throw the bastards out of office. Vote independent or Republican, even if you are a Democrat, just to get some change on our County Board.

    • The Dope of South Arlington

      Ha, like Republicans would do anything. They’re the ones who started the problem under Reagan.

      • Webster

        Too bad Democrats can’t fix the problem. Oh wait…..

    • John

      It may have had a minor effect in Arlington, but the public school Hispanic population has been on the decline as a percentage of overall students over the past few years. The overcrowding in North Arlington is due to schools located in areas that are largely upper-middle class and white. Many of the schools that are largely Latino in South Arlington are currently under capacity, although those schools are growing, but at a slower rate. Wakefield which is mostly Hispanic is under capacity by a few hundred students.

  • Drop “Lee” from High School name

    Maybe at redistricting W-L can be renamed “Washington H.S.” and drop the traitor’s name. It’s seems very odd to combine the names of Washington and Lee — two persons never associated together historically and who were in the public eye 70 years apart.

    • South Arlington

      Perhaps it’s paying homage to the finest university in the Commonwealth, if not the Mid-Atlantic.

      • EFC

        Haha! Good one. (As if that backwater refuge of mediocre whitebread southern bowtie-wearers could ever even be considered in the same breath as UVA, Wm and Mary, or even Tech.)

        • Josh S

          It may be small and it certainly has a much lower profile than any of those schools, but it’s hardly mediocre. You could do far worse.

          But really, the size of the school and student experience there really makes comparing it to UVA or Tech almost like apples and oranges.

          And why a Virginian resident labels W&L “southern” as if that makes it different from UVA, W&M or VT is just odd.

          • EFC

            The latter three schools draw students from all over the nation and the world. I’d bet that WLU has very few who are not from VA or the south. And it’s not known for being academically challenging, unlike other schools its size. Could one do worse? Well, sure, I suppose. There are the online schools, after all.

            But hey, those juleps-sipping Tucker Carlson wannabes have to go somewhere. I just couldn’t let this silly claim of its being “the finest university in the commonwealth” go unridiculed.

        • South Arlington

          Please don’t compare those piddling, public, mouth breather infested, land grant universities in the same breath with one of the finest institutions of public learning in the region. Get back to me when their class sizes get below 50.

    • King George III

      Washington was a traitor too!

      • Westover

        LoL! :D Down with the King!

    • John

      Arlington was so named to honor Lee. I doubt anyone would consider changing the name of the county. And his house, the national Robert E. Lee memorial is our county’s seal.

      Lee is also widely known for his very important role in the reconciliation between the South and the North after the war. There are public schools and roads named after Lee in states and cities not in the South, such as in Long Beach, CA. Lee is by no means strictly a Southern figure or hero.

      • doodly

        I’m not sure you can say the county was named to honor Lee. After all, the cemetery is also named after his home, but that cemetery was put there to spite Lee for being a traitor, not to honor him. It just happened to be the name he chose for his home.

        • John

          The county was named to honor Lee. This is explained in the few history books on Arlington County (not the picture books you may find at B&N) or in the historical essays published by the Arlington Historical Society. Arlington was originally Alexandria County, VA and Alexandria County, DC.

          I first learned this as part of the 4th grade Virginia history unit.

    • Westover

      Lee married Washington’s step-granddaughter, Lee’s father served under Washington, and the two families did a lot of the business that built Arlington/Alexandria together, they are very related.

      • TuesdaysChild

        Excellent point!! And Arlington House property covered much of Arlington county for over 60 years before the civil war. (Small correction, Lee’s wife was the step GREAT-granddaughter of G.W. )

  • WI Native

    To the “Drop Lee” comment:

    Washington and Lee are connected. Washington had a stepson/stepgrandson from Martha’s previous marriage (he lived with them when his father died) named Custis. He then had a daughter (his only surviving-to-adulthood child) that married Lee. Essentially, Lee is then Washington’s great-grandchild by marriage. There’s information related to this at the Arlington House in the Arlington National Cemetery (I was playing tourist with my visiting parents this weekend).

  • Mike

    Check out the Pike planning charettes this week. Density is going to be tripled on the Pike. No attention whatever to the consequences for the school system in S. Arlington.

    • John

      Wakefield will have plenty of room to expand in the future should the need arise. W-L and Yorktown on the other hand are constrained by very small sites.

  • John Fontain

    White Arlingtonians wear liberalism like a badge of honor…until it comes time to put their kids in schools with minorities. This speaks volumes.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Has little to do with minorities, and everything to do with test scores and parental involvement.

  • Proposal

    Let’s turn all the County libraries into schools. It would solve the capacity problem and be a very cheap solution, compared with building new schools.

    And yeah, I’ve used the libraries, too–but we all know they are overrun with homeless guys playing solitaire. And with the Kindle, Nook, etc., they are less and less needed. Besides, each school could have a SMALL library and bum-free computer lab for the kids to use.

    • SustainableArlington

      The schools system knew about the population increase. Residential buildings have been going up all over Arlington. I don’t think this is a case of falling asleep at the wheel, rather it is a case of drunk on development. The problem is that citizens don’t care until after the fact. Crystal City Development passed with only one voice shouting “what about the schools.” Columbia Pike Redevelopment will be the same, East Falls church too. As for good schools and bad schools, at over $17,000 a year per child plus amenities we should have outdoor classrooms (not trailers) supporting hands on environmental learning, small classrooms with great teachers and libraries open 7 days a week. Instead of education our bonds buy swimming pools, state of the art theaters and motion censored lighting. Did anyone challenge Sally Baird at the last election to stop wasting and start planning long term? Was anyone paying attention? How about the civic federation when the school board answered questions. Nothing but snowballs. I guess that’s what we get. And for the record, it is not a race thing, a north and south thing, or an amenities thing, it is a values thing. Anyone who has ever had a child a HB would agree. By the way the shelf life a trailer is 15 years. So when’s the ribbon cutting?

  • SustainableArlington

    Was anyone listening to Joe Biden? Not in Arlington…

    “No swimming pools!” he implored. “No tennis courts!” he begged. “No golf courses!” he pleaded. “No Frisbee parks!” he exhorted.

    “This can’t be government as usual,” he told an assemblage of local officials invited to the White House from around the country.

    I hope VP Biden doesn’t come to Arlington. He may ask where are all the green jobs, why aren’t we teaching environmental literacy in the schools and is debt for pleasure anyway to spend tax payers money?

  • LIAM

    You want to solve the overcrowding issue in North Arlington. Turn ATS, Science Focus and Key back into neighborhood schools. Move the magnet schools to the under capacity schools like Hoffman Boston. Magnet schools were designed to attract good students and active parents into the neighborhoods where the schools were under capacity or into the schools that had failing marks. If a parent really wants their child in a magnet program, you can let them ride the bus a further distance or drive them yourself. You want that program, you be inconvenienced and drive your kid to South Arlington. Don’t inconvenience the kids who live 1 block from a magnet by busing them to another school. Opening up those magnet schools to neighborhood kids would totally solve the capacity issue and would help increase enrollment and diversity in the under capacity schools in S. Arlington. This would require a huge shift in school booundries that no one wants, so the right way to do it would be to grandfather it in over 6 years so the kids who are already in a school can stay there if they want until they finish 5th grade. After 6 years, the youngest kids will have graduated and only the new kindergarten kids will shift to their new neighborhood school. This would solve the elementary overcrowding issue without pissing off the parents because their kids could stay in the same school until they graduate 5th grade.

    • R.Griffon

      I don’t know about ATS, but Science Focus and Key ARE neighborhood schools. They take kids from the local Clarendon and Courthouse area, and are not available for transfers from elsewhere because they are already at capacity.

      • Lola

        In theory, though, they are magnets. It’s bizarre that the alternative to one magnet is another magnet. We’re in Key, and if one of our neighborhood schools were a plain vanilla elementary, we’d have sent our kids there.

    • John

      The historic black community around Hoffman Boston fought for years to reopen the school as a neighborhood elementary. And another historically black community, Nauck/Green Valley pressured the school board for years to reopen Drew as a neighborhood school.

      Moving ATS to Hoffman Boston might seem easy in theory, but it won’t happen.

    • dk

      ITA. But HB Woodlawn should be relocated to South Arlington as well.

  • SustainableArlington

    I for one would prefer a crowded classroom to a trailer for my child. Many (not all) hot stuffy trailers emit a great deal of formaldehyde a know carcinogen. I hope the schools system is planning on having regular testing done and it not going to rely on the manufacturer to keep our children safe. You will not see it, but the pungent gas is released into the air. Especially for older people or children with asthma it is a real concern. I hate to be an alarmist, but the issue must be addressed.
    Check out what the EPA has to say.
    Environmental Protection Agency
    http://www.epa.gov/iaq/formalde.html#Health%20EffectsAlso Department on Health and Human Servicehttp://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/roc/twelfth/roc12.pdf

    • Lola

      I for another would prefer trailers to crowded classrooms. One of the greatest strengths of APS is the individual attention to the kids.

  • 22205

    Let’s scrap all these stupid lottery schools and make ALL schools neighborhood schools. It’s ridiculous that a kid should have to be driven to a school when so many are within walking distance of so many neighborhoods. The county is trying to encourage walking and walkability, and these lottery schools are contrary to that effort.

  • Skeptical

    Everybody just stop having kids please?

  • LIAM

    Great idea 22205. I agree. But if there is a neighborhood school that is way under capacity, like Hoffman Boston, why not keep 1/2 the school neighborhood, and make the other 1/2 a magnet to attract kids from overcrowded schools. Give the neighborhood kids a choice. Isn’t that what Key does? Isn’t only 1/2 of Key Spanish Immersion?

    • Ann of Tan Gables

      Key is all dual-language immersion. I think Drew is half Montessori, half standard issue.

      I don’t think Hoffman-Boston is large enough to accommodate all of the current ATS population AND all of the current Hoffman-Boston population. I assume you wouldn’t need all that, but I’m not sure how much you would need.

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