The public meeting is being held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road). School officials are expected to discuss the dozens of building options they’re considering in an effort to address the school system’s capacity crisis.
Officials have proposed adding 7,000 seats to the school system over the next 10 years to address the growth of Arlington’s K-12 student population. According to APS projections presented to parents on Feb. 8, school enrollment is expected to continue to grow from 21,519 in 2011 to approximately 30,000 in 2021 (excluding alternative education programs).
Systemwide, APS says their current student capacity is 22,953, and they’ve “pretty much exhausted all our avenues” for adding additional capacity in existing school buildings. In the near-term, capacity will be added through relocatable (trailer) classrooms. To keep up with the burgeoning student body, APS wants to add 3,000 elementary school seats, 2,500 middle school seats and 1,500 high school seats.
The school system has created a list of 60 options for building new schools or making additions to existing schools. The list includes several options for each of 18 sites around the county. Among the likely options are a new 25-classroom “Lubber Run Elementary School” (above) near Barrett Elementary, an eight classroom addition to Ashlawn Elementary, and an elementary school addition to the Reed School in Westover.
Though additions are being considered, school officials say they’re not interested in creating an elementary school with more than 800 seats or a middle school with more than 1,300 seats.
In the coming months APS will be analyzing the options, gathering community input, and refining an “option set” that groups multiple options into a coherent Capital Improvement Plan. Option sets are expected to be discussed at a School Board work session in mid-March.
The Orange Line will be split into two segments from 10:00 p.m. on Friday to system closing on Monday. Trains will run between Vienna and Virginia Square, and from Rosslyn to New Carrollton. Trains will run at normal weekend service levels. Shuttle buses will run between Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon and Virginia Square.
Metro advises riders to expect an additional 20-30 minutes of travel time when traveling through the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The agency says the extended closure will allow it to perform an NTSB-recommended switch replacement near Clarendon.
No work is scheduled on the Blue or Yellow lines this weekend.
Courts, DMV facilities, human services offices, libraries, public schools and administrative offices will be closed.
No recreational classes are scheduled and all community centers will be closed, with the exception of the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center, which will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
ART 41, 42, 51, and 87 bus routes will run on a Saturday schedule. All other routes will not operate. Parking meters, meanwhile, will not be enforced.
Trash and recycling collections will continue normal operations, but the county trash call center will be closed.
The Mary Marshall Assisted Living Residence first opened in November after $8.2 million in renovations. Officials held an open house this morning to show off the facility. Located at 2000 5th Street S. near Fort Myer, the residence boasts 52 apartments for adults 55 or older who meet low income criteria and who have a mental illness, or an intellectual or developmental disability.
The facility’s open house is coming at a time when Virginia is planning to close four of its five large state facilities for the mentally disabled, in favor of smaller, community-based residences (like Mary Marshall).
“We know smaller, community-based settings are the best places for people with intellectual disabilities and people with mental illness to receive the care they need,” said Mike King, president of Volunteers of America, a national faith-based nonprofit that’s helping Arlington County run the residence. “Mary Marshall is one of the first facilities of its kind in the United States, and we hope it will become a model of care for the growing number of seniors living with these kinds of disabilities.”
“Improved care has helped [intellectually disabled seniors] live longer, healthier lives than they could in the past,” noted Volunteers of America spokesman David Burch. “Today, as they’ve reached old age, these people now face their existing disabilities plus new issues, like limited mobility and vision, resulting from aging.”
Potential residents will be referred to Mary Marshall by the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
The amendment proposal, which has the strong support of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, passed the state Senate and House of Delegates this week, by votes of 24-16 and 83-14 respectively. It’s expected to be put to Virginia voters as a referendum in November.
The amendment would make it harder for governments to seize private property via eminent domain. It specifies that property may only be taken for public uses, and not for the purpose of economic development. It would also provide property owners with compensation for “lost profits and lost access,” in addition to the fair market value of the property.
“This is really a goldmine for attorneys,” County Board member Jay Fisette said during yesterday afternoon’s Board meeting. Fisette cited a statistic suggesting the amendment could cost the Virginia Department of Transportation at least $40 million due to lawsuits.
The amendment could also have implications for Arlington, which recently threatened to seize a Courthouse office building via eminent domain.
“I can tell you that local governments throughout Virginia have raised numerous concerns that seem to have fallen on deaf ears,” Fisette said.
The Board voted unanimously last night to advertise a rate of 97.8 cents per $100 of assessed value for Calendar Year 2012, two cents higher than the 2011 rate. By law, the Board can set the tax rate no higher than the advertised rate, though it can set a lower rate.
The advertisement of a higher tax rate comes as the county is already assured of higher tax revenues, as a result of a 6.6 percent increase in residential and commercial real estate assessments.
As part of her recommended FY 2013 budget, County Manager Barbara Donnellan suggested a 0.5 cent tax rate hike and a 1.5 cent advertised rate. The budget includes increased spending on affordable housing, county employee compensation, restoration of branch library hours and Arlington Public Schools.
A public hearing on the FY 2013 budget is scheduled for March 20, while a hearing on the tax rate and fees is scheduled for March 22. Final budget adoption is expected on April 21.
“In the next six weeks we will hear more from the public, and weigh the needs of the community,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “Our goal is to deliver a sustainable, balanced budget in April that spends tax dollars wisely, delivers core services efficiently and makes strategic investments in our infrastructure.”
Last night the Board also advertised a decrease in residential solid waste fees and an increase in fees for preschool, summer camp, senior adult and facility rental programs through the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Neighborhood Projects Approved — The Arlington County Board unanimously approved $3.4 million in funding for six neighborhood improvement projects. “This is the third round in funding for key recommended Neighborhood Conservation projects from the 2010 voter-approved $9 million Community Conservation Bond,” the county noted in a press release. [Arlington County]
County Looking for Partner to Spruce Up Farmhouse — The Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation is looking for a charitable individual or organization interested in restoring the historic, county-owned Reevesland farmhouse and estate. The restoration is expected to cost upwards of $1 million. [Sun Gazette]
DESIGNArlington Awards Announced — Arlington County is recognizing outstanding architectural or landscape design through its second-annual DESIGNArlington awards. Among five recipients of the highest “Award of Excellence” this year, three are county-owned buildings and two are private residences. [Arlington County]
John Glenn, Astronaut and Arlingtonian — Astronaut (and U.S. Senator) John Glenn lived in Arlington for about five years around the time he was becoming a celebrity space pioneer. Glenn lived in a single-story home near Williamsburg Junior High School (now Williamsburg Middle School) between 1958 and 1963. [Arlington Public Library]