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APS Capital Improvement Plan Includes New Schools

by Katie Pyzyk — May 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm 5,242 81 Comments

Big changes have been proposed for a number of local schools.

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy presented his proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for Fiscal Years 2013-2022 at a meeting last week. The plan totals nearly $538 million and includes funding for two new elementary schools and additions to three others in order to help address the school system’s capacity issues.

“I believe these changes will enable APS to provide much needed instructional space while continuing to maintain existing facilities that meet the needs of our students and teachers,” Murphy said.

Over the past three fiscal years, APS saw an 18 percent increase in students, which is nearly 3,400 additional students. APS is expected to reach capacity at the elementary school level by next fall.

Five specific capacity-generating construction projects have been identified, and would be funded through current reserves and the 2012 and 2014 bond referenda. Those major projects included in the CIP are:

  • A 12-room addition to Ashlawn Elementary School that would be completed in 2014 and would add an additional 225 seats. Funding for this would come from current capital reserves.
  • A 12-room addition to Arlington Traditional Elementary School that would be completed in 2014 and would add an additional 225 seats. Funding for this project would be included in the FY 2012 and FY 2014 bond referenda.
  • A 12-room addition to McKinley Elementary School that would be completed in 2017 and will add an additional 225 seats. Funding would be split between the FY 2012 and FY 2014 referenda.
  • A new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School site that would be completed in 2015 and would add 600 seats. $4 million to be used for the design phase would come from current capital reserves.
  • A new choice elementary school on the Carlin Springs/Kenmore site that would be completed in 2017 and would add 600 seats.

The development of these five projects represents the culmination of the “More Seats for More Students” initiative that launched last year. That planning process involved surveys, computer modeling and months of work sessions.

“The process was structured to be objective, transparent, and result in a set of options driven by School Board determined criteria,” Murphy said. “I am pleased that we met these goals and look forward to deliberating with the Board on this CIP.”

There are “placeholders” included in the CIP to be used for capacity funding in the 2016, 2018 and 2020 referenda. Those funds total $253 million and would likely be used for an additional elementary school, a new middle school and additional space at the secondary school level.

The CIP also includes $34.6 million for HVAC and roofing projects, $21 million for infrastructure projects and $63.4 million for minor construction projects or maintenance.

There will be a public meeting on the CIP on May 24, and the School Board is scheduled to adopt it on June 19.

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  • Chris Adams

    Where are the “more students” going to come from? According to the U.S. census the number of school aged children living in Arlington fell over the last ten years. The APS “computer modeling” predicts that Arlington will have more students in its schools than actually exist currently in the county. Quite an impressive achievement.

    • Steve

      You’re joking right? Nearly all, if not all of the elementary schools are over crowded. They all have trailers. Despite what we’ve become accustomed to… they’re not supposed to.

      • Chris Adams

        No. I’m not. If APS was suggesting building out some schools to take care of current over crowding and replace trailers, that would be fine, but they are planning on doing way way more than that.

    • drax

      “Where are the “more students” going to come from?”

      Moving here, or born here. Duh.

      “According to the U.S. census the number of school aged children living in Arlington fell over the last ten years.”

      And now they’re going up.

      “The APS “computer modeling” predicts that Arlington will have more students in its schools than actually exist currently in the county. Quite an impressive achievement.”

      It’s an impressive achievement to get more students than we have now?

    • The Dope of South Arlington

      Have you seen the size of most Hispanic families? At least five or six kids each.

      • Reggie White

        I made that point myself once. Didn’t work out too well for me.

  • Duh

    I have one word for you:

    Infill.

    • Southeast Jerome

      This is totally in response to the extra sex the local preacher has been doing sermons about. The county is just being proactive. Amen.

  • Chris Adams

    Between 2000 and and 2010 the number of school aged children in Arlington fell by about 500. Today about 90% of school aged children attend APS. According to APS this number will increase to about 110% by 2017.

    • Get the Facts Straight

      Wrong. The number of total number of children in Arlington increased by 1400 between 2000 and 2010. Moreover, the population under five years old increased by 13.3%–and that’s the wave that will hit the schools over the next five years.

      Stop spreading misinformation.

      • Chris Adams

        I said school aged children. And it is not clear that the number of children under 5 will enter APS. APS uses current births to Arlington residents to predict Kindergarten enrollment 5 years out, but births to Arlington residents do not predict Kindergarten enrollment 5 years out. I have run the regressions.

  • Chris Adams

    According to Arlington County, the population of Arlington is projected to increase by about 1,500 hundred people per year. According to APS the number of APS students is predicted to increase by over 900 per year. Either APS is predicting that school utilization rates will move over 100% or more children than adults will come into the county.

    • Chris Adams

      1500 per year

    • More Facts

      The number of kids in Arlington schools has increased by nearly 5,000 just since 2005–more than a 25% increase in just six years. Maybe you’re looking at some other Arlington?

    • drax

      Again – how are any of these predictions unusual?

  • Chris Adams
  • It’s a combination

    I see a combination: Wealthy families are actually having more kids. And at the same time, the older retired couples are dying off or moving out, and these wealthy families are replacing them (and often their houses as well.)

    Add to this the equally fecund Central American population, and it’s no surprise we have a baby boom here. Even while we’ve been adding condos full of childless young singles.

    • Southeast Jerome

      the childless young singles will work hard to help pay for little Johnny to go to a top school dont worry. Just when little Johnny is grown and old, please dont come on here and complain about taxes for the school system. We’ll help pay for schools now so they are good when we decide to have kids. That should be the Arlington Way.

    • arl2012

      We are one of the couples that fled the District once we had young children for the sole purpose of enrolling them in Arlington Public Schools.

      There are a ton of other parents in our neighborhood that did the exact same thing…with a bunch from Oldtown, Alex. as well.

      • dk

        We left DC once we had a rising middle schooler.

      • Gibby

        Apparently, you don’t even have to leave the District or Maryland to enroll your kids in Arlington Public Schools…. ;)

  • Courthouse

    Ok if these schools are planned or 016 nd 2014, what does that mean for redrawing of boundaries?

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      That should be fun. Whooo-Wheeeee!

  • Amy

    Boundaries will change. Look at the prososal documents on the Arlington Co website. It’s one of the first things they say they will look at

  • Gibby

    How on earth is that Carlin Springs/Rt. 50 exchange going to be able to handle an entire new school in addition to the the two already on the site (not to mention Campbell just down the road)? Anyone using that road during bus time has got to be ticked…. I know the local neighborhood assoc complained, but clearly that didn’t help. This is a really, really, really bad idea.

    • Rick

      That traffic concern – while valid – can be made about every other potential site for a new school. There are no good locations for additional schools in Arlington. APS’s job is to identify the least awful sites (and believe me – some of the other locations suggested were awful).

      • South Awwlington

        and the most especially awful would have been…in your neighborhood?

      • SoArl

        No, the traffic concern is particularly poignant here. There are three north-south routes in Arlington, and Carlin Spring is one of them. Carlin Spring is extremely crowded during morning drop-off times since there are three schools in very close proximity of eachother. I’ve seen it backed up from 50 all the way onto Columbia Pike in the morning. Adding another school is going to be a disaster.

      • A good prep school graduate

        There might not be a good spot, but some spots will be far worse than others, and unless they have a traffic infrastructure component to the Kenmore site, they are going to cause serious problems to Carlin Springs and Rt. 50.

    • Well, duh

      Elementary school students don’t drive.

      • SoArl

        Um, their parents drop them off on the way to work.

        • Vicente Fox

          Let them ride the bus.

          • Bandersnatch

            +1 Seriously- I don’t think that it would have ever entered my folks mind to drive me to school. Heck, after kindergarten they didn’t even walk me to the bus stop. Buses for THREE elementary schools stop a block from my house- my kids will be riding one of ‘em. Which one will be answered by the boundary discussion o’ doom…

          • Yoda

            Lots of parents drive their kids to school because they have to get to work and they don’t have time to go to a bus stop with them. They take them on the way to work, and often put them in the morning extended day program (babysitting before school).

          • dk

            I drive my kid to school because it gives us an extra 25 minutes in the morning. He doesn’t need that time, but I do, LOL.

          • Loocy

            Parents also drop their kids off because the “walk zone” is unreasonable in many places. The 1.5 mile radius walk zone is unreasonable for 6th grade and up, especially when they have to cross some very dangerous roads.

          • drax

            1.5 miles is the walk zone for 6th grade and up?

          • Justin Russo

            What’s that, like a fifteen minute walk? No wonder kids are so fat nowadays.

          • Vinh An Nguyen

            Maybe all these cars belong to the out-of-county parents who have enrolled their kids in APS, as reported on by arlnow previously.

          • Lee-n-Glebe

            Many of us live too close to schools for bus service (meaning it’s not even offered), but don’t have enough time in the morning to walk with the kids.

  • Rick

    Actually – I live not that far from Kenmore and I will be impacted by the traffic on Carlin Spring. I was referring to an idea floated for a school on the site of the Lubber Run Community Center next to Barrett. For reasons I would be happy to enumerate – this would have been a really sub optimal outcome for everyone. And, yes – I live close to Lubber Run as well. NIMBYism inevitably shapes all of these discussions.

    I find it interesting that all of the proposed additional capacity is north of (or very close to) 50. It makes sense because the overcrowding problems are much worse in the northern half of the county. But – it does add an interesting dimensional to the inevitable fight over this.

    • Sam

      It will be interesting to see where they decide to build the new middle school that they are proposing for the next phase. I’m not familiar with Lubber Run; is that site big enough to hold a middle school?

      • Rick

        I don’t think the site is big enough to hold an elementary school. I can’t image how they could get a middle school there without a) cutting into Lubber Run Park (can’t image they would do that) or b) going vertical (expensive).

        • drax

          I would venture a guess that vertical is actually cheaper.

      • Gibby

        Lubber Run is definitely not big enough for a middle school let alone an elementary school. I’m scratching my head why H-B wouldn’t be considered for a conversion back to Stratford Junior/Middle–a historic property not only in our county but in our state as the first integrated school after massive resistance. Build a state-of-the-art H-B alternative program facility–which needs less land because it has no sports programs–on a smaller lot in a central location from the list that was under consideration. H-B gets a new facility and the county gets alleviation of the overcrowding.

        • dk

          +1

        • Loocy

          ++1

        • Passed the SOL’s

          If they converted HB Woodlawn to a different program for younger children, then the south Arlington elite would need to send their kids to Wakefield HS. Politically, that option is on par with any suggestion to move ATS to south Arlington.

    • Bill Safire (deceased)

      You will be “affected by the traffic.”

      Unless you are hit by a car at high speeds while crossing Carlin Springs Road at which time you will be “impacted by the traffic.”

      • Yoda

        A losing battle you fight.

  • NIMBY

    We don’t need no education
    We don’t need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the class room
    Teachers leave those kids alone

  • Lou

    The new school at Williamsburg seems like a no-brainer. Plenty of room and in the right area to help absorb the growth.

  • More Debt and More Debt

    Hundreds of millions more in debt for new buildings. Guess what? Taxpayers have to pay off that debt and the interest for that debt for the next 20+ years.

    What about using some existing buildings such as the nearly empty buildings across Stafford by Washington High School? Minimal renovation would be cheaper.

    Year round schools? Staggered schedules, but the building are used 12 months of the year.

    Increase class size by 1-3 students? Oh, the horror of that thought! It would be much cheaper to double up teaches or add teachers aides than to spend hundreds of millions on new buildings.

    Or, we could just follow the Arlington Way: tax like mad, borrow like there is no tomorrow, and spend like it is play money.

    • drax

      Let’s just ignore the problem instead!

    • Rick

      The country is currently paying less than 3% on its general obligation bonds. Apparently there is a lot of competition for Arlington County debt. The ROI threshold for new projects is pretty low in this interest rate environment.

    • JohnB

      Cost is not the only metric with which to make a decision. It would cost a lot less to take a Tylenol to deal with the pain from a stab wound than it would to go to the emergency room, but the outcomes would be very different. And guess what? Citizens of Arlington get to vote on each and every bond issue and approve every one because the county is very good about living within its means. Some people will disagree with that, but the ratings agencies give Arlington bonds their highest rating because Arlington lives within its means.

      • Rick

        Yes – the interest rate in endogenous.

    • Arlington, Northside

      Arlington taxes are relatively low, one of the few things I applude the County Board on, it is the silly fees for things that get us. This should have been done 10 years ago, but since it wasn’t we need to do it now, and do it fast. Empty 40 year old buildings will cost far more to upgrade to the fire code required for schools than it will be to build a new, which is why W-L, Yorktown and Wakefield got new construction, not just renovation and add ons. Sometime money does need to be spent to save more money.

  • Rosslyn

    How about the site for the Wilson school in Rosslyn? I wonder what will happen there. I know the County wants to develop that land and I had heard that might involve a new school there. Does anyone know the back story?

  • Arlington, Northside

    Should have been done ten years ago. The writing was on the wall, and now the construction will miss the peak of the boom which is the kindergarten class starting in the fall of 2013.

  • Arlington, Northside

    Unless they are going to return ATS to serving the neighborhood, expanding it is wasting finite resources on the elite.

    • Larry the Table Guy

      the “elite”? I’m pretty sure it’s a lottery to get in, so lottery winners are “elite”?

    • drax

      And given the fact that it doesn’t cost anything extra to educate a kid at ATS than any other school, it’s not a waste of resources either.

    • Amy

      and they fill 1/3 of the entering class with VPI students, you clearly don’t know what you are talking about

  • Childless Old Bat

    I’m tired of paying for other people’s brats.

    • Spoiled Brat

      Don’t worry, grandma, we’re tired of paying for your Social Security and subsidizing your health insurance. We’ll pull the plug on your breathing machine instead.

      • Joe Hoya

        At which point she can have a nice discussion in the hereafter with our Founding Fathers on the merits of publicly funded education.

      • dk

        Keep your govmint out of my Medicare.

    • Josh S

      So?

    • dk

      Death panel for you!

  • Loocy

    Move the magnet programs like ATS and IB to the underutilized schools on the southside. That will free up space in the hardest pressed areas. Modify the ongoing construction at Wakefield and Yorktown to add more capacity. Those buildings aren’t even built yet, change the plans while you still can!

    • Gibby

      Unfortunately, the only high school that isn’t completed yet (Wakefield) is the only one that doesn’t have a projected capacity problem…. It has the lowest enrollment of the three Arlington high schools.

      • Joan Fountain

        Is it because the demographic at that school has more dropouts?

        • Rick

          No. The drop out rate differential between Wakefield (2.9%) and the other two Arlington HSs (2.6%) is quite small. The reason that Wakefield has not been at capacity is that the explosive growth in the number of children the county has experienced over the last decade has been concentrated north of 50.

          • nimby

            Plus the school is in SOUTHSIDE

      • Loocy

        But the way to fix that is to move the magnet programs to that school. Move IB and other special programs to the less utilized school, that will free up space in the more congested areas.

  • Passed the SOL’s

    Ok, my math skills might be rusty, but how will building 1875 new seats cope with the 5,000 to 8,000 additional students that APS is predicting are coming in the next few years? Shouldn’t APS build even more classrooms? Or are they hoping families with school children will get fed up and move away?

  • APSnumberone

    It isn’t as simple as it sounds to “move IB.” High school boundaries will need to be changed instead, to balance the high school enrollments. And lots of elementary and middle school boundaries will need to shift as well. People need to realize that although they love their neighborhood school, all of our schools in Arlington are good and having to shift boundaries will not be the end of the world. Wilson School needs to be part of the solution and the SB needs to stop waiting and waiting for the CB to decide what they want to do with that property. It needs to be a school, and sooner rather than later.

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