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Hundreds of Parents Protest Against APS Bus Changes

by ARLnow.com — August 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm 16,814 404 Comments

With less than two weeks to go to the first day of school on Sept. 4, hundreds of parents are protesting against changes to Arlington Public Schools’ busing policies.

The changes include reorganizing and consolidating bus stops, assigning students to specific bus stops, and requiring students to present an APS-issued pass in order to board the bus.

To determine eligibility for the bus passes, APS used a computer program to calculate each student’s distance from their school. Elementary students less than a mile from their school, and middle and high school students less than a mile and a half from their school, will not be issued bus passes, and will be required to walk, bike or be driven to school.

The new distance calculations have resulted in some students who previously were able to ride the bus no longer eligible being to do so. That has many parents up in arms.

So far, more than 275 people have signed an online petition urging the school system to “stop the implementation of the new APS student transportation plan.” More than 185 have joined a Facebook group called “Arlington Parents for Safe School Transportation.” Many of the parents have the same complaints: that forcing students to walk to school risks their safety, and that there was not enough advance notice of the changes.

“I think it is ridiculous that you expect my 5 year old to walk to kindergarten. We are .8 miles away and have to cross over Glebe during rush hour,” wrote parent Jeremy Billy. “And drop off time is at 8:30am… pretty tough for single parents or parents that work. Perhaps this was not properly thought through. Please think this over and allow my child to ride the bus.”

“My 11 year old daughter will be attending Williamsburg MS in the fall. I received a letter stating that she was not eligible for bus service even though we live 1.7 miles from the school,” wrote parent Patricia Molteni. “It would take my daughter 35 minutes to walk to school — never mind how unsafe the route would be. My husband and I are both working parents and right now I don’t know how we are going to get her to and from school. This is extremely bad school policy to make this kind of change and surprise parents two weeks before school is supposed to start.”

“The lack of communication with affected families is really troubling,” wrote Mary Flannery. “People shouldn’t hear two weeks before school starts that their bus has been cut. I also believe bus transportation is a much better choice for our community than dozens more cars on the roads and in school drop zones.”

“There is the already mentioned safety issue of walking in the dark for much of the school year — both to and from school,” wrote another parent. “Why bother to send out alerts about the unsavory characters following, touching and causing distress to students if you are setting up a policy where more of these children are on the streets? It is very likely that there will be much more traffic congestion, pollution, possibility of accidents as the students who live close to the 1.5 mile cut off for bus transport will likely be driven to school.”

Despite numerous inquiries by ARLnow.com, a school spokesman was unable to provide the number of students previously eligible for bus transportation who are no longer eligible.

School administrators have said that the changes are necessary in order to save money and in order to improve the safety of students who do ride the bus. During a presentation to the School Board on Aug. 16, Arlington Assistant Superintendent for Facilities Clarence Stukes said the school system, which added almost a thousand students this year, is increasing the efficiency of its bus system so it can transport more students without the expense of additional buses and drivers.

“As we grow, we expect more students on our buses,” Stukes said. “But at the same time… we are not adding any additional buses to the fleet. Which is the first time in my tenure that we’ve grown but not added buses.”

Stukes said that, at least at first, bus drivers will not prevent students from getting on the bus if they don’t have a pass.

“We are not going to leave a child at a bus stop,” he said. Stukes added, however, that buses will become overcrowded if students and parents don’t follow the new system.

APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said that restricting the how far a student must live from school in order to ride the bus is not new, but enforcing it is.

“We have had problems in the past when students who live in the walk zone walk outside the walk zone and get on the bus,” Erdos told ARLnow.com earlier this month. The bus pass system will also enhance safety, she said.

“The new system will let us know every student who is on a bus route,” said Erdos. “If something happened, this will let us know who’s on that bus.”

WTOP reported this week that the cost of adding a new bus and driver is $190,000. Erdos said it will be investing the money saved in education.

“Our priority is to add classroom teachers to teach children, not more buses,” she said.

Flickr pool photo (bottom) by Divaknevil

  • Narlington

    if the schools are telling the truth and the buses will be over loaded with too many children, I really don’t see what other option they have. They could charge parents a fee for children who ride the bus and that could make enough to pay for extra buses, drivers and the maintance on the buses. However I think if they charge a fee many parents would let their child walk, or drive them to the schools to avoid paying.

    • UptonHiller

      Adding buses is not an option?

      • Narlington

        according to what i have read APS is saying they don’t have enough buses to get everyone on who wants or needs to take the bus. So yea they need to buy more buses but with what money, its all going to the streetcar.

        • Josh S

          Don’t be ridiculous. No money is currently going to the streetcar. (Or very little.) In addition, APS’ budget is typically separate from the rest of the county budget.

        • PattiS

          Those Taylor parents may be willing to give up three teachers for their bus. Plus, a bus and driver combo )about $100K per year after year 1, is only about 1.3 teachers or 2.5 teaching assistants. Cut a deal with them.

    • South Awwlington

      Er…reject the Charter School fad (which requires busing) and be proud of Arlington’s Great Neighborhood Schools and get our overweight little porkers walking to school??

      • Louise

        We don’t have charter schools in Arlington. We do have “choice” schools, however, and they do provide (free) bussing. Which is ridiculous.

        • MommyDearest

          Why is that ridiculous? My child goes to Claremont and, as a 1st grader, speaks, reads, and understands spanish (no one else in our family speaks spanish). Seems to me that in a community that is growing in latino population that this would be a very good thing and something we might actually want to promote in our community. Sure, there is a slight problem in that her bus is not exactly full, but does that mean we should stop busing all kids to choice schools? Perhaps they could figure out how to share routes more effectively.

          • the answer

            Ummm…yes.

          • Bad Mommy

            “Seems to me that in a community that is growing in latino population that this would be a very good thing and something we might actually want to promote in our community.”

            Uh, no. We encourage them to learn English, as many have done and are doing. Just like every other immigrant group.

          • MommyDearest

            Well, we could all put our heads in the sand and hope they just all learned english on their own, or we could actually act like a community that welcomes them, embraces their culture, and works things out together. Dual-way immersion schools, as Key and Claremont are, actually serve a tremendous purpose in not only teaching Spanish to English speakers, but also teaching English to Spanish speakers. If learning a foreign language were not considered important, why would it be demanded in high schools and colleges across the nation? And frankly, around the world? Maybe we should just fire all the foreign language teachers in the middle and high schools and use that money for buses.

          • Bad Mommy

            Did we have Vietnamese immersion in the mid-1970s? No. Do we have immersion in any African language? No. So why the special treatment?

            Learning a foreign language is useful, but Spanish is not a major language of global commerce or diplomacy. Mandarin, French, and Arabic are all far more useful.

          • SteamboatWillie

            Bad Mommy’s comment below doesn’t have a reply option, perhaps in acknowledgment of its thinly veiled xenophobia, so I’ll reply here.

            The analogies are weak and must be parody – 1) comparing the language of our largest recent immigrant population and our southern neighbors (and significant trade partners) to the language of a country with which the U.S. was at war in the 60′s and 70′s? 2) African language? Really? 3) See #1 for your “language of global commerce” flail.

          • Bad Mommy

            Willie: Xenophobia? I’m married to a legal immigrant.

            I’m all for legal immigration. And I don’t think all (or even most of) the illegal immigrants are bad people. At the same time, the argument for Spanish immersion is really, when you get down to it, ease of communicating with people who speak Spanish and not English. Let’s help them learn English, not devote tons of resources to learning theirs. Tons of Vietnamese and other SE Asians immigrated in the ’70s and ’80s, and they had to just make do and learn English as fast as they could. Same with every other immigrant group–yes, including those from Africa.

            And America’s biggest trading partner is actually the EU. By country, Canada and China come out ahead of Mexico. So why aren’t do we doing Mandarin immersion?

          • Jack

            “embraces their culture”

            If I want to embrace their culture, I will pay for a plane ticket to El Salvador and immerse myself.

            They are the new arrivals. They should be embracing our culture.

            That starts by learning English.

          • South Awwlington

            Honestly, I would have assumed that Arlington would be teaching Spanish at all schools and not just Claremont Immersion. Learning a second language is very valuable and students should be encouraged to do so (well before High School).

            I don’t know that I agree with free busing for students at Choice Schools. I don’t know that it makes sense to bus students across the County when we have some of the best public Neighborhood Schools in the region. Perhaps parents that opt for Choice Schools should be billed or otherwise responsible for their child’s transportation.

            I don’t currently have a student in APS but I can tell you that walking and alternate transportation to and from school is 100% in line with Arlington County DES and their views on commuting and transportation. Arlington has been awarded several times over for being a “Most-Walkable Community.” Shouldn’t everyone that lives here start to walk the walk?

          • cbone68

            You obviously do not have a student that would have to walk. Like those of us that do, I have walked the route, which includes crossing three very busy roads, only one of which has a crossing guard. The remainder do not have lights, stop signs or crosswalks. And, one of the roads have become very busy with buses since W-L HS was rebuilt.

            And my kids are not fat, but you know that, right?

          • South Awwlington

            If the road doesn’t have “lights, stop signs or crosswalks.” then where are your kids crossing, mid block?

        • BoredHouseWife

          the busing is paid by the tax payers, and has been for decades. it is expected.

          • Orange Rider

            Exactly. I pay taxes and I expect the county to take care of this. I don’t want them dropping the ball and creating more traffic with individual cars having to ferry children to school.

            I expect the county to be good stewards for the children of the people who live here and create the wealth that the county relies on. This is abrogation of basic governmental responsibilities to say they are not going to add enough buses to adjust to the increasing enrollment. This is the classroom capacity issue all over again. They refuse to match the capacity of the school system to the number of students. Basic stuff.

          • Meg

            +

  • crybaby

    waaaaaa..I work and I can’t drive my kids to school in my new Volvo. I walked to school and so do thousands of others kids in less safe places. this is ARLINGTON not the hood! I’m glad there are busing less kids and hopefully saving tax money.

    • Sheriff Gonna Getcha

      dont they have “patrols” that would be along the walk route?

      my elementary school there were 5th and 6th graders who would stand and make sure it was safe for the little ones to cross streets/walk etc….

      Obviously the only ones to be terribly concerned about are the elementary school kids. Middle school and high school children will be fine.

      • KKM

        Really. Would you want your 11 year old daughter (yes that is how old 6th graders are) crossing Glebe Road and Old Dominion Blvd. in the dark at 7:15 am during rush hour without a crossing guard?

        • BoredHouseWife

          Im sure they would have crossing guards if it is within the mile.

          • KKM

            You would think, but NOPE. I spoke with the APS Department of Transportation and they do not plan to add any crossing guards to the intersections of Williamsburg and Glebe or Old Dominion and Glebe. How’s that for improving safety.

          • BoredHouseWife

            well that is a horse of a different color

          • Assume

            What’s the old quote about assuming??? Um, you’re wrong.

          • BoredHouseWife

            ummm, stop being rude. I was basing it on past experiences in Arlington County.

          • Ellie Mack

            There are NO crossing guards on this route!

          • BoredHouseWife

            well, they need to rectify that. especially at busy intersections. There are way too many horrible drivers out there too busy texting in motion.

        • Ellie Mack

          This is exactly why I drove my son to WMS and now my daughter. We are putting more cars on the road and adding to the congestion around school in the morning. I will NEVER allow my kids to cross these major, heavily travelled roads. Not to mention that my son had an extremely large instrument to transport to/from school every day. Also, the teachers at WMS require all sorts of 2 inch binders to be carried to/from school daily. This is definitely not a good situation for a “walker”!

      • Josh S

        Yes, I think most elementary schools have these but they don’t extend to a one mile radius.

    • opinion

      Do you have a child? I assume you do not, if you make a comment like this. You certainly wouldn’t want your child crossing MAJOR intersections in rush hour…or would you?

    • Wished my mother stayed home

      Perhaps, if parents weren’t so dependent on two salaries, they could provide the safety that their kids deserve. If one or the other parents weren’t so bent on having a career and kids, many children would be living in a safer world.

      It is so sad that so many great kids have to have parents that both work and the parents cannot enjoy their kids’ years as they grow up.

      It’s a shame when a mother or a father stay home with their child(ren) that they are looked down upon for not having a “career”. Everyone is expected to have that “career” today, and they forget that being a stay at home parent can be one of the most essential “careers” out there.

      Children are investments. No one seems to notice the kids who would give anything to have a parent at home when they come home. Instead they come to an empty house. Then as the kids grow up, the parents wonder what went wrong with their kids when actually it was/is the parents’ fault for not being there.

      Perhaps this may anger some parents out there, but then why are they angry when they should be angry at themselves for missing their kids childhood for the sake of having it all…. 2.1 kids, two newer cars in the garage, the house that needs two incomes, and so forth.

      • This ain’t Dubuque

        For better or worse, the cost of living in this area is quite high. Sure, we’d love to have a parent at home, but then we wouldn’t be able to afford to live in Arlington.

        • Wished my mother stayed home

          You can always live somewhere else. Alexandria is just as close in, and in the long run a cheaper place to live. Instead of being three miles from Washington, I’m eight miles. I’d rather live a bit farther away, so I can choose my lifestyle.

      • Get a Clue

        People in Arlington aren’t working two careers to have new cars in the garage. We have two careers, and we drive old cars and don’t even have a garage. The housing prices for even modest homes are ridiculous here. And there are fewer modest homes every year. Yeah, it’d be great to have one parent stay home. If you want to help pay our mortage, be my guest.

        • Wished my mother stayed home

          My morgage is less than 800 a month in a nice neighborhood with decent schools in Alexandria. Granted, my house has only one bath and two bedrooms, a decent sized yard, and a long driveway. It is a brick/siding duplex that has some aging problems, and it was built without any plywood. We paid 146K for the house 10 years ago, and we have done some upgrades on the electric and windows since buying the house.

          When my husband and I bought our house, we looked for a house that would take only one salary to afford it. At the time we could have afforded much much more, but why bust our butts? We now have the freedom to do something we LOVE to do, and we’re doing it, We live off of my small 30 K salary to pay the mortgage and home bills.

          And yes, I drive an older car, but who wants to pay the property taxes and car payments? The car runs me about $600 a year in maintence costs, and still gets more than 25 miles to the gallon. Plus, my insurance is lower.

          Rather than being bitter and always having to work an unsatisfying job with misrable coworkers, we took a different route, and we’re ok with it.

          • citizen

            Good for you. We, too saved and planned and bought carefully and are available to walk our child to school.

      • NoHighlander

        It isn’t all or nothing. Lots of parents are able to scale back on their work hours while they are raising children.

        My mother worked while I was growing up, and I really looked up to her knowing that she was doing important work! I did not come home to an empty house, and never felt like my parents were not “there”. I hope to be a positive role model for my kids, too. At the same time, I enjoy my kids very much and spend lots of time with them… just not every waking hour outside of school.

        Having 2 salaries benefits my family in a non-materialistic way – we can live in a safe neighborhood, we have health insurance and savings in case of illness, we can afford to cook healthy food, and we do not live with the stress of relying on a sole income-earner.

        • Wished my mother stayed home

          One doesn’t have to be stressed when relying on a sole income earner.

          I’m glad you have a relationship with your mother. I don’t. Her career and having money was more important to her than I was. I was very lucky to have my grandparents. It was a bittersweet feeling when my mother wondered why I turned out more like my grandparents than her or my dad.

          BTW I live in a safe neighborhood. Live healthy and I don’t have to rationalize.

          • But seriously folks

            Bully for you.

      • Wonderful childhood even though my mother worked

        My mom worked full-time, beginning in 1972, when I was 6. She was a great, fully involved mom, and I adored her. No regrets whatsoever. ~shrug~

        • Dr Freud

          That is very interesting. Tell me more.

      • working parents unite!

        Both parents in my household worked-1 firefighter & 1 RN – and I turned out just fine!! This was before extended day was even an option. Believe me – we barely had one car in the garage! My daughter attended APS for 12 years & up until high school we had her enrolled in both early a.m.and after school extended day – and – wow!! she turned out okay too. APS EX Day is affordable and – from our experience – very well run. There are other options out there – open your mind a little!

      • OEL

        wow, 2 parents. So what do you say to the single parent working two jobs to stay afloat.

    • Josh S

      This is not helpful.

    • Crystal City

      People get murdered, assaulted, and run over by cars in Arlington too. It’s a great place to live, but not some magic happy place where nothing bad happens.

  • spaghetti

    This new policy kills two birds with one stone: Saves the county some money and helps address the childhood obesity epidemic.

    • Josh S

      Also not helpful, especially since childhood obesity does not appear to be a major problem in Arlington.

      • John Fontain

        You don’t get out much, do you?

        • Josh S

          Hooooookaaayyy Mr. Fontain – please provide me with your peerless statistical research on the incidence of childhood obesity in Arlington, VA. It would help if your stats showed an “epidemic” of childhood obesity in Arlington.

          • John Fontain

            You made the claim, it’s up to you to back it up.

          • SteamboatWillie

            Actually, spaghetti made the claim, JS disagreed, and you implied that you agreed with the original claim. I think the ball is in your court.

    • Lizzie

      It’s not addressing anything. Do you really think that the kids who used to walk briskly to the bus stop in the morning are now going to walk to school? If it’s too long, or not safe (and MANY of our roads are not safe), they are just going to be driven now. More cars on the road and less exercise for the kids. My kids used to safely walk 3/4 mile to a bus stop, but now it will be almost 2 miles in the car (even though the APS crow flies calculation to the edge of the property says it is just under 1.5 miles). So they used to walk a nice 7 and a half miles a week back and forth to school, and this new policy will make that zero. This policy is simply going to put more cars on the road, making Arlington a less liveable and walkable place.

  • Jessica

    I’m apalled that APS expects small children to walk that far and cross busy intersections like Glebe, Old Dominion and Harrison. What will it be like in the winter when it’s dark in the mornings? After walking that far with a heavy backpack, how are they supposed to concentrate on schoolwork? High schoolers I can understand, but elementary school children? Come on.

    • Narlington

      Harrison is not a major street and there is a crossing guard at the intersection of Williamsburg and harrison everyday. I think you may need to lighten up just a bit. Or home school your child its safer then walking i guess

      • Kate Lassiter

        Harrison is so dangerous that the crosswalk by the Safeway has flashing lights, and the little yellow tags that say SLOW DOWN have tire tracks on them. You can put your 5 year old out their to cross that street but I won’t.

        • C

          Only there is no reason a 5 year old would need to cross there. They would most likely be outside the 1 mile walk zone for Nottingham and Jamestown.

          • Joe Hoya

            FYI, we’re on the other side of Harrison and still inside Nottingham’s walk zone.

          • OneIncomeTwoKids

            Yeah, but your kids wouldn’t cross at that intersection, would they?

          • Joe Hoya

            They’d cross at the corner of 27th and Harrison, which is a block and a half from the Safeway crosswalk mentioned above. In the morning, we have to deal with not just the work commuters but a ton of inexperienced high school kids driving to Yorktown. I drive my son to Nottingham (so I don’t really have a dog in this fight), and I’m nervous crossing Harrison in my car — and have been nearly slammed into by oblivious high schoolers and several occasions (and have seen accidents).

          • Lizzie

            Between Lee and Yorktown, there are no lights at Harrison. The road curves, visibility is poor, and everyone hates crossing it on a car, not to mention by foot! That’s a very difficult and dangerous street to cross.

          • NovaTeach

            At the school I teach at, they don’t allow kids under 9 years old to walk alone to school. They said it’s a CPS rule? So not sure how that will affect parents. Overall, the change is a bad idea, especially with just alerting parents with 2 weeks to go.

        • Anonymous

          Ask the PTA to organize a “crossing guard” program with volunteer parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. to resolve your concerns about busy intersections. Collaborate with the Arlington Police Department. It may sound old-school or retro but there is a reason it worked for decades (and still does in some communities).

          To the parents who say they can’t/don’t want to – Children are a huge responsibility. You have obviously found a way to make it work before. You need to step up now. The entire county cannot go into $190K debt per bus for a few students (multiplied by the number of communities affected). I’m not suggesting you do it everyday but if each family can do one or two days a month, you can find a schedule. Is your child worth having that awkward conversation with your boss about reorganizing one day a month so you can come in one hour late? I can’t imagine any parent saying their child isn’t worth that conversation.

          As for the creepy people out there (so sad we have to think of that), talk to other parents in your neighborhood. Have the kids walk together. Maybe there is one parent who doesn’t work or who works from home and can take a break to join them. (This sounds like it is a big deal. There are others in your community who share your concerns.)

          • CrystalMikey

            Well said.

          • Jenn

            You want to question what parents think their child is “worth”?

            You suck at life.

          • JackFan

            Well put Anonymous. And Jenn – you suck at contributing anything of worth to the dialogue at hand.

          • Josh S

            +1

          • Krrrww

            Sounds totally reasonable. The distance for children to take the bus is comparable to most other school districts. If your child has a large instrument or you are fearful for their safety you could always organize a carpool group. If your child was already taking the bus and they weren’t supposed to be doing so, you should have addressed the problem long ago and not broken the rules because you could get away with it. Organize more crossing guards with the PTA or as the person above suggested, have your child walk with a buddy. There are ways to make this work if people stopped wasting time complaining.

          • But seriously folks

            This is Arlington, not Mayberry.

          • J

            This is probably the most intelligent of all comments posted on this story.

      • KKM

        If you don’t thi k Harrison is Dangerous, would you not agree that Glebe Rd and Old Dominion are? Plus Arlington does not plan to add a crossing guard at the intersection of Glebe and Williamsburg or Old Dominion and Williamsburg.

    • spaghetti

      I think exercise actually enhances mental function.

      • Wendy

        And that’s why they have supervised phys ed. Or did I miss the APS addendum that said this rule change is also meant to supplement their phys ed classes.

      • so…

        clearly, you would benefit.

        • so…

          (meaning spaghetti.)

    • b0rk

      “After walking that far with a heavy backpack, how are they supposed to concentrate on schoolwork?”

      Actually if anything it might help them focus. Kids with too much energy and no exercise tend to act out and have behavior and attention problems in school.

      As long as they don’t have to cross any major roads (this part I agree with) they should walk. I did it for all of my elementary school and turned out just fine.

  • dallynd

    They did add busses. If we need to add more let those who are outside the policy pay a fee, just like they do for summer school. Nobody is expecting five year old to walk to school alone. You bought a house where the elementary school is on the other side of a busy street. Walk with an older child. Car pool. It’s not that difficult. Sure, you’ll miss your Starbucks, but life will go on.

    Part of this is because these same parents abused the bus system. They take their child to other than the assigned bus because it’s earlier so they can leave for work. I’ve seen it and it’s not that rare.

    You have kids. Figure it out.

    • Jessica

      You obviously don’t have children of your own. I’d like to see you coordinate three different drop offs at three different schools and get to work on time.

      Many parents have to consider hiring last minute help to get these kids to/from school. Not a cheap expense. Don’t assume that everyone who lives in Arlington has limitless funds either.

      It very well could be figured out, but to have to scramble in the two weeks before school is ridiculous and unacceptable.

      • Simple_Solutions

        “…coordinate three different drop offs at three different schools and get to work on time.”

        Leave the house earlier? Find a compromise drop-off from which 2 of 3 can walk? Coordinate with trusted neighbors who have kids? Don’t be such a helicopter parent that your kids can’t walk a few blocks? Don’t have 3 kids you can’t manage?

        • Josh S

          The spirit of your suggested “simple solutions” was mortally wounded by adding the “Don’t have 3 kids you can’t manage.” If I was a parent with three kids, I would now be cheerfully flipping you the bird.

      • C

        These rules were already in place but there was no enforcement. The fact that you have three children to get out of the house should not impact whether or not you children get to ride the bus. Every year, at least one N. Arlington school adds a bus route and/or changes its routes in the first month because of the unexpected “walkers” being dropped off. While I understand being upset about the late notice, these are your children, it is your responsibility to get them to school.

        • MommyDearest

          No, the rules HAVE changed. The rule is (or used to be) a combination of distance and major road crossings. For example, the previous walk zone maps, that APS has now cleverly taken off the website, had ANYONE who went to Tuckahoe, but lived on the opposite side of Lee Highway, designated as a bus rider. For heaven’s sake, the bus routes specifically went through and stopped in those neighborhoods. Now, many of those kids have been told there is no bus and they have to cross Lee Hwy. Given that the old maps were up there until about 3 days ago, a lot of people assumed they were still bus riders because Lee Hwy was a designated “major road”, at least for elementary age kids. But apparently that’s not the case anymore, so APS has pulled off all the walk zone maps and not even bothered to replace them. It is entirely unfair that people are learning less than 2 weeks before the start of school that they are walkers, when many of them had every reason to assume that the designation of a major road would not change.

          Based your child care arrangements on the bus? You’re screwed. Want to now put your child in Extended Day? Too late. It’s full with a waitlist that will not move for the entire school year. There’s just so little forethought and planning when it comes to APS these days. Gosh, the schools are overcroweded? How on earth could APS have predicated that? Uhhh… look at all the old people who are selling their houses, which are then being converted into McMansions. Who did they think was buying those houses – empty-nesters? They just need to stop and think once in awhile and not spring stuff like this on people at the last minute. If they truly had a problem with walkers being driven to bus stops, why didn’t they implement this voucher policy under the OLD routes and see where it got them? Perhaps they would have eliminated enough of the violators to leave the rest alone. As someone who has driven through the Lee Hwy/Sycamore intersection for years, I would never let my children (even a 5th grader) cross there alone. There are too many cars, too many people who speed through that red light, a constant stream of cars turning when they have the green light, and backups that sometimes extend into the intersection. Maybe if they put in a crossing guard, people would feel differently. I mean, really, they have crossing guards at the intersections next to the schools, many of which are not even busy intersections otherwise. but they won’t have a crossing guard at an intersection where two major roads intersect and people drive 40 – 50 mph? Why have crossing guards at all? Or why not re-position the ones they have to respond to the needs of the new walk routes?

          • agree

            2 weeks is nowhere near long enough to plan a walk

          • Steamboat Willie

            I think you’re trying to be funny, but your sarcastic response shows that you didn’t really comprehend MD’s posting.

          • BoredHouseWife

            hope the boss says it’s ok to come in later. Means you have to work later. Means money will be going to extended day, if you can get a spot. for many it is too late.

          • citizen

            yes, two weeks notice and lack of space in extended day is awful. Yes, they’re still your kids and still your responsibility. Yes the schools anticipated the growing numbers, but some folks won’t let the school redistrict, and others don’t fund the system to build new schools etc etc.

            fwiw, I understand Barcroft kids in Alcova Heights still ride to school. That last bus stop isn’t even .9 miles away.

            Imperfect system all around. That’s life. We can work on communication, funding priorities and all give each other the benefit of the doubt. Everyone in this wants the best for their kids within constraints of present day choices. Long term, you don’t like it? Find a better alternative, either in life choices, location, school leadership or all of the above.

        • Rardnek

          “These rules” were not already in place. Many parents, who consulted the boundary for walkers found their residence outside the “walk zone”, but were still told the bus route their kids have always ridden on was no longer applicable b/c the maps were “out of date”. As if mileage has changed in the past 15 years.

          Then APS removed the links to those maps on their website.

      • Anonymous

        I cannot imagine any public official arbitrarily woke up and decided “hey, let’s make 5 year old children cross intersections.”
        So, I agree that even the contemplation of this option should have been subject to more public discussion. Lesson, no doubt, learned.

        But it is by no means “ridiculous.” Give the people who work for Arlington County government a break. They are trying to make the best of a crappy economy and no doubt have been crunching numbers to find a way to make this work.

        (And no, I do not work for Arl. Co.)

        • Of course not

          > cannot imagine any public official arbitrarily woke up and decided “hey, let’s
          > make 5 year old children cross intersections.”

          I’m guessing they just expect parents to, you know – be parents. If your kid is too young to walk alone, you either walk or drive them yourself. Like a parent would do.

          • b0rk

            But the government is supposed to do everything for me! How will I live if I have to make my own decisions and sacrifices!

      • John Fontain

        “I’d like to see you coordinate three different drop offs at three different schools and get to work on time.”

        Three different drop offs at three different schools means either (a) your children are of different ages and attend different schools for this reason or (b) your children are not of different ages but you chose to send them to different schools.

        If (a), then the school start times are different and you can load all three kids in your car and drop them off in order of start time withoout any problem. If (b), then you brought the pain and difficulty on yourself.

      • dallynd

        I do have children, Jessica. If you are dropping off at three different schools you either have elected to send them to other than your neighborhood school or two of them aren’t in elementary school. In my neighborhood the old kids walk with the younger. If it’s your position that you just haven’t had time to work it out, then what you’re requesting is more time rather than more busses, correct?

        I am far more sympathetic to the safety concerns involving dangerous intersections, and if there aren’t crossing guards there now they should address that first.

        As for extended day and the long wait list, just do what all the other parents do to get preference: put your child in summer school. Yep, another lovely practice of parents in Arlington gaming the system.

    • Wendy

      Why is it a bad thing to take a child to another bus stop so they can get to school?

      • Narlington

        CAuse i think as a parent you are supposed to teach your child that there are rules, some good good some dumb but you have to follow the rules. I take you are not teaching you child about following the rules?

        • Wendy

          But the most important thing is to get the kids those fine schools with those fine teachers, right? Why should it matter how they get there?

          • C

            Because funding needs to be available for such things. Unless the county wants to budget for bussing EVERY APS student, then there have to be rules and the enforcement of such rules.

          • Anonymous

            But isn’t another important lesson to teach your child to be flexible and willing to step up to unexpected challenges?

          • Lloyd

            I’ll make this a good teaching lesson for my kid, explaining how Arlington botched up his busing program and that is why everything about his trips to and from school has to change this year. It will be a good lesson in explaining how bad the APS administrators are, and why he should tell all his friends to get their parents to vote the bums out of office next chance we get.

    • oh no they didn’t

      I was at the school board meeting last week. They were rather proud of the fact that with 1000 new kids on the APR rolls this year, they will be adding exactly no new buses. Zero.

  • Wendy

    I guess one way to help with the overcrowding situation that they created is to discourage families from coming here to Arlington by not being able to bus them.

    Congratulations Arlington, you now have a sub-standard busing system and hundreds of families dragging your name through the mud online.

    • Narlington

      So your sau\ying that the buses make a school system good? I thought it was good teachers and a safe enviroment in school that make a good system. See I learned something today….. People in Arlington are CRAZY!

      • Wendy

        It’s all part of the system. If they implement a policy that makes in unsafe for kids to get to their schools, then yes that is a mark against the system. Parents look at things like that when deciding where to move.

      • Josh S

        You’re not even trying here.

        I was just bemoaning with a friend the other day about how much we like Wolftrap and seeing shows there – it’s a great venue. But it’s so *far* – getting there is a pain. So we don’t go nearly as often as we might otherwise.

    • BoredHouseWife

      a little birdie told me that, the main reason for implementing the voucher system was for liability. also, Apparently, there were some kids being dropped off at their friends bus stops but lived outside Arlington.

  • arlgal

    I’m new to APS with a kindergartener and I’m confused. We’re eligible for the bus but since my husband and I both work and the 8:30 bus pickup won’t work, we signed our daughter up for extended day mornings and afternoons. Yes, its an expense but I just figured thems the breaks. Yet here I read people complaining about the pickup times and locations. There is another option, people just don’t like it, I guess.

    • Kate Lassiter

      The deadline for extended day sign up was August 1, so many of us, myself included, are on a wait list. They did not tell me that my kids who have taken the bus for 2 years are suddenly “walkers” and can’t take a bus anymore until after the Aug 1 deadline for extended day had passed.

      • arlgal

        OK, that is an issue. It sounds like the county should have done a much better job explaining these changes months ago. I get that and I’d be furious were I in your shoes.

      • C

        Were they living outside the 1 mile or 1.5 mile arear before? I understand people have to shuffle right now, but isn’t that because people were breaking rules before? Aren’t they enforcing a preexisting policy?

        • NotARuleBreaker

          Actually, not all of us were rule breakers. We live .96 mile from school and the bus stop was actually closer to the school from our house. We weren’t hopping onto a bus that we weren’t supposed to be on.

        • Um, wrong

          They eliminated an entire bus route for Glebe. There were 4 stops with 40 kids all eligible in 2011 and for years before– this was not an issue of anyone ‘breaking rules’. Now, as of August 18, we’re told that the entire route has been eliminated. We live .96 miles from the school by the shortest walking route(which is by no means a “safe” walking route)

        • dk (not DK)

          Yep, another Glebe parent here, we live .95 miles from the school and were considered bus-eligible. Not anymore.

          It’s not a big deal to me personally because I typically drive my child to school (on my way to work), but I think the way this has been rolled out at the last minute is outrageous.

          I’ll also note that were my child to walk to school, about a third of that walk would be on roads with no sidewalks.

    • Melon

      Unfortunately, the deadline for registration for before-care passed two weeks before APS told parents their routes were cut. The lack of communication is really appalling.

      • C

        The deadline has been extended.

        • BoredHouseWife

          if this is the case then that needs repeating because many think it is too late.

    • Single Mom

      You’re blessed that your family can afford the expense. Thankfully, myself and my three children are not affected by the change because as a newly divorced mom who has received a whopping ZERO dollars in child support for the last 19 months, I surely could not. And, I imagine I can’t be the only woman on earth in that predicament. I feel for those who are affected… I promise you, no matter how I sliced and diced it, there would be no safe, reasonable solution to this matter if we were affected. What would you do if your husband’s income suddenly disappeared? Try not to be so quick to judge while you’re sitting over there on your high-horse.

      • arlgal

        I truly wasn’t on my high horse. I guess we struggled for so long to afford full time private preschool that I was thinking of what we’re paying for extended day as a “bargain” because for us, it is. I get that it’s not for everyone. But aren’t extended day fees on a sliding scale?

        I am continually baffled about how school schedules don’t coordinate with most working people’s schedules at all.

        Anyway, sorry Single Mom. I really wasn’t judging. I’m new to the system and was honestly confused.

      • Krrrww

        When my kids (both in college now) and I moved to Arlington, I was a single mother with no child support. The opening time of Abingdon changed to one hour ealier, one week before school opened due to bus issues. Early extended day was re-opened and I had to enroll both my children, in order to get to work on time. It was a huge expense and a pretty lean year, but I did not expect the school board to accommodate a few families at the expense of everyone else. It is what it is and people need to deal and figure out alternatives.

  • arlgal

    Also, I think the middle school and high school requirements are totally reasonable for walkers. I walked that distance growing up in one of the snowiest cities in the U.S.! Jeez people, get a grip.

    Now, the 5 year old, that’s an issue, but for the littles I guess parents just need to figure something out.

    • Yep, we’ll be driving

      arlgal– No complaining about the added traffic from 1000 extra cars on the county streets come Sept 4. My 6 year old won’t be walking almost a mile across several streets with no crosswalks nor stop signs. Nope, I’ll be getting in my car and adding to the congestion. (Note: previously, I walked my kid to the bus stop then walked a mile to work). Now I’ll drive my kid a mile to school (along with 40-60 other parents at my school- before driving home to park and walk to work

      • arlgal

        Are you going to appeal? It sounds like there is an appeal process (although it might take ages, I get that it’ll be a huge hassle for quite a while).

        I’m very curious what the traffic/parking will be like in September. I get the sense that it was already an issue at our school (science focus). The first day should be interesting…

        • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

          whata about a carpool with parents that live nearby? Dont the neighborhoods where the families live have email lists and stuff?

      • chipotle_addict

        Why not just walk your 6 year old to school?

        • SteamboatWillie

          Right – if it’s the .9 mile folks, this means 20-25 minutes with a 6-year-old to the school, then walk home and head out to work. I mean we all have a spare 45 minutes or so in the morning to “be a better parent” and all.

          Or put them on the bus that your tax dollars have helped fund and that you rightfully thought was available until this ham handed program roll out?

          • chipotle_addict

            I was saying that based on his post- (Note: previously, I walked my kid to the bus stop then walked a mile to work)

            If he was already taking the time to walk the kid to the bus stop, he would just have to walk the kid to school instead. So that 20 minute walk isn’t a net increase in time of 45 minutes, it’s more like 10 or 15 minute increase depending how far he walked the kid to the bus stop.

  • Newtdog73

    Bike Share? All the cool 6 year olds are doing it.

    • Josh S

      I’m kinda surprised it took this long for anyone to mention biking. It doesn’t necessarily address the “dangerous” intersection issue, but it is a lot faster than walking for those concerning with the timing of it all…..

    • CaBi

      We evaluated the merits of doing this with overprescribed 6 yr olds and called the failed program Capital Bike Shart.

  • High Schoolers

    Can we at least agree that forcing the elementary kids to walk to school is a bit outlandish? Middle school I can see disagreements, but there is no way that you should be freaking out that your high schooler now has to walk to school.

    1.5 miles is not a long distance and honestly, exercise will probably be good for the kids. A 15 year old should be responsible enough to cross the street on their own or you have failed as a parent. I agree that elementary kids walking is a bad idea, but no one should be complaining that they need to drop their kids off at 3 different schools becuase their 17 year old was too lazy to walk.

    • Irked

      A few years back, APS revised its high school start times, moving the start time from 7:30 to 8:14 a.m. This was based on studies that adolescents need more sleep than that start time was allowing them to get. They claim it has helped both attendance and performance. If they require my daughter, and others like her, who lives 1.6 miles (yes, outside the walk zone, but still identified as a walker) to walk, it will take her 40 minutes (which we tested last year, including her 45 pound book bag and sports equipment), which will erase the benefits of the later start time. This will be usurping their own goals — not good policy. Additionally, the route they are advocating she walk does not have any crosswalks on two different busy, commuter thoroughfares. They cannot legally advocate jaywalking, so we are appealing. Until a resolution based on our appeal, we will drive her. She has far too much homework in her advanced classes, which keeps her up very late, to have to get up any earlier than she already does. You try getting a teenager up an extra 45 minutes earlier than they are used to, which will also require walking in the dark often. Yes, I walked about that far when I was a kid growing up in Arlington (although there was also bus service to my neighborhood, which is the same one!), but Arlington was a suburban place back then and is far more urbanized now. It is nowhere near as safe as it used to be and is far too congested now to be a safe pedestrian environment.

      • Really?

        So what I know will make you mad about what I have to say is that I think, flat out, you say here yourself without realizing it that you push your kid too hard… sorry.

        Let’s look at this whole system of signing up for “her advanced classes” which clearly assign a workload that she doesn’t have the appropriate time to work on because of the sports and other programs (that I can assume the equipment is for), which keeps her up very late…

        I get that it’s a standard that Arlington’s set if you want to get into any college that you have to take a million advanced classes and participate in so many extra curricular activities, etc., but that doesn’t make it right. Sorry. You as a parent need to figure out what’s really important… setting the bar so high that your kid is just overwhelmed and exhausted or allowing her to have great time management skills and still go to bed at a reasonable hour. I know they think they can do everything, but they’re still kids. Come on.

        Also, I went to YHS and walked 1.5 miles to and from home regularly with a few friends along my block who I’d meet along the way or not if they weren’t out on time. It was a lot of hills and we all took classes with substantial book loads, and never did a walk to school (especially when I knew I had to get there or was late) take 40 minutes. Maybe a walk home when there’s no time constraint, but from the sounds of it your kid if pretty healthy and strong and if she takes 40 minutes to walk to school in the morning a distance of 1.6 miles, she might just need to pick up the pace a bit.

      • Steve O

        I’m unclear on why she would need to get up 45 minutes earlier without the bus. If it’s a 40-minute walk, then she would need to leave your house at 7:30 to be at school by 8:10. What time did she leave the house to get the bus? If it was 7:30, then she can get up at the same time. If she left the house at 7:45 to get to the bus, then, yes, she’ll have to rise 15 minutes earlier. Only if she was leaving the house at 8:15 to catch the bus (for an 8:14 start time, that seems remarkably implausible) would she need to get up 45 minutes earlier.

    • MommyDearest

      Two things… 1) I’m totally fine with my rising high-schooler walking about 1.5 miles, including crossing busy streets. 2) Don’t assume, however, that the 3 children in 3 different schools includes a High Schooler. I have 3 kids, and aside from a couple overlapping elementary school years with my older two, I have 3 kids at 3 different schools, and this is the first year I will have anyone in HS.

    • John Fontain

      “Can we at least agree that forcing the elementary kids to walk to school is a bit outlandish?”

      No. My kids all walk to school (about a mile) and don’t have any problem with it at all.

      • PL

        This is the classic “one size does not fill all” case.

        I walked to Nottingham, only had to cross Williamsburg and Little Falls. We had no trouble as kids, and we had excellent crossing guards (the trained kids and the paid adult) on Ohio Street. Then I walked to Williamsburg, with no guards but we didn’t need them. Then I biked and later drove to Yorktown.

        But that was fortunate for me because of where we lived. It was also in the 70′s and 80′s when there was just a fraction of the traffic on the roads that there is now. When I see it noted on here that kids from the other side of Harrison are walking to Nottingham without a crossing patrol, that is somewhat surprising and I would be concerned as a parent if my child was expected to do that everyday.

        • b0rk

          +1 crossing guards would help a LOT. Especially ACPD monitoring really high-foot traffic areas.

      • LittleFirebrand

        And I’m sure you wouldn’t have a problem with it if your 5, 6, 7, etc year old child had to cross busy streets such as Lee Hwy to get to a school like Taylor? I’m not a helicopter parent by any means but I’m not letting my kindergartner walk a mile and cross Lee Hwy by herself. That’s just irresponsible. So I either have to walk her – adding at least 30 minutes or more to our morning routine or drive her. And then have to work later as a result which means less time to spend with her in the evening. And unfortunately I do have to work – not to afford lavish things but to afford a roof over my head and food on the table. Sure, I would love to move out of Arlington but my husband has kids from a previous marriage here and we cannot move out of town. So we’re stuck playing by the rules no matter how they change or how much they suck.

        One size DOES NOT fit all!

    • b0rk

      As a middle-schooler (7–8 grade in Fairfax) I used to walk home from school regularly. It included crossing two *very* busy roads (II used a crosswalk at an intersection — not exactly life-threatening if you don’t jaywalk) and had 1.5 miles of walking through various neighborhoods.

      Guess what, I lived, and so did the dozens of other kids that took that route.

  • JimPB

    1 — Research consistently finds that physical activity has many benefits, including boosting cognitive functioning. So, pity those who will be riding a bus rather than walking to and from school.

    2 — The concern about walking to and from school in the dark should be pursued with specifics. For what days, given sunrise and sunset and school beginning and closing times, would students who are walking to school be in the dark, and for how long?

    3 — Irresponsible drivers do pose dangers. Parents should vigorously pursue getting the ACPSchools and ARLCo board and ACPoliceD to collaborate on posting of warning signs and implementing close monitoring and strict enforcement (tickets, no warnings) of traffic laws where children could be at risk when crossing high risk streets.

    4 — End the isolation. Parents should pursue creating a community in which parents collaborate and cooperate to solve problems.

    • meanwhile, back at the ranch

      1) You walk up some of the giant Arlington hills with a 35 pound backpack and tell me how much you pity the kids on the bus. Kids today have boatloads more to carry than the when we were kids and the dinosaurs roamed the earth. That’s not exercise; that’s the Bataan Death March to/from school.

      2) Very good point. There will be plenty of days when the kids will be walking in the dark in the a.m. and in the p,m.

      3) Every year, I stand at the bus stop and watch cars ride *through* the flashing red lights and red lit arm of the school bus. (Because, as we all know, rules apply for everyone else but ourselves.) As recently as last spring, I ended up having to be a accident witness when some a$$hat did that and took off the door of a parked car (and, in typical Arlington fashion, tried to bully the lady, who had figured that since the school bus had stopped, it was safe to open her car door. Silly her.) We have no speed bumps. We have no crossing guards. And we have no traction in terms of getting any assistance from ANYONE on this unsafe street, And we missed losing bus service for our kids by the skin of our teeth, I suspect.

      4) How exactly do you propose we end the isolation? Let me guess: make the stay at home moms and the nannies the caretakers of the world, right? Someone at the Dept of Transportation actually told one of the mothers who called that perhaps she and the other mothers could take turns walking the children to and from school. To call that patronizing is an understatement. So please, do tell how you would solve this?

      • nom de guerre

        Ask the fathers to also take turns walking the children to and from school.

        • meanwhile, back at the ranch

          yep. parents have a spare, on average, 80 minutes per day to do the walking. (assuming 20 minutes for a mile walk each way.) and of course they will be able to leave work early in order to pick the kids up at 3:40. bosses are understanding like that.

          • nom de guerre

            I humbly suggest you think about the responsibilities of having children prior to deciding to do so. I have two daughters, ages 10 and 8 who have to walk over 1/2 mile to school and I accompany them half of the week. On the days that I take them to school I work late and on the days that I pick them up I go to work early-my spouse does the same. If your employer is not willing to accommodate similar arrangements like this you should begin your job search or look at other options such as extended day, etc. I realize that this situation gives you limited time-I think we all agree that this could have been communicated in a more timely manner to make other arrangements.

          • meanwhile, back at the ranch

            how nice that your two kids are probably in the same school. i have an elementary-aged child and a middle school aged child. it gets a bit hairy once you are dealing with two completely different schedules.

          • nom de guerre

            So sorry I was unable to reply to your earlier comment but I was preparing a nutritious dinner for my daughters, which featured a 1/2 pound fresh Atlantic scrod fillet, dipped in a craft beer batter, deep fried to perfection, served on an artisan sourdough baguette, topped with melted smoked Gouda cheese and a lemon scallion tarter sauce infused with an aged, small batch malt vinegar and Old Bay. I was also assisting them with homework from summer school and art camp and trying to make appropriate arrangements to get them to school this calendar year. I am now trying to get them to sleep. Best wishes in your efforts to get your children to school to middle and elementary school this calendar year.

          • Josh S

            Yeah. Humble.

          • Jackfan

            +100000000

          • Jackfan

            My “+10000″ was meant for nom de guerre. Wholeheartedly agree with you.

          • HayyDiosMio

            that’s why you walk, gotta burn all that deep fried junk food. your artisan beer craft fluff was as nutritious as a McDs fish sandwich.

          • Anonymous

            I thought children were the definition of “hairy.”

          • BoredHouseWife

            if only life worked out like that. must be nice to have control over everything. how do you do it?

          • Don’t get it

            I’m not sure I understand the work angle. If you used to be home when school let out (to get the kids from the bus), is being a mile away at that same time really that big of a deal? I mean, if you can’t be off work at 3:30 then I’m guessing your kids are already in extended day. But if you can, then why can’t you be at the school to get them?

      • JimPB

        “Bataan Death March” —
        Food deprived before surrender. Many sick. Siring sun. Stifling humidity. No water. No food. Assaults and killings at guard’s whim.

        Walking to and from school in ArlCo, even with a 35 lb. back back, is in no way comparable.

        • meanwhile, back at the ranch

          Hyperbole ( /haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hy-pur-bə-lee;[1] Greek: ὑπερβολή huperbolē, “exaggeration”) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.[2]

          • CrystalMikey

            Still not cool, despite the definition you provide.

          • Josh S

            “Still not cool”? What does that mean?

          • C Spackler

            What other atrocities do you want to compare school life to, because, you know, it’s sooooo funny.

            Sometimes people think they are funny when they tie two distinctly different situations together, but they are not, they are offensive and have no perspective.

            about as mature as high school jock humor. Meanwhile I’ll re read what the real Bataan Death March really was.

      • JimPB

        Walking to and from school in dark:

        Sunrise and sunset times for Washington, DC on Dec 24, 2012 (looks like the day with the least amount of daylight in 2012):

        Sunrise: 7:25 AM

        Sunset: 4:51 PM

        What children for which school(s) will be walking to and from school in the dark if there were school on 12.24?

        • Irked

          My child — she will have to leave for W-L from our 1.6 distance (yes, they made an error, which we are appealing) by 7:30 a.m. (still dark during winter) to make it there on time. After school she has sports that keep her there in the winter until it’s dark, and she used to be able to take the late bus home. I will now have to pick her up or join a carpool — not an impossibility, but darkness IS a factor, and some people can’t be there to pick their kids up.

          • Steamboat Willie

            I’m waiting for one of these knucklehead posters to chide you for not having more foresight before you and your spouse gave birth to an athletic child.

          • yep

            +1.

        • MommyDearest

          My daughter, who walked to swanson for the last 3 years, had to leave the house around 7:10, so she and her friends walked for about 15 minutes in the dark – 5 or 10 minutes longer on very cloudy mornings. So, yes, middle schoolers especially have to walk in the dark for a few weeks.

        • KKM

          Every middle school child that attends Williamsburg Middle School. And it wont just be on Dec 24 they will also be in the dark in Jan and Feb. The students are required to be at school at 7:45 and although we are 1.6 miles away from Williamsburg my daughter’s walking route will be even longer unless I encourage her to cross Glebe Rd and Old Dominion at intersections that don’t have stoplights (not going to happen). Please know that there are only TWO stoplights on Glebe north of Old Dominion (and there are no sidewalks along most of Old Dominion) so most – if not all – of the newly designated walkers for WMS who are on the opposite side of Glebe Rd. will have to walk down to the intersection of Williamsburg and Glebe to cross with a light (also know that 6th graders are only 11 yrs old and that APS does not plan to have crossing guards at any of these intersections.

        • dallynd

          Middle school begins at 7:50, so mine will be walking in the dark (though not far). I do think safe walk routes is a concern, whether darkness or heavy traffic.

      • JimPB

        Enforcing driver safety driving laws.

        Undertake an enduring and assertive campaign for changes to assure child safety going to and returning from school.

        For examples:
        Videos mounted on busses to record violations for subsequent ticketing.

        ACPoliceD offices deployed regularly for aggressive enforcement (no warnings, always tickets).

        More safety patrol persons.

      • JimPB

        End the isolation:

        Talk, interact, collaborate with other parents. It’s what we did when children were in grade, middle and high school. Was a major factor in changing a place to live into living in a community.

        • Louise

          YES!

        • Anonymous

          +1

        • dallynd

          Exactly.

      • Irked

        That mother who called the transportation office should have said “right back at you!” and asked that person at transportation if he/she were planning to walk a child to school before reporting in to work. This is precisely part of the problem with their policy — it’s antiquated, based on a 1950′s model when hoards of kids walked to together in packs to school and/or mothers did not work and were around to supervise things. In Arlington, I’ve heard over 75% of mothers work outside the home, and a huge amount of kids use extended day. My son would face walking to school alone if we choose that route, as most of his best buddies in the neighborhood do extended day. As a working mom, I certainly don’t have time for the 45 minute round trip to and from his school each day to personally escort him. I say to APS — get into the 21st Century! And as for exercise, today’s kids are in so many organized sports, they get plenty. It is a different world — one of organized sports and people driving everywhere to save time. I’d gladly stay home if someone else would pay my bills…

        • c

          Does “21st century” mean mountains of debt our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be paying off? If you are such a modern thinker, propose an alternative source of funding for an additional bus for each affected neighborhood. We are in an economic down swing. Something must give.

          Are you willing to give up police patrol for your neighborhood? What about your local fire department? What about raising taxes? Seriously, put forth an option that is budget neutral to the county. Then, I’ll take your comments seriously.

          • bluefish55

            What about raising taxes? So sick and tired of the complain about taxes crowd. Budget neutral indeed … How about content free?

          • Buy Local

            What about buying local instead of on-line? All of the money that is spent here on line could really help to fund all the extras that the kids should have. Plus, we might even have decent roads and good police coverage.

          • Let me count the ways

            Off the top of my head in two minutes…Eliminate Artisphere, Close Cherrydale Library (it’s 1.1 miles from Central Library on the same street), Stop adding to Long Bridge Park, Require payment for parking meters in Clarendon and other high traffic areas until 10 pm, charge closer to market rates for camps and other county programs– anything that fills up within 10 minutes of being posted for enrollment online is clearly not charging enough….

            Now looking at the school budget $360K for iPads, $75K for succession planning, $32K for consultants to update APS job descriptions, $150K in TRANSPORTATION CONSULTANTS (they’ve botched it once, why pay again– actually they didn’t botch, the Superintendent simply ignored half of their recommendations). That’s $600K and I didn’t get beyond 10 pages of the 490 page school budget. Any more questions?

          • C

            Let me count – you have my attention now. All are legit ideas. My comment was meant to provoke discussion about funding rather than the school board people are idiots and uncaring comments. You certainly stepped up with alot of good suggestions.

            Btw – I am 100% totally in favor of scraping artisphere. And the street car project.

          • BoredHouseWife

            you will lose a huge amount of revenue if you charge close to market rate for camps.
            as for the ipads, much better than 40 lbs of books

          • Supply and demand

            OK, split the difference on the camp rates and swimming/gymnastics classes. If they all fill up in five minutes there is clearly some wiggle room to increase the price. My economics is hazy but it’s something about price elasticity and if demand exceeds supply, then you can move the curve up to achieve an equilibrium price (or something like that).

          • Buy Local

            What about buying local instead of on-line? All of the money that is spent here on line could really help to fund all the extras that the kids should have. Plus, we might even have decent roads and good police coverage.

            I’d rather own what I am reading, not rent it. And, when I am finished with a book, I can trade it in for more.

  • Bus Informant

    12 bus stops out of 1,700+ were eliminated. 2/3 of schools NOT affected by these changes.

    If there is an issue, such as crossing an arterial road, there is an appeal process. About 25 families have submitted them so far. Call your school for info.

    Extended day deadline extended, so sign up! They are hiring staff to make sure waitlisted kids get in. AM extended day has openings at all schools.

    Please, be patient and understanding. While not perfect, APS staff (at the schools, transportation and at the Ed Center) is working to make sure issues are resolved in a timely manner. We’re all in this together.

    • oh no they didn’t

      The appellate process lets you appeal to… wait for it… the Director of Transportation. I’m sure that will be a fair and impartial process. And with 15 days for them to deal with it, school will have started and I’m sure they’re expecting this issue to blow over.

      All it takes is one little kid to become roadkill and then we’ll see how happy they were to save the $200k for a bloody bus.

    • Just a parent

      Yes, the implementation of the new bus system is far from perfect. APS usually does things well, so the poor rollout of this effort is doubly disappointing. For those 1/3 of schools affected, these changes are significant.
      – Note that APS cannot characterize this issue as just eliminated bus stops, but moved bus stops as well. Example, the bus stop my child used to be assigned to before he became a walker, has been moved further back in the neighborhood outside the walk line. How many bus stops have been moved?
      – How many children of the now estimated 9,000 walkers were bussed last school year because of safety concerns?
      – Parents are appealing, but it will take at least 8 weeks to get through all the levels.
      – Please know that parents are patient overall, but not when it comes to the safety of their children. For APS to ask elementary students to cross major commuter arteries at intersections without traffic lights to get to school is not realistic– especially since APS is stating that the safety of children is paramount.
      – I support efforts to reduce childhood obesity, but these campaigns must not place students at risk, and the new transportation plan places many children at risk.
      – Implementation of the new system must be halted, additional busses leased using the County’s rainy day fund, and this whole plan re-examined and changes made in a transparent and public way. Parents also need access to to the measurements as made by the County and the method by which the measurements are made– now that is all in a black box.
      – By the way, when I complained about the lack of sidewalks in my neighborhood, the APS transportation office told me that my child should just walk on the neighbors’ lawns to avoid walking in the street- again, is that realistic?

    • Irked

      Is Arlington going to subsidize the cost of extended day for me — close to 5K a year? Oh, yeah, it wasn’t in my family budget for this year, because NOBODY GAVE ME ANY WARNING THIS WAS COMING!

      • DL

        This is a VERY good comment. What if you have 2 or 3 children needing dependent care? Even though $5K is very expensive and out of reach for many people, if enough notice was given, at least one may mitigate somewhat. For example, one may choose the Dependent Care Benefit during open season. As a suggestion, don’t forget that since this change was without warning, you may be able to sign up for this benefit even though it is not open season (if your work offers that benefit).

        This comment is not meant to suggest that Extended Care is necessarily a good option, financially or otherwise. With Extended Care you have to drive or walk your student to school and back and sign them in and out. I had to do it, as a single parent, and had to drive two elementary kids to two different schools and Extended Care options — this had to do with raising a child with special needs, which required different Schools and Extended Day options. When a student is older and mature enough (for example in Middle School) taking the bus and not paying for Extended Care may become a better option.

    • Irked

      Is APS going to subsidize the cost of extended day for me (5K!!) which I wasn’t planning on in my family budget, since they so nicely dropped this bomb on me with 2 weeks notice before school starts?!?!? Of course not, so I will have to drive and add to the traffic and congestion, like everyone else thrown out of the bus system will be doing.

      • hmmm…

        you’ll be lucky if you can get in to extended day, too. while they have kindly extended the application process, some schools have waitlists for the afternoon afterschool care program.

    • MommyDearest

      I’m guessing if you polled the complainants, they would be largely representing those 1/3 of schools. Appealing a process this late, as an individual, seems futile. That’s why Arlingtonians have formed a community to try to address this together (this is in direct response to the person who seems to believe that all arlington parents are living in isolation). Extended Day deadline has been extended? Who knew? I get emails from 2 different elementary PTA, plus the school talk ones, and I have yet to see that. I may have missed it. But pigs will be flying before they hire enough staff to clear out the waitlists at the very overcrowded schools. So in the meantime, we all have to come up with a Plan B.

      • Bluemontfred

        A school talk message that mentioned the extended deadline and the fact that they are hiring new extended day staff came out around 7

    • http://Flabbergasted Flabbergasted

      Ohhhh, ok. Are you referring to the appeals process that wasn’t even referenced in the letters sent to us announcing that our kids were no longer elibile to ride the bus? The same process that takes 3 weeks to complete (when school starts in less than 2)?

      I invite the APS staff to park at my house and walk to their office every day. It’s only a couple of miles….no sweat, right?

      All in this together? Give me a break.

    • KKM

      You are right only 12 bus stops were eliminated. In fact, my daughter’s bus stop (which is across the street) is still active; however EVERY child that rode the bus from that stop last year (and EVERY child from the next two subsequent stops) have been designated as walkers. So who in the world is the bus going to pick up? Is APS forcing those kids who live 3 miles away from the school to walk 1.5 miles to my daughter’s old bus stop? And if APS doesn’t want to spend th $190,000 to purchase a new bus , how much sense does it make to hire additional staff at each of these schools to work at their extended day programs. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the consultants report said that the biggest problem was mismanagement in the transportation department and that in fact most of the buses were running below capacity.

  • Mary-Austin

    It will be sad to see the old Wakefield go. A lot of great memories there.

    • Not Me

      I can relate. It was sad to see the old TC Williams go too. That the new facilities will help the schools remain competitive for the next generations makes it easier to accept. Esp. since my kids will probably be going to Wakefield!

  • Mike

    The chief issue for me is the way this was handled. Parents have many legitimate concerns that the decision makers may have been unaware of. Dropping this on us at the last minute with no opporunity for public comment is wrong…dead wrong.

    • Melon

      Exactly! Did they really make these decisions just two weeks ago?

      • Whether they did or not

        They could have told us that some buses would be eliminated. They never communicated that at all. Rather it was couched as improving efficiency and effectiveness–something we can all support. This superintendent specializes in deceptive communications (think learning cottage) and now he’s adding in the do it last minute so people don’t have time to complain before school starts.

        The problem starts at the top and we need to talk, interact, and collaborate with other parents to urge the removal of the superintendent. There are way too many senior people leaving APS because of an inability to stand working with Dr. Murphy. That when combined with garbage like the bus fiasco means it’s time to give him a one way ticket back to Fairfax. Anyone out there that thinks he’s earning his $200K a year?

      • Parent

        The School Board and APS staff were discussing their plans back in the spring, but of course didn’t share information with parents until weeks before the start of school.

    • JimPB

      Agreed. Last minute notice stinks.

  • JimPB

    Walking to and from school in dark:

    Sunrise and sunset times for Washington, DC on Dec 24, 2012 (looks like the day with the least amount of daylight in 2012):

    Sunrise: 7:25 AM

    Sunset: 4:51 PM

    What children for which school(s) will be walking to and from school in the dark if there were school on 12.24?

    • meanwhile, back at the ranch

      county middle schoolers start school at 7:50am. they will be walking before sunrise, especially since the walkers have up to 1.5 miles to go.

      • JimPB

        Walking to and from school in dark:

        For a few minutes in the morning, when they are leaving home, for the few days when solid clouds block sunlight from coming over the horizon pre-sun rise.

        No problem in PM.

        • meanwhile, back at the ranch

          most of them are at school by 7:30. so it isn’t just a few minutes. the bell r i n g s at 7:50 — it’s when they have to be in their seats.

          and kids stay after school as well. the late bus comes at 4:10. when it isn’t late, of course. so assuming the kids start walking then, they have a shot at daylight.

    • Irked

      High school students in my neighborhood, deemed walkers at 1.6 miles will have to leave for school at about 7:30 to get there on time. In the afternoon, my kids almost always stay after for sports and used to be eligible for the late bus, and now they aren’t. They WILL have to walk home in the dark after sports practice ends around 5:30 or 6:00!

  • South Awwlington

    Surely I am begging for it here…BUT, I walked .9 miles to school and LOVED IT over riding the bus.

    There wasn’t even a bus in my neighborhood and when we moved and started riding the bus, you had to get on at your stop. If you were riding the bus home with a friend, you had to have a note….this was in the late 80′s and early 90′s.

    Thankfully, I got out of Education as a profession.

    Steriod Parents ONWARD!

    • Sam

      I also walked to school and loved being able to do that. However, I was walking mostly suburban streets and didn’t have to cross anything similar to Old Dominion, Glebe or Lee Hwy. I completely understand why elementary parents and some middle school parents are upset.

      • South Awwlington

        I do understand the safety argument but I also wonder about educating our kids on being street smart and safe. Crossing at the crossing guard etc, not crossing mid street, only walking after looking both ways TWICE, etc.

        Are these the issues we fear or do we fear random acts by distracted drivers as threat #1?

        • BoredHouseWife

          drivers texting while their vehicle is in motion. I have seen it too many times to ignore it. Arrogant tail gating drivers late for their Starbucks stop, driving aggressive, move over into the right lane to pass the slowpoke bus/construction vehicle in the left lane.

          • Shef

            And what better way for our children to become educated about the dangers of distracted driving than to put them out on the streets walking by themselves to witness it first hand? Maybe they’ll even get a chance to learn about how doctors set broken bones or perform brain surgery.

        • KMK

          Unfortunately, with all of its “concern” for student safety, APS has decided that it will NOT be hiring crossing guards to monitor the major intersections that elementary and middle school aged children will have to cross. This includes the extremely busy intersection of GLEBE and WILLIAMSBURG (which is located on a curved portion of Glebe that makes it difficult to see the cars approaching) or OLD DOMINION BLVD. and WILLIAMSBURG – a major roadway for commuters coming and going from the McLean and Tysons area. And no amount of education of those young children will change the fact that drivers drive too fast and are often distracted along these roads.

          • NoVapologist

            Old Dominion Blvd is in Alexandria.

          • F

            perhaps, but Old Dominion Drive is a major artery in Arl co

  • Me ke

    This is just bureaucracy, bad planning and arrogance. Those with kids had a right to know about this months ago…not two weeks before school. I empathize with these folks because I drive through Arlington in the mornings and there are extremely aggressive and Inattentive drivers. Just this morning I for flipped off for beeping a testing driver who swerved at me twice. I would never allow my kids to cross these major and often unattended intersections

  • Just Stats

    275 People signed the petition

    22,723 Projected enrollment in K-12, Projected Sept 2012

    Equates to 1% of parents.

    Non-issue.

    • meanwhile, back at the ranch

      what percentage of the kids are affected? you know, because you are comparing parents to kids here. some parents have been known to have more than one child.

      you know that they say about lies, damn lies, and statistics…

      • Just Stats

        One the OUTSIDE chance each parent has three kids, we’re up to a whopping 4%, just north of statistically insignificant.

        • Ralph

          Actually, you’re doing the calculation inverse.

          If projected enrollment is 22,723 (students), then times 2 parents = 45,446 parents (upper bound).

          As of 7:30 pm 296 people have signed. So upper-bound: 296/45,446 = 0.6%.

          • Just Stats

            Whoops! Thanks for that…you are correct. 7:13 was too late to be at work in August.

          • SteamboatWillie

            Not sure if it’s “the” petition, but the one that hit our neighborhood listserve today is now up to 385 signers. That’s a 40% increase in less than one day, Mr. Statistics.

          • South Awwlington

            Actually Ralph, I think what you mean is 1% (after rounding).

    • Kate

      Ah, the Arlington Way. Make sure other people are at a disadvantage, then make sure they know it and stay that way.

      • Just Stats

        Not arguing that it doesn’t suck…but really, I don’t know what people are so pissed about. If you were taking advantage of a broken system and now the system is fixed…_________

        Exactly my point.

        • Kate

          If you don’t know what people are upset about, you must not be reading the complaints posted here by parents.

          • Just Stats

            Pardon my rhetoric above. I know full well what people are upset over, I just don’t expect people to complain when the system they were taking advantage of mitigates the fraud.

          • Keith

            You think this is about fraud? Again, see your self-admonition about rhetoric above.

          • Just Stats

            If students who were never officially supposed to be part of a bus system took advantage of lax enforcement and said system took measures to ensure only students who were supposed to ride the bus were riding, then yes…that would be fraud.

    • NotARuleBreaker

      The petition just started one or two days ago. So doing math at this point is pointless.

    • Irked

      There is a week to go yet until school starts. And even if it’s not an issue now, will be when school starts and all heck breaks loose with the traffic back ups right in front of and on feeder streets to the schools — guarantee you the complaints will go up then, especially from those without school kids who get stuck n the back-ups.

    • LittleFirebrand

      Perhaps you should check again. Last I looked, the petition was up to 482 signatures and growing. Give it a day or two.

    • F

      now there are 569 signers

  • http://leslieinadamsmorgan.blogspot.com Leslie

    Some of you “arlington now” posters are really unreasonable. I have been car-less by choice since 2002 when I lived in DC. I now live in Ballston and chose that location because it’s close to public transportation. I wouldn’t want my 5-year old crossing over Glebe Road during rush house to go to school, and I wouldn’t want my kids having to walk one mile or 15-20 minutes to school loaded down with books and violins and who knows what else. Yes, kids today are overweight but that is because our food supply is so poor in America. Having them play in traffic is not going to solve that problem.

    • Frankly

      I’d say the obesity epidemic is NOT alive and well at the school my kid attends. Maybe 5% of the kids in his elementary school look to be overweight. But adding 40X cars to the road with people now driving previously bused kids to school will do wonders for the air quality in Arlington. Smart transportation policy it is NOT

  • Casey
    • hmmm…

      from the press release:

      “School officials know that APS families often need to request route changes for morning or afternoon transportation to accommodate childcare, after-school activities or other special needs. An online, fillable PDF form has been created for families to make these requests. The Route Change Request form, available at http://www.apsva.us/transportation or from schools, should be completed, signed by a parent or guardian and then returned to the student’s school. Schools will forward forms to Transportation Services for review and a response. ”

      so does this mean the Dept of Transportation will be approving playdates? how many days in advance will that require? there are times when my son’s friend comes home on our bus and, in turn, my son goes home on his friend’s bus. we always send notes in to the respective teachers, but now, do i have to get playdates approved in advance? conversely, i can drive to school to pick them up, though the street around our elementary school is wildly congested as is…

      • APSparent

        The school now has to approve playdates (but not the transportation department). From the transportation FAQs on the APS website (http://www.apsva.us/Page/2933#11):

        Can my child go home with another student?
        For your child to ride home with another student in the afternoon, a written permission slip must be written, dated and signed by the parent or guardian and approved by school staff before the afternoon dismissal time. A pass must be issued, to permit the student to ride an alternative bus.

        • C

          This had always been in place- children at the elementary level have always needed a note to ride a different bus.

          • yep

            but now, you have to put it through the school to the dept of transportation. and they supposedly have to approve it. so how far in advance do i need to get a playdate approved?

          • C

            My understanding, after discussing with my school’s administrator, is that the approval through Dept. of Trans. is for students who have a different stop in the afternoons on a REGULAR basis- i.e. needs to go to grandma’s or an after school care program. Students wanting to go on a play date will bring a note the day of and be issued a pass before getting on a new bus. What it may help prohibit is the last minute email/call to school to tell the school of a change. May be inconvenient for parents, but will be very helpful for teachers who panic at the end of the day trying to make sure kids are getting to the right place.

        • PatMustGo

          The office staff at my 600+ student elementary school is going to really appreciate their new bus pass responsibilities.

          Look, just read the $150,000 transportation consultant’s report on the APS website. The problem with the bus system was NOT overcrowding – it was poor management, non-use of the fancy bus routing software, inefficient maintenance of the buses, and too closely-spaced bell times. The report suggested that adding just 10 minutes of extra spacing between the high school/middle school/elementary school bell times would solve most of the routing problems. But this was $150,000 thrown down the drain as none of the problems cited in the report have been addressed and, instead, they threw kids off the buses and into the street.

          There’s a reason why many of these kids who lived inside the 1 and 1 1/2 mile walk zones had bus service – it’s to prevent them from having to walk across major arterial roads. It was based on COMMON SENSE, something our current bottom-line loving, PE teacher superintendent lacks. Just wait until there’s an accident – and trust me it’s bound to happen – involving a child walking to school across Glebe Rd. or Lee Hwy…it’s very sad, but that may be the only way this policy will be changed.

    • Kate

      And damage control has begun.

      Thanks for posting this BTW.

  • Irked

    And how is my kid supposed to go home with kids after school on other buses than his own (or if he’s a walker) after school for play dates, to work on projects, or any other reason he may choose to want to go home with a friend? Another thing they haven’t thought through and failed to provide info on…

  • Vouchers? We don’t need no stinkin’ vouchers

    Me, I just love the fact that my kids have to carry vouchers to get on the bus each day. One of my kids can barely remember to bring his homework home on a good day. What happens when he loses his voucher? Tough luck, Charlie.

    Of course, I suppose APS could start implanting microchips…

    • DL

      This is the same problem I have. Some kids (and adults) have trouble organizing their work; some lose things constantly, e.g. keys, permission slips, etc. I am wondering, how long will it take for a student to find the permission slip or transportation pass in their backpacks to show it to the bus driver. How many will drop things from their backpacks while trying to find their pass or transportation pass? What if they do not find their pass? Will the small child be left behind at the bus stop? What if it is a child with a disability (e.g. ADHD or Autism)? Certainly a concern for safety at work!

      • C

        I don’t know what they look like, but they can most likely be placed in something like a luggage tag and be attached to a backpack. Montgomery County has them and that is what they do- a friend of mine says it is a non-issue and she has one with organization issues.

      • ADDer

        ADHD is not a disability. Only a difference.

        The only reason it has become a disability is that the focus is on what is wrong with the kid, not what’s right.

        I’m ADHD, and it is a plus in my life instead of a negative.

        • DL

          You are right. ADHD and Autism are differences. My apologies. We need the pluses in our lives, such as the creativity, optimism, ability to think outside of the box, great sense of humor, sixth sense and other good things that ADHD may bring to our lives.

    • John Fontain

      So if your kid is irresponsible, why bother trying to make him the least bit responsible, right?

      • Josh S

        ^^^ 100% clueless ^^^^

        • John Fontain

          If you say so. It’s just funny to hear a parent say their kid should not be expected to be responsible for something as simple as a bus voucher (which could be affixed to their book bag for instance). Yep, it’s just too much to ask of that kid to bring their book bag to school.

          • Josh S

            Expectations are not the same thing as reality. Especially when you are raising a child. Try it sometime and you might be able to talk sensibly on the subject. Until then, butt out.

          • John Fontain

            “Especially when you are raising a child. Try it sometime ”

            Your reading comprehension needs work.

      • BoredHouseWife

        have you ever seen an adhd child organize? their brains cannot organize like us normies. you should run for president of the earth. apparently you have every aspect of your life in control.

        • John Fontain

          This is not hard. As a parent, don’t you ensure your kid has their backpack with them as they walk out the door? If so, attach the voucher to their bag and your poor, helpless child won’t have to do a thing for themselves so long as you wish to perpetuate that condition.

          • Shef

            You sound like a swell guy.

          • John Fontain

            If I am a terrible person for not promoting continued self-victimization and encouraging self-reliance then so be it.

          • Josh S

            You’re a terrible person for being so utterly unaware of how clueless you sound.

          • John Fontain

            Clueless in what way?

  • http://Flabbergasted Flabbergasted

    This is a public safety issue. This is not about lazy children or parents, nor is it about rogue bus riding. Our neighborhood has received bus service for decades, with good reason. It is unsafe for young children to walk along or cross these roads. Distance should not be the sole determinant of bus ridership. Use some sense, Arlington.

    • SoArl

      I completely agree. The fact that they sprung this on everyone two weeks before school starts is insane.

      • Also SoArl

        Not insane. Deliberate.

    • KKM

      I agree as well. Especially since the distance from school is not the same as the distance of their walk route (I would live to say safe walk route, but given that my 12 yr old has to cross Glebe Rd and Old Dominion to now get to middle school, I just can’t see a safe route)

      • PatMustGo

        Watch the video of the presentation by the Transportation Services Chief at last week’s school board meeting. He, without a trace of irony, begins by saying, “This is about safety…”

  • Greg

    These policies are unacceptable. I don’t have kids but if I did, I would be livid. You mean to tell me an 11 yea old carrying a 40 pound backpack in a lightning storm 1.49 miles is acceptable? Or, how about in rain when it’s 30 degrees outside. Arlington County is spending 75 or however many million people claim it is on a streetcar nobody will use an 40 million on a pool but can’t afford to spend a couple million on more busses. Absurd. An embarrassment to Arlington, and will only deter families from moving to Arlington. And to give virtually zero notice.

    Unacceptable.

  • Todd Aiken

    It is a scientific fact that Christian kids will be safe from cars; sinners should fear walking. This is just facts, not opinions.

  • Jennifer

    This is not an exercise debate. This is a budget priority debate that failed to be transparent. It failed to notify stakeholders. It failed to serve the population that is footing the bill. All this talk about people “abusing” the bus system and riding against the rules is crap. Maybe some kids did that, but in our neighborhood we were told to use those buses, for decades. APS can make safety exceptions, and they have. Until now. And there has been no additional buses added to the fleet; APS has kicked off many riders, when that was not needed. The very expensive consultant report spoke of under-used buses, poorly routed buses, and too little time between bells. This issue was not about the number of seats, but that is how APS is selling it after the fact. We are being led to believe that this is a budget issue, and that they want to direct more money into the schools. And yet, APS is unwilling, unable to provide the public with any data to show how many people who used to bus are no longer busing, and how much savings this insane scheme is supposedly “saving” us that pay a ton in property taxes. Shame on APS for your tactics, for not answering our concerns, for hiding and trying to twist this into something that families were doing wrong all these years.

    • yep

      and for doing this to parents only 3 weeks before the start of school.

      as an aside, when you consider how many people go on vacation in august, you wonder how many people don’t even realize that this awaits them when they return,

  • Gymmyray

    I think they should make the teachers drive the kids to school in their private vehicles. They’ve got nothing else to do except teach 25-26 students in a trailer.

    • Learning cottage

      Get it right, it’s a learning cottage. Dr. Murphy will have you thrown out of the county for using the “t” word.

      • yep

        my son will be experiencing a learning cottage this fall for the first time. amusingly, it is called T1 or T2 on the student info center site. “T” must stand for “learning cottage.”

        • SteamboatWillie

          I did third grade in a trailer set up next to the main school building. That wasn’t really that big of a deal. My class size was probably 20-25.

          But this bus/walking rollout is a disaster.

        • MommyDearest

          Love it! I find this the most entertaining comment on this whole blog.

          My oldest daughter spent 5th grade in a trailer – the very very old ones at Tuckahoe. They smelled dirty and musty, because they were. But the kids didn’t seem to mind. What I personally don’t like about the trailers is that we have so darned many of them now, to alleviate overcrowding which anyone who had their eyes open could have seen coming 10 years ago when all the houses were being torn down and replaced by McMansions, and all the 20-somethings moved into town, and are now 30 with kids.

  • DL

    A concerned neighbor called Arlington Police at around noon on Sunday two weeks ago this summer because my 13-year old 8th grader son (last year of Middle School) was walking on the side walk alone to a restaurant just across the street from our house; he is small for his age and somewhat distracted. The neighbor called because they were concerned about traffic safety and thought my youth looked like a “seven” year old. The police brought him home and questioned his safety. If concerned neighbors and the Arlington Police Department were uneasy about my teenager walking one or two blocks alone on a quiet Sunday noon, how would they feel about numerous kindergartners and first graders walking about a mile during the increased rush hour traffic in the mornings, crossing difficult to cross streets, possibly during inclement weather (rain, thunderstorms, and snow), and in the early dark fall and winter mornings?

    • Josh S

      This is an anecdote about an out of touch and nervous Nellie neighbor.
      It cannot be used either for or against APS bussing policies.

  • Guy LeDouche

    I understand the need to control costs, but I would think that in a $1.35 billion county budget there could be ways to find the extra $190K per bus/driver combo to ensure that everyone child that needs a ride to school can be accommodated. Just my opinion, but for me personally, I would prioritize the safety of our children and having an adequate amount of school buses over $200M+ streetcars, Artisphere, and other pet projects. Then again, maybe kids can take the streetcar to school in 5 years.

    • Crystal lite

      Agreed. I have no children either and frankly probably wouldn’t choose to live here if I did once they got to be school aged, only because I prefer a more suburban upbringing for my kids. However, as an Arlington taxpayer for the last 10 years I think that something should be done here. This is one of the most densely populated counties in the nation. And, yes, parts of it are highly walkable, but I buried a friend last year who was hit in Balaton while walking her dog. To ask children to walk a mile there and back daily is ridiculous. Where are my taxpayer dollars going?? Get kids to school safely.

    • C

      I guess the question would remain- how far is too far? Where does one draw the line? I know of a parent/child who live two blocks from school. There are no busy streets to cross, the only street being manned by a crossing guard. However, to walk the child would have to leave the house no earlier than 8:35. The parent, wanting to leave earlier for work who drive the child to the farthest stop allowing him to leave the house a little before 8:00. How is it APS’s responsibility to transport this child?

      • MommyDearest

        back to my suggestion from many comments ago. Ok, so there were people knowingly manipulating the bus routes. So crack down on THOSE people by using a voucher system for the existing bus routes. Try that first. If it really is about overcrowding and abuse, then target the abusers first. Don’t change the rules and then make it seem like every family in Arlington was abusing the policy all along. Many of us were not.

        • C

          But the county would still have to enforce walking/bussing boundaries, which means children bussed last year would not be bussed this year. Where do those boundaries get drawn? Who gets the vouchers? There were really no bus lists in previous years. If you were at the stop, you got on the bus.

  • Grumpypants

    I am enjoying the tales of exceptionally heavy backpacks. The more exaggerated the claims of backpack weight and steepness of the hill, the more I think your kids could use an escape from you, but keep it up.

  • Jennifer Bauer

    the nastyiness of some of these comments is disturbing. clearly with arlington county’s budget resources we should be able to afford adequate busses for the kids. this county has never seen a bond referendum it didnt like. way less important priorities than childrens safety getting to school get full funding. but for all the jerks who dont understand this and think its about entitled arlington parents, fine. keep thinking that. but dont you start whining when traffic, already bad, gets way worse when the flow on all these commuter routes keeps getting interrupted by crossing guards letting the kids pass. and by the way, kids in packs sometimes get in trouble. they litter, they play pranks, they are kids! you want them all unsupervised all over the place in the morning and afternoon, be careful what you wish for.

    • bluefish55

      Exactly and thanks. It’s distressing and alarming to read so many “I trekked through 8 miles of snow barefoot to get to school” comments. And so little understanding of why parents are concerned, upset, and outraged by this. I hate the faux nostalgia which really just sounds like a screen for political sentiments that are kept covert. Want to play Russian Roulette? Go ahead, but not with my children! We pay for these blasted buses — and they are worth every penny. There seems to have been no need in this instance to destroy the village in order to save it. I’d like to see this team replaced from top to bottom come November.

      • Good luck with that

        Here are your choices for the 2012 School Board Election. Remember you need to pick 2 as there are 2 open seats: Noah L. Simon
        Emma N. Violand-Sanchez, incumbent.

        Oh, you actually wanted a choice?

        • bluefish55

          There are always other election cycles — eventually the worm turns.

      • BluemontFred

        I grew up in LA and my junior high was 3 miles from my house. I chose to walk or bike with friends even though bus transportation was available. I enjoyed the freedom. I also had the choice of which route to take; the main road which was always congested, or a route that took me through neighborhoods, never having to travel along the main road. So it is possible. Arlington is nothing like LA. To say that you are alarmed and distressed that so many people are saying that is kind of funny. The reason they are saying it is because they probably did do it and look they are all fine. Maybe you parents should get together and carpool or create a walking school bus like they Glebe parents have done.

    • SteamboatWillie

      Amen JB.

  • Arlington085

    What I find so offensive here (besides the complete lack of process or timely notification) is the very absolute 1 mile or 1.5 mile rule. Sure, have a walk-zone, but evaluate each school and each neighborhood, and draw a map that better takes into account major roads, sidewalks and terrain. In an urban area like Arlington, school walk zones should be measured in blocks not miles.

    I don’t know many adults who walk 3 miles a day as part of their own commute. We drive or take metro or buses too. So what’s with the nostalgic boasting and obesity comments? These are kids and 3 miles a day is no joke, even just for the time it takes. Throw in daylight, weather, modern school and sport supplies, traffic and other personal safety risks and it becomes absurd.

    And take a look at APS’s website today – the school walk maps are gone. The same maps that the August letter suggested parents use for guidance. Apparently they were from 1997 and “innacurate” and have been recalled.

    I hope APS’s PR staff or their attorney have the sense to suggest a press conference first thing tomorrow morning postponing the whole plan pending further review.

    • bluefish55

      This times a thousand!

  • DL

    How is the school going to handle children and youth taking late buses and late late buses for school extra curricular and sports activities? How is the pass system going to work then? School officials still will not know which children are in the buses then. I have a youth that is supposed to stay after school three times a week and I have not yet been informed of the arrangements for late buses. Also, late buses have different numbers and stops than regular buses. How will they know if a youth took the regular bus or the late bus, for example after Sports Choice, Homework Club, Drama, Environmental Club, Music Practice, or Band? Speaking of which, how are children and youth supposed to carry heavy instruments (tubas, cellos, drums), large Sports gear (lacrosse, hockey sticks, tennis rackets), or hockey sticks), large science projects, art drawings, backpacks, lunchboxes, and umbrellas, through the rain, thunderstorms, and snow, for about a mile or more? What about during summer and excessive heat days?

    How are the schools going to handle students with health conditions such as asthma, allergies, diabetes, and special needs, e.g. Autism and ADHD. Have school officials considered kids not knowing their address and phone number and not knowing how to read. Children and youth have been taught “Stranger Danger.” Will these children and youth feel comfortable asking for help if they get lost or need help for other reasons? Will they find the appropriate person to ask for help? Will they know the school they go to or the address or phone number of the School? They go to School to learn how to handle these situations in the first place.

    • bluefish55

      This times another thousand. These are the common sense issues and questions that seem to have gotten lost in this crazy process.

  • Jose Emergui

    Busing within 1 mile of schools has taken place under a safety exemption in the County’s transportation policy for decades. Nobody has yet explained to the parents how our streets have gotten safer since last year when the County itself concluded, based on its policies, that the walk was too dangerous for a lot of kids. This is an outrage and our school board has totally failed to protect Arlington Students from Superintendent Murphy and the budget cutters who work for him. Shame on the Board. Vote them out!

    • If only…

      You have no options in the School Board elections in November. There are two candidates for two slots. The kicker is that unless you are a Democrat you didn’t even get to pick the 2 who will be elected because of a stupid pledge that the County Democratic Party makes you sign if you want to vote.

      • KW

        Seriously you’re going to bring up the political parties in this issue. Get a life and focus on the topic at hand. Or I could stoop to your level and counter that if the Republicians ran the school board, we wouldn’t even have buses at all for our kids!

        • R

          I don’t have any kids in APS (though maybe one day I will) so don’t currently have a dog in this fight outside of being a resident and taxpayer in Arl Co. However, I willI disagree with you saying that if Republicans were on the school board they would come close to doing what you say they would (even assuming you were using hyperbole).

          I am a republican and I completely agree with plenty of the other posters that this is absolutely ridiculous that the county is doing this, even though I am all for reduced government spending and cost controls. I think most republicans in Arlington would argue that the county government should be spending OUR money on the things that are traditional services of government (Schools, Police, Fire, roads, etc) and if they can willingly spend on Artisphere, the luxury digs the county employees have at their offices in Courthouse, or other pet projects, then they have completely failed in their responsibilities if they find themselves in a situation that they need to implement cost cutting measure in the school budget that results in potential safety issues for our children. They county can gladly spend approx $43K each to start adding Chevy Volts to their fleet of vehicles, prioritizing “green” projects (what’s wrong with the Prius’ that they have that cost considerably less than the Volt??) over spending what I saw online as approx $80K for a brand new 66 person Blue Bird school bus (I got this off google in a few places so disputing the $190K price of bus & driver quoted in the article unless they drastically overpay their drivers or have way too much other overhead).

          What’s more important to parents in the county…having water park playgrounds & expensive dog parks or having their children get to school safely? And for those of you in the “I walked 10 miles each way uphill in the snow to school when I was a 6 y.o.” crowd, this is not the same Arlington or world we grew up in. There does seem to be more predators out there, more self-absorbed running late to work commuters racing down cut through streets at high rates of speed, and less of the “it takes a village” mentality looking out for each others kids that was there in prior generations.

          And in my opinion, political parties do play into this since Democrats have completely controlled the county purse strings for quite a while and here we are in this situation where taxpayers are complaining about the need to cut spending in the school system that has led to this bus situation even though we are one of the wealthiest counties in the country. I’m all for holding our elected officals responsible regardless of political party so if you are upset, look no further than your elected County and School Boards.

          • Democrat Here

            Completely agree with you. The County loves spending money on “pretty” things–e.g., the unnecessary redo of the park at the Clarendon Metro. Why? There was a perfectly nice and usable park there. But they’re ripping it out and putting in some costly concrete island.

            And of course the Artisphere, spraygrounds, streetcar, homeless shelter, etc., etc.

            One-party rule has not done well for anyone but developers and the egos of County employees.

        • The topic at hand is

          the ineptitude of the school board, and 30% of Arlington voters have no say in the school board election (which is allegedly supposed to be non-partisan in the Commonwealth of Virginia). There have been times that I, as an independent preferred one candidate over another in the “caucus”, but I refuse on principle to sign the stupid pledge. I’m not going to lie and say that I will support all Democratic candidates in the general election. Period.

      • Josh S

        What enforcement mechanism does the Democratic Party have at its disposal?

        • None….

          But I have my own ethical standard to uphold, and it doesn’t include signing a pledge that makes me beholden to any political party. I’m an independent and would love to have a choice Green, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, NOTA, etc. Instead we have 2 candidates for 2 slots, and no choice. If in this case they support Dr. Murphy’s transportation policy. I can choose to vote for them, or no one i.e. it’s a waste of time.

    • Michael Gold

      We need new canddiates for the school board to start gathering support immediately. We need a new school board that will not allow this kind of thing to happen. The decision was one thing– if the school needs to reduce the students that are being bused because of budget constraints then that should be brought up and a plan to resolve it suggested IN THE SPRING. But bringing this up 2 weeks before school starts smacks of bad faith and a complete lack of respect for the community that APS serves. Couching it in the idea that “it is not a change” and “necessary for student health” makes it that much worst. The people responsible for this kind of decision-making and implementation need to be fired immediately. Parents should have had advance notice of this change and been able to plan how they were going to deal with it. Moreover, the implementation needs to be well thought out– in the case of Williamsburg Middle School — the west property line is .3 miles from the front door. Moreover, they are building a new elementary school on that site this year– is my daughter expected to walk through a construction zone in the dark at 7:15 am in the morning? Thats what a property line to property line measurement assumes. Our only recourse seems to be to file an injunction to stop the construction on the elementary school as it would cause “irreperable harm” to the children required to walk through that area. My guess is, given what APS has told us this week, we would win. Is that what the school system wants? This is all absurd. In the end, this is just going to cause more traffic and congestion in Arlington and around all the schools affected. As up in arms as the parents affected are, the neighbors of all the schools in APS should be twice as angry. No matter what everyone on this web site is arguing, Arlington kids are not going to walk 1.5 miles (and in some cases, more) to school– they are going to be driven. That is going to cause more traffic, congestion, pollution, noise, etc. into every one of those neighborhoods. I guarantee the cost to society will be much higher than the $140,000 for an extra bus and driver. For springing a decision like this on the community at the last minute and implementing it so poorly, the superintendent needs to go as does every board member who supports him. The extra money I would gladly pay in taxes for additional budget for the school district if asked will instead go to supporting candidates to end this insanity.

  • Sarlington Parent

    Time for some information:

    There were 12 total bus stops removed in 5 different schools across the county. The schools affected are Yorktown, Wakefield, Glebe, Taylor, and Campbell. Of these 12 stops, 3 are at Campbell.

    You don’t hear the parents at Campbell in these comments, because guess what? Most of them live in two or three apartment buildings on, or just off of, Columbia Pike. They don’t have time to be browsing on the internet or sparring with the rest of us because they are working two jobs, learning English, and figuring out whether or not to transfer their kids from Campbell to Carlin Spring so that they can have bus service restored because it is just that much further away. If they all transfer, the county will have to supply buses after all, or further revise the new rules.

    Incidentally, Campbell is the only non-neighborhood school losing buses. The county’s other lottery or opt-in “choice” schools (ATS, Drew, Arlington Science Focus, Key Immersion and Claremont Immersion) have not been touched by this new policy.

    • Glebe hit the jackpot

      They were able to eliminate an entire bus route for Glebe 4 stops/ 40-50 kids impacted. If only 12 stops were eliminated county-wide, the person in charge of figuring out the Glebe route elimination must have been a hero.

      I can picture it– “ooooh we’ve got a hot one here– as the crow flies, the furthest person on the east side of the Glebe district is .99 miles” who cares that if you actually try to walk it, it’s closer to 1.2 miles– because there are all these insidious dead ends and streets that don’t go through – no matter surely a kindergartener can do that in their sleep!

    • KKM

      This is absolutely incorrect. There are at least 20 students in my neighborhood who all rode the bus to middle school last year and a number of whom coincidentally live more than 1.5 miles from Williamsburg who were designated as walkers this year. Our bus stop may not have been removed but ALL of the students who used that bus stop last year are no longer able to ride the bus!

    • http://Nottrue Sophie

      My child goes to ATS. We got the letter that we are now walkers. So, yes, ATS has been touched by this policy.

      I don’t know if we lost a bus, but what used to be designated as a ‘bus only’ school appears to now comply with the new policy.

    • Ellie Mack

      I believe that Williamsburg Middle School also lost bus stops since all of my neighbors have been informed that they do not have a bus.

  • Sarlington Parent

    Those two or three apartment buildings on, or just off of, Columbia Pike — though only 3 bus stops — filled two entire buses. So we have similar numbers of kids impacted, and provided another feather in someone’s cap. We’re right there with you, Glebe!

  • Debbie

    The problem is the drivers…not the kids walking. I grew up in a rural school district in NYS and all village kids walked…some 3 miles or more to the school. The outside-the-village-limits kids…mostly farmers’ kids rode the bus MILES to school. The problem is the kids can walk…THE DRIVERS that DRIVE THROUGH ARLINGTON to get to work…are driving too fast and really could care less about some kids walking to school. At least Arlington has many sidewalks…which leads to another issue when it ices or snows. Will the county ticket home owners who do no treat their sidewalks? Will the county take over sidewalk maintenance a mile or so from all schools? Doubt it.

  • C

    While I understand being upset with late notifications, I don’t understand why parents can drive their kids to school in the morning if the route seems unsafe. Parents can either drop them on the other side of the dangerous area or drop them at the school. Change is difficult, APS certainly has made it more difficult, however 200K for a bus or 200k for student instruction?

    • R

      Why is the choice between $200K for school bus vs. student instruction?? Why isn’t it shcool bus vs. artisphere or streetcar or luxury county HQ offices or raised brick sidewalks or “spray”ground water parks or $1.6M clarendon dog parks or any number of other non-essential projects. Our tax $$ should go to essential services first then to the other projects if funds are avaialble. Our kids shouldn’t have to compete with these other projects for their safety or education.

      And Google “new school bus cost” and tell me that it should cost the $190K per new bus that is claimed above. Everywhere I see seems to say a new school bus is about $80K, so unless the cost of the driver and fuel/maintenance is $110K, I can’t see that being accurate…not to mention the cost of the bus is a one time capital cost, so ongoing on a yearly basis it isn’t that much.

      • southarlington

        1000+++++ get rid of the street car project car more about the students then that . Hound your Board members and School Board members and remember this hot topic when you vote in the fall ….vote the incumbents out …mainly talking about Board members .

        • Thankfully

          there are options for the County Board. But frankly I think the County Board doesn’t have much more say in the operation of the schools than you or I do. The school board and superintendent are all-powerful, and no one can touch them. Has an incumbent school board member ever been voted out of office in Arlington? Don’t know, wondering if anyone does?

          • LittleFirebrand

            We have sidewalks on almost every street? Really? Come walk in my neighborhood. I certainly don’t have a sidewalk on my block and my 5 year old child would have to walk in the street for several blocks.

      • South Awwlington

        Don’t we already spend more than any other public school district in the region, maybe the country per pupil?

        Arlington is supposed to be a walk-able, inner suburb and as such it should follow the planning and engineering principles of such. We have sidewalks on almost every street. We have a remarkable public transportation system. We have bike sharing for God’s sake.

        If you don’t like it and you want your child to bused to school from your front door, move to Loudoun.

  • beman

    we all should refuse to pay our taxes since voting for new people is a mute issue

    • SteamboatWillie

      I think the word you were looking for there is “moot”

  • PL25rd

    So last night, my daughter’s bus voucher was waiting in the mail when we got home. But, as the voucher itself notes, she is enrolled in both morning and afternoon extended day. I really hope that APS isn’t counting students who are confirmed enrolled in extended day as bus riders! Anyone seen anything about this?

    • Keith

      Yet another problem they are probably just realizing. What a botched process.

    • C

      They have to, as they can’t ensure your child will remain in extended day or that there will never be a time when she takes the bus to or from.

      • PL25rd

        Except, she will always be in extended day and will never take the bus. Maybe there should be a way for kids who are outside the walk zone to “opt out” of getting a bus voucher?

    • Black market

      Put it on ebay or craigslist. I think the voucher would have some value. how’s the bus driver going to know that the kid boarding the bus is johnny, not bobby?

  • Kim Arl Un

    Kids cannot walk or ride a bike? Parents cannot parent? Kids cannot learn to cross at a light?

    The pampered wimps we raise. Grow up and get a life. Seriously, get a life, grow a back bone, become an adult.

    • Quoth the Raven

      I’m confused – is the elementary school kid (pampered wimp) supposed to become an adult? Does that make sense?

      I love the childless ones who seem to think that the argument “Don’t be a wimp, just figure it out” is effective or realistic. You’re right – all these complaining parents are just whiners. This issue has an easy solution!

      • Josh S

        +1

        There is a lot of blather and worthless commentary that goes on here, but this class of comment (your kids should suck it up, this isn’t a big deal, I did it so it must be fine, etc.) is about the worst example of uselessness. It actually contributes less than zero to the conversation because all it serves to do is antagonize people.

        • It’s not the kids who need to suck it up…

          It’s the parents. I wholeheartedly agree that people are making this a HUGE deal. Seriously. Part of why this is SO inconvenient is only because you have been so spoiled up to this point. No, I don’t expect that a 6 year old should be expected to walk a mile alone, but seriously? You are a parent, your kids are your #1 priority… either you work with your neighbors (I know people don’t like to do this anymore because it would require social interaction and not just pure competition with the “Jones”, but come on) and figure out if there’s another parent that is home during those hours or if you work out carpools or walking the kids to/from. I’m not an old fart… I’m 27. I have a 2 year old and 6 year old. I work full time 8-5. Guess what I did when I got this letter? I was pretty annoyed at the fact that this was so last minute, but I immediately e-mailed my boss to schedule an appointment. I moved my “work day” hours to 8:30-5:30 so I had time to walk with my kid to/from school in morning. I arranged with the daycare that my 2 year old goes to to arrange a slightly later drop off on my way to work. Then I called the young girl that babysits on the evenings that my husband can’t get out of work early (he goes in at 6) and I asked if she’d be willing to walk or drive to get my 6 year old before getting my 2 year old at the school instead of the bus-stop. Yes, I rescheduled, and yes I have wonderful people who support my family, and I budget for this sitter on those evenings, etc. but my neighbors came out ranting one morning about how to solve the problem and what to do and I simply offered to walk the other 5 year old down the street when I walk my 6 year old. Done. Problem solved. She was in shock. Occasionally there may be a day where she needs to drive him if I’m not available, but why is this pure panic? The boys have fun walking together and I have fun spending time with them. I love my job, and I love that we have 2 incomes to support our family, but if my boss said that I’d be fired on the spot for requesting some flexibility because of a last minute (publicized) change in their system, I’d honestly be looking for a new job.

          These are your kids. I get that you’re mad, but teaching them to rant on about how outraged you are fixes nothing. If you’re so mad, I bet someone else on your street is too. Work it out. Organize a carpool or find someone who is older in the school to walk with your student. If you drive in Arlington, consider your own child’s safety as well as all the others and SLOW DOWN on winding or hilly roads, and look around at intersections in case someone is crossing and might be a child or someone small. The drivers are terrible in Arlington, but does that mean we never walk anywhere? Come on folks…

          • JackFan

            “It’s not about the kids…” – yours is the most reasonable, rational post I’ve seen on this topic. Thanks for being a mature adult and responsible parent unlike a lot of these posters on here.

          • dallynd

            +1

        • But seriously folks

          +1

  • SteamboatWillie

    Seriously Kim. Grow a back bone (sic) indeed. Carry your sports equipment and backpack for 1.6 miles, regardless the weather or the traffic or the hour of the day.

    You’ve missed the point entirely with your breathless urge to assume the throne of sanctimony.

  • bluefish55

    Thank you, Super Nanny, for your terrific insights into a serious public safety issue. A string of cliches doesn’t make for an argument. If you don’t get, I guess you just don’t get it. My backbone is fine — If you want to debate what is obviously a no-brainer on the common sense front, come up with a stronger line of argument.

  • bacon

    This solution would never happen in Fairfax or Loudoun County. There is a school in SE Loudon where everyone who goes t the school lives within one mile of the school and everyone walks to school. This rule is for everyone except for kindergarten students. The school board decided, and rightfully so, the five year olds are not physically able to walk a mile (legs too short). so they provide bus service for those that live more than a third of a mile away. When you have most of you community families, and not single 20-somethings that bogart late night pizza, the county responds to the majorities (family) needs quickly and thoughtfully, with the needs of the children as a first priority.

    Arlington County encourages non Spanish language families to go to Claremont, so they provide buses from all over the county to go that school. We had people coming to our door asking us to send our five year old to Claremont. Also, Arlington provides buses for kids to go to ATS from all over the county and for many kids the buses ride is 45 minutes long. I happen to know many parents in South Arlington with ATS students carpool to the school most mornings and have their kids use the bus service only to come home. It is very inefficient. These are the problems.

    Asking kids to walk a mile plus in a city setting is ludicrous; parents will just drive their kids and cause more traffic problems in front of schools. Can you imagine what the gridlock will be on George Mason Drive by Barrett or ATS? Get rid of the school choice and go back to neighborhood schools, use the special programs inside the neighborhood schools for parents that choose those programs, and Arlington will build a better sense of community in the neighborhoods, bus rides will be shorter, and we will have more buses available.

    • Elmer

      I’m subject to continuing ridicule for saying this again, but returning to the neighborhood school concept and eliminating the “choice ” schools which require cross county busing would solve a lot of transportaion issues and save the taxpayer money. Then, those who demand “choice” can get out their checkbook and write a tuition check for any school of their choice.

      • Fine with me

        I agree that it would address many of the transportation issues. How can routes be optimized when they’re forced to encompass the entire county. The kicker is that most of the focus on reductions has been to the neighborhood schools.

  • duke

    So when this happens, who’ll wish you took care of it yourself, but from what I’m readying above, many will point the blame elsewhere…

    http://media.trb.com/media/photo/2012-03/272296520-12094737.jpg

  • Parent

    Dr. Murphy is doubling down on his bad decision:

    http://arlingtonmercury.org/articles/aps-keeping-new-busing-plan/

    • Parent Too

      Vote out any School Board incumbents at every election cycle to clean house…

      • If only

        That would again assume that there are other options. In the last 5 years, I located one election that had more candidates for school board than slots.

  • John Fontain

    I’m having trouble understanding what all the hysteria is for.

    Let me see if I understand this correctly:

    1. Elementary kids less than 1 mile from school don’t get bus service. They can walk, ride their bike, or ride in a car.

    2. Parents of these affected elementary kids are mad because (a) walking less than a mile is too far, or (b) walking is dangerous because of roads/intersections.

    3. Parents who formerly took their kids to the bus stop will now have to drive their kids to school if they don’t believe walking is safe.

    4. These parents are mad that driving will make them late for work.

    Last time I checked, driving a mile takes less than 5 minutes. In addition, elementary schools typically allow drop off (even for non-extended day kids) about 20 minutes before school officially begins. So you are telling me that the same parents who took their kids to the bus stop 20 minutes before school starts now don’t have time to get up 5 minutes earlier to be able to drive their kids that one short mile to school (in less than 5 minutes)?

    • hold on

      The one mile=5 minutes is not realistic as you have to wait in traffic to get to school, wait in line to drop your child off at the designated place, then navigate more traffic to finish the trip. To drive my my child to school last year about a mile took 15-20 minutes round trip, and to boot it was in the opposite direction of my commute.

      I also take issue with your use of the word hysteria– it is consternation. And if you had planned on your child being bussed to school as he/she had been in the past, and had the rug pulled out from under you less than 3 weeks before school — you would be upset as well. APS laid an egg on this one.

      • John Fontain

        As I said before, get up 15 minutes earlier. And again, what would you be doing with your time if you kid was bussed? Waiting at the bus stop with them. What’s the difference?

        • KMK

          Your argument seems to assume that each parent has just one child to drive to one school. What about those families with multiple kids, at different schools, with start times that range from 7:50 to 9:00. The drive to WMS (which under the policy is can be up to 1.5 miles) includes a lengthy wait for many of us at the intersection of Williamsburg and Old Dominion and can take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes once you wait in the drop off lane (unfortunately, a number of legitimately designated walkers drive because APS will not put a crossing guard at the intersection of Old Dominion and Williamsburg). Of course, many of those parents who are upset have younger children at home who will now either have to be up and ready to go at 7:15 a.m. (almost two hours before the start time for most elementary schools) to trek with a parent and older siblings to school or left home – in many cases – alone.

          • John Fontain

            If school starts at 7:50, why do the kids need to be ready at 7:15?

            Anyways, I’ll bet your younger children are already up at that time anyway. As to the ‘ready’ part, put your younger children in the car with their PJ’s on and have them get ready during the ’2 hours’ you have until their school starts. Or go ahead and have them get ready along with their older sibling since they already up anyway.

            Seriously, this is not the end of the world. Solutions exist and the solutions aren’t that difficult.

          • C

            How about dropping them off on George Mason just after the Old Dominion/Williamsburg intersection? Avoids having them cross and also avoids the parent drop off lane.

          • Steve O

            If the wait is 20-25 minutes to drive 1.5 miles to WMS, isn’t that about the same amount of time as the entire walk? Are there no other kids in the neighborhood? Can’t they all walk together? Seems you could save yourself the 25 minutes. Or just drive 1/2 way and let them walk the last 10 mins. Probably faster for everyone.

    • Also SoArl

      That you lack understanding is crystal clear.

  • Idiot drivers

    Kids can cross a light. But that assumes the idiot drivers let them without trying to run them down. The drivers at the intersection of Lee and Sycamore pay little attention to folks in the crosswalk.

  • duke

    Spot on John Fontain! Let’s see, it’s safe for kids to walk or get dropped off at a bus stop in the AM and clearly okay to wait on a dark cold morning for the bus, but not safe to walk a little further to school. How about at the end of the day. I’m guessing most of the kids walk home from the bus stop because of their working parents…

    • KMK

      Again, you are assuming facts that are just incorrect. My 12 year old daughter has to walk less than a block to her bus stop (which I can see from my front door) but her new walk to Williamsburg Middle School is 3.2 miles round trip — with a full backpack — and includes crossing at the intersection of Glebe Road and Williamsburg at 7:10 a.m. in the morning and then Old Dominion and Williamsburg shortly after that. Oh, and did I mention that much of her walk along our street (but beyond our bus stop) does not include sidewalks! Any chance that you walk 3.2 miles a day, rain or shine, in 30 or 85 degree weather – if so, kudos to you and may I wish you safe passage. If not . . .

  • squid

    Much ado about nothing. Walking is wonderful and healthy and something kids are absolutely capable of doing. Instead of parents getting up in arms about the 1 or 1.5 mile walk (we aren’t talking marathon distances here), why don’t they join together as neighbors and create groups where children can walk to school together? What ever happend to an old fashioned carpool?! These parents need to try and solve the “problem” within the community they live, the school district they occup, and stop hounding APS to do it for them.

  • A Mom

    I recently moved from a community where the schools changed bus eligibility such that students had to live 2.5 miles away to ride the bus. Parents reacted by cooperating to form creative solutions. One neighborhood paid a bus company to take the kids to school. Another formed a walking bus (see http://www.walkingschoolbus.org/). Some parents carpooled, and some children simply walked. Parents should contact their schools and PTAs to work on collaborative solutions to cross difficult intersections.

  • Not so fast my friend…

    I agree with a lot here:

    1. The short notice is unacceptable
    2. The fact that some people are going to be inconvenienced stinks
    3. People actually outside of the distance shouldn’t have to deal with this
    4. There should be crossing guards all along the walking routes, and some may need to be added

    But there are some ridiculous comments on here:

    1. Clearly it’s not safe for 5 or 6 year olds to walk a mile alone. We live 1/2 mile from our elementary school and I wouldn’t boot my 5 year old out the door and tell her “good luck”. So does that mean we should get busing, too? Maybe they should send a private vehicle for every 5 year old. Or maybe parents need to suck it up for a couple years and figure it out. Stagger schedules, work with other parents, do extended day, etc.
    2. The weather comments are great. So you have to find a way to get 1.05 miles in the cold rain. What about kids that have to go 3/4 mile in the cold rain? Is that realistic? Maybe we should have a whole fleet of buses available to get more kids in cold rain. Again, figure it out.
    3. Just because something is a certain way today doesn’t mean you have the right to expect it to be the same forever. This applies to school boundaries, as well. Sometimes a decision is a bad decision and should be protested on its merits, but just because something is different, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.

  • in the Arbor, 14 years and counting

    As long as they provide the handful of kids in Fairlington bus service to ATS, so they do not have to go to school with the poors at Abingdon (actually in Fairlington), I am good with the new policy.

    • xyz

      That’s just mean.

      • In the Arbor, 14 years and counting

        No, it is the way the system is designed. As someone suggested below, close down the ATS system, have the kids go to their neighborhood schools, and go from there.

        Abingdon will be a much better and stronger school for everyone-all the students, all the teachers, and the PTA, when all of Fairlington’s kids go there. When Fairlington’s elementary age kids are divided into several different schools, Abingdon loses, and the Fairlington community loses.

  • BoredHouseWife

    Abingdon is going to be a cluster of cars.

  • Taylor Dad

    To quote Steven Wright – “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”
    The bus service has been in place for 40 years.
    Walking is a great option to have – we’re not asking for bus service, we’re asking for it not to be taken away…there’s a difference.
    The majority of comments “to deal with it” must be coming from people who don’t have young kids in school…

    • John Fontain

      Sorry, I’ve got young kids who walk almost a mile to school (happily for the most part) and, yes, I’m saying deal with it.

      Get up 15 minutes earlier and walk them to school. Or get up 5 minutes earlier and drive them to school. Or take two extra minutes to walk them across the busy street and have them walk the rest of the way from there.

      • KMK

        Again, I am happy to hear that it only takes you two extra minutes to walk them across the busy streets. Some of us, however, would have to walk much farther to safely assists our children across the busy streets.

        • John Fontain

          ” Some of us, however, would have to walk much farther to safely assists our children across the busy streets.”

          Well, it can’t be farther than a mile, which isn’t very far.

          • Unbelievable

            John – you may as well give up. There are scores of parents here who just don’t want to parent. It’s much easier to whine than to look at other options or ways to mitigate. Unbelievable.
            Can’t wait for the backlash from the lazy parent brigade…

  • Meg

    This is one of the most heavily funded school districts in the country, and these cuts are ridiculous. Why are we making these cuts when we are still providing cross-county transportation to “choice” schools like Arlington Traditional, which provides the same curriculum as any other school, just with a more elite student body!

    These walk policies were implemented in a different time, when traffic was lighter, walking was safer, and middle school (then “junior high”) started at 7th grade. The distances were figured assuming that kids could cross Lee Hwy and other busy routes at unlighted intersections (a bad idea), and because of the vouchers, those kids can’t opt to walk further out on safe roads to catch a bus. There were numerous reports of middle school and elementary school children being sexually harassed by strangers while walking back and forth to school last year; this will make that problem much worse.

    This is an enormously bad idea. If we need more buses, buy more buses. The taxes we pay are supposed to go toward a first class school system, and the extraordinarily generous funding of the Arlington school system should at the very least provide safe transportation to neighborhood schools.

    • Astoria442

      but how much would getting rid of ATS really save?

  • bluefish55

    I just love how the personal liberties contingent and the I was Abe Lincoln in my youth crowd LOVE to tell other folks how to think and react and be. Really? You’re happy with your lot in this situation, if you even have a stake in it at all? Great, be happy — try to make your comments with a modicum of respect and understanding and move on.

    Leave the rest of us, as your fellow citizens in this County, taxpayers and fellow adults, to work this one out in the ways available to us and do what we can do to get the measures that are important, for reasons so obvious they ill bear repeating, for our children. And not just OUR children mind you — but the children who are schoolmates and friends of our children in all of the affected neighborhoods.

    This is a community problem for those of us outraged by it and it requires commitment and resistance. You don’t want to support it? Fine — but cut the nonsense and posturing.

    • yea, but

      You’re not choosing to “work this one out in the ways available to us” you’re on an on-line forum where people express, pretty much nothing but opinions, complaining about your point of view (instead of saying “hey, who was moved from this bus stop… I’d like to arrange a carpool, call me” which is a SOLUTION, not whining). That’s not leaving anyone to work anything out. It’s leaving people to piss and moan about how mad they are, and not being welcome to express our opinion that your pissing and moaning has multiple solutions, they’re simply not ones you like or want.

      • bluefish55

        It takes action and resolve and fearlessness to get into taking something like this on with the County and its officials because it’s like bathing in molasses–and you’ve no way of knowing what I’m doing or not doing about it, which is by the way considerable and has been for the last week. If I come here to piss and moan maybe we can both piss and moan together, eh? I can piss and moan and vent about a public safety issue in an attempt to get out it out of my system before the next round of much needed resistance to this genius plan, and you can miss and moan about my lack of steely resolve and manly mindset. And the matter of opinions being just opinions is always used is situations such as these to justify and back-up lack of judgment and recklessness. Sure, we can have a variety of opinions on this one but, in this instance, given my set up, there is only one correct opinion, one real world evaluation that makes rational sense and the rest is bunk.

  • bacon

    Trusting kindergarteners to keep and carry bus passes everyday; brilliant!

    To quote Buzz Burbank, “what could possibly go wrong?”

    • http://n/a gospelsinger

      even middle schoolers can lose their pass – I will be scanning and saving my kid’s pass for when he loses/misplaces it.

  • TC

    APS needs to read their own report they commissioned which clearly states the problem. “APS is running out of time, not seats” They need to modify the belltimes by a few minutes to allow more bus runs per day. The key is efficiency, not depriving students of bus services. Instead, this new plan will make the operations worse because parents will drive their children, as it is the only safe way to get the child to school in most situations, and there will be more traffic and the buses will be delayed. This is an outrageous decision.

    ” APS is operating
    under a nominal three tier system with a small subsequent fourth tier. Ideally each APS bus would
    serve one school within each tier (three individual bus runs), and then a few would perform a fourth
    tier. Of the 110 buses in operation that morning, it was found that:
    • 7 buses performed 4 morning runs;
    • 66 buses performed 3 morning runs;
    • 36 buses performed 2 morning runs; and
    • 1 bus performed 1 morning run.
    Overall, the buses were challenged to serve the condensed bell schedule. Note that the bell time
    windows of 7:50/8:19/9:00 and 8:00/8:25/9:00 cause the live time for each to be limited to 20-25
    minutes if each bus is to perform three runs. The bell spacing is simply too tight to allow the most
    efficient bus routing and service. The buses are running out of time, not out of seats.”

  • Working Parent of Two

    The lack of information with which Arlington School Transportation Services is continuing to enforce their UNSAFE, ILL-CONSIDERED, SPOTTILY APPLIED reduction in bus service is breathtaking.

    I just called APS Transportation hotline (703-228-8670) to ask if the bus stop that has been next door to my house for THIRTY YEARS will be there on September 4th. Here’s the answer: WE DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO A LIST OF THE BUS STOPS FOR (ANY) SCHOOLS FOR THE 2012-2013 SCHOOL YEAR. The Operations Superintendent will call me back within 48 hours…..

    • Astoria442

      did u not get the letter? it should tell you where your stop will be next door or elsewhere.

  • StrategyGaffe

    What happened to strategic planning. If you expect growth trends in students, why not have a three to five year plan so that parents are not caught off guard and are involved in the decision early and often, not at the last minute. This should be part of the budget planning discussions three years ago–planning for more buses, etc…

  • CMo

    This has been very poorly handled by the school system. my kids have been riding the bus for years, including my son who for the last three years rode the bus to WL High School – 1.7 miles away. Now he and his little sister are being told they must walk to WL because they rounded down to get more students under the 1.5 mile threshold. Someone forgot that the school system is there to serve the kids, not to enable bureaucrats to change the rules witout any rational basis, and then apply those changed rules in an inconsistent fashion. This on the heels of the lack of planning for the growth in the student population and the overuse of trailers will drive down the quality of public schools in the County to the detriment of us all. Someone needs to answer for this mess.

    • yea, but

      They’re in high school. Seriously, teach them to be responsible, wake up a bit earlier, and walk to school. I promise you this won’t kill them. They might not like it, but, oh yea… they’re highschoolers they don’t like being told what to do anyway, they’ll still survive and they’ll not remember this in therapy 30 years down the road, I promise.

      • John Fontain

        Seriously! This parent has a child who is presumably about to enter college in a year. Last time I checked, living on a college campus and going to classes in lots of different buildings requires a TON of walking. But CMo can’t stand the thought of his/her almost-grown child walking or riding a bike a mile and a half to school. Amazing!!

        • Kenny Powers

          Totally agree when it comes to High School (I walked 2 miles each way –no not uphill both ways!). In those cases, hovering, over-protective parents should keep their helicopters grounded and insist their kids be responsible on their own and walk it. But let’s remember, this plan hit all ages and asking a 14-17 year old to walk a distance is reasonable…asking a grade schooler…or even a middleschooler is not. And yet that’s what APS just did. If the Superintendent or School Board reps were required to walk two miles each way to their appointed jobs, me thinks they might suggest it not fair or safe to require it of them. Hmmm…

      • Steve O

        They could bike there in about 10 minutes. Which means they can sleep later than if they took the bus. Sweet!

  • APSNumberone

    Poor performing superintendent + Weak school board = stuff like this!

  • Epic Fail

    Someone needs to be held accountable for this mess.

    • Concerned Parent

      And this flawed decision based on a less-than-transparent process needs to be reversed before any students are placed in dangerous situations. APS is not living up to its vision of a safe environment in collaboration with families and the community.

      • It comes down to Leadership

        In addition to not living up to its published vision, APS isn’t doing well regarding its Core Value of Accountability: “We take responsibility for our progress through transparent evaluation of student success, staff quality and management of the community’s resources.” The last Superintendent Summer Chat on August 30 at the Gates of Ballston should be lively (if he’s still around).

  • Kim Arl Un

    “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.” R.E.M.

  • nom de guerre

    Number of comments have now surpassed the Trevor article.

  • Kenny Powers

    Cripes. Arlington County is among the top five five wealthiest counties in all of the U.S. Don’t insult folks by suggesting we can’t afford one or two more buses and drivers. More familes moving her is the supposed reason, but they bring with them additional tax dollars. Wanna bet APS would find the extra dough for yet another astro-turfed football field for a high school? A boneheaded bureaucratic decision was dropped on parents two-weeks before school to jam them up. This town is full of lawyers, lobbyists and PR types, not to mentioned fired up stay at home moms who know how to organize. Only question is when, not if, does APS reverse course so billy and suzi don’t have to walk a mile to school. Yet again our Superintendent shows his disdain for the parents and kids he is supposed to serve. But his contract was quietly extended. Parents should direct their fire at him and send him packing to water down some other one stellar school system, like he did in Fairfax and he’s now doing here.

    • Kim Arl Un

      “fired up stay at home moms who know how to organize” — maybe they can organize a walk to school for the kids.

      • John Fontain

        Oh snap!

      • bigsby

        Stop and think for a second. It takes 30 minutes to walk a child to school 1 mile away, then you have to walk back to your house to get your car to drive to work. Is that practical? Is it so practical that you have to insult parents? Some day you will put your bong and Whitman down and realize life is what you make of it and not how much you resist it.

        • Chicken Little

          Oh my? Here’s a little help with reading comprehension: Kim Arl Un was mocking the statement that organized stay at home moms would/could/should organize walks. Bigsby’s criticism of the criticism misses the point and levels criticism at something that was not said nor implied. And, what is a Whitman? For love of all that is good, learn to laugh. Do you assume that anyone that fails to agree with you is using a bong?

      • Kenny Powers

        I’ll give you that one. ;-)

    • MommyDearest

      Indeed, the new softball field at W-L has just gone from a $1M project to $1.3M…

    • APSNumberone

      +100

    • But seriously folks

      Pack up Pat! Back to Fairfax!!

      Where’s the petition?

  • Epic Fail

    Maybe this is APS’ way of dealing with the school overcrowding they couldn’t foresee or plan for: drive prospective families away with inane policies developed behind closed doors and announced at the last minute. Nice

  • Tom Smart

    Does everyone know how APS is measuring the 1.5 mile point to point? Interestingly enough, the 1.5 miles is not measured from your home to the front door of the school, which is where the kids are required to enter the school at Washington Lee. Nor is it being measured to the drop off point of the bus at the school. Rather, the 1.5 miles is measured to the school’s closest property point from your respective home. In our case, we meet the 1.5 miles requirement if it were measured from our home to both the school’s entrance as well as to where the buses drop the kids at Washington Lee. But APS told us we weren’t qualified because the measurement they utilized is from our home to the physical corner of Washington Lee at North Quincy and Washington Blvd, which is approximately 1.1 miles.
    Go figure as to why they would measure this way.
    I also asked the Transp. Dept if APS had asked if parents disqualified for bus transportation might be offered the ability to pay but I never received an answer. Hopefully someone will investigate these matters.

  • Chicken Little

    There sure are a lot of kids “walking alone” to school cries on this forum.

    Are the schools organized so that there is only one kid per school?

    • Steve O

      +1

  • chickenlover

    Based upon these parameters my daughter entering K this Fall will not be able to ride a bus until high school.

    That aside, you can’t forbid students from riding a bus when their parents pay taxes and busing comes out the tax base.

    Particularly for students who live a mile from school as the bus can pick them up as the last stop before school.

    Particularly, when there is rain, snow, poor air quality, excessive heat, sex offenders routinely spooked trying to pick kids up at school.

    Theres a catch, Arlington County has just posted a new EEO banner on its web site stating it discourages discrimination of race, sex, and now nationality.

    Arlington loves to recruit voters from other countries, use the tax monies to provide subsidized housing and hire more teachers to teach more classes. It also loves using that as an excuse to increase taxes yet reduce services that the current tax base have been using.

    The Arlington County Board either has a death wish or it just can’t help itself from destroying itself and others of its own kind.

  • leigh

    more buses for neighborhood schools. Stop busing kids from the Science Focus to Jamestown or Taylor or kids from Taylor to Jamestown.

    Spend this school year addressing why a Long Branch parent might want to send their child by bus to Glebe or vise versa & stop the madness. Keep kids at there neighborhood schools. If choice is needed for some county schools than make that argument. Families living in North Arlington do not need a choice of four elementary schools.

    And why on the zoning map for high schools is there an area between Wakefield and Washington Lee carved out for Yorktown?? Why would a kid that lives on N. Scott Drive in Courthouse be in the Yorktown district and pass WL to get to Yorktown. Which begged the question where do these kids go to middle school?? Imagine that Williamsburg. How many middle schools are closer??

    Seems we have lots of buses running from one end of he county, crossing paths all day long to transport kids to schools out of their neighborhood.

    • Tom Smart

      Great points.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      “Seems we have lots of buses running from one end of he county, crossing paths all day long to transport kids to schools out of their neighborhood.”

      Arlington is geographically tiny. Cross-county buses going to choice schools probably travel less than many buses in western Fairfax or Loudon. I wish people would stop acting like busing kids 5 miles to a choice school instead of 2 miles to a neighborhood school was such a huge problem. If the choice schools all turned back into neighborhood schools, it wouldn’t solve the overcrowding in N Arlington and it wouldn’t impact bus costs much. It certainly wouldn’t impact overall costs any–classrooms are classrooms and teachers are teachers, the choice schools don’t cost any more or less than the neighborhood schools. Why the hate?

  • Wilbur

    This is rubbish. The problem last year had nothing to do with capacity. The problem last year had to do with management. Buses came EARLY leaving students at stops. Buses in the afternoon simply never came, stranding kids at school. Are there full school buses – yes. But most arent. Some full size school buses (for example those for the ACC) run with like 6 kids in them. The problem is really lousy management – and the the burden of that lousy management is being imposed on the kids. This is crap.

    I will vote for ANY school board candidate that promises to undo this busing policy.

  • bobbytiger

    This should be a no-brainer.
    The all County Board simply has to do, is to raise taxes again to pay for another bus, so that the students don’t actually have to walk anywhere. It’s the “the Arlington Way”, no?

  • Old Curmudgeon
  • Old Curmudgeon

    Unfortunately, this is just another example of the “new” superintendent running roughshod over the community and the school board. The process that has gotten us to this point is exactly the opposite of “the Arlington Way” and the school board did not have the guts to rein in the superintendent.

    While the new policy may be the best for APS (I express no opinion on the merits as neither I nor most of the readers of this blog have enough facts to judge) the policy should be put on hold by the school board until it is vetted in the Arlington Way. This means: go back to the same rules that were in effect at the start of last school year and plan to implement the new policy (whatever that turns out to be) at the start of next semester or next year.

    If there had been appropriate debate and public input, the controversy would now be minor and the issues that have made many Arlingtonians unhappy would have been resolved. It is the responsibility of the school board to ensure that this debate occurs.

    It has been said that “you are what you were” and the superintendent was a PE teacher so he is used to dictating his policies. Had he been a science or humanities teacher, he probably would have learned the value of collaborative decision making. But unless the school board makes him stop on this decision until it is properly vetted, then there will be no reason for him to consider the Arlington Way when he wants to make major policy changes in the future.

    I am afraid that the school board will fail to step up and supervise the superintendent and it is too late for the public to affect the upcoming election of school board members so, unless the board does reclaim its rightful position as the policy setters for APS, the only way for the public to show its collective displeasure is with the other school issue at the voting booth.

    We all know that the school bond will pass. However, if the margin of passage is reduced by ten or fifteen percent over prior bonds, it would send a strong signal to the board that rubber stamping policies that have been rushed through at the last minute without public input will not be approved by the citizens of Arlington.

    Since our elected representatives appear to be unable to supervise their employee, I am going to signal my concern at the ballot box. I hope that I am wrong and the board takes positive action. If so, I will join what will no doubt be a majority of Arlingtonians and will vote for the school bond. But the school board’s reaction to this current controversy will determine how I will cast my vote.

  • Jack

    Arlington County taxes the s_hit out of us. Get a few more buses and drivers

  • Tanner

    NAACP sueing Thomas Jefferson High School for not inviting enough african americans and latinos into elementary gifted programs so they have a better chance of being accepted into Thomas Jefferson.

    Arlington Traditional School already went through that with Tuttle vs. Arlington Public Schools were the Federal District Judge reiterated that you can’t use race to promote or discriminate for or against a person. So, not only is TJ barred from not picking kids due to race, they are not allowed to accept kids due to race. The NAACP knows this but they want people to just wink wink nod nod and let it happen anyway. The NAACP wants an open double standard for them but not for TJ? Thats rich.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/virginia-schools-insider/post/federal-civil-rights-complaint-filed-over-low-numbers-of-black-latino-students-at-elite-tj-high/2012/07/23/gJQA1sY04W_blog.html

  • Curt

    I am very concerned with the following fact.

    Any student to lives up to a mile from school must walk to school.

    The Virginia Law only requires that sex offenders live 500 feet from schools.

    § 18.2-370.3. Sex offenses prohibiting residing in proximity to children; penalty.

    Our children have to walk through an unknown amount of sex offenders to get to school. If we are going have our children walk a mile to school, then at least change the distance of the sex offenders to a further distance.

    Thank you

    • drax

      Simply look up the sex offenders on the database and adjust your kid’s route to be 500 feet away.

      If that’s your concern.

    • Quoth the Raven

      But you can check the registry and see if any offenders live on the route your kids will take to school.

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