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Peter’s Take: Back to Basics

by Peter Rousselot | February 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 625 views | No Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotThe possible cancellation of construction of a new South Arlington elementary school demonstrates yet again why Arlington must refocus its budget priorities on basic core services like schools.

ARLnow.com recently posted a story about a plan by Arlington Public Schools to scrap the construction of the new Glencarlyn Elementary School. The story explained that APS is “looking at diverting that investment to prepare for middle school overcrowding in the coming years, which is projected to be more serious than the capacity issues in elementary schools.”

APS CAPITAL BUDGET

If middle school overcrowding is projected to be more serious than elementary school overcrowding, and if Arlington can’t address the future capital needs at both the elementary and middle school levels, well then the decision to scrap the construction of this elementary school might make sense. But, that would be true only if we assume APS is getting the share of Arlington’s overall capital budget that APS deserves.

APS certainly is not getting the share of Arlington’s overall operating budget it deserves. And, APS cannot be getting the share of Arlington’s overall capital budget it deserves so long as Arlington persists in wasting our money on the extravagant features of the proposed Aquatics Center and other vanity capital projects.

APS OPERATING BUDGET

It still remains unclear whether the Arlington County Board will step up to the plate to restore to APS the share of Arlington’s operating budget APS must have in order to provide a 21st century education and to address the classroom impacts of the enrollment surge.

In trying to prop up its crumbling justification for the Aquatics Center, the County Board keeps saying Arlington “needs” a “world class” facility like the Aquatics Center. But, the County Board hasn’t been willing to give APS the resources APS says it needs to extend the Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) program to all the elementary schools that lack FLES.

The County Board says extending the FLES program is a policy decision for the School Board, while the School Board says it can’t extend FLES without additional money from the County Board.

The children at the elementary schools that lack FLES are stuck in the middle.

This is not a world class way to govern.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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