Frigid temperatures have officials worried about a potential refreeze and hazardous road conditions following today’s snow storm.
It’s at least the 6th day off for Arlington students this school year. All meetings, extracurricular activities, events and adult education classes are also canceled.
There will be no classes Tuesday, but school offices will be open, on a two-hour delay. Essential employees should report to work as scheduled, the school system said Monday evening.
The Warriors (24-4) kept their 14-game winning streak alive with the victory, and will move on to the state semifinal game on Saturday at noon at Robinson Secondary School (5035 Sideburn Road, Fairfax). They’ll play the loser between Maury and Henrico High Schools, and if they win, they’ll play Friday, March 14, at 2:00 p.m. at VCU for the state championship.
The Warriors were led by Capitol Conference Player of the Year Dominique Tham, who scored 18 points, and Jalen Walton chipped in 17 to lead a balanced attack against the Panthers (27-1). Marqua Walton also scored 18 and hit a key free throw at the end of the game to seal the victory.
The win was the first regional championship for the Warriors since 2005 — they were regional runner-ups last year and lost in the state semifinal game. The Warriors defended their home court, just like they did in the conference championship game last week against Mt. Vernon. Walton told Dave Facinoli of the Sun Gazette that the Warriors didn’t feel any pressure.
“They came in undefeated and we felt they had all the pressure,” said Wakefield senior guard Jalen Carver, who scored 17 points and made three three-pointers. “So we wanted to play our game, slow them down in transition and keep playing hard.”
Wakefield coach Tony Bentley said the pre-game plan was to keep his players loose.
“The key to this game for us wasn’t on the court,” he said. “We wanted to get our players so relaxed like they were playing a game on the playground.”
File photo courtesy Rob Laybourn
It’s at least the fifth time Arlington Public Schools have closed due to snow this school year.
“Essential personnel are to report to work as scheduled,” said APS spokeswoman Jennifer Harris. “Extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.”
All ART bus service has been suspended, in advance of a winter storm expected to drop 6-10 inches of snow Monday. Arlington’s western neighbor, the City of Falls Church, has declared a snow emergency now.
The Virginia Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is encouraging residents to leave their cars at home on Monday.
“By midnight tonight, 4,000 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties,” VDOT said in a press release Sunday night. “Drivers should stay off the roads tomorrow… snow and frigid temperatures to northern Virginia.”
Staying off the roads should be easier for non-emergency federal workers — the Office of Personnel Management announced tonight that federal offices would be closed Monday.
Residents have been reporting a shortage of salt and other snow clearing supplies in local grocery and hardware stores.
“Gonna have a slick sidewalk [tomorrow],” said Twitter user @TheRhino26.
The $539.4 million budget — a 3.1 percent year-over-year increase — also provides a cost-of-living salary increase for APS teachers, launches a new early literacy initiative and funds an APS-provided take-home iPad for every 2nd grader and a Google Chromebook for every 6th grader.
APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy presented his proposed budget to the Arlington School Board Thursday night. It’s the beginning of a process that will culminate with the School Board’s final budget adoption on May 8.
Murphy’s budget includes $7.3 million in cuts and “efficiencies.” APS expects to save $1.6 million by merging the Langston High School continuation program into Arlington Mill High School (located at the Arlington Career Center) and by reducing day classes offered to students over the age of 22.
“I understand the commitment of the community to provide this option for adults,” Murphy said. “But in these challenging budget times… one of my concerns remain core services for children who are school-aged and on the K-12 continuum.”
Murphy also proposes saving $800,000 via cuts to special education assistants and $1.1 million by eliminating library assistants from elementary schools. Another $200,000 will be saved by reducing non-mandated elementary school field trips.
Because the school system is growing, Murphy says APS employees impacted by the cuts will be transferred to other roles instead of being laid off.
APS expects school enrollment to increase by about 800 students in the coming school year, from 23,316 to 24,153. That will cost APS $9.8 million for the hiring of teachers, acquisition of textbooks and materials, and for relocatable classrooms, furniture and technology. Another $300,000 will go to hiring four additional bus drivers and a route coordinator. Murphy’s budget keeps class sizes the same, but the cost per pupil will increase, from $18,678 to $19,244.
The proposed budget includes the beginning of a number of significant initiatives.
Starting in the fall, every 2nd grader will be issued an Apple iPad and every 6th grader will be issued a Google Chromebook. All 2,150 iPads and 1,650 Chromebooks will be internet-accessible at school (via WiFi) and students will be able to take them home. Officials say the computers will be leased and the cost in FY 2015 will be $200,000. Dubbed the 1:1 Initiative, APS expects to gradually expand the program to every grade level, with 3rd and 7th grades next in line.
Fiscal Year 2015 will be the first year of a three-year goal to eliminate early release days and to spread foreign language programs (FLES) to all elementary schools. Two of the seven schools with early release days will have the early release eliminated under Murphy’s budget, thus providing additional instruction time for FLES. It’s yet to be determined which two schools will be chosen.
A third major initiative in Murphy’s budget is early literacy. Murphy hopes to boost reading levels for those in two grade categories — PreK-2 and 3-6 — via investments in technology, summer reading programs and professional development for teachers.
“I feel a real responsibility that we need to build in that area,” Murphy said of the literacy initiative.
The Wakefield High School boys basketball squad defeated Mt. Vernon in the Capital Conference 13 championship game Friday night.
The Warriors were led by junior guard Marqua Walton, who had 18 points, and senior guard Jalen Carver, who had 16 points. The 65-50 victory gives Wakefield a first round bye in the upcoming 5A Regional Tournament.
The Sun Gazette has a complete recap of the game.
Photos courtesy Rob Laybourn
The fire broke out just before 9:00 a.m. Saturday in an HVAC unit on the roof of the school. Firefighters from several jurisdictions responded and helped to extinguish the blaze. The HVAC system was damaged and water from the firefighting effort flooded into the school’s band room, below.
“There was just water damage to the band room,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “Crews were able to dry the carpet over the weekend.”
“The fire has not impacted any classes or extracurricular activities at the school,” Bellavia said.
Photo courtesy S. Stein
Police say a cafeteria manager got into a verbal and physical altercation with school administrators around 11:15 a.m. The altercation moved to a cafeteria office — out of view of students — where the manager punched an assistant principal, threw water on him, and then brandished a knife in a threatening manner, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police were called to the school. Upon arrival, the suspect threatened officers, said she had a gun and then reached into a bag, Sternbeck said. The woman was tased by police. No gun was found, but she was in possession of the knife, Sternbeck said.
Paramedics evaluated the suspect and she was then transported to Virginia Hospital Center on a mental evaluation order. The assistant principal was not injured. So far the school system is not pressing charges.
“While we understand that many people would like to have additional details of this incident, it is considered a personnel matter, and we cannot divulge additional information,” Barcroft principal Colette Bounet said in a written statement. “I want to assure everyone that students are safe and were not affected by the occurrence.”
The school was locked down for about five minutes during the incident, according to Sternbeck.
Arlington Public School are opening on a two hour delay today due to snow.
Reagan National Airport received 0.3 inches of snow overnight, according to the National Weather Service.
Arlington County government and courts are opening on time. From APS:
All Arlington Public Schools will open two hours late today. All administrative offices will open on time. Morning field trips are canceled. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Friday due to the winter weather.
APS made the announcement just after 5:00 p.m. School offices will open on a two-hour delay. From APS Director of Communications Jennifer Harris:
Essential personnel are to report to work at their scheduled time. Unscheduled leave is available for 12-month employees. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County programs and operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.
All school extracurricular activities, adult education classes and Dept. of Parks and Recreation classes are canceled.
Most ART bus service in the morning has been canceled, although Arlington Transit will try to keep ART 51 service running between Ballston Metro station and Virginia Hospital Center. “ART will restore other service tomorrow as street conditions permit,” the agency said.
Metro says it will try to run trains every 6-10 minutes during the morning, as conditions allow. Metrobus service will be limited to major arteries only.
Children in the program were given a note in their backpacks to take home last Wednesday signed by Claremont Principal Jessica Panfil and the school’s early childhood education coordinator, Kate Graham. The letter says Claremont’s overcrowding has forced the move.
“Because of the capacity constraints at Claremont Immersion, we are delighted that the two Primary Montessori classes have found a wonderful home at Hoffman-Boston with other Montessori classmates,” the letter states. “Our Montessori teachers, Ms. Katy and Ms. Sylvia, will continue to teach the Primary Montessori classes at Hoffman-Boston, which has a strong early childhood program and currently has two Primary Montessori classes located there.”
According to Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Harris, the decision was made by Superintendent Patrick Murphy and didn’t require School Board approval.
“This is standard practice,” Harris told ARLnow.com. “Capacity is evaluated all the time to see whether some classrooms need to be relocated. They’re going to be over capacity at that school next year in the K-5 classroom space. If they keep the Montessori program there, they will not have all the room to accommodate the incoming K-5 students.”
Caryn Winkler has a 4 year-old in the Montessori program. He’s one of 30 students — out of the program’s 46 — who will have to take the Montessori program at Hoffman-Boston next year. The other 16 will enter first grade at Claremont Immersion.
“Siblings will be separated, Montessori cohorts divided, and parents will be scrambling with differing start and end times,” Winkler wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “Parents moved into the Claremont zone to attend Claremont just like North Arlington parents move into their selected neighborhood for their chosen school.”
Winkler said the school has been “secretive about this,” and Harris said no parents or community members other than those of the 46 current students have been notified. Parents of prospective Montessori students will be informed of the move at an upcoming pre-kindergarten information night when they register for next year.
“My son had a playdate with a friend this morning and I told her mom about this,” Winkler said. “Her sister moved to the neighborhood so that she could specifically attend Montessori at Claremont and then enroll in the Immersion program. I just don’t understand how this wasn’t a community discussion — or at least make us aware that this will happen and that we have a transition plan.”
Harris said moves “happen like this every year.” The school held an information session for parents last Friday morning at 7:40 a.m., just two days after the letter was placed in backpacks. Since then, Winkler and two other parents spoke out at the School Board’s Capital Improvement Plan community forum this week, and she said Murphy has agreed to meet with her and address her concerns.
Photos via APS
After Arlington Public Schools received word of the shooting, on the 2400 block of Ridge Road in Alexandria, Gunston Middle School, Oakridge Elementary and Abingdon Elementary were placed in a secured state, which generally means exterior doors were locked. That’s different than a “lockdown,” in which all classroom doors are locked.
The shooting happened in a residential Alexandria neighborhood around 11:30 a.m. A 59-year-old woman was killed and another woman was injured. Police are still looking for the suspect, described as an older white male, according to the Washington Post.
Gunston, Oakridge and Abingdon were secured for about 20 minutes, according to APS spokeswoman Jennifer Harris. The schools are all near the border with Alexandria, but are 2+ miles away from the shooting itself. Arlington school officials sent the following message to parents during the incident.
APS is sending this message to notify you that Gunston Middle School, Oakridge Elementary School and Abingdon Elementary School buildings are currently secured, due to an ongoing Alexandria Police investigation in the immediate area. All students, staff, and visitors to the school are safe. APS will update you when we are able to resume normal operations. We are grateful for everyone’s cooperation.
Outgoing Arlington School Board member Sally Baird has endorsed Greg Greeley to fill her seat after she retires.
Greeley is one of three candidates, along with Barbara Kanninen and Nancy Van Doren, vying for the Democratic nomination. The Democrats’ endorsement caucus will be held on May 15 at Drew Model School and May 17 at Washington-Lee High School.
“Greg offers a needed balance to the Arlington School Board,” Baird said in a press release. “He has the depth, temperament, and experience to be a key leader on the Board as it addresses our looming capacity crisis. And I know he values — in fact, he lives – our community’s diversity. He will work to improve our school system for all of Arlington’s children.”
Baird joins state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) in endorsing Greeley. Baird announced her endorsement at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s February meeting, where she introduced him.
If elected, Greeley, a resident of Douglas Park with one adopted child enrolled in Arlington Public Schools, would become the first openly gay man on the Arlington School Board, and he would be replacing the first out lesbian elected official in Virginia history in Baird.
More than 500 parents and residents have signed a petition asking the School Board to hold to its plans of building a new elementary school in South Arlington.
School Board Chair Abby Raphael sent a letter to community members last month notifying them that the Board was considering diverting $4.5 million in design funds — slated for a new elementary school next to Kenmore Middle School in Glencarlyn — to relieving middle school overcrowding in North Arlington.
The elementary school was originally supposed to open in Glencarlyn in 2017. The plans are not the only changes Arlington Public Schools facilities could be due for when the Capital Improvements Plan for 2015-2024 is adopted in June — a move or expansion for H-B Woodlawn is also on the table.
The list of options for the CIP won’t be narrowed until April or May after a long community involvement period, according to APS.
The $4.5 million was part of a bond Arlington voters approved by referendum in 2012. Glencarlyn neighbors protested the location of the school at the time, claiming the added traffic would be a hazard for the neighborhood. Raphael references their objections in her letter as a reason to reconsider the school.
Below is the Change.org petition, which has garnered 555 signatures as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday:
… we ask that you remain true to the original intention of the 2012 School Bond by moving forward with the design (and later construction) of a new South Arlington elementary school.
As busy residents of Arlington County and/or parents of young APS students, we may not have the ability to attend every… CIP stakeholder meeting — e.g. the Community Forum on Feb. 5th at Washington-Lee High School; however, we remain concerned citizens who want to ensure that our voices are heard on this issue. We voted for the 2012 School Bond based on a specific plan laid-out in the bond’s FAQ sheet (http://www.apsva.us/CIP), and we want to ensure that APS and its School Board follow-through on their original intention to alleviate imminent elementary school overcrowding south of Arlington Blvd., rather than re-directing those bond funds toward the design (and later construction) of a new North Arlington middle school.
Photo via Change.org
Rep. Jim Moran’s (D-Va.) district, which covers Arlington, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County, is eligible to compete in the first House Student App Challenge. The contest was created to allow high school students to engage in Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and innovation by creating a software application for any platform.
The competition is open to the districts whose Representatives decide to participate, and Moran says the 8th District of Virginia is suited to excel.
“Northern Virginia parents, teachers, and administrators have made enormous investments in challenging and reinforcing the STEM abilities of our students,” said the congressman. “Because of this tremendous exposure, our children are uniquely qualified for this competition.”
Students 13 and older must register and submit a YouTube or Vimeo video demonstration of their app by April 30. The winner will have the video displayed on House.gov and will receive a certificate of excellence.
Apps will be judged on the quality of the idea, programming skill and implementation. Individuals or teams of up to four students can compete. Moran’s website has a list of developer tools and resources for students and teachers interested in competing.
“The U.S. is facing a shortage of 1 million STEM graduates in the next 10 years, a decade that is estimated to create 8.5 million STEM job opportunities,” Moran’s office wrote in a press release. “The House Student App Challenge seeks to address this challenge by encouraging students to create their own app and pursue an education in STEM fields.”