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by Ethan Rothstein — April 20, 2015 at 11:30 am 1,451 0

Wilson School (photo courtesy Preservation Arlington)The 105-year-old Wilson School building isn’t historic enough to be preserved, the Arlington County Board decided on Saturday.

Instead, Arlington Public Schools has been directed to incorporate pieces of the old building into the new, 775-seat school that will replace it and house the H-B Woodlawn secondary program. The vote was the final hurdle before APS can move forward designing the $80.2 million project, including demolition of the Wilson School.

“We appreciate that there is community passion around preserving sites that help tell Arlington’s story,” Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a press release. “That is why we have directed the Manager to collaborate with APS to honor the history of Wilson School in a meaningful way even as we move forward to build a new school designed to address the challenge posed by our rapidly growing student population.”

The Arlington School Board and Planning Commission each recommended denying the historic district status, while the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board voted unanimously in favor of the status. If the County Board had sided with the HALRB, the new school’s construction would have had to go through more regulatory processes. APS Assistant Superintendent John Chadwick said the costs would likely exceed the $80.2 million budget, but he added no formal study of the costs had been done.

“We do feel keeping [the school would cost] a great deal more than has been quoted in the community,” Chadwick told the Board on Saturday. “The interior of the building does not comply with current codes. Therefore we would have to replace staircases. It does not have any level directly accessible from grade, which is clearly an issue with persons with disabilities.”

The building has been significantly renovated from its initial form, but the HALRB ruled it still meets at least six of the 11 criteria for historic district status; a building needs to meet just two to qualify for approval.

Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board Chair Joan LawrenceHALRB chairman Joan Lawrence noted the Wilson School has an architectural style “that is an important visual reminder of the time period” when it was built, and “provides a sense of place and connection with our past in the most urban area of Arlington, other than Crystal City, where there are no remaining connections to the past.”

More than a dozen speakers spoke before the Board, most in favor of preservation. Many of those speakers were among the 161 who signed a petition to preserve the building. In giving her presentation, Lawrence acknowledged it was likely falling on deaf ears.

“Preserving significant reminders of the county’s history was important to the County Board at one time,” Lawrence said. “I wish I could say with confidence that it has the same importance today. Too many times, I feel like the Lorax speaking not for the trees but for historic buildings.”

Photo, top, courtesy Preservation Arlington

by Ethan Rothstein — April 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm 2,425 0

School Board member Barbara KanninenDespite some public backlash against the rollout of Arlington Public Schools’ initiative to equip each student with an iPad or Macbook device by 2017, the Arlington School Board is pushing ahead.

School Board member Barbara Kanninen, serving the first year of her term, proposed pausing what’s called the “1:1 Initiative” during the School Board’s budget deliberations last week. Her motion failed, 2-3, with Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez voting in favor.

The initiative has already provided second- and sixth-graders with iPads and freshmen with MacBook Airs. Next year, devices will again be provided to students in those grades.

“We have conducted a very large pilot project this year in terms of this initiative,” Kanninen said, estimating about 3,000 devices are now in the hands of students. “That is a very large and potentially very informative data set. I made this motion because I believe it is now time to evaluate how it’s working and ask some basic questions. Is it helping students learn? Is it helping teachers teach?”

The Board and Superintendent Patrick Murphy had extensive discussions the week leading up to their meeting about the initiative, and the majority, including Murphy, agreed that an evaluation can be completed while pushing forward with handing out devices.

“I have moved from thinking we needed to pause to believing we can do that evaluation and do that assessment at the same time as we continue forward,” Board member Nancy Van Doren said. “Many people have called me about the problems we’ve been having … When I suggest pausing the program, I was surprised people said ‘don’t pause, just do it better.'”

Many of the complaints around the devices have focused on teachers not being adequately trained to use the devices, preventing an optimal environment for the students. Murphy said many teachers have “emerged as leaders” in using the devices while other teachers are more hesitant.

“I will say, with any new initiative, there have been a variety of issues with the rollout,” Murphy told the School Board. “We need to continue to strengthen our training models. I think we’ll continue to focus on professional development, working with families so they understand and working with safety, so students aren’t spending an excessive amount of time in front of these devices.”

The 1:1 Initiative is budget neutral because it is funded by diverting money away from APS’ annual technology replacement funds. While Murphy and the School Board majority acknowledged hiccups with the rollout, Kanninen pushed for a more detailed look at what went wrong.

“One of the main reasons a pause would be necessary is we also need to ask, “are we implementing this model the right way?'” she said. “There are other models and ways we could be rolling this out. By taking a pause here, we then can work on developing curricula, designing professional development programs, developing our principles for use, clarifying our budget implications.”

School Board member Abby Raphael said many of the concerns expressed in the community have been alleviated by a more thorough explanation of the program.

“It’s all about personalizing learning, it’s not about the devices,” she said. “I agree that we can continue to roll this out and evaluate what we’re doing, because I really do think this is a very valuable tool in eliminating the achievement gap.”

by Ethan Rothstein — April 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1,159 0

APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy with Principal of the Year Lynne Wright (photo courtesy APS)The principal of Oakridge Elementary and a third grade teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary are this year’s Arlington Public Schools principal and teacher of the year.

Oakridge Principal Lynne Wright will be honored with APS’ top award for administrators, 11 years after she won the 2004 Teacher of the Year Award while she was at Taylor Elementary School. Wright managed to improve Oakridge’s Standards of Learning test scores while at the helm of Arlington’s most overcrowded elementary school.

“Lynne is an energetic and charismatic leader who creates a positively charged school where students thrive and families are welcomed,” APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy said in a press release. “She recognizes the importance of building relationships with families and community that supports the diverse student population. Lynne is an exceptional educator and dedicated instructional leader who creates connections among staff, families and the community, all leading to the success of students.”

In the 2013-2014 school year, Oakridge raised its SOL pass rate in math from 76 to 85 percent and in reading form 74 to 81 percent. She accomplished this, in part, by integrating technology, data and stronger assessments into her school’s instruction.

Wright was named Oakridge’s assistant principal in 2007 and was promoted to principal in 2010.

“She is firm and demanding, yet friendly and approachable,” counselor Anne Terwilliger said in the release. “She encourages staff to hold each other to high expectations by modeling how to do so in a comfortable and respectful manner.”

Arlington’s 2015 Teacher of the Year is Dahlia Constantine, who serves as an instructional lead teacher and student teacher host, as well as leading her third-grade class.

APS Superintendet Patrick Murphy gives Dahlia Constantine the 2015 Teacher of the Year award (photo courtesy APS)“Dahlia is an outstanding educator who builds strong relationships with her students and families,” Murphy said in a release. “She has a special talent to inspire children to become lifelong learners and continually seeks ways to involve families in the instructional process to create a comprehensive learning network.”

Constantine came to Arlington, and Patrick Henry, in 2011 after stints teaching in New York City, La Puente and Monterey Park, Calif., and Woodbridge, Va. Her principal, Annie Frye, lauded her use of data to inform her work in the classroom.

“Dahlia’s style, technique and passion for the educational profession are immediately evident when you walk into her room, when you meet her or, better yet, when you see her in action with her class,” Patrick Henry parent Colleen Godbout said. “The children are at such ease in the environment she creates. She respects her students and they can sense it.”

Constantine and Wright will be honored, as well as winning teachers from the other 34 schools in Arlington, at an awards reception at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27 at Washington-Lee High School. The winners from each other APS school can be seen after the jump.

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — April 13, 2015 at 10:35 am 1,534 0

The Arlington School Board at its Feb. 5, 2015 meeting(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) The Arlington School Board has approved a proposed $555.9 million budget for the 2015-2016 school year, requesting $6.18 million more than County Manager Barbara Donnellan proposed in her budget.

The School Board’s approved cuts of $7.4 million from Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s budget, unveiled in February. Some of those savings have come from updated revenue figures, but others have come from slashing Murphy’s budget, including cuts to the Arlington Public Schools central office staff.

Other savings came from moving money around, funding replacement buses and new technology with one-time funds from last year’s closeout budget as opposed to ongoing funding.

“We have now shrunk by $6.2 million, and that’s been a lot of hard work,” School Board member Abby Raphael said at the decisive meeting  last week. “Everyone was asked to really scrub their budgets and make changes, so we’re making some hard cuts and some hard choices … I think it is very reasonable, very responsible.”

The Arlington County Board will vote on its budget next week, and in the process it could either approve the School Board’s budget,  or force APS to make further cuts. If the School Board is not granted the $6.2 million, the next cuts to make would be step increases for staff, eliminating early release from the four elementary schools who still have it. APS could also increase class size by one, which would cut 55 jobs.

If the County Board approves the Board’s adopted budget, all early release programs at Arlington elementary schools would be a thing of the past, paving the way for broader implementation of the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools program.

The adopted budget would mean a cost-per-pupil of $18,558, APS’ lowest since FY 2012 and third-lowest since FY 2008. The Board and staff managed to reduce the cost from Murphy’s budget by $131, while adding new positions along the way.

“We’ve worked well together and stuck to our common values, which is what’s important,” School Board member Barbara Kanninen said. “The changes we’ve made, every one has been careful and deliberate with thought to the taxpayers dollars. When we made a new addition, it’s because we need it.”

Some of Murphy’s proposed cuts the School Board elected to restore, including the World Languages distance learning courses, and its six associated positions. The Board also added three facilities and operations positions to help with the ever-continuing school construction.

The Board also made community outreach a priority, adding a full-time family and community engagement coordinator and allocating $67,000 for “communications support” for the Board.

by ARLnow.com — April 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm 2,659 0

ACFD ambulance / advanced life support paramedic unit (file photo)(Updated at 11:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck by a car in front of Barrett Elementary School, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, this afternoon (Tuesday).

Initial reports suggest the pedestrian — a family member of a Barrett student — was crossing in the crosswalk at the intersection of George Mason Drive and N. Henderson Road when a car ran a red light and struck her.

The victim suffered injuries described as “minor.” A crossing guard came to her aid immediately following the collision, and she was alert and conscious when paramedics arrived, according to scanner traffic. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

In a message to parents, Barrett principal Dan Redding said that the victim was taken to a local hospital and police are investigating.

Dear Families –

I am writing to provide information regarding a pedestrian accident that occurred at dismissal time today, April 7, 2015. A family member of a Barrett student was crossing the street and following the directions of a crossing guard when a vehicle turned and struck her. Police and EMS responded immediately. The injuries did not appear immediately to be severe, but the pedestrian was transported to the hospital, and the driver did stop. Police are investigating the accident.

As always, we are grateful for our amazing crossing guards and for the Barrett families who stopped to provide assistance.

Sincerely,

Dan Redding

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — April 2, 2015 at 11:00 am 14,651 0

Brandi Moore with her 13 college acceptance letters

Brandi Moore is far from your typical high school student.

Most days, she goes to bed at midnight or later to study or finish. Some days, she wakes up at 5:00 a.m. to get in a few extra hours of studying before attending classes at Washington-Lee High School. In the evenings or on weekends, you can find her performing in one of a handful of theater groups — at school or otherwise — or volunteering to clean up streams and mark sewer grates.

High-achieving students, especially in Arlington, are hardly news. But what makes Brandi stand out, her father George tells ARLnow.com, is her own self-possessed drive.

“I never had to push her to read or anything,” he said. “I used to have to tell her to stop reading and go to bed. I’ve never even had to look at her grades online. She just naturally absorbs stuff and wants to learn.”

Brandi’s hard work has paid off. This week, she received acceptance letters from all five Ivy League universities she applied to: Cornell, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and Harvard. Those letters came after she had already been accepted at eight other schools, making her 13-for-13 in college applications.

A month before her flood of Ivy League acceptance letters, Brandi said she received “likely” letters from four of the schools, something she said the Ivy League universities only send to a few hundred students.

“They helped the process a lot. I knew my fate would be decided, because I was already pretty sure I was getting in,” she said.

Before she got those “likely” letters, it was a different story. Her first letter and package was from Brown University in Providence, R.I., which had been her dream school since she was 8 years old.

“When we got a pretty sizeable package from Brown, we didn’t know what it was,” she said, referring to the piece of mail that came. After she opened it, “I lost it. I was really excited.”

The Moores live in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and Brandi has risen through the ranks of Arlington Public Schools, from Campbell Elementary School, to Kenmore Middle and now Washington-Lee. The 18-year-old senior has narrowed down her choices to Brown and the Ivy League school that gave her the biggest financial package: Harvard. The family will be traveling to Cambridge, Mass., tomorrow to visit the oldest university in the United States.

“Harvard is really, really pushing her,” George Moore said. He added that the whole process has been “so strange,” because, after all, what parent expects Ivy League schools to fight over any student? Reed College in Oregon paid for her to fly across the country to visit the campus. “I knew something was going on when they flew her out there and paid for everything. I thought ‘something special’s going on here.’ It just sort of comes one after another. It’s hard to keep up.”

Brandi said she hopes to make her decision in the next week. Next year, she hopes to start studying biology or something in the life sciences, while keeping up with theater, her passion. Brown appeals to her because the school doesn’t have a core curriculum; students can take whatever classes they want. On the other hand, Harvard is Harvard.

Either way, it’s clear she’s ready for bigger and better things.

“Our classes in high school, there are kids who love what’s going on in the classroom, there are kids who don’t love it as much,” she said. “I’m excited about being in the class where everyone loves learning. I’m just generally excited to see what my limits are and what I’m really going to end up doing. I really want to find myself.”

Photo courtesy George Moore

by Ethan Rothstein — March 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm 2,435 0

Percentage of students by housing type(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) While new apartments and condos make up the vast majority of new housing units in Arlington, most of the growth in Arlington’s booming public school population over the past decade has actually come from single family home neighborhoods, county and school officials said Wednesday night.

At a meeting of the Arlington Community Facilities Study Committee, staff from Arlington Public Schools and the county Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development reviewed the housing trends that have fueled explosive school growth over the last decade. Despite the constant influx of millennials into newly-constructed apartments and condos in the county’s Metro corridors, single-family homes remain the driver of APS capacity issues.

Currently, every 100 apartments in a building with an elevator produces only about 8 students, according to APS. For condo buildings it’s even lower — 3 students for every 100 units.

However, in an interview today, APS Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick said that might not always be the case.

“That’s what really worries us,” he said. “The county is encouraging developers to build larger units, and in places like Brooklyn and Queens, families living in high-rises is the norm … Our very low [student] generation rates could really increase. If they do, we could be in real trouble.”

The growing size of a single-family householdThat growth hasn’t happened yet, although Chadwick said APS watches those numbers “very closely” so the district is not surprised if the trends shift. Until then, staff, committee members and observers from the community all agreed that the cause of growth among students in the county requires further study.

According to U.S. Census data gathered by Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, the average size of single-family households has increased by 0.3 people among homeowners since 2000, and 0.6 people among home renters.

Several representatives of civic associations at last night’s meeting said they want the county to use data from single-family house teardowns that get rebuilt as substantially larger homes, as well as large additions. A parent in the Nottingham Elementary Parent Teacher Association said APS should adjust their projections based on the recent uptick in average household size among single-family homes.

What’s happening in my neighborhood is there’s a huge stock of houses that were built in the ’50s are being knocked down, they’re being replaced by new large homes, all bought by younger families with lots of school kids,” the parent said. “We really need to dig into growth, not looking backwards at what did happen… You cannot assume that looking backwards is going to tell us the future.”

County-wide, 100 single-family homes generate about 42 students, according to APS data. But, Chadwick said, some neighborhoods are as high as 60 or 70.

Community members at the Facilities Study meeting Wednesday, March 11“What worries us is that in some communities, the single family homes have capacity for more students to come in,” he said. “It’s hard to figure out where and when that’s going to happen.”

A staffer at the meeting, when asked about predictive models based on house tear-downs and additions, said the data Arlington has is unreliable for school projections.

The [demolition] permitting system was set up to collect fees, it wasn’t set up to project students,” the staffer said. “Unfortunately there’s limitations to that data … we’ve assembled it and that’s something we’re looking into with a similar question: can it be predictive given the constraints that we have?”

In the the current school year, 55 percent of students come from single-family homes, 22 percent come from garden apartments, 10 percent come from high-rise apartments and 13 percent come from condominiums, townhouses and duplexes combined. Those proportions have held over the last years, despite overall county population growth concentrated in the Metro corridors.

While single-family detached homes make up most of the land in Arlington County, those homes only make up 26 percent of the housing stock.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 5, 2015 at 8:20 pm 1,114 0

Arlington Public Schools will be closed Friday, the school system announced tonight.

From APS’ School Talk email:

All APS Schools will be closed and offices will open at Noon on Fri, Mar. 6. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. For 12-month employees who are eligible to telework, you may do so on Friday, OR you may elect to use unscheduled leave. If you choose to use either of these options, please communicate your plans with your supervisor this evening.

For Friday: Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.

Weekend Activities: At this time, all weekend activities are expected to be held as scheduled.

Snow has largely ended around the area, but now frigid temperatures and icy roadways are a concern.

by ARLnow.com — March 4, 2015 at 9:55 pm 831 0

Arlington Public Schools logoArlington Public Schools will be closed Thursday due to snow, the school system announced tonight.

From APS’ “School Talk” email:

“All APS schools and offices will be closed on Thu, Mar. 5. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult 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.”

Parent-teacher conferences scheduled for Thursday will be rescheduled.

by ARLnow.com — March 4, 2015 at 9:45 am 1,822 0

French immersion program graphic (via Facebook)(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools are facing a major capacity crunch, a $13.6 million budget shortfall and the possibility of painful boundary changes within a few years.

In that environment, a group of parents is petitioning Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy — for a new language program.

Following a largely successful parent campaign for foreign language classes in elementary schools, now some parents want APS to go one step further and introduce a French immersion program. There’s already two Spanish immersion programs, at Claremont Elementary and Key Elementary, and this group would like to see something similar for Français.

From a MoveOn.org petition the group has started:

Dear Arlington Residents,

We need to expand language opportunities in APS to serve a critical number of francophone residents. Bilingualism increases mental flexibility for children and allows them to perform better in math, problem-solving and logic skills. It helps build self-esteem, creativity, and get a head start in competition for universities and jobs.

Right now, families have to leave Arlington to McLean and MD for French immersion Programs.

So far, the petition has gathered 88 signatures.

In New York City, according to an article linked to on the group’s Facebook page, public schools have three dual-language programs — Spanish, Chinese and French — and the French programs are paid for in part by the French government.

by ARLnow.com — March 3, 2015 at 2:20 pm 1,931 0

Apple Macbook Air laptop(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) In response to inquiries from ARLnow.com, Arlington Public Schools has revealed some additional details about its “personalized digital learning initiative.”

The program, which has the goal of giving each 2nd-12th grade student a tablet or laptop for school use by 2017, was rolled out last year with little fanfare. There were no APS press releases or public announcements, and ARLnow.com only found out about some of the details thanks to tips from parents who were seeking more information on the schools system’s plans.

While some criticized the lack of transparency and the idea of school-issued computers for students, there is little denying that the move comes at a time when the younger generation is increasingly “digital native” — 72 percent of children age 8 and under, and 38 percent of children under 2, have used a mobile device for a media-related activity, according to one study cited by APS.

Today’s students are accustomed to reading, watching, writing, discovering and communicating on phones, tablets and computers. To supporters, it seems natural to transition from the age of pencils, paper and textbooks in schools to one increasingly reliant on computing devices. Additionally, supporters say providing each student with a device, much like schools currently provide textbooks, will ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t get left behind.

APS has now set up a Digital Learning web page and recently started producing a “#digitalAPS” video series, in part to make its case for technology in the classrooms. This week, ARLnow.com asked APS about where the digital learning initiative stands now and what future plans are for adding more laptops and tablets.

Arlington Public Schools is currently leasing 3,800 Apple iPad Airs for one grade level per elementary school (mostly 2nd-4th grade) and for middle schools (mostly 6th grade), according to school spokeswoman Jennifer Harris. Another 1,700 Apple MacBook Airs were leased for 9th graders. The annual leasing cost: approximately $400,000, or less than $73 per device, which comes out of APS’ $2.1 million technology replacement fund.

(APS expects to have about 20,000 2nd-12th grade students enrolled this fall.)

Individual schools are able to decide whether to allow students to take the devices home or leave them in school, according to Harris. As for what sort of instruction is taking place with the devices, Harris said that there are a “wide variety of examples where technology supports instruction,” and referred us to the three videos in the #digitalAPS series.

“We are using technology purposefully, not just for the sake of using technology,” Harris said. “Our focus is integrating it as an important strategy to support the teaching and learning process.”

More laptops and tablets — iPads for elementary and middle school, MacBooks for high school — are expected to be rolled out on an annual basis until all levels from 2nd to 12th grade have their own device. APS has previously set the goal of each eligible student having a device by 2017.

Harris did not specifically address a question about whether someday students will be reading digital-only textbooks from their devices, saving the school system money on physical books. She did, however, quote the following passage from this APS document.

The words of John Dewey best frame our challenge: “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Arlington Public Schools is committed to providing all of our students with the learning benefits of a personalized education that will lead them to successful and accomplished tomorrows.

by ARLnow.com — March 2, 2015 at 8:55 am 1,795 0

(Updated at 9:10 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools announced just before 5:00 a.m. Monday that classes are canceled today.

While students have a day off, school office will open at noon.

From APS:

All APS Schools will be closed and offices will open at Noon. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics.

The federal government meanwhile, is operating under a two-hour delay. From the Office of Personnel Management:

Federal agencies in the Washington, DC area are OPEN under 2 hours DELAYED ARRIVAL and employees have the OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would be expected to arrive.

Earlier this morning, an Arlington Alert warned of hazardous travel conditions.

Icy conditions and patchy dense fog expected this morning. Ice will persist on untreated surfaces as air temps remain around freezing. Patchy dense fog will combine with residual ice and may result in slick spots. Visibilities may drop to a quarter mile or less at times. Please use extra caution if traveling. Sidewalks may be quite icy and require particular caution.

Some residents said that while roads were okay this morning, sidewalks were particularly slippery.

Parents may not being loving the school closure, but some Arlington little leaguers will apparently be living it up today.

by ARLnow.com — February 26, 2015 at 6:45 am 1,349 0

(Updated at 8:35 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools are closed Thursday.

APS made the call at 6:00 this morning, joining Alexandria, Fairfax County and numerous other local school systems that decided to close due to snow and poor road conditions.

Based on further review of the road conditions throughout the County, all APS Schools will be closed today and Offices will open two hours late. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult 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 operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.

Today’s 9:15 a.m. elementary school information sessions have been canceled and will be rescheduled.

The federal government, meanwhile, is open on a two hour delay today.

Forecasters have upped their predicted snow totals. From the National Weather Service:

… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST TODAY…

* LOCATIONS… WASHINGTON DC AND MOST MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA SUBURBS… ALONG WITH THE CENTRAL SHENANDOAH VALLEY AND NORTH- CENTRAL VIRGINIA.
* HAZARD TYPES… SNOW.
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS… 2 TO 4 INCHES.
* TIMING… THROUGH THE MORNING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL FALL DURING THE MORNING COMMUTE.
* IMPACTS… ROADS WILL BE SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY… PARTICULARLY FOR SOUTHEASTERN SUBURBS.
* WINDS… NORTHEAST 5 TO 10 MPH.
* TEMPERATURES… NEAR 30 DEGREES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES… AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.

by ARLnow.com — February 19, 2015 at 8:55 pm 1,597 0

Arlington Public Schools will open on a two hour delay Friday morning, due to dangerously cold temperatures.

APS sent the following email Thursday night.

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late. The Extended Day program also will open two hours late and all morning field trips are canceled. Essential personnel are to report to work at their scheduled time.

Arlington County and the rest of the region is under a Wind Chill Advisory until noon Friday.

From the National Weather Service:

… WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST FRIDAY…

* WIND CHILL… BETWEEN ZERO AND 10 BELOW INTO THE EVENING HOURS BEFORE FALLING TONIGHT TO AROUND 10 TO 15 DEGREES BELOW ZERO.
* TEMPERATURES… DROPPING INTO THE LOWER AND MIDDLE TEENS THIS EVENING. LOWS TONIGHT INTO EARLY FRIDAY AROUND ZERO.
* WINDS… WEST 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND 30 TO 35 MPH INTO THIS EVENING… SUBSIDING TO 10 TO 20 MPH OVERNIGHT AND INTO LATE MORNING FRIDAY.
* IMPACTS… THE COMBINATION OF GUSTY WINDS AND COLD TEMPERATURES MAY RESULT IN DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS THAT CAN QUICKLY CAUSE HYPOTHERMIA AND FROST BITE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WIND CHILL ADVISORY MEANS THAT VERY COLD AIR AND STRONG WINDS WILL COMBINE TO GENERATE LOW WIND CHILLS. THIS WILL RESULT IN FROST BITE AND LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN. IF YOU MUST VENTURE OUTDOORS… MAKE SURE YOU WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 19, 2015 at 5:00 pm 1,285 0

APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy gives his budget presentationIncreasing class size, cutting jobs and deferring a teacher pay raise are all on the table for next school year in Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed FY 2016 budget.

Murphy’s proposal, which he will present to the Arlington School Board tonight (Thursday), calls for a total of $561.1 million of spending, a $21.7 million or 4 percent increase over FY 2015.

With a projected enrollment bump of 1,413 students next fall, Murphy’s budget calls for a $14.6 million spending increase just to handle the increased capacity, plus another $3.2 million to open Discovery Elementary School in north Arlington. Murphy also included $8.1 million in teacher step pay increases, a directive from the School Board.

“There’s nothing new in this budget,” Murphy told ARLnow.com this morning. “The emphasis is around instruction, efficiencies, compensation package among our employees and addressing enrollment to date.”

Murphy’s budget includes eliminating early release on Wednesday for the four schools that still have it: Arlington Traditional School, Arlington Science Focus, Long Branch and Taylor Elementary schools. The change costs $2.1 million, Murphy said, and necessitates adding 20.5 full-time equivalent positions. The elimination of early release also clears the way for APS to implement a broader foreign language in elementary schools (FLES) program.

APS projects its per-pupil cost in Murphy’s budget at $18,689, the lowest level since FY 2013.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed budget, also announced today, includes an additional $13.2 million over the county’s contribution last year, still leaving a gap of $13.6 million. Murphy provides a plan to cut the $13.6 million deficit — assuming the county doesn’t allocate more funding in its deliberations — in three tiers.

  1. Tier One: Saving $4.7 million
    • Central Office reductions, including cutting six language positions and converting some world language classes to online, laying off four maintenance workers, and restructuring the library services department
    • Add more one-time funding from FY 2014 closeout funds into general budget
    • Fund replacement buses and technology with one-time funds
  2. Tier Two: Saving $5.2 million
    • Increase class size by one, saving $4.1 million and cutting 55 positions
    • Defer the elimination of early release in two schools
  3. Tier Three: Saving $3.7 million
    • Implement the step pay increase one-third of the way through the fiscal year, saving $2.7 million
    • Defer the elimination of early release in the other two schools

“I don’t support this,” Murphy said of the tier two cuts, particularly increasing class size, “but this is one of the strategies we’ve had to take.”

The cuts are divided into tiers in case the County Board elects to provide only partial funding toward closing the budget deficit.

The budget also includes $1.7 million for purchasing and outfitting 14 new relocatable classrooms, a number that APS staff anticipates changing before the final budget is approved. Revised enrollment projections for the 2015-2016 school year are expected to be released next month, prompting readjustments across the board in the proposed budget.

Relocatable classrooms, or trailers, as they’re also known, are just one piece of the puzzle for APS in solving its capacity crisis. Murphy said there are no additional measures in his proposal to help relieve south Arlington elementary school overcrowding; that’s a Capital Improvement Plan discussion, he said, which won’t be updated until 2016.

Instead, Murphy said there’s constant discussion about finding space efficiencies with what’s already in place, including changing the way space is used or moving county-wide programs to different buildings. Montessori classes and pre-K programs have already been shifted for capacity reasons, Murphy said.

“There’s been a strong message from my office about how we use our existing capacity, redefining space in buildings,” Murphy said. “We’ve made accommodations for [overcrowded] schools either with relocatables or redesigned space within those buildings.”

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