(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Relocating H-B Woodlawn and building a new middle school next to Washington-Lee High School are some of the preliminary options on the table for the Arlington School Board to address overcrowding.
Last week, the School Board held a work session to determine the basis on which it will make its decisions when it develops a new Capital Improvement Plan this spring. APS, which has been busy planning and building new elementary schools and school additions to address overcrowding in primary schools, is now shifting its construction planning focus to middle schools.
APS facilities staff presented eight options for increasing elementary school capacity, seven options for increasing middle school capacity, two options for relocating or adding on to the H-B Woodlawn secondary program’s facility in the former Stratford Junior High School, and three other options for high school capacity.
The proposed changes to H-B Woodlawn are already drawing some concern from parents and students. The Board will weigh whether to build an addition to the facility and expand the program or move the H-B Woodlawn program to a leased space and build an addition to create a 1,200-seat middle school in the current facility.
“This is terrible,” said one apparent former student, via Facebook. “I hope the school board sees sense and doesn’t institute either of these ‘ideas.’”
Another capacity-increasing idea being considered is building a 1,200-seat middle school on the site of the Arlington Public Schools administrative offices next to Washington-Lee High School.
APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos was careful to note that these “options” are very preliminary, and are being floated for the purpose of further community discussion.
“Yes, a lot of options have been thrown out by staff and community members… but there is no plan at this point,” she said. “We’re hoping that more options become available. We need to work with the community to determine what will be the next best step.”
The School Board will vote on its CIP in June, but before then it needs to finish or update feasibility studies on the 20 possibilities. Nine of the options already have completed studies, and Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations John Chadwick said they were “all feasible to some degree.”
“The School Board has made it clear it wishes to address the areas of most critical need for new seats within APS’ available debt capacity,” Chadwick told ARLnow.com.
The School Board listed capacity planning, alignment with APS’ Strategic Plan, feasibility and smart growth as criteria for its decision. Chadwick said ranking the options won’t happen until April or May after an extensive community outreach process.
There is a community forum to discuss the issue scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) in the Washington-Lee High School auditorium.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Saturday night at the Conference 6 swim championships at Yorktown High School, two Arlington high school swimmers proved what their coaches and teammates already knew: they can swim with anyone in the state.
Yorktown’s Suzanne Dolan captured titles in the girls’ 50- and 100-yard freestyle races and swam the anchor for two relay teams that qualified for the state championships. Washington-Lee’s Jay Delancey won the boys’ 200-yard freestyle, came in 3rd in the 100-yard butterfly and anchored the Generals’ first-place 400-yard relay team that surprised almost everyone in the pool with its win.
Dolan led the Yorktown girls to a third-place finish in the first-ever Conference 6 championships with 323 team points, behind Langley High School (402.5) and McLean High School (377). Washington-Lee’s girls finished in fifth place with 225 points.
The meet was the first time the Arlington schools faced regional powers like Langley and James Madison High Schools in a conference — previously called the Liberty District — championship meet.
Delancey led the Generals’ boys to third place (293 points), behind Madison (428) and narrowly behind Langley (308). Yorktown’s boys finished in fourth place with 247 points.
“Moving into the new conference was eye-opening for the kids,” said Yorktown head swimming coach Claire DiCesare, “but we did really well.”
Generals head coach Kristina Dorville, an animated presence at poolside, was amiably jawing with the head coach of the Madison swim team before the 400-yard relay. When the Generals had a lead by the time Delancey — who’s deciding whether to swim for West Point or the U.S. Naval Academy — dove in the pool for the final leg, Dorville turned to Madison’s coach with a grin and said, “Oh, we’re not gonna win this?”
“Before the race, I said ‘just watch,’” Dorville said after the meet. “I have unending confidence in [Delancey]. I’d have to drag him out of the pool before he’d let us lose that race.”
Each school will send relay teams to state. The Yorktown girls 200-yard freestyle relay finished second in the closest race of the night. The winners, Langley, finished with a time of 1:41.06; Yorktown and McLean finished in 1:41.07. Dolan anchored that team and the 200-yard medley relay that finished third, both qualifying for states.
Dolan has been recovering all year from a wrist injury, and said she wasn’t swimming as fast as she believes she’s capable of.
However, she said, “I was still expecting to win the 50 free, but the 100 is a little harder.” She said the home atmosphere and the cheers of her teammates after the relays made it a special meet. “It’s really exhilarating. It feels really good helping my team do well.”
Next week, both schools will compete in the 6A North Region championships before they send sizable contingents to Richmond Feb. 21 and 22 for the state championships.
Arlington Public Schools are opening on a two hour delay today.
“There will be no elementary early release and all morning field trips are canceled,” the school system said in an email. “The Extended Day program will also open two hours late. All administrative offices and the pools will open on time.”
Less than an inch of snow fell overnight, but this morning’s wind chill temperature was below zero.
After a five-day weekend, Arlington public school students will be going back to class Thursday, albeit on a two hour delay.
“All Arlington Public Schools will open two hours late on Thursday,” according to Arlington Public Schools Director of Communication Jennifer Harris. “The Extended Day program will also open two hours late. All APS offices will open on time. Morning field trips will be cancelled.”
Schools were closed Monday for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, on Tuesday for a teacher work day, and on Wednesday due to snow-covered streets and the frigid temperatures.
- All Enjoy Arlington classes and nature center programs are cancelled in County and school buildings.
- All sports activities, leagues and instructional programs in County and school buildings are cancelled.
- All Preschool programs are cancelled.
- All senior programs (including Walter Reed, Langston Brown and Arlington Mill nutrition sites) are cancelled.
- Arlington Mill Community Center will open at 10:00 a.m.
- All other community centers, including the joint use facilities located at Drew, Carver, Gunston, Langston and Thomas Jefferson will open at Noon or as scheduled later in the day.
- All synthetic fields remain closed on Wednesday.
- The Powhatan Springs skate park remains closed on Wednesday.
Update at 8:15 a.m. — County government offices and courts will open at 10:00 a.m. From Arlington Alert: “County plows are working around the clock, but road conditions remain slippery. If you must drive, please exercise caution.”
Arlington Public Schools will be closed Wednesday.
All classes, meetings and events at Arlington’s public schools have been cancelled. School offices will open at noon and essential employees are being asked to report to work as scheduled.
The federal government will open on a two hour delay on Wednesday.
“Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 2 hours later than they would be expected to arrive,” said the Office of Personnel Management. “Emergency Employees are expected to report to their worksite on time unless otherwise directed by their agencies.”
ART bus service will be limited Wednesday morning “due to icy street conditions.” Arlington Transit said in an email. Only ART routes 41, 51 and 77 will be operating, and those routes are subject to the transit agency’s severe weather policy.
“More routes will be added later in the day as conditions permit,” ART said.
A wind chill advisory is in effect through noon on Wednesday. Forecasters are warning of dangerous sub-zero wind chills.
… WIND CHILL ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON EST WEDNESDAY… … WINTER STORM WARNING IS CANCELLED…
* WIND CHILL… BETWEEN 5 AND 15 DEGREES BELOW ZERO TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
* TEMPERATURES… FALLING INTO THE SINGLE DIGITS TONIGHT. HIGH TEMPERATURES WEDNESDAY WILL BE IN THE TEENS.
* WINDS… NORTH 10 TO 20 MPH… BECOMING NORTHWEST 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING.
* IMPACTS… DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILLS TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING MAY LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA OR FROST BITE ON EXPOSED SKIN.
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.
Photo courtesy @maddogrow
Despite voters approving $4.5 million in design costs for the school in a 2012 referendum, the Board 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.
School Board Chair Abby Raphael, in a letter sent to parents and community members who have inquired about the issue, says its updated projections call for elementary schools in Arlington to be 3 percent over capacity in FY 2019, while middle schools are projected to be 16 percent over capacity in the same time period.
Raphael also referenced the objections from Glencarlyn residents from 2012 as a reason to re-evaluate building the school in the neighborhood, saying “the community raised significant concerns about the traffic and transportation issues” surrounding a new, 600-seat school in the area.
APS is revisiting the plan in advance of their next Capital Improvements Program for FY 2015-2024, which will be adopted in June. Raphael wrote that no decisions have been reached on what schools to build, if any, or if the School Board elects to construct additions onto existing schools.
Civic activist Monique O’Grady is trying to organize a campaign against the apparent backpedal. O’Grady said she’s disappointed that APS is considering abandoning its plans.
“The numbers still show that south Arlington will face more than an elementary school’s worth of overcrowding, so I believe the plan should move forward,” she wrote in an email. “I believe middle school should be addressed, but it shouldn’t come at a cost of 770 South Arlington elementary students being in trailers and with yet-to-be-mentioned programs being moved.”
O’Grady said the school should still be built while APS comes up with creative, cost-effective solutions to address anticipated middle school overcrowding.
“I worry that increased development in South Arlington, especially of apartment buildings and condos, will result in more students than currently projected and that South Arlington schools will become even more crowded than anticipated,” she said. “This is not a time to pull back from researched, planned and approved permanent elementary capacity in South Arlington. I think it is important for the South Arlington community to stand up and ask the school board not to turn South Arlington into a trailer park.”
APS acknowledges it does not have the finances to build capacity to accommodate 100 percent of the projected growth. No matter what comes out of the CIP, trailers will still be used as classrooms. The elementary school in Glencarlyn was originally slated to open in 2017.
The Arlington School Board approved the final design and budget for the $46.5 million elementary school adjacent to Williamsburg Middle School on Thursday.
The 28-classroom building, at the corner of N. Harrison Street and 36th Street, will have a 630-student capacity and is being built to help alleviate elementary school overcrowding in North Arlington.
The 97,000-square-foot elementary school is projected to open in September 2015. It will have a high-school-sized gym floor, three music spaces, two art rooms, a library, and, according to Arlington Public Schools “will be a net-zero energy ready building with a LEED silver or higher energy certification.”
The current design is slightly different than the one approved last February, which called for a 93,578 square foot building with 28 classrooms, although the capacity is unchanged from previous plans. There will be a synthetic turf field built as well, but the County Board won’t make a decision on lighting the field until 2015 after residents of the Rock Spring Civic Association protested installing the lights in the neighborhood.
School and county officials heralded the new school’s approval in statements issued Friday morning.
“The community should be proud of this school and what it represents,” said School Board Chair Abby Raphael. “It is the product of hard work and collaboration between APS, our County colleagues and the entire community, and will provide more seats for more students in a new and exciting learning environment.”
“The addition of new community facilities, such as an elementary school, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we are pleased that, through a collaborative process with APS, we were able to jointly fund a number of community amenities that will benefit students and residents of all ages,” said County Board Chair Jay Fisette. ”The additional amenities include two synthetic turf fields, a larger gym, and emergency preparedness infrastructure, including enhanced public safety communications. “
Arlington Public Schools announced a plan to make up the days lost so far during the 2013-2014 school year.
Although technically there were three days off due to inclement weather — December 9 and 10 and January 3 — only January 3 needs to be made up. December 9 and 10 do not have to be made up because additional instructional hours were already built into the calendar.
The altered schedule only applies to elementary schools with Early Release, which includes Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Long Branch, Nottingham, Oakridge, Taylor and Tuckahoe. Because additional instructional hours had already been built in for middle schools, high schools and elementary schools with Limited Early Release, those schools do not have to make up the time. Limited Early Release elementary schools include Abingdon, Ashlawn, Barcroft, Barrett, Campbell, Carlin Springs, Claremont, Drew, Glebe, Henry, Hoffman-Boston, Jamestown, Key, McKinley and Randolph.
The following early release days will become full attendance days as part of the make-up:
Elementary Schools With Early Release
- Wednesday, February 19
- Wednesday, April 9
- Wednesday, April 30
The Stratford Program
- Tuesday, February 18
- Tuesday, April 8
- Tuesday, April 29
APS will adjust its schedule as necessary should any more days be lost this year.
Greg Greeley is not your typical suburban School Board candidate. A single gay man, a father of two adopted boys, and an Air Force veteran, Greeley breaks the mold in more ways than one.
This might be big news elsewhere in the country. In Arlington, however, Greeley is just running to succeed another mold-breaker.
Greeley, a Douglas Park resident, filed to run to replace Sally Baird on the School Board earlier this month. If elected, Greeley would be Arlington’s first openly gay male School Board member, replacing Baird, Virginia’s first openly lesbian elected official. (Like Greeley, Baird also has two sons.)
Greeley has served as chair of the “Planning and Capacity Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs” and as treasurer of the Randolph Elementary School PTA, among other volunteer positions with school organizations.
The 49-year-old Democrat has already received endorsements from state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and is prepping for a door-knocking campaign before the Democratic caucus in May. Greeley, a federal government contractor and project manager, is primarily focused on capacity and facility issues — building and renovating schools to keep up with Arlington’s burgeoning student population — since it’s where he thinks the School Board needs the most improvement.
“I want us to make better decisions about how to deal with the capacity crunch,” he told ARLnow.com this morning. “The tipping point [in my decision to run] was last summer when the North Arlington elementary schools were dealing with boundary changes. It was really a painful public process.”
As a member of the capacity subcommittee, and the boundary liaison to Nottingham Elementary School during the process, he said he kept seeing reasons to run for the Board.
“As I got more involved in the facilities,” he said, “I saw more things I wanted to change.”
Greeley has never run for office before, but he has experience in helping change happen. He served four years in the Air Force — which he called “a great experience” — before applying for discharge because, as he put it, “I was too out to stay in.”
“I’ve always wanted to lead the life I wanted to live,” he said. He explained that that’s why, in 2002, he adopted his first son, Kolya, from the Ukraine as an 18 month old. “I hit my mid-30s and decided I wanted to have a family.”
Greeley doesn’t worry about convincing voters that he’s a capable, qualified School Board candidate despite his status as a gay single parent.
“That’s why I like living here,” he said. “People here are open and accepting. It wasn’t always this way. There was lots of pushback in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and we weren’t welcome in the political scene. Now we’re just part of the community.”
Arlington Public Schools will open on a two hour delay Tuesday morning due to the extreme cold.
APS sent the following email to families Monday evening.
Dear APS Families:
The National Weather Service (NWS) is warning of possible high winds and low wind chill temperatures across parts of Northern Virginia today through Tuesday night. As a result, Arlington Public Schools will open two hours late on Tuesday, January 7. The Extended Day Program will also open two hours late, and morning field trips will be cancelled. The Community Centers located in schools and the Pools will open at their regular times.
The Arlington County Department of Public Health encourages everyone to protect themselves against serious health problems that can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced, causing cold-weather health problems such as frostbite and hypothermia.
What can you do?
- Wear cold weather appropriate clothing like gloves/mittens, hats, scarves and snow boots. Dress in several layers of loose-fitting clothing and cover your face and mouth if possible.
- Be aware of the wind chill factor. Wind can cause body-heat loss.
- Stay dry, and if you become wet, remove any wet clothing immediately.
- Limit your time outdoors.
- Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.
Additional information on dealing with extreme cold is available from the Arlington County Public Health Department webpage at http://www.arlingtonva.us/
departments/HumanServices/ PublicHealth/page91183.aspx; from the Virginia Department of Health at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/ weather/ColdWeatherSafety.htm; and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/ disasters/winter/guide.asp.
Barbara Kanninen, Nancy Van Doren and Greg Greeley are running for the Democratic endorsement for school board, hoping to replace the retiring Sally Baird. The endorsement caucus will be held on May 15 and 17. Kanninen and Van Doren announced their candidacies over the weekend.
Van Doren, a mother of four and an Arlington Public Schools volunteer, says her experience “is deep and broad and it is exactly what the school board needs at this time.”
From a campaign mailer:
For ten years, Nancy has volunteered extensively in Arlington Public Schools to ensure the educational success of all children from all backgrounds.
Nancy focuses on the student. She always asks: What does the student need to succeed? What can I do to ensure each and every child is successful? She maintains this focus and works for demonstrable improvement at the student, school, and county level.
Nancy follows through and gets the job done. When it comes to educating students, collaboration, good communication, and community engagement are keys to success. Nancy has a very collaborative style, which she uses effectively to build coalitions to get projects done.
Van Doren, whose children attend Jefferson Middle School and Washington-Lee High School, is holding a campaign kick-off event from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, at the Lyon Park Community House (414 N. Fillmore Street).
Kanninen, an economist and author who unsuccessfully ran for school board last year, says the school system should improve its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs while also investing in the arts.
The press release from Kanninen’s campaign, after the jump.
Arlington Public Schools staff has been working to develop a more detailed gift policy, and initially the proposal called for limiting gifts from a single donor to $50 over the course of a school year.
After meeting with community groups like the PTA, the Arlington Employee Association, the Budget Advisory Council and school principals, the School Board decided to double the proposed gifts cap.
“The PTAs were satisfied that [increasing the limit to $100] would be fine,” School Board Chair Abby Raphael said at last week’s School Board meeting. “They’re not giving individual gifts to individual staff members that exceed that.”
When the gift policy was first publicly circulated in October, it was unclear how some gifts, like homemade items or baked goods, would be counted toward gift limits. Staff has revised the policy and outlined that those items would not be counted as gifts, nor would payments like those that come with Teacher of the Year awards.
Many board members still had lingering questions about areas the gift policy covered — such as parents who are members of the PTA who want to give gifts outside of the organization — and Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Management Services Deirdra McLaughlin said not all situations could be accounted for.
“It’s intended to prohibit any activities that could result in a conflict of interest,” McLaughlin said. “I think that as a general rule, I don’t think this is a problem in APS, and I don’t think this is going to create a sort of a ‘gift black market.’”
Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez asked McLaughlin to begin an evaluation of how many gifts were given out in each school for comparison’s sake.
“I know there are significant differences when you have a school that’s 85 percent free and reduced lunch, so what happens? ” Violand-Sanchez asked. “Over the holidays, what happens to teachers if you teach in certain schools? Somehow, your Christmas is different.”
The School Board is expected to vote on the policy at its Dec. 19 meeting.
APS announced the decision just after 5:00 this morning. Classes are canceled but school offices are to remain open, with essential employees still expected to report to work.
The federal government, meanwhile, is closed this morning, as are Arlington County courts. But Arlington County government will be open, with an unscheduled leave and telework policy for employees. ART buses will operate on a limited schedule.
Snow in Arlington began later than areas west and north, owing to temperatures just above freezing, but all parts of the county appear to have switched from rain to snow by 7:15 a.m.
Update at 9:30 a.m. – Glebe Road is shut down between Military Road and Chain Bridge Road due to a downed tree.
Update at 9:15 a.m. — The number of Dominion customers without power in Arlington has climbed to nearly 1,700. Meanwhile, Washington Boulevard is closed at Powhatan Street due to a downed tree and live power lines.
Arlington Public Schools are closed today due to icy conditions on the roads.
School administrative offices are open for APS employees, but with a liberal leave policy. Arlington joins Alexandria, Fairfax and Loudoun counties in closing for the day due to the ice storm.
The federal government, meanwhile, is open under a two hour delay. Federal employees also have the option for unscheduled leave or telework.
Arlington County government offices and courts are open, with an unscheduled leave and telework option. ART buses are operating normally, as are Metro buses and Metrorail.
“Please use caution while traveling through the Metrorail system as wet platforms and escalators can be slippery,” said WMATA, in a tweet.
Local roads are reported to be slick, but main arteries have been treated with salt and are simply wet.
“Arlington County roads are passable, but drivers are urged to use caution,” according to an Arlington Alert email.
The ice coating has brought down tree branches, which have in turn knocked down some power lines. As of 7:15 a.m. about 1,100 Dominion customers in Arlington were without power.
Flickr photo by fcreativ
Yorktown is a club team, not affiliated with the high school. All other high school ice hockey teams in Northern Virginia are affiliated with schools and play in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League. Last year, Ferrara and his athletes decided they would make the leap from junior varsity to the varsity division, playing against the best teams in the area.
“I told the team, we can play JV and finish 9-1 or 10-0, or we can play varsity,” Ferrara said. “You can’t be an elite team without playing the best competition.”
The team took its lumps last year, losing 10-0 to Stone Bridge in Ashburn and 12-3 to Westfield, but that team had no seniors. The same crew stuck around this year and grew. Yorktown went from 19 players to more than 30 in the program, and have enough to field a JV team and several players on the practice squad.
Yorktown’s program was founded in 2003 and played home games in Reston until Kettler Capitals Iceplex was built in Ballston. But one of the most intriguing story lines in the team’s short history is happening this year with four of the players on the JV and practice squads: sophomore Tabitha Wood, senior Riki Langello and juniors Isabelle Wal and Caroline McCune.
“Once you get on the ice, I don’t think the guys see them as any different,” Ferrara said of his female players. He said it’s possible in future seasons they’ll play on the varsity team as players graduate. “It’s a little bit different with the camaraderie because they can’t get dressed in the locker room, but when you get on the ice, it comes down to talent level.”
The varsity team has several players who also compete on local travel teams, and Ferrara has set the expectation of making the playoffs. Yorktown was one win away last year, and if they can get there, Ferrara hopes they can, as he puts it, “make some noise.”
The group seems more up to the challenge this year; in Yorktown’s first game, against Westfield, they won 10-0. They followed that up with a 6-1 win over Bishop O’Connell (Arlington’s only other high school varsity hockey team) last week. Before the season, Ferrara said the number of players in the program has fueled competition, which has made everyone better and his players are confident.
Ferrara will know how good his team really is after this Friday’s game at Kettler Capitals Iceplex against reigning NVSHL champion Briar Woods.
“Friday night will be an interesting test for us,” Ferrara said. “It will either be a wake-up call to me that we’re one of the best teams in the league, or a wake-up call to the kids that they have a long way to go.”
Photo courtesy Jeremy Ferrara