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Another Snow Day for APS Students

by ARLnow.com | February 13, 2014 at 5:15 pm | 508 views | No Comments

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.

Schools, Federal Offices Closed Due to Snowstorm

by ARLnow.com | February 13, 2014 at 2:00 am | 1,212 views | No Comments

Overnight snow in Pentagon CityArlington Public Schools and federal government offices are closed Thursday due to the winter storm that has been dumping heavy snow on the D.C. area overnight.

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.

Claremont Immersion Montessori Moving to Hoffman-Boston

by Ethan Rothstein | February 7, 2014 at 1:35 pm | 1,670 views | No Comments

Claremont Immersion School's signThe 50 seats of the Montessori program at Claremont Immersion School will move to Hoffman-Boston Elementary next year, and the abrupt way it was announced has rankled some parents.

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.”

Claremont Immersion School (photo via APS)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

Three Arlington Schools ‘Secured’ After Alexandria Shooting

by ARLnow.com | February 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm | 2,574 views | No Comments

Police car lightsThree Arlington schools were “secured” following a deadly shooting in Alexandria this morning (Thursday).

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.

Baird Endorses Greeley for School Board

by Ethan Rothstein | February 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 412 views | No Comments

School board member Sally Baird at the Civic Federation candidates forumOutgoing 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.”

School Board candidate Greg GreeleyBaird 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.

South Arlington Parents Start Petition for New Elementary School

by Ethan Rothstein | February 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,580 views | No Comments

South Arlington parents protesting School Board capacity plansMore 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.

Thank you!

Photo via Change.org

Moran Launches Student App-Building Competition

by Ethan Rothstein | February 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm | No Comments

An iPhoneA new congressional initiative will allow Arlington high school students to build apps and enter them in a national competition.

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.”

Moving H-B Woodlawn Among School Capacity Options

by Ethan Rothstein | February 4, 2014 at 4:05 pm | 3,917 views | No Comments

H-B Woodlawn (via Google Maps)(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

Yorktown, W-L Taste Success at Conference Swim Championships

by Ethan Rothstein | February 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm | 805 views | No Comments

(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.

APS to Open Two Hours Late

by ARLnow.com | January 29, 2014 at 9:00 am | 377 views | No Comments

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.

APS to Open on a Two Hour Delay

by ARLnow.com | January 23, 2014 at 12:05 am | 356 views | No Comments

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.

Wednesday: APS Closed, Feds Delay Opening, ART Service Limited

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm | 1,955 views | No Comments

Snowboarding near Doctors Run on 1/21/14 (photo courtesy @maddogrow)Update at 8:30 a.m. — From the Department of Parks and Recreation:

  • 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.

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.

Photo courtesy @maddogrow

School Board Considers Scrapping 600-Seat Glencarlyn Elementary School

by Ethan Rothstein | January 17, 2014 at 10:00 am | 2,395 views | No Comments

New elementary school proposed for the Carlin Springs/Kenmore campus(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) The Arlington School Board is reconsidering the plan to build a 600-seat elementary school at the Kenmore Middle School site in Glencarlyn.

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.

School Board Approves $46.5 Million Williamsburg School

by Ethan Rothstein | January 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 1,272 views | No Comments

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. “

APS Announces Plan for Make-Up Days

by Katie Pyzyk | January 8, 2014 at 9:45 am | 1,508 views | No Comments

aps_logoArlington 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.

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