(Updated at 8:35 p.m.) The Arlington School Board will present its proposed budget to the Arlington County Board tonight. The joint meeting comes as the School Board has requested an additional $3.1 million in tax funding from the County Board.
The School Board’s proposed budget calls for $524.5 million in expenditures, roughly $4 million more than Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s proposed budget. The board’s budget keeps most elements of Murphy’s budget in tact — including merit-based pay raises for teachers, no increase in class sizes and funding to buy more school buses — but scales back some proposed cuts.
Cuts to teen parenting staffing, elementary reading teachers, high school gifted teachers, Standards of Learning teachers and minor construction/major maintenance have been reduced collectively by $2.3 million. The budget also adds a $600,000 reserve, and $1.1 million to account for an increase in projected school enrollment.
Murphy’s budget expected enrollment to increase from 22,613 students this school year to 23,586 students for the 2013-2014 school year. The latest spring projection puts 23,725 students in Arlington classrooms for the next school year.
All told, the increase in enrollment will require $11.1 million for additional staffing, materials, furniture and relocatable classrooms, according to the School Board’s budget presentation, set to be delivered tonight. The new trailer classrooms alone will cost $2 million.
The School Board is asking the County Board for a dedicated 0.5 cent real estate tax increase to help pay for the reduction in cuts and the added enrollment. The tax hike would be expected to bring in an additional $3.1 million. The rest of the $4 million is expected to come from one-time funding and additional state funding.
Arlington Public Schools are expected to face additional budget pressures in the next several years, as enrollment continues to grow and as new schools and school additions are built. An addition to Ashlawn Elementary is expected to be complete in time for the 2014-2105 school year, while a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus is expected to be complete in time for 2015-2016.
Those new additions and schools will come with additional administrative and operational costs. This comes at a time of weakness for property values in Arlington — the main driver of revenue for the county and the school system. During a meeting with reporters in February, Dr. Murphy said future budgets “could be challenging.”
While teachers for the new Williamsburg elementary will be largely pulled from overcapacity schools, administrative and materials costs for the school are slated to be included in next year’s budget process.
“If all things stay the same, we’re very concerned for FY 2015,” Murphy said.
The joint School Board/County Board work session will take place at 7:00 p.m. tonight (April 9) in rooms 101/103/105 of the Syphax/Sequoia building at 2110 Washington Blvd. The public is encouraged to attend.
Residents will get a chance to weigh in on the School Board’s budget at a public hearing on Thursday, April 18.
Bishop O’Connell High School will no longer have a president. In a shake-up of the Catholic school’s administrative structure, principal Joseph E. Vorbach III has been named “Head of School” for Bishop O’Connell, also known by the acronym DJO.
DJO President Katy Prebble announced in February that she will resign at the end of the school year. Following discussions with diocese officials, current and former DJO board members, parents and faculty, the Arlington Diocese’s Office of Catholic Schools decided to reconfigure Bishop O’Connell’s administrative structure and appoint Vorbach to the newly-created position of “Head of School.”
“I look forward to working in my new position with our Board of Governors, faculty, parents, and students,” Vorbach said in a statement. “Bishop O’Connell High School is a Christ-centered community blessed with exceptionally dedicated administrators, faculty, and staff, and I am excited to lead this outstanding institution into the future.”
Vorbach was a commanding officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and a 1983 graduate of Bishop O’Connell. He holds a doctorate in political science from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. His father is Coast Guard Rear Admiral Joseph E. Vorbach.
Bishop O’Connell issued the following press release about Vorbach’s appointment.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde has named Joseph E. Vorbach, PhD, as Head of School for Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School in Arlington. In the newly created position, Vorbach takes on unified leadership of O’Connell after serving as Principal alongside the school’s last two Presidents. He will assume the role upon President Kathleen Ryan Prebble’s departure at the completion of the 2012-13 school term.
“For 55 years, Bishop O’Connell High School has been a faith-filled community of learning, rooted in the Church and a determined tradition of service and excellence,” said Bishop Loverde, spiritual leader of the Diocese of Arlington’s 450,000 Catholics. “I am very pleased to announce Joe Vorbach as the new Head of School. In this new position of leadership, I know Joe will continue O’Connell’s record of excellence, building on the good work begun by Katy Prebble.”
After Prebble announced her planned departure in February, the Arlington Diocese’s Office of Catholic Schools under the leadership of Superintendent Sr. Bernadette McManigal, BVM, conducted a robust discussion with diocesan officials, current and former members of Bishop O’Connell’s Board of Governors, faculty, staff, and parents regarding the future leadership of the school. These discussions led to the selection of Vorbach as Head of School and informed the decision to reconfigure the school’s administrative structure.
“Today’s announcement represents a strong vote of confidence in Joe Vorbach’s service to the school in successive administrations and his leadership in ensuring a first-rate Catholic education for the young men and women of Bishop O’Connell,” said Sr. McManigal. “His commitment to excellence in academics grounded in the Catholic faith is well known to the O’Connell community and provides great assurance for the school’s future health and achievement. Joe keenly understands the school’s mission and challenges; he is well-positioned to build on its successes and to achieve the school’s development and enrollment goals.”
“It has been my honor to be connected to the Bishop O’Connell community since 1979, as a student, as a parent and as an administrator. I am grateful to Bishop Loverde and the Diocese of Arlington for this important mission of service,” said Vorbach. “I look forward to working in my new position with our Board of Governors, faculty, parents, and students. Bishop O’Connell High School is a Christ-centered community blessed with exceptionally dedicated administrators, faculty, and staff, and I am excited to lead this outstanding institution into the future.”
Vorbach has many years of experience as an educator and administrator, including positions as a professor and department chair at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), and, for the past five years, as Bishop O’Connell’s Principal. He holds a doctorate in political science from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He also taught and served as Homeland Security Chair at the National Defense University. Prior to beginning graduate studies at Tufts in 1993, Vorbach served aboard two ships in the USCG, including as commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Point Stuart. Dr. Vorbach earned his B.S. in Government at the USCGA in 1987 and is a 1983 graduate of Bishop O’Connell.
The recommended changes are detailed in a memo that also lists two alternative plans. The intent is to ease school overcrowding and to assign students to a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The shuffle will affect students at seven elementary schools in North Arlington — Ashlawn, Glebe, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham, Taylor and Tuckahoe.
The major changes will involve moving around 900 students in the following ways:
- Reassign 67 students from McKinley to Ashlawn
- Reassign 56 students from Glebe to McKinley
- Reassign 164 students from Jamestown to the new school at Williamsburg
- Reassign 71 students from Taylor to Jamestown
- Reassign 347 students from Nottigham to the new school at Williamsburg
- Reassign 146 students from Tuckahoe to Nottingham
- Reassign 49 students from Taylor to the new school at Williamsburg
“We went through a process of community meetings starting this past fall. There was lots of input and lots of options,” said APS Transition Facilities Planning Consultant Meg Tuccillo. “The superintendent examined the input he received, and the need to address capacity, and determined that this recommendation met that need.”
The plan also includes recommendations for grandfathering that would also need to be approved by the School Board. The ideas especially apply to fifth graders so they don’t have to move for their final year of elementary school. Siblings of fifth graders also would not have to move immediately. The grandfathering recommendations are as follows:
- Rising fifth graders and concurrently enrolled younger siblings (grades K-4 as of June 2015) may choose to remain at their current school for the 2015-16 school year only. Transportation will continue for current bus riders for that year.
- A student attending either Immersion School, in grades K-4 as of June 2015, who resides in a planning unit being moved from one Immersion School group to another Immersion School group, may remain at their current Immersion School through fifth grade with transportation provided by APS.
- A student attending Arlington Science Focus in grades K-4 as of June 2015, who resides in a planning unit being moved to the New Elementary School #1, may remain at ASFS through fifth grade with transportation provided by APS.
APS reports that its staff has participated in more than 40 community meetings since the beginning of the boundary changing process. Two additional public meetings will take place in April, and the School Board is scheduled to give a final vote on May 16. If approved at that time, the changes will go into effect for the 2015-2016 school year. An exception would be made for students reassigned to McKinley. Those students would be delayed a year and instead would switch schools in time for the 2016-2017 school year, when McKinley’s expansion is expected to be completed.
The Bishop O’Connell softball team went 27-1 last year, capturing their 17th Virginia Independent Schools state title in 19 years and their 9th straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship.
The team seemingly has no place to go but down. In fact, in preseason rankings by MaxPreps.com, there are only two teams in the country with higher expectations. The Knights ranked #3 in the national rankings, just below Northern (Owings, Md.) and Amador Valley (Pleasonton, Calif.).
All-American pitcher Tori Finucane and catcher Jillian Ferraro, who have committed to Missouri and UNC respectively, are back for their senior seasons. Finucane was named to the MaxPreps 2013 preseason All-American first team, and Ferraro to the All-American second team.
Finucane had a improbable 0.09 ERA and 332 strikeouts last year, and Ferraro chalked up a .542 batting average, 55 RBIs and 8 home runs.
According to a school-issued news release: “Other mainstays in this year’s lineup promise to be Hayley Metcalf (.488 batting average), Amanda Ehlers (.438) and Mary Burk (.310) with newcomers Olivia Giaquinto and Jenna Spille expected to contribute right away.”
Spring softball practices are now in full swing and O’Connell will open its season at home at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12 in a game against St. Mary’s Ryken. The rest of the school’s softball schedule can be found on the Bishop O’Connell website.
Photo via Bishop O’Connell
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s recommended FY 2014 budget would keep class sizes steady, would add new school buses and would provide for merit pay increases for school employees, despite a $23.5 million budget shortfall.
Murphy formally unveiled his budget Thursday night at a budget work session with the School Board.
To help close the gap, Murphy’s budget takes advantage of $20.2 million worth of surplus and reserve funds from previous years, and “efficiencies” in custodial staffing, the teen parenting program and gifted teachers, among other programs.
In all, $411.1 million of the $520.4 million budget comes from county tax revenue. Aside from the $20.2 million “carry forward” and $17.6 million in fees, the rest — about 13.3 percent of the budget — comes from federal and state sources.
The budget allocates an additional $10 million in staffing, materials and facilities costs for the nearly 1,000 additional students expected to be enrolled next year. That includes $1.9 million for new trailer classrooms.
The budget also provides $7.2 million for merit-based raises for teachers and other employees. Of that, about $446,000 will come from the state, under a plan to supposedly provide 2 percent raises for Virginia teachers. Of those staff members receiving raises, the increase in pay will average about 3 percent, APS said in a budget briefing for the media.
By maintaining the current class size levels while accounting for the rapid enrollment growth, Murphy says the budget fulfills the school system’s goal of putting students first.
“This budget is a prudent and targeted effort to maintain APS quality and the education that our community values,” Murphy said in a statement. “This budget firmly commits to our students by maintaining current class sizes and to our staff by including a compensation increase, the first step increase in two years.”
APS plans to purchase and staff 6 additional school buses this year. That should prevent another round of controversial bus service adjustment.
The budget also provides for a full-time residency verification specialist. Murphy also proposed the position last year, but it did not make it into the School Board’s final budget. Currently, APS only employs a part-time residency verification specialist for the entire 22,613 student school system.
Murphy said a full-time residency verification specialist could help identify students who are attending Arlington Public Schools but whose parents don’t live here.
“With the growing enrollment we have, we need to make sure we’re serving our kids here in Arlington,” he said. ”I think there’s a concern that people are attracted to Arlington Public Schools. We need to monitor that.”
Other additions in this year’s budget include a new security coordinator, technology upgrades, athletic trainer who specialize in concussion management, and dropout prevention coordinators.
The “efficiencies and reductions” — including cuts in custodians, high school gifted teachers, the teen parenting program, and administration — will eliminate 61 positions and save $7.8 million. With the school system continuing to grow and hire — some 300 teachers were hired last year — Murphy says those impacted by the cuts will be reassigned elsewhere in APS, not laid off.
With Murphy’s proposed budget, the per-pupil cost in Arlington will rise from $18,675 to $18,709, although that could drop to $18,405 if the School Board elects not to use one if its reserve funds.
The School Board will adopt the final FY 2014 budget on May 2. Between now and then, APS will hold a number of budget work session and public hearings.
The task of re-working the Arlington Public Schools boundaries is in the home stretch. The options have been whittled down to two, and tomorrow night (Wednesday) the public can get a detailed look at the final recommendations.
The School Board approved the creation of new boundaries to accommodate a new elementary school on the Williamsburg site and to help ease crowding at seven other elementary schools: Ashlawn, Glebe, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham, Taylor and Tuckahoe. Since the announcement last year, there have been numerous meetings and the public has submitted suggestions and concerns about the changes.
The two final options will be revealed to the community tomorrow at a 7:00 p.m. meeting at Williamsburg Middle School. The maps are largely similar to each other, with the main differences appearing along the Glebe/Taylor border and along the Glebe/McKinley border.
After the public gets a chance to discuss the choices at Wednesday’s meeting, staff will present their recommendations to APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy. He will review the options and decide which plan(s) he will present to the School Board at its meeting March 21.
The Wakefield Warriors boys basketball team will advance to the Virginia AAA tournament, despite a heart-breaking loss in the Northern Region finals.
By making it to the regional finals, the Warriors received a berth in the Virginia High School League state tournament. Wakefield will now face Mountain View at the Siegel Center in Richmond at 5:30 p.m. this coming Thursday, Feb. 28, according to the Wakefield High School Athletics Facebook page.
Wakefield isn’t the only Arlington high school making a tournament run. Bishop O’Connell defeated Paul VI on Sunday to advance to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference finals. DJO will face St. John’s at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday at American University’s Bender Arena.
Photos courtesy Rob Laybourn
A video was released on YouTube today showing the team and their fans doing the Harlem Shake, which has become an internet sensation.
“What REALLY happens in the locker room after the Wakefield High School Warriors win a big game!” says the video’s description.
Wakefield, which defeated Langley on Tuesday with a buzzer beater that was caught on video, will face Robinson tonight in the Virginia AAA Northern Region tournament semifinals. The game is scheduled to take place at Robinson at 8:00 p.m.
Wakefield High School junior Re’Quan Hopson hit a game-winning three pointer as time expired last night to advance the boys basketball team to the regional semifinals.
Wakefield, which captured the National District championship last week, was trailing 43-44 with 4.2 seconds left in the game when Hopson inbounded the ball, received a pass back, and hit the three point shot as the game clock hit 0:00. Wakefield won 46-44 and screaming students rushed the court.
Northern Virginia Sports has a full game recap and another video angle of the shot. Wakefield will now face an away game at Robinson on Friday night.
Parents and students at the private Catholic institution, in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood, were informed of the resignation this afternoon. Prebble is leaving to take another job outside of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, diocese spokesman Michael Donohue told ARLnow.com.
Prebble, a 1974 Catholic University graduate, joined O’Connell in 2010 after serving as president of a college preparatory school in Georgia. Barry Breen, O’Connell’s president before Prebble, resigned after five years.
The diocese says it will begin a search for a new president “soon,” although a final decision has not yet been made about whether to keep the current leadership structure of the school, which includes both a president and a school principal.
On Twitter, Bishop O’Connell students seemed pleased with Prebble’s resignation. One called it “a graduation present to the Class of 2013.”
Another said the resignation was “better late than never,” while referencing a controversial decision last year to fire John Harrison, a beloved social studies teacher.
Prebble sent the following letter to parents at 3:15 p.m. today (Monday).
Dear Bishop O’Connell Community,
I write to you today to inform you that I will be leaving Bishop O’Connell in June 2013. It has been my distinct privilege to serve as the school’s president since July 2010. The 1,200 students who grace the halls of our school every day are a remarkable and diverse group of young men and women eager to establish themselves as the leaders of tomorrow. I will miss them dearly as well as the dedicated faculty and staff who work incredibly hard to guide them through these wonderful and exciting high school years.
With the completion of the renovation of our athletic fields and two new chemistry labs, as well as the plans to complete several more labs this summer, Bishop O’Connell is strategically positioned to offer a first class facility for students for years to come.
I am enthusiastic about our work with our new Strategic Plan and our initial efforts to create a Facility Master Site Plan. The next few months will be busy as we work diligently to strengthen our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program and plan the addition of our second engineering course. Our STEM curriculum continues to grow, and O’Connell is set to become one of only two private high schools in the greater Washington DC area to offer a Project Lead the Way school curriculum in engineering.
I have been inspired by O’Connell’s spirit and traditions and am a better person for being guided by the IHM Sisters. Many of you may know that years ago Mother Teresa visited O’Connell and spoke to our students. Her message of love and compassion continues to fill the heart of our community. I will faithfully serve our community over the next few months and wish only the best for O’Connell. It is always a great day to be a Knight.
In a letter, Diocese of Arlington Superintendent of Schools Sister Bernadette McManigal said Prebble “has served the school, the Diocese and Catholic Education well.”
A long list of accomplishments are directly attributable to Katy’s leadership. The most visible examples include remodeled science labs, the addition of a global studies program, attractive and safe athletic fields, dual enrollment courses with Marymount, new seats in the school auditorium and the addition of pre-engineering courses in the curriculum. An impressive list! Katy was tireless in her zeal for the students and faculty at Bishop O’Connell High School.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde joins me in thanking Katy for her service and in wishing her well in her next endeavors. We will miss her.
On Thursday, the Arlington School Board unanimously approved the conceptual design of the new elementary school to be built on the Williamsburg Middle School campus in north Arlington.
The 93,578 square foot school will include 28 classrooms, a gymnasium, library, art room, media center, innovation lab, dining room and green roofs. It has a projected capacity of 630 students, to help address the capacity crunch at Arlington Public Schools.
The school will cost about $35 million to build, with construction slated to start in January 2014 and wrap up in time for the start of the school year in the summer of 2015.
The Williamsburg elementary school is one of five elementary school building projects approved in the latest APS capital improvement plan. On Feb. 21, the School Board is expected to vote on the conceptual design for an addition to Ashlawn Elementary School.
Some residents in nearby McLean have expressed concern about traffic impacts from the new school.
Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will speak at a “school bus celebration” at Arlington’s Tuckahoe Elementary School next week.
The event, on Feb. 12, is being organized by the American School Bus Council for its Love the Bus campaign. The campaign is intended to “raise awareness and appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers who safely transport children to and from school.”
The American School Bus Council is supported in part by school bus manufacturers.
Tuckahoe students will hear speeches from LaHood and local officials about “being respectful to their bus drivers and appreciating the safety, environmental, and congestion mitigation benefits of the yellow school bus.”
The event comes with a bit of irony — Arlington Public Schools ran into controversy at the beginning of the school year when administrators announced that hundreds of students were no longer eligible to ride the bus to school.
The press release about the Love the Bus event, after the jump.
Hope was recently appointed to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety, which was created in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The task force has been charged with making recommendations regarding improvements to school safety practices at K-12 schools and at colleges and universities. Such improvements may include expanded use of school resource officers or security guards, new state or local programs or policies, and improvements to Virginia’s mental health system.
From 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, interested parents, students and residents are invited to discuss school safety with Del. Hope at the Wakefield High School auditorium (4901 S. Chesterfield Road). Hope will give an update about the work of the task force and listen to concerns and recommendations from the audience.
Hope said the discussion will be wide-ranging, and may incorporate topics beyond the scope of the task force. For instance, the task force was not charged with making recommendation regarding firearm policies, but Hope said guns may still be discussed.
“I don’t see how you can talk about safety in classrooms without talking about gun control… It’s a little like talking about trying to cure lung cancer, but you can’t talk about smoking,” Hope told ARLnow.com. “If you really want to solve the problem, you can’t leave gun control aside.”
Hope said he will likely hold at least one more town hall meeting before the task force concludes its work this summer. The task force’s relatively short time frame, he said, is the reason the controversial topic of gun control was not included in its agenda.
Arlington was one of the only local school systems to not close early on Friday due to the threat of snow. It’s now the only school system inside the Beltway to close today; D.C., Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Alexandria are all on a two-hour delay.
Meanwhile, with the federal government on a delayed opening, traffic volume on local roads and highways is very light.
No major accidents have been reported so far in Arlington.
A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for Arlington and the D.C. region, warning of the potential for about an inch of snow between 2:00 and 9:00 p.m. Though relatively light, the snow could wreak havoc with traffic during the evening rush hour.
While Montgomery, Fairfax, Prince George’s and Loudoun County schools have announced early dismissals, Arlington Public Schools announced at 11:20 a.m. that students would not enjoy the same abbreviated school day. All APS after-school and evening activities, however, have been canceled.
“Arlington Public Schools will dismiss on time,” the school system said. “All APS after-school and evening activities are canceled, including extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and recreation programs in schools and on school grounds. Extended Day will remain open until 6 p.m. but those parents are encouraged to pick up their children earlier if possible.”
From the National Weather Service:
… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 9 PM EST THIS EVENING…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW… WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 9 PM EST THIS EVENING.
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW
* ACCUMULATIONS… AROUND AN INCH.
* TIMING… SNOW WILL BEGIN DURING THE MID AFTERNOON AND TAPER OFF IN THE EVENING. SNOW MAY BE MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY AT TIMES DURING THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING.
* TEMPERATURES… IN THE LOWER 20S.
* WINDS… SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH.
* IMPACTS… ROADS WILL BECOME SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY… RESULTING IN HAZARDOUS TRAVEL DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING COMMUTE.
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.