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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 15, 2014 at 9:45 am | 977 views | No Comments

Lunar eclipse (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Arlington Family Returns to Boston Marathon — The Walls family of Arlington will be returning to Boston this week to finish the marathon they didn’t get to complete last year because of the April 15 bombings. John Walls was in the grandstands on Boylston Street, waiting for wife Cindy and daughter Katie to cross the finish line, when the first bomb exploded across the street. John captured video of the ensuing chaos on his smartphone. Cindy and Katie were among the thousands of runners who did not get a chance to finish the race. They’re running again this year. [WTOP]

Dozens of Arlingtonians to Compete in Marathon — A record 112 runners from Arlington are signed up to run the 2014 Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21. The race is the world’s oldest annual marathon and widely considered the world’s most prestigious. [InsideNoVa]

HOT Lanes Proposed for 14th Street Bridge — The District of Columbia is considering a proposal to install High Occupancy Toll lanes on the 14th Street Bridge, the Southeast/Southwest Freeway, and I-295. Arlington County successfully blocked a HOT lanes proposal on the Alexandria and Arlington portion of I-395. [NBC Washington]

Kenmore Teacher Named ‘Teacher of the Year’ — Kenmore Middle School technology teacher Cassidy Nolen has been named Arlington’s 2014 teacher of the year. Glebe Elementary School principal Jamie Borg, meanwhile, was named principal of the year. [InsideNoVa]

‘Business of Weddings’ Forum at GMU — Weddings are big business, and a free forum tomorrow at George Mason University’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive) will explore the economic impact of getting hitched. Attendees are asked to RSVP for the event, which is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday. [Eventbrite]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

APS Seeks Quite a Few Good Teachers

by ARLnow.com | March 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 3,397 views | No Comments

Arlington Public School has created a video as part of its effort to recruit new teachers to the burgeoning school system.

To keep up with rising student enrollment and teacher attrition — retirements, etc. — APS hired about 300 new teachers in 2012 and more than 400 new teachers in 2013. School enrollment is projected to increase from 23,316 to 24,153 in the coming school year. Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s new proposed budget calls for 53 new K-12 teacher positions — in addition to new teacher hires to replace those retiring or leaving for other school systems.

To help promote its careers web page, APS created a PSA video (above) with the tag line “Inspire Generation.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 14, 2014 at 9:25 am | 2,081 views | No Comments

Stormy Ballston sunset (Flickr pool photo by Rpcann)

So Far So Good for Ben’s — The day after the new Ben’s Chili Bowl opened at 1725 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, the line stretched to the back of the restaurant throughout the afternoon. But, the Washington City Paper asks, does the new restaurant capture the authenticity of the U Street original? [Washington City Paper]

Board Candidates on Affordable Housing — The Alliance for Housing Solutions has released the answers to an affordable housing questionnaire sent to the four candidates for Arlington County Board. Each candidate calls affordable housing a “top” or “very high” priority except independent Stephen W.C. Holbrook, who writes “government must stay out of the affordable housing.” [Alliance for Housing Solutions]

Fmr. McD’s Exec Named Elevation CEO — Rick Altizer, a former McDonald’s executive, has been named the new CEO of Elevation Burger. The Arlington-based company currently has 32 locations worldwide and hopes to open about 20 more by the end of the year. [Washington Business Journal]

APS Defends CIP PR Spending — Arlington Public Schools is spending $169,000 during Fiscal Year 2014 on a public relations contractor as part of its Capital Improvement Plan process. In a memo to the school board, John Chadwick, the assistant superintendent of Facilities and Operations, argues that his department “would be overwhelmed by the amount of interaction demanded by our community” during the CIP process if it wasn’t for the PR help. [PDF]

Flickr pool photo by Rpcann

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 7, 2014 at 9:15 am | 1,527 views | No Comments

Large pile of snow in the Bluemont Park parking lot (Flickr pool photo by @ddimick)

APS Announces New Make-Up Plan — After losing two additional school days this week due to snow, Arlington Public Schools plans to make March 31 — previously a teacher grade preparation day — a full make-up day. If there are no additional school closures due to weather, APS will maintain its Memorial Day holiday and spring break plans. [Arlington Public Schools]

Delays on Blue, Orange Lines This Weekend — Orange and Blue Line trains will run every 20 minutes this weekend, starting at 10:00 tonight, due to track work between Foggy Bottom and Clarendon on the Orange Line and Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line. Also, the Metro Center stop will be closed to allow for Silver Line sign installations. [WMATA]

Reminder: Home Show This Weekend — The annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 2nd Street S.).

Flickr pool photo by @ddimick

Arlington Schools, Gov’t Closed Monday

by ARLnow.com | March 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm | 1,530 views | No Comments

Snowy scene along Columbia Pike 1/26/11(Updated at 9:40 p.m.) All Arlington schools, courts and government offices will be closed Monday, the county announced Sunday night.

It’s at least the fifth time Arlington Public Schools have closed due to snow this school year.

“Essential personnel are to report to work as scheduled,” said APS spokeswoman Jennifer Harris. “Extracurricular activities, interscholastic contests, team practices, field trips, adult and community education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.”

All ART bus service has been suspended, in advance of a winter storm expected to drop 6-10 inches of snow Monday. Arlington’s western neighbor, the City of Falls Church, has declared a snow emergency now.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is encouraging residents to leave their cars at home on Monday.

“By midnight tonight, 4,000 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties,” VDOT said in a press release Sunday night. “Drivers should stay off the roads tomorrow… snow and frigid temperatures to northern Virginia.”

Staying off the roads should be easier for non-emergency federal workers — the Office of Personnel Management announced tonight that federal offices would be closed Monday.

Residents have been reporting a shortage of salt and other snow clearing supplies in local grocery and hardware stores.

“Gonna have a slick sidewalk [tomorrow],” said Twitter user @TheRhino26.

File photo

Letter to the Editor: The Real Case for APS Funding

by ARLnow.com | March 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 1,452 views | No Comments

The following letter to the editor was submitted by former School Board member Ed Fendley.

Peter Rousselot is right to argue for increased school funding, but wrong to claim that there is a systematic bias against local funding for Arlington Public Schools.

What matters for students and teachers is the actual amount of funds provided each year.

By this measure, support for our schools has deservedly and substantially grown in recent years. By any recognized standard, APS is one of the best-funded systems in the nation.

School-budget funding is poised to rise again if the County Board approves the County Manager’s proposed 4.7% funding boost for APS or, hopefully, an even greater amount.

But instead of considering actual funding and actual needs, Rousselot focuses on the irrelevant statistic that school operations as a percent of the overall county budget is lower than in some previous years.

By this flawed metric, the U.S. military is also grossly underfunded. Military outlays as a percent of the federal budget are smaller today. than in the 1950′s or 60′s — never mind that actual defense spending has sharply increased in real dollars,

It is in the interest of Arlington Public Schools to focus on the actual amount of funding received from the county, not the percent this represents of the county budget. This is especially the case because in years when county revenue is static or declining (yes, it does happen in Arlington) our schools would otherwise be at risk of underfunding.

In the midst of rising enrollment and increasing educational needs, the Arlington schools budget is a legitimate area of discussion. But this should be done on the basis of real numbers, not the irrelevant figures that Rousselot presents.

Ed Fendley served on the Arlington County School Board from 2006-2010 and is a founder of the Arlington Egg Project.

To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to arlingtonnews@gmail.com. Letters to the editor may be edited for content and brevity.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 24, 2014 at 9:00 am | 3,143 views | No Comments

"Nailed it" (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

County Board Approves Projects — The Arlington County Board approved a number of projects at its Saturday meeting. Among the projects approved: Arlington’s portion of the $10.3 million Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway, a new half-million-dollar tot playground at Chestnut Hills Park, and six Neighborhood Conservation Projects in Waverly Hills, Arlington Ridge and elsewhere.

Two Rescued from I-66 Storm Sewer — Two people were rescued Saturday afternoon from a storm sewer on I-66. The confined space rescue tied up traffic on westbound I-66 near Sycamore Street. The individuals were not injured. [Twitter]

Blind ‘Dad’ Mentors Blind Triplets — Born blind and raised by a single mother, the Argel triplets are now 14-years-old and have a new outlook on life thanks to a man who has become like a father to them — so much so that he’s now in the process of formally adopting them. Ollie Cantos, a blind man who lived in the boys’ Arlington neighborhood, has changed the brothers’ lives for the better by helping with their homework, teaching them how to use their canes more effectively and providing moral support during tough times. [NPR]

Advocates Decry Arlington Mill, Langston Changes — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy will unveil his proposed FY 2015 budget this week, but before he does supporters of Arlington Mill High School and the Langston High School Continuation Program are speaking out against possible changes. The advocates are concerned that Murphy may merge the two programs or may do away with APS’ policy of providing education to immigrants after the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]

Del. Sickles: ‘I Am a Proud, Gay Man’ — Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax), one of the 11 Democrats vying to replace Rep. Jim Moran (D) in congress, has revealed that he is gay. That makes Sickles the second openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly. The first was state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who is also running for Moran’s seat. [Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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

Peter’s Take: Back to Basics

by Peter Rousselot | February 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 625 views | No Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotThe possible cancellation of construction of a new South Arlington elementary school demonstrates yet again why Arlington must refocus its budget priorities on basic core services like schools.

ARLnow.com recently posted a story about a plan by Arlington Public Schools to scrap the construction of the new Glencarlyn Elementary School. The story explained that APS 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.”

APS CAPITAL BUDGET

If middle school overcrowding is projected to be more serious than elementary school overcrowding, and if Arlington can’t address the future capital needs at both the elementary and middle school levels, well then the decision to scrap the construction of this elementary school might make sense. But, that would be true only if we assume APS is getting the share of Arlington’s overall capital budget that APS deserves.

APS certainly is not getting the share of Arlington’s overall operating budget it deserves. And, APS cannot be getting the share of Arlington’s overall capital budget it deserves so long as Arlington persists in wasting our money on the extravagant features of the proposed Aquatics Center and other vanity capital projects.

APS OPERATING BUDGET

It still remains unclear whether the Arlington County Board will step up to the plate to restore to APS the share of Arlington’s operating budget APS must have in order to provide a 21st century education and to address the classroom impacts of the enrollment surge.

In trying to prop up its crumbling justification for the Aquatics Center, the County Board keeps saying Arlington “needs” a “world class” facility like the Aquatics Center. But, the County Board hasn’t been willing to give APS the resources APS says it needs to extend the Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) program to all the elementary schools that lack FLES.

The County Board says extending the FLES program is a policy decision for the School Board, while the School Board says it can’t extend FLES without additional money from the County Board.

The children at the elementary schools that lack FLES are stuck in the middle.

This is not a world class way to govern.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 3, 2014 at 9:00 am | 863 views | No Comments

Icy Potomac River as seen from Metro's Yellow Line bridge

‘Team Kids’ Launches in Arlington — Arlington County is the first locale outside of California to participate in the Team Kids Challenge, which empowers elementary school-aged children to learn about community needs while working alongside police, firefighters, parent volunteers, and other mentors. [WJLA]

Hynes to NVTA Board — Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes will succeed retiring County Board member Chris Zimmerman on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority board. [Sun Gazette]

County Launches Transit Tech Initiative — Mobility Lab, the research and development arm of Arlington County’s transit agency, is launching the “Transit Tech Initiative.” The initiative aims to use technological tools “to look beyond traditional approaches to journey planning and travel visualization.” [Mobility Lab]

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 8:55 am | 1,470 views | No Comments

Sunset over Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

County Gets $500k for Beaver Pond Project — Arlington County has received a $500,000 state grant for a project to improve the Ballston beaver pond. “The $2.7 million improvement project, paid for mostly from stormwater funds, includes changing the flow pattern to keep water in the pond longer, allowing wetland plants to remove nutrients and other pollutants before it flows out,” the county said in a press release. “Construction is expected to begin in the summer 2014.” [Arlington County]

Fisette’s Disclosure Doesn’t Include Husband — County Board Chairman Jay Fisette’s annual financial disclosure did not include the finances of his husband. Fisette was married in D.C. this past September, but Fisette says he’s not required to include his spouse in the disclosure since their marriage is not recognized under Virginia law. [Washington Post]

Howze Tops Fundraising Battle — Democratic County Board hopeful Alan Howze has raised the most money of any County Board candidate, with $16,245. Fellow Democrat Cord Thomas appears to be completely self-funding his campaign, while independent candidate John Vihstadt’s donors include a number of local Republicans. [Blue Virginia]

Congressional Primary Date Set — A date has been set for the crowded Democratic primary in the race to succeed the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The primary will be held on June 10. [Twitter]

APS Budget Forum Dates Set — Arlington Public Schools will hold three community forums on the upcoming FY 2015 budget. The forums will be held on Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

Feds Close, County Gov’t Remains Open

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 7:55 am | 1,500 views | No Comments

Snowy branchesFederal offices in the D.C. area are closed today due to the expected snow storm.

Non-emergency federal employees will have the day off, unless their office requires them to telework.

“Telework-Ready Employees who are scheduled to perform telework on the effective day of the announcement or who are required to perform telework on a day when Federal offices are closed must telework the entire workday or request leave, or a combination of both, in accordance with their agency’s policies and procedures, subject to any applicable collective bargaining requirements,” according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Arlington County government offices and courts, meanwhile, are open today.

All Arlington public schools are closed, but community centers and pools remain open. All evening activities are canceled. Essential APS employees must report to work but teachers are being asked to work from home and other employees are being allowed to telework.

ART bus service, like Metro service, will be running on a normal schedule this morning but may reduce service levels as weather conditions dictate.

Arlington’s Emergency Winter Shelter will remain open throughout the day today due to falling temperatures and the expected snowfall.

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.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 20, 2013 at 9:10 am | 1,463 views | No Comments

Tuckered out Santas at the Pentagon City Metro station

Chamber Doesn’t Support ‘Kings Dominion Rule’ Change — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is supporting two out of three items on Arlington Public Schools’ 2014 state legislative agenda. The chamber supports in-state tuition for immigrant students who are working toward legal status in the U.S., and higher state funding for Northern Virginia schools. It did not support, however, a change in the law that would allow Virginia school systems to start school before Labor Day. [Sun Gazette]

Another John Boehner Spotting at Guapo’s — Speaker of the House John Boehner was again spotted at Guapo’s restaurant in Shirlington last week, just a couple of days after a bipartisan budget deal was announced. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]

Satisfaction with ART Grows — An Arlington County-sponsored survey revealed that 90 percent of riders are satisfied with Arlington Transit bus service. “The survey results show that the investments we made to expand this service, not only in main arteries but also deep into residential neighborhoods, have paid off with riders,” said County Board Chair Walter Tejada, in a press release. [Arlington County]

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 18, 2013 at 8:45 am | 1,354 views | No Comments

Starts at Pentagon Row (Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins)

Bluemont Neighborhood Plan Approved – The Arlington County Board last night accepted an updated Bluemont Neighborhood Conservation Plan, which will ”[allow] the Bluemont Civic Association to pursue funding to transform the neighborhood to a true ‘urban village’ with slower traffic, better sidewalks and revitalized commercial corridors.” The plan also calls for a grocery store to remain at the current Safeway site. [Arlington County]

APS Plans to Use ‘Big Data’ to Reduce Dropout Rate — Arlington Public Schools is launching a competition that will challenge teams of scientists to figure out a way to reduce the school system’s dropout rate by combing through 12 years of student data. The winning team will receive $10,000. [Washington Post]

SuperStop Makes ‘Wastebook’ — The $1 million Walter Reed SuperStop on Columbia Pike has made Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook,” which highlights “100 examples of wasteful and low-priority spending.” The bus stop, which can be found on page 32 of the Wastebook, was partially paid for with federal funds. “This report speaks volumes about why confidence in government is at an all-time low,” Coburn said of his publication. [Wastebook 2013, ARLnow Forums]

Fisette to Serve as Board Chair — County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette was sworn in to a fifth four-year term on Tuesday. He will serve as County Board chairman in 2014. [Arlington County]

Research Firm Moving to Arlington — Research firm Hanover Research is moving its main office from the District to 4401 Wilson Blvd in Ballston this month. “The company’s extremely skilled staff, 61% of which hold advanced degrees, will help Ballston grow its reputation as a knowledge hub and significantly contribute to the area’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Hanover said in a press release. Arlington Public Schools is one of the company’s clients. [Hanover Research]

Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins

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