The Jamestown Elementary PTA wrote to County Board Chair Jay Fisette on Monday, asking him to work with the School Board on a middle school construction plan as part of the County Board’s 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.
The PTA is peeved that APS waffled in its recently-passed CIP, punting a decision on the location for a new middle school to December and only including planning funds instead of construction funds. It comes at a time when the county’s student population — especially on the elementary level — is burgeoning, thanks to more young families moving to or staying in Arlington to raise their kids.
If a new middle school is not built soon, current kindergarteners could enter middle school in 2020 at a time when Arlington middle schools are over capacity by more than 1,000 students, with most of the overcrowding focused in north Arlington, the PTA said.
“The proposed CIP can only be regarded as an APS plan knowingly to overcrowd Williamsburg and other middle schools in north Arlington and degrade the learning environment for thousands of the county’s middle school students,” Jamestown PTA president Thomas Jensen wrote.
The School Board has eyed both the Wilson School site in Rosslyn and the building that currently houses the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program as possible locations for a new 1,300 seat middle school. Both proposals have met community criticism.
The Wilson School and H-B Woodlawn options are still on the table, according to a school spokesman, and the School Board says it will make a decision no later than Dec. 31. But the PTA wants more decisive action and planning.
“Lack of unanimity about use of the Wilson site is not an adequate reason to allow Williamsburg and other middle schools to become even more overcrowded,” Jensen wrote.
The full letter, after the jump.
‘Trolley Pub’ Bill Fails in Richmond — A bill that would have allowed patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board has been passed over indefinitely in the House of Delegates. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), who introduced the bill, said there were “too many significant issues” around the bill. [Patch]
Middle School PTA Peeved at Bus Inequality – The Thomas Jefferson Middle School PTA is upset that North Arlington schools appear to be getting preferential treatment when it comes to bus service for students inside the standard 1.5 mile perimeter for secondary schools. The PTA president says S. Glebe Road is dangerous for middle school students to cross and the school system should provide bus service for students who have to cross it. [Sun Gazette]
Settlement to Fund Surveillance Cameras — Arlington will use $55,000 from a federal settlement to fund the purchase of portable digital video surveillance cameras. The cameras will be used “to enhance security at large scale events.” The funds from from the $1.5 billion federal settlement with Abbott Laboratories Inc. in 2012 over unlawful promotion of a prescription drug. [Arlington County]
Freedom Rider Shares Memories — “Freedom Rider” and Arlington resident Joan Trumpauer Mulholland spoke earlier this month about her experience in trying to promote civil rights and racial integration in the deep South in the early 1960s. Mulholland was also the keynote speaker at Arlington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration on Sunday. [Falls Church News-Press]
Man Survives Key Bridge Plunge in 1929 — A quirky bit of local history: In September 1929 a drunk 26-year-old man fell off the side of the Key Bridge, landing on his side in the water 120 feet below. Miraculously, he was rescued by a police officer and a boat club employee and “appeared none the worse for his experience.” But alas, it wasn’t a completely happy ending: five weeks later the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. [Ghosts of DC]
Photo courtesy @carmstrong07
Several north Arlington streets will be closed Saturday for the annual Nottingham Elementary 5K run/walk.
The race will be kicking off around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 13 at Nottingham Elementary (5900 Little Falls Road). Registration is $25 if booked by the end of the day today, then $30 thereafter. Proceeds from the race will go toward Nottingham Elementary School PTA programs.
Arlington County Police will close the following lanes and roads Saturday morning.
- Williamsburg Boulevard will be closed to eastbound traffic from Little Falls Road to N. Harrison Street from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
- Little Falls Road will be closed from Williamsburg Boulevard to N. Harrison Street from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
- N. Ohio Street will be closed from N. 26th Street to Williamsburg Boulevard from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m.
“Along the race course, temporary road closures will be necessary as the race moves throughout the neighborhood,” police said in a press release. “Residents of the affected areas will be escorted through the traffic closures to minimize the impact on the community. All road closures will be reopened by 10:30 a.m.”
“Residents are asked to park their vehicles in driveways to reduce the congestion on the affected streets to allow more runners through the neighborhood as quickly as possible, which will result in a return to normal conditions,” the police department added.
Arlington Public Schools (APS) has agreed to move several relocatable classroom trailers at Jamestown Elementary School. The move comes about a month after residents and parents started loudly complaining about the placement of the trailers.
The relocatable classrooms were originally placed near N. Delaware Street, adjacent to a playground. Several members of the Jamestown PTA wrote a strongly-worded letter to the School Board in response, saying the trailers took up “valuable green space” in a “high traffic area,” were “in direct line of sight of over a dozen homes in the neighborhood,” and “sully the atmosphere of the heart of the Jamestown community.”
Parents also complained about a lack of notice before the trailers were placed on school grounds. Last night parents were notified that, in response to their concerns, the trailers would be moved closer to 38th Street N.
“It’s in the same area, it has just been set back farther,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. No word yet on whether the decision will fully assuage the PTA members’ concerns.
In a letter to Jamestown principal Kenwyn Schaffner, APS superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said the decision was made in response to feedback from the community and from school staff.
Dear Ms. Schaffner:
In response to your request for additional classroom space to meet the rising enrollment at Jamestown Elementary School, and the subsequent pleas from your community that the placement of the modular units be reviewed, and based on feedback I have received from you and the Facilities & Operations staff, I have accepted the recommendation that the units be placed on the Option B location. That is, the units will be moved from their current site to closer to the gym and 38th Street North.
I appreciate your efforts to manage the crowding conditions and to ensure that student learning is at the forefront of our efforts. I also appreciate your response to community concerns and the suggestions you have put forward.
Please extend to your community my wishes for a positive end to the school year and a restful summer break.
Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.
Update at 7:45 p.m. — Arlington School Board Chair Abby Raphael has responded, in writing, to the PTA letter.
The Jamestown Elementary School PTA has fired off an angry letter to county officials after new relocatable classroom trailers were placed in a field near the school’s playground.
The PTA says the community was not consulted about the placement of the trailers, and that the loss of green space will be detrimental to the school.
“This lack of communication on the County’s part is disrespectful, rude, and flies in the face of the Arlington tradition of ‘respectful dialogue,’” the Jamestown PTA said in a letter addressed to the Arlington County School Board, Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy and the Arlington County Board.
The incident is similar to another recent controversy, in which parents at Tuckahoe Elementary School protested the placement of classroom trailers on the school’s playground blacktop. The temporary trailers have become increasingly necessary as Arlington Public Schools deals with a capacity crisis.
The PTA is requesting a meeting with the school board “before we are faced with a fait accompli.” See the complete PTA letter, after the jump.
On a per student basis, Arlington is spending more on administrative functions and less on instruction than almost every other school district in Northern Virginia, reports Michael Lee Pope of the Arlington Connection.
Here’s an excerpt:
Alexandria and Arlington spend less for instruction per capita than every other school division in Northern Virginia. And the two jurisdictions spend more on administration per capita than most other localities in the region.
These are the findings of a recent report issued by the Auditor of Public Accounts in Virginia, numbers collected from various jurisdictions during their annual budget process. School officials and elected leaders in Alexandria and Arlington admit they might not have the economy of scale of Fairfax County, a division with about 170,000 students. But with 20,000 students in Arlington and 12,000 students in Alexandria, they say the trade-off is a more personalized environment.
“Am I satisfied? No. I always think we can do better,” said Arlington School Board Chairwoman Libby Garvey. “But I will say that I think we deliver a very good value for the dollar.”
“There’s a general perception that more money in the classroom is more critical than money for administration,” said John Vigstadt, a member of the Arlington Council of PTAs. “I think we need to take periodic look at what these administrators do to make sure all these positions are justified.”