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Candidate Essay: Nancy Van Doren

by ARLnow.com | May 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 694 views | No Comments

Nancy Van Doren in the 4/22/14 School Board debateLast week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the endorsement caucus on May 15 and 17.

Here is the unedited response from Nancy Van Doren:

Arlington Public Schools are at a critical juncture: We must continue to improve educational outcomes for all our students while also finding space for over 700 new students each year. This challenge requires a leader who has a deep understanding of our students and schools. I am that leader. I ask for your support and vote on May 15 and 17 at the Democratic School Board endorsement caucus.

For the last decade I have dedicated myself to working with scores of parents, students, and teachers across Arlington to ensure APS is responsive to individual student needs. I am the only candidate with such extensive experience at the operational level in our schools. I am also the only candidate with hands-on experience at the school and system level in multiple areas, including facilities improvement, transportation, instruction, special education, family engagement and diversity. I am also fluent in Spanish and helped to found the Arlington Latino Network. This experience and knowledge is essential to ensure student, parent and teacher voices are heard at the Board table while critical decisions are made related to facilities and student achievement.

I work collaboratively and build coalitions to fix problems and find solutions. This track record of “getting the job done” is my hallmark. For example, as Jefferson Middle School PTA President, I worked with civic associations, feeder schools, parents, and staff to get Jefferson and its playing fields renovated cost-effectively; I also ensured families from all backgrounds were supported and welcomed in school. I lead the effort and successfully secured Jefferson’s designation as a County-wide school, which enables students from across Arlington to attend the school and receive bus service.

When APS disrupted its transportation system, I stepped up, served on the Multi-Modal Transportation Committee, and worked to issue recommendations to get students safely to school. I lead the successful effort to obtain school bus service to dozens of students along the Columbia Pike Corridor attending Kenmore and Jefferson Middle Schools.

As Chair of the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee, I spearheaded an effort to have special needs services evaluated, resulting in a blueprint for improved services and instruction. I also created support groups for families and advocated on their behalf, ensuring students got what they needed to succeed in school.
These concrete accomplishments in leadership positions over the past ten years at the school and county level set me apart from the other candidates.

I am education advocate with extensive business and international experience. I spent 12 years in the private sector with Connecticut National Bank, The Travelers Companies, The Hartford Courant and Newsday. I am fluent in Spanish and lived in Nicaragua and Spain. I spent eight years overseas with my husband Jack Zetkulic, a Foreign Service Officer, and my family living in Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. For the last decade, my family and I have lived in Ashton Heights and my children attend Jefferson Middle School and W-L High School). I served on and/or Chaired the following Committees in APS: Multi-Modal Student Safety Special Services Committee, Arlington Career Center Parent Advisory Committee, Family and Community Engagement Working Group, Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee, ADHD Task Force, Advisory Council on Instruction, County Council of PTAs, Jefferson Middle School PTA President, Washington-Lee Crew Boosters and Fundraising, Arlington Latino Network (Founding Member), ArlingtonADHD and ArlingtonReading Parent Support Groups (Founder).

To read more about my candidacy, please visit my website www.nancyvandoren.org. I can also be found on Facebook at Nancy Van Doren for School Board.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | May 13, 2014 at 9:10 am | 1,312 views | No Comments

View of Four Mile Run near Carlin Springs Road

Two Drop Out of Congressional Race — Del. Charniele Herring and entrepreneur Satish Korpe have dropped out of the race to replace the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) in Congress. There are now eight candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the June 10 primary. [Washington Post]

Bike ‘Fix-It’ Stands Being Installed in Arlington — Arlington County has been installing stations where bicyclists can change a flat tire, add air, or adjust brakes and derailleurs free of charge. The stands have been installed in Clarendon and Ballston and one is coming soon to Pentagon City. [Greater Greater Washington]

School Officials Worry About Debt Ceiling — Arlington’s student body is growing by 700 students per year, but Arlington Public Schools is in danger of hitting its legal debt ceiling as it continues to build more schools and school additions to keep up with rising enrollment. Going forward, at least one School Board member is publicly hoping for more money from the county government. [InsideNova]

GMU Students Make Transportation Recommendations – In an 80 page report, graduate students from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy say that Arlington County should continue investing in transportation in order to “stay ahead of the curve.” Arlington, the students say, should “follow more of the international urban-planning trends rather than just those that are happening in other U.S. cities.” [Mobility Lab]

Fourth Grader Makes Case for Libraries — In a hand-written letter to Arlington library staff, an Arlington Traditional School fourth grader by the name of Lillian said she loves books and libraries. Despite talk of younger generations only being interested in iPads, smartphones and other electronics — instead of old-fashioned print — Lillian says she “can’t even list” all the reasons why she likes Arlington Central Library. [Arlington Public Library]

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | May 9, 2014 at 9:45 am | 2,599 views | No Comments

Rosslyn skyline from the Roosevelt Bridge (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Reporter Embeds with Clarendon Bar Crawl — Reporter Dan Zak embedded himself with revelers participating in the Cinco de MEGA-Crawl over the weekend. He found plenty of loud, opinionated young people — one of whom compared Clarendon to Brooklyn — but he apparently did not find any public urination, vomiting or destruction of property worth noting. [Washington Post]

Parents Rip Board on Autism Program Cut — Parents of children with autism swarmed the Arlington School Board’s budget meeting, angry with a proposed $270,000 cut to a program that provides assistants for autistic students and their teachers. [InsideNova, Fox 5]

Bracket Room Facing Backlash? — A backlash seems to be forming against so-called “female-friendly” restaurants. Some women say the designation is insulting. One such restaurant mentioned in an article about the backlash: Clarendon’s the Bracket Room, which has billed itself as a female-friendly sports bar. [The Week]

Preservation Arlington Mourns 2013 Losses — The group Preservation Arlington is lamenting the loss of 179 single-family homes lost in Arlington in 2013. The group is also marking the loss or impending loss of the Blue Goose building; part of the Arlington House Woods and Arlington National Cemetery’s Seneca sandstone perimeter wall; and a number of garden apartment buildings. [Preservation Arlington]

Ft. Myer Road Closed – Cyclists who bike on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall may be impacted by a road closure on the base. McNair Road is closed from Lee Avenue to Marshall Drive due to “road damage.” The closure is expected to be in place until Monday. [Facebook]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

School Board Debate Reveals Differences, Agreements Among Candidates

by ARLnow.com | May 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 1,522 views | No Comments

The capacity crunch at Arlington Public Schools and the need for establishing better coordination with county officials were two of the major topics addressed by the three candidates for School Board at a forum last month.

The candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement — Barbara Kanninen, Nancy Van Doren and Greg Greeley — politely agreed on many topics, including the urgency of the school system’s overcrowding issues, but some differences did emerge during the two-hour forum at the Arlington Mill Community Center on Columbia Pike.

Kanninen, for instance, was outspoken in her belief that there’s too much emphasis on standardized testing in Arlington Public Schools. She said students shouldn’t be spending an entire week of instructional time preparing for Virginia’s Standards of Learning tests.

“I believe every child in Arlington deserves a bright future,” she said. “They are more than their test scores… we should de-emphasize test prep.”

Greeley agreed, to an extent, saying that he believes the tests are not “an accurate reflection” of many students’ skills and abilities.

“It’s pretty clear that the pendulum for standardized testing has swung too far,” he said.

Van Doren emphasized her volunteer work for students with special needs, including six years on APS’ Special Education Advisory Committee. She said the school system is doing a better job serving students with special needs, but more must be done. Greeley echoed that sentiment.

“If there’s any area where we as a school system must improve, it’s how we treat our students with special needs,” he said.

Asked about the rising per pupil cost at Arlington Public Schools — it will rise past $19,000 next school year, the highest of any school system in the region — Van Doren said most of APS’ costs go to teacher salaries.

“I just don’t see how we’re going to be able to cut that,” she said.

Kanninen said she was “uncomfortable” when it was announced that Arlington was the top-spending school system. She said she believes that it’s possible to cut “hidden” costs in the budget, and that savings can be found by reducing technology and test preparation spending. With the current budget, Kanninen argued, there’s no excuse for poor performance in any Arlington schools.

“We’re funding our school system at a level where we should be the best,” she said. Kanninen, Van Doren and Greeley all expressed concern about student performance issues that have come to light at Drew Model Elementary.

Greeley had some strong words about APS’ allegedly top-down approach to community communication. He said that school staff is told not to attend community forum and discouraged to communicate with the public outside of official channels.

“The notion that we don’t want staff to talk to the community is part of the broader philosophical issue that we need to address,” he said.

(more…)

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 28, 2014 at 9:45 am | 1,734 views | No Comments

Tree in bloom near Four Mile Run

Death Sentence Recommended for Torrez — A federal jury on Thursday recommended that former Marine Jorge Torrez be put to death for the 2009 murder of Navy Petty Officer Amanda Jean Snell on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. A judge is scheduled to formally sentence Torrez on May 30. [Washington Post]

Van Doren Picks Up Endorsements — Arlington School Board candidate Nancy Van Doren announced over the weekend that she has picked up the endorsements of the Arlington Education Association PAC, which represents Arlington teachers, and of current School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez.

Republicans Pick Congressional Nominee — Marine Corps veteran and former congressional staffer Micah Edmund has captured the GOP nomination for congress in the race to replace the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D). Edmund won 51 percent of the vote in a party convention held Saturday at Bishop O’Connell High School. [InsideNoVa]

Autistic Boy Punished at Randolph Elementary — The mother of a 7-year-old Randolph Elementary student is crying foul after a teacher moved his desk as punishment for bad behavior. The boy has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and his mom is trying to get him transferred to a different elementary school. [WUSA 9]

Wardian Wins Big Sur Marathon — Six days after his impressive Boston Marathon performance, elite distance runner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has won the Big Sur International Marathon with a time of 2:27:45. Wardian’s time set a record for the 40-and-over age group in the Big Sur marathon and he also set a record for best combined time in the Boston and Big Sur marathons, with 4:51:17. [Santa Cruz Sentinel]

Problems for Potomac Yard Metro — The location of a future Potomac Yard Metro station is in doubt after the National Park Service raised concerns about the station’s visibility from the George Washington Parkway. Changes to the station’s location are expected to cost more than $50 million and delay the project by three years. [WAMU]

Route 50 Courthouse Interchange Update — Several long-term closures associated with the Route 50 Courthouse interchange project have been lifted. Among the routes that have reopened by VDOT are: 10th Street to eastbound Route 50, and Courthouse Road and N. Fairfax Drive to westbound Route 50.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2014 at 9:05 am | 3,045 views | No Comments

Inside Ben's Chili Bowl (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

School Board Nixes Controversial Proposed Cuts — The Arlington School Board on Thursday took three key cuts proposed by superintendent Patrick Murphy off the table. The nixed proposals are: combining the Langston-Brown High School Continuation Program with Arlington Mill High School, reducing day classes offered to students over the age of 22, and eliminating elementary school library aides. The cuts would have saved at least $2.7 million. The Board is also “asking for more information about” a proposal that would outfit every second and sixth grader with an iPad or Chromebook at a reported annual cost of $200,000. [InsideNoVa]

WHS Video for Happiness Day — The Wakefield Asian Club at Wakefield High School created a musical video from Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” in honor of International Day of Happiness on Thursday. [YouTube]

Girl Scout Troop Orders Too Many Cookies — A new Girl Scout troop from Arlington’s Nottingham Elementary School misread an order form and accidentally ordered 12 times as many cases of Girl Scout cookies to sell as intended. Luckily, other local Girl Scout troops rallied and helped the troop sell the 1,440 excess boxes of Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, etc. [Washington Post]

Bennington Apartments Sell for $101.1 Million — The Bennington apartment building at 1201 S. Eads Street in Pentagon City has traded hands for $101.1 million. The 348-unit building was purchased by New York-based Pantzer Properties, which plans to rebrand the building as “The Point at Pentagon City.” [Washington Business Journal]

SPRC to Meet on Key Blvd Apartment Plan — The county’s Site Plan Review Committee will meet Monday to discuss a plan to demolish and redevelop the Key Boulevard Apartments near Rosslyn. The group Preservation Arlington has expressed concern about the proposal. “Built in 1943, Key Boulevard Apartments are a nearly perfect garden apartment complex with all the right details and scaling,” the group wrote on its blog. [Preservation Arlington]

Road Closures for Nottingham 5K – Several streets will be closed Saturday morning for the Nottingham Elementary 5K race. The closures will be in place on parts of Williamsburg Blvd, Little Falls Road and N. Ohio Street from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 10, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,758 views | No Comments

Winter Sunrise by BrianMKA

Wakefield Falls in Semifinals — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team lost in the 5A state tournament semifinals Saturday. Wakefield lost to Henrico 63-55, ending their season. [Sun Gazette]

Contract Loss Could Cost 165 Jobs in Arlington — Some 165 Lockheed Martin employees in Arlington are set to lose their jobs after the company lost a contract with the U.S. Army for information technology work. The contract was instead awarded to General Dynamics. [Washington Business Journal]

Construction Contract Awarded for New School – The Arlington School Board voted last week to award a $32.3 million contract for the construction of a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The school “is anticipated to be the first Net Zero Energy School on the East Coast,” thanks to a large solar array on the roof. With design, contingencies and “soft costs” factored in, the total cost of the school is projected at $43.8 million, down from the original $46.5 million cost estimate. [Arlington Public Schools]

W-L Falls to Yorktown in Shootout — Yorktown high school hockey club defeated Washington-Lee 3-2 in a four-round shootout Saturday night at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. It was the last game of the season for both teams.

Big Lines for Car Washes — With spring-like temperatures on Saturday came spring-like lines at local car washes. Motorists lined up to get the salt residue and winter grime washed off their cars. The line for Mr. Wash on N. Glebe Road extended all the way to Route 50 at one point. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 5, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,352 views | No Comments

Dedicated cyclists riding in the snow (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Walter Reed Drive Water Main Break — Drivers should expect traffic impacts and slippery conditions when driving on Walter Reed Drive in the area of S. Pollard Street, between S. Glebe Road and Four Mile Run Drive. The water from a 16-inch water main break has frozen and the southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are reportedly blocked. [Twitter]

School Board Candidates Critical of Budget Proposal — The three candidates running for the Democratic endorsement in the Arlington School Board race have qualms with Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $539.4 million budget. Specifically, the candidates were concerned about Murphy’s proposed cuts to diploma programs for students over the age of 22. [Sun Gazette]

Opower Prepares for IPOCourthouse-based energy efficiency tech firm Opower is preparing for a $100 million Initial Public Offering. The company, which has been losing millions every year as it focuses on growth, will go public under the New York Stock Exchange OPWR. [InTheCapital]

Registration Open for Phoenix Derby — Registration is now open for the inaugural Phoenix Derby. The urban cyclocross bicycle race will be held on May 17 in a Crystal City parking garage. The event will benefit local bike education nonprofit Phoenix Bikes, which is in the process of raising funds for construction of a new headquarters along the W&OD Trail. [Crystal City]

Peak Bloom Date Predicted – The National Park Service revealed its cherry blossom peak bloom prediction yesterday. The famous blossoms are expected to be at their peak from April 8-12. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

Peter’s Take: Board Continues Shortchanging Our Schools

by Peter Rousselot | February 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm | 1,658 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 proposed FY 2015 Arlington County Budget continues the Arlington County Board’s pattern of providing too small a share of our tax dollars to Arlington Public Schools (APS).

Background

While school enrollment is projected to continue to surge, and while educational challenges are continuing to rise, APS’ share of the tax revenue we provide to the County was shrinking even prior to the latest County-proposed budget:

“The share of revenue that APS has received from the County has declined in recent years, from 46.1 percent in FY 2011 and FY 2012 to 45.6 percent in FY 2014,” School Board Chair Abby Raphael wrote in an open letter to County Board Chair Jay Fisette.

The FY 2015 Budget

Despite repeated pleas last fall from parents to the County Board to rectify this inequity — pleas that were rudely and inappropriately criticized by some County Board members — the latest proposed County budget fails to rectify the inequity. It still proposes the 45.6 percent shrunken share.

On Feb. 21, the School Board once again requested that the share be restored to 46.1 percent.  If granted, this increase would produce an additional $4.8 million in revenue in FY2015.

Why is the County Board continuing to shortchange our public schools?

Why have we gotten to the point where the School Board feels compelled to write a public letter to the County Board asking the County Board to restore APS’ historic share of the tax dollars we pay? Why do some members of the County Board tell members of the taxpaying public (who fund our government 24/7/365) that there are only certain months each year when the public can ask the County Board for more resources for our schools?

If anything, the School Board was too deferential when its Chair noted in her letter that “the School Board understands that the County Board has many priorities to balance in meeting the needs of our residents.” The persistent problem the School Board faces is that the County Board has the wrong priorities.

The County Board’s priorities are wrong because the County Board is:

  • committing our money to vanity projects like an unnecessary $310+ million Columbia Pike streetcar, a gold-plated $80+ million Aquatics Center, and an extravagant $1.7 million Clarendon dog park;
  • pouring our money into tax increment financing schemes (TIF). Under TIF, increased revenues amounting to millions of dollars are no longer available to fund any other services such as schools;
  • failing to give first priority to using our money to fund core services like schools.

In these times of surging enrollment and new instructional challenges, APS deserves an even higher share of our money than the School Board seeks in its Feb. 21 letter. 

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.

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

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

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.

Greeley Would Be First Openly Gay Man on Arlington School Board

by Ethan Rothstein | January 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm | 2,184 views | No Comments

School Board candidate Greg Greeley

Greg Greeley is not your typical suburban School Board candidate. A single gay man, a father of two adopted boys, and an Air Force veteran, Greeley breaks the mold in more ways than one.

This might be big news elsewhere in the country. In Arlington, however, Greeley is just running to succeed another mold-breaker.

Greeley, a Douglas Park resident, filed to run to replace Sally Baird on the School Board earlier this month. If elected, Greeley would be Arlington’s first openly gay male School Board member, replacing Baird, Virginia’s first openly lesbian elected official. (Like Greeley, Baird also has two sons.)

Greeley has served as chair of the “Planning and Capacity Subcommittee of the Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs” and as treasurer of the Randolph Elementary School PTA, among other volunteer positions with school organizations.

The 49-year-old Democrat has already received endorsements from state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) and Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) and is prepping for a door-knocking campaign before the Democratic caucus in May. Greeley, a federal government contractor and project manager, is primarily focused on capacity and facility issues — building and renovating schools to keep up with Arlington’s burgeoning student population — since it’s where he thinks the School Board needs the most improvement.

Greg Greeley and his sons (courtesy photo)“I want us to make better decisions about how to deal with the capacity crunch,” he told ARLnow.com this morning. “The tipping point [in my decision to run] was last summer when the North Arlington elementary schools were dealing with boundary changes. It was really a painful public process.”

As a member of the capacity subcommittee, and the boundary liaison to Nottingham Elementary School during the process, he said he kept seeing reasons to run for the Board.

“As I got more involved in the facilities,” he said, “I saw more things I wanted to change.”

Greeley has never run for office before, but he has experience in helping change happen. He served four years in the Air Force — which he called “a great experience” — before applying for discharge because, as he put it, “I was too out to stay in.”

“I’ve always wanted to lead the life I wanted to live,” he said. He explained that that’s why, in 2002, he adopted his first son, Kolya, from the Ukraine as an 18 month old. “I hit my mid-30s and decided I wanted to have a family.”

Greeley doesn’t worry about convincing voters that he’s a capable, qualified School Board candidate despite his status as a gay single parent.

“That’s why I like living here,” he said. “People here are open and accepting. It wasn’t always this way. There was lots of pushback in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and we weren’t welcome in the political scene. Now we’re just part of the community.”

(more…)

Kanninen, Van Doren Announce School Board Candidacy

by ARLnow.com | January 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm | 554 views | No Comments

School Board candidates Nancy Van Doren (L) and Barbara Kanninen (R)Two Arlington School Board hopefuls have formally announced their candidacy.

Barbara Kanninen, Nancy Van Doren and Greg Greeley are running for the Democratic endorsement for school board, hoping to replace the retiring Sally Baird. The endorsement caucus will be held on May 15 and 17. Kanninen and Van Doren announced their candidacies over the weekend.

Van Doren, a mother of four and an Arlington Public Schools volunteer, says her experience “is deep and broad and it is exactly what the school board needs at this time.”

From a campaign mailer:

For ten years, Nancy has volunteered extensively in Arlington Public Schools to ensure the educational success of all children from all backgrounds.

Nancy focuses on the student. She always asks: What does the student need to succeed? What can I do to ensure each and every child is successful? She maintains this focus and works for demonstrable improvement at the student, school, and county level.

Nancy follows through and gets the job done. When it comes to educating students, collaboration, good communication, and community engagement are keys to success. Nancy has a very collaborative style, which she uses effectively to build coalitions to get projects done.

Van Doren, whose children attend Jefferson Middle School and Washington-Lee High School, is holding a campaign kick-off event from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, at the Lyon Park Community House (414 N. Fillmore Street).

Kanninen, an economist and author who unsuccessfully ran for school board last year, says the school system should improve its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs while also investing in the arts.

The press release from Kanninen’s campaign, after the jump.

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