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by Ethan Rothstein — November 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm 4,221 0

APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy's proposed boundary changes(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Just 18 months after Arlington’s School Board approved a new elementary school boundary plan for North Arlington, an influx of more new students is prompting the Board to reconsider those plans.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia says 652 additional Pre-K and elementary students came to the district this year, outpacing APS’s growth projections by 52. That, along with variances on a school-by-school basis, has caused APS to explore “possible refinements to the boundaries.”

Following a series of three community meetings, the School Board is scheduled to fast-track a vote on a new boundary map for the 2015-2016 school year in January.

The process for determining the new school boundaries will begin with a community meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 17, at Williamsburg Middle School. There, APS staff will present data showing the need for the boundary change, demonstrate the online tool that parents can use to recommend their boundary maps and “begin work with the community to refine boundary options,” according to an APS press release.

The schools whose boundaries will come under review are the under-construction elementary school next to Williamsburg Middle School, Glebe Elementary, Tuckahoe, Ashlawn, Nottingham, Taylor, Jamestown and McKinley.

The approved boundary change from May of last year reassigned 900 students and resulted in five schools — Taylor, Glebe, Tuckahoe, McKinley and Nottingham — sitting at more than 100 percent capacity, but no school above 105.1 percent capacity. The decision was reached after an eight-month community process, and previous boundary realignments have resulted in tension among parents.

The boundary revision process, from the first School Board information session to its scheduled adoption, will take two and a half months.

“After we received updated enrollment projections based on Sept. 30 enrollment numbers, the Superintendent directed staff to begin looking at refinement of the 2015-16 boundaries,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com in an email. “The projections confirmed that we will have enrollment imbalances within the those schools and there is a need to do boundary refinements for a relatively small number of families.”

At tomorrow night’s School Board meeting, APS staff will present their newest school population projections and outline the need to revising the boundaries. From Nov. 18 to Dec. 5, parents and community members will be able to go online and submit their boundary recommendations for staff to consider. Staff will review those recommendations at another community meeting Tuesday, Dec. 9, in the Williamsburg auditorium.

The community meetings will provide an opportunity for the families that may potentially be impacted to work with staff to develop recommended adjustments using the Online Boundary Tool originally introduced in the boundary process two years ago,” APS said in a press release. “Individuals will be able to see the possible moves that can help to further balance enrollment for these schools. Information shared at all community meetings will help shape the discussion and prepare individuals to use the Online Boundary Tool.”

In January, the School Board will take up the issue. First, with a work session on Jan. 5, then with an information item on Jan. 8, when Superintendent Patrick Murphy presents his recommendation. On Jan. 15, the Board will hold a public meeting on the issue before voting on a new boundary alignment on Jan. 22. All of the School Board meetings will be at 7:30 p.m. at 1426 N. Quincy Street.

File photo via APS

by ARLnow.com — May 17, 2013 at 4:05 pm 1,789 0

"Variation B" newly-approved Arlington elementary school boundaries(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) The Arlington School Board approved new elementary school boundaries Thursday night, wrapping up an eight month community process.

The School Board unanimously adopted “Variation B” of Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s recommended boundaries (left). The new boundaries will help distribute students to a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus (see below) as well as to additions at Ashlawn and McKinley elementary schools.

The new schools and additions (there will also be a new choice elementary school near Kenmore Middle School and an addition to Arlington Traditional School) are being undertaken to provide an additional 1,875 seats of capacity by 2017 for Arlington burgeoning student population.

“Variation B” will shift elementary school boundaries and result in the reassignment of 900 students. The changes will take effect for the 2015-2016 school year.

  • 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

The School Board also approved the following grandfathering provisions:

  • “Rising 5th 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 be provided for these students who remain at their school and who are eligible for bus transportation as of September 2015.”
  • “Because the effective date of students moving to McKinley is September 2016, grandfathering for rising 5th graders and concurrently enrolled younger siblings (grades K-4 as of June 2016) will be in effect for the 2016-17 school year and will follow the procedures in paragraph a.”
  • “A student currently attending Claremont or Key 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 his or her current Immersion School through 5th grade with transportation provided by APS.”
  • “A student currently 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 5th grade with transportation provided by APS.”

The School Board also directed Dr. Murphy “to recommend whether rising K-4 students residing in planning units reassigned to existing schools will be eligible to enroll in their newly assigned elementary school prior to School Year 2015 if seating space is available.”

Ashlawn Elementary School addition site planOn Saturday, the County Board will consider a use permit for a 26,160 square foot addition to Ashlawn Elementary School.

Construction on the addition is expected to begin this summer and wrap up by the summer of 2014. It will add 12 rooms, including 9 classrooms, at a cost of about $12 million, according to a project web page.

County staff is recommending approval of the use permit, as well as a use permit for temporary construction parking at the adjacent Dominion Hills pool.

Meanwhile, at its Thursday meeting, the School Board unanimously approved a schematic design for the new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus.

The new school will cost just over $43 million, according to an APS press release, 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.

Approved schematic design of the new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus Approved schematic design of the new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus

by ARLnow.com — May 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm 2,354 0

New trailer classrooms at Washington-Lee High School(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) On Tuesday, five “relocatable classroom” trailers were placed on a field next to Washington-Lee High School and the Arlington Public Schools administrative offices. The trailers are part of a continuing effort to keep up with rising enrollment at county schools — an effort that may lead to new high school boundary changes.

The new trailers at Washington-Lee will be grouped together to form four classrooms, plus common spaces like bathrooms. They’re located in front of the W-L swimming pool, a short distance away from existing trailer classrooms at a nearby parking lot.

APS spent some $2.2 million to buy 20 additional relocatable classrooms this past fiscal year. The new FY 2014 budget, which is up for School Board approval Thursday night, is expected to include $1.9 million for 24 new trailers.

New trailer classrooms at Washington-Lee High SchoolThe trailers are necessary to deal with a burgeoning school population. Washington-Lee, which was renovated in 2009, is projected to be at 109.1 percent capacity next school year, with 2,023 students enrolled.

While new elementary schools and elementary school additions are on the way to relieve crowding, no such plans are in place at the high school level — only a vague commitment in the school system’s capital improvement plan to start adding permanent middle and high school capacity 5 years from now. In the meantime, that may portend high school boundary changes, since Arlington’s other high schools have some capacity to spare.

Yorktown High School, also recently renovated, was projected (as of Nov. 2012) to be at 97.5 percent capacity next school year, with 1,815 students. And the new Wakefield High School, expected to open in time for the new school year with space for more than 1,900 students, will only be at about 75 percent capacity with 1,460 students.

(The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, a “choice” school without boundaries, is projected at 99.7 percent capacity with 389 high school students.)

Sketch of the new Wakefield High SchoolShifting students from Washington-Lee to Wakefield, should it come to pass, promises to be a contentious process, thanks in part to the big difference in regional school rankings (W-L ranked #10 and Wakefield ranked #62 according to the Washington Post “Challenge Index.) For now, however, APS says there’s no firm plan to change high school boundaries.

“The School Board has said that all boundaries need to be looked at in the coming years because projections continue to change,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. “However there is no timetable as of yet.”

Shifting boundaries will not be a panacea, however. By the 2018-2019 school year, Wakefield is projected to be at 100 percent capacity, while Yorktown is projected to be at 122.4 percent of capacity and Washington-Lee at 137.9 percent capacity.

The School Board, meanwhile,  is expected to approve a final plan to shift elementary school boundaries on May 16.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 2, 2013 at 8:55 am 670 12 Comments

Bare trees in Ballston

APS to Benefit from State STEM Funding — Arlington Public Schools will be getting a boost from the Virginia Department of Education’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grants. A $247,000 grant to George Mason University will provide support to 90 educators in seven school districts, including Arlington. Additionally, a $250,000 grant shared by four colleges and universities will support 76 teachers in 45 school districts, including Arlington. [Sun Gazette]

Public Hearing for School Boundary Changes — On Wednesday, the Arlington School Board will host a public hearing on the recommendations for boundary changes. Last month, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy presented his recommendations for boundary changes. The hearing will take place at the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (April 3).

JBM-HH Works with County to Reduce Use of Energy — The Directorate of Public Works at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBM-HH) has been working with Arlington County to share information about energy use and conservation. Although the two entities aren’t sharing policy yet, they’re sharing information about a community plan to reduce the use of energy. [U.S. Army]

by Katie Pyzyk — March 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm 1,398 25 Comments

APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy's proposed boundary changesArlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy will present his boundary change recommendation at tonight’s School Board meeting.

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.

by ARLnow.com — March 6, 2013 at 9:05 am 459 13 Comments

Snow falling on Pentagon Row

Trash Collection Canceled — Trash collection in Arlington has been canceled today due to the snow storm. Trash collection is currently expected to resume tomorrow, with collection delayed one day for the rest of the week (Wednesday customers’ trash being collected on Thursday, etc.). “Please do not put your trash or recycling on the curb this Wednesday,” said the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. “Wednesday collection routes are in the hilliest parts of the County and expose the collection crews and the public to the greatest safety risks in a snow event.”

School Boundary Meeting Canceled — A school boundary meeting scheduled for today has been canceled. Instead, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy will be holding a boundary town hall meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11, at Williamsburg Middle School. APS, meanwhile, has made some minor tweaks to its boundary change plan, after hearing critical feedback from parents. [Arlington Public Schools, Patch]

Moran, Connolly Support Metrorail Extensions – Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran have introduced a bill calling for a study of an extension of Metro’s Blue, Yellow and Orange lines to Potomac Mills, Fort Belvoir and Centreville respectively. “We need to look at solutions that take cars off the roads and provide viable transportation alternatives for our citizens,” Connolly said in a statement. [Rep. Gerry Connolly, DCist]

Green Party Seeks Housing Authority Referendum — The Arlington Green Party is trying to drum up support from the local faith community for its push for a new housing authority. The Greens are trying to collect 3,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot that would establish a housing authority in Arlington County, with the goal of creating more affordable housing units. [Arlington Mercury]

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2013 at 9:15 am 632 11 Comments

Construction cranes over Clarendon

Wakefield, O’Connell Advance in Tournaments — In high school basketball news, last night the Wakefield Warriors defeated Mountain View 83-76 to advance to the state semifinals, to be played Monday night. Earlier this week the Bishop O’Connell Knights defeated St. John’s 58-53 to capture the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament championship. After a quarterfinal victory, DJO will now play in the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association Division I tournament semifinals tonight. [Washington Post, Sun Gazette]

Parents Upset With School Boundary Changes — At a meeting Wednesday night, numerous parents expressed displeasure with Arlington Public Schools’ proposed elementary boundary changes. The changes are necessary due to overcrowding and the upcoming addition of a new elementary school. [Patch]

County Event to Highlight Intellectual Disabilities — On Tuesday morning, Arlington County will hold an “awards program and proclamation ceremony establishing Including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month as March 2013″ The county says it “is committed to empowering and supporting persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve healthy self-determined lifestyles through community-based education, living arrangements, employment, and other individualized support services.” [Arlington County]

Metro Seeks Input on Pershing-Rt 50 Bus Service — Metro will be holding two public meetings in Arlington next week to discuss potential improvements to the Metrobus 4A, B, E and H lines, also known as the Pershing Drive-Arlington Blvd line. [WMATA]

by Katie Pyzyk — February 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm 3,594 58 Comments

Recommended plan for new school boundaries Alternative recommended plan for new school boundaries

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.

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2013 at 9:20 am 972 20 Comments

Winter sky as seen from the Air Force Memorial (photo by Wolfkann)

Girl Scout Cookie Sales Start Tonight — As a reminder, Girl Scout Cookie booth sales start at 3:00 today in Arlington. The first day of booth sales might be a bit soggy, as a wintry mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain is expected to start early this afternoon.

School Boundary Petition Started — A petition asking for various changes to the Arlington Public Schools boundary review process has collected more than 75 signatures. [iPetitions]

AP Scores Edge Up for APS Students — The average Advanced Placement exam score for Arlington Public Schools students edged up from 2.88 in 2011 to 2.89 last year. In 2010, however, the average for APS was 3.08. The national average is 2.83, on a 1 to 5 scale. [Sun Gazette]

DJO, Marymount Sign Baseball Agreement — Bishop O’Connell High School and Marymount University have finalized a joint use agreement for the high school’s new baseball field. “The future of Catholic education depends on strong partnerships between our high schools and universities,” said outgoing Bishop O’Connell President Kathleen Prebble. [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Arlington Homes For <$500k –A real estate blog has found 15 “starter homes” under $500,000 on the market in Arlington. “All of the properties… come with at least one parking space,” writes Amy Rose Dobson of Curbed. “Most of them have just entered the market within the past week and will probably move fast.” [Curbed]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by Katie Pyzyk — February 5, 2013 at 9:01 am 926 26 Comments

I-66 on dreary winter's day (photo by wolfkann)

School Boundary Meeting on Wednesday — Arlington Public Schools will hold its next school boundary meeting on Wednesday (February 6), at 7:00 p.m. in the Williamsburg Middle School auditorium. APS will share feedback gathered at the January 23 meeting, and present a smaller set of boundary options. After reviewing the options, meeting attendees will have the opportunity to offer feedback. The final set of options is expected to be offered to the School Board in late March.

Metro Region Worst for Traffic — The annual Texas A&M Transportation Institute survey lists the D.C. metro area as number one for the country’s worst traffic congestion, topping Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Boston. The average driver is said to spend 67 hours per year sitting in traffic. Analysts believe drivers will add seven hours to that number by 2020. [Washington Post]

Cuccinelli Backs Alternative Transportation Plan –  Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is not backing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan, but rather a plan that’s considered the conservative alternative. Instead of eliminating the gas tax and increasing the sales tax as McDonnell’s plan proposed, the alternative plan would replace the current gas tax with a sales tax on gasoline. McDonnell’s plan has been controversial, including when the Arlington County Board bashed the proposal late last month. [Washington Examiner]

Free Pancakes at IHOP — Customers at IHOP can get a free short stack of pancakes today. Guests celebrating National Pancake Day are encouraged to leave a donation for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The offer is limited to one stack per customer while supplies last. Arlington’s lone IHOP is at 935 N. Stafford Street in Ballston.

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by Katie Pyzyk — October 10, 2012 at 11:15 am 3,409 43 Comments

Arlington Public Schools is moving ahead with its boundary change process at a meeting next week. But before new boundaries are drawn up, the overall boundary policy is being revised.

At the School Board meeting last Thursday (October 4), staff presented proposed changes to the boundary policy and a framework for boundary decisions to be made during the 2012-2013 school year. According to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia, slight revisions were proposed because the policy hasn’t been examined since June of 2002.

Proposed updates to the policy include identifying when boundary changes may be necessary. Also included are criteria for the School Board and superintendent to consider when proposing boundary changes, such as promoting demographic diversity and minimizing the number of times students are affected by such changes.

Some residents were concerned that the proposed revisions might shut the public out of the process, but the school system says the revisions to the boundary framework simply clarify that the public will be involved in the entire boundary changing endeavor.

“The community is a big part of this and it will have opportunities to participate throughout the entire boundary process,” Bellavia said. “We’re going to allow parents and the community to have input.”

The School Board is expected to take action on the policy revisions at its meeting on Thursday, October 18. A more comprehensive schedule for drawing up boundaries will likely be laid out at that time, according to Bellavia.

New school boundaries are necessary to distribute students to a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus and to additions at Ashlawn and McKinley Elementary schools. The new school and the additions are necessary to ease crowding in elementary schools across the district.

APS says it plans to specifically engage seven neighborhood schools in the boundary revision process: Ashlawn, Glebe, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham, Taylor and Tuckahoe.

by Katie Pyzyk — September 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm 4,674 60 Comments

The 2012-2013 school year is a big one for Arlington Public Schools, as it takes on the task of changing school boundaries and admissions policies. The first opportunity for the public to get involved is at a School Board work session tonight (Wednesday).

At the meeting, the School Board will review the current boundary policy and discuss the scope of the boundary changes to be considered. The work session will take place in room 101 of the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) at 7:45 p.m.

The public is allowed to attend but not offer comments at the work session, which is considered a preliminary meeting to figure out the direction the boundary process will take in the coming months. Public engagement sessions will officially kick off late next month. At that time, residents may raise concerns and offer suggestions for boundary issues requiring further examination.

“We’re very interested in being transparent and engaged with the community in this process. We want people to be engaged because boundary changes will be a part of our future for many years,” said APS Director of Facilities Planning Alison Denton. “We want to establish a process that works and that is transparent.”

Policy requires this process for projects listed in the proposed APS Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) presented by Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy in May. The $538 million CIP includes funding for two new elementary schools and additions to three others to address the school system’s capacity issues.

“We’re seeing an influx of students to the point where we’re running out of space, especially at the elementary level,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

In preparation for the new schools and new additions, new school boundaries must be decided upon to better distribute students in the most overcrowded areas, such as the northwest portion of the county.

“This is just the beginning discussion. We don’t know yet how large the boundaries are going to be or how small they’re going to be,” Bellavia said.

So far, there’s no firm timetable for having a boundary plan completed. It could be finished by the end of this school year, but that’s still up in the air and should be discussed at tonight’s work session, according to Denton.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — September 7, 2012 at 11:10 am 6,232 62 Comments

Arlington Public Schools is starting its community engagement process for upcoming changes to elementary school boundaries.

Boundary and admission policy changes will be necessary to relieve pressure at overcrowded schools once two new elementary schools and three new elementary school additions come online between 2014 and 2017. (A 225 seat addition at Ashlawn Elementary is expected to be complete by fall 2014, and a new 600-seat elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus is expected to be ready by fall 2015.)

Based on past experience, APS can expect parent opposition to some boundary changes. Perhaps with that in mind, the school system will kick off the discussion about boundaries and admissions at a meeting next week.

The meeting will be held at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 12, in Room 101 of the Arlington Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street). At the meeting, the School Board will “review the current boundary policy, discuss the scope of the boundary changes to be considered, and give direction to staff to ensure communication with and feedback from the community.”

The School Board is expected to take action on new school boundaries in late February 2013, according to a “proposed boundary framework” presentation from earlier this summer. Planning for new middle school boundaries is expected to start during the 2014-2015 school year.

In addition to planning for boundary changes, the school system is also starting its design process for the Ashlawn addition and the new school at Williamsburg.

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