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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 15, 2014 at 9:45 am | 1,040 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 | August 12, 2013 at 8:30 am | 1,454 views | No Comments

Demolition of a pedestrian bridge in Crystal City over the weekend (photo courtesy Ryan Kaltenbaugh)

New APS Teachers to Begin Orientation — More than 400 newly-hired Arlington public school teachers are set to begin orientation sessions next week. The school system says it has hired nearly 90 percent of the teachers necessary to keep up with attrition and a growing student body. [Sun Gazette]

APS Debuts Smartphone App — Arlington Public Schools has unveiled a new iPhone and Android app for parents. The free app “features news and headlines, upcoming events, sports scores… and easy access to APS services such as MySchoolBucks, the Extended Day portal, lunch menus and calendars.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Great Falls Drowning Danger — The waters at Great Falls claim an average of seven lives per year, including three since June. The waters are especially deadly because of strong undercurrents in parts that look calm on the surface. [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Ryan Kaltenbaugh

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | March 21, 2013 at 9:10 am | 712 views | 8 Comments

Green lights in Clarendon

911 Outage Report Released — A report regarding Northern Virginia’s 911 outage following last summer’s derecho storm calls on Verizon to provide an audit of its entire 911 infrastructure. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Board of Directors approved the report, which found that the outage was caused by the loss of commercial power and the subsequent failure of one of the two backup generators in each of Verizon’s Arlington and Fairfax central offices. Improper maintenance and incident response also reportedly contributed to the outage. [MWCOG]

Arlington Third Healthiest County in Virginia — A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers indicates that Arlington is the third healthiest county in the state. Coming in first is Fairfax County, followed by Loudoun County. The study examined data from nearly every county in the nation. Overall, Northern Virginia counties fared better than those in the southern parts of the state. [WTOP]

Key Elementary School Educator Chosen as Teacher of the Year — The 2013 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year is a fourth grade educator at Key Elementary School. Erica Russell has been teaching at the school since 2006. She will be honored by the School Board on May 15, and is the county’s nominee for the 2013 Virginia Teacher of the Year Competition. [Sun Gazette]

Pedestrian Struck Near Kenmore Expected to Survive

by ARLnow.com | January 25, 2013 at 10:35 am | 1,987 views | 33 Comments

Pedestrian accident on Carlin Springs Road near Kenmore Middle SchoolA man who was struck by a car and critically injured Wednesday night is expected to survive.

The man was apparently trying to cross Carlin Springs Road near Kenmore Middle School when he was struck by a southbound vehicle, suffering what police described as “severe head trauma.” The man is expected to survive, although severe head injuries are often debilitating.

“The victim remains in a medically induced coma at this time but is expected to survive,” Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. “His wife informed our lead detective on the case that he is in stable condition.”

The man is an Arlington Public Schools teacher. The school system declined to identify the school at which he teaches.

“Students have been told that the teacher was in an accident and to keep him in their thoughts,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. “Unfortunately I can’t release his name because of privacy issues.”

Police remained on scene for hours to investigate the accident. So far there’s no word on whether any charges will be filed.

APS Expects Staff Exodus to Continue

by Katie Pyzyk | September 26, 2012 at 10:30 am | 7,029 views | 128 Comments

(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools has a lot on its plate in the next several years, as the system takes on boundary changes and building new schools to ease overcrowding. But an issue that’s quietly crept into the system is the increasing loss of senior staff members.

A concerned resident, Hans Bauman, told ARLnow.com that he pored through public records and compiled a list of more than two dozen principals and senior staff members (after the jump) who had left APS since 2010. He called the amount of turnover “unsettling.”

“I am not sure how to assess whether all this turnover is ‘normal’ but I keep hearing concerns about management practices from every single APS person I talk to and I really was stunned when I compiled these lists,” Bauman wrote in an email. “Though the block scheduling fiasco, the current transportation mess, the class size increases and other APS missteps have gotten lots of press, I do think this almost more worrying trend hasn’t been really daylighted.”

APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos confirmed that all of the employees on the list had indeed left their positions, but she said most retired and some took promotions within the system or with other school districts.

“We know that APS has a ‘senior’ corps of highly qualified staff approaching retirement, and it is something we have been watching for a number of years now,” said Erdos.

The situation will only intensify in the coming years. Erdos said in the next decade, there are 63 administrators and around 1,200 other staffers who can retire with full benefits. To be eligible for full retirement benefits, employees must be at least 50 years old with 30 or more years in the Virginia Retirement System.

Of the 1,200 staffers eligible for retirement, more than 600 are teachers. Currently, APS employs more than 2,100 teachers, including some who are part-time.

In addition to the loss of staff due to retirement and relocation, extra employees are necessary to accommodate the growing number of students in the system. Although she didn’t have the breakdown of how many were hired due to expansion and how many were to replace departing staff, Erdos noted that APS hired 230 full-time and 45 part-time teachers for the 2012-13 school year.

“Every year during the budget, we add staff when needed based on the projected enrollment for the coming school year,” Erdos said. “As for the staff who are hired annually, the new staff are a mix to replace retirees and to add staffing to address growing enrollment.”

The loss of senior employees is why Erdos said APS is focused on grooming current staff for more advanced leadership roles. For example, it funds classroom assistants aspiring to become teachers, and supports administrators looking to advance to positions such as principal. It also actively seeks out new teachers by recruiting at colleges and universities around the country, recruiting through publications and professional organizations, and by holding two career fairs each year.

“This is a growing national trend,” said Erdos. “In the next decade, we expect that this trend will continue to be a challenge for APS and all school districts across the country.”

Bauman, however, attributes much of the turnover to mismanagement by Arlington Public Schools.

“The amount of turnover since 2010 is stunning: One third of elementary school principals; Two thirds of middle school principals; Two thirds of the assistant superintendents,” he wrote. “I believe some of this loss can be attributed to the recent emphasis the Board and the Superintendent have placed on generic spreadsheets, standardized tests, and — perhaps most significantly — a huge increase in the use of outside consultants.”

“Outside opinions and objective measures do indeed have a place in every well-run organization. But the recent attrition trend suggests this approach may be going too far,” he continued. “Building space, schedules, staffing, and bus routes have been treated as cells in Excel rather than the complex, unique situations that we can and should manage with greater care in a system of our size.”

See the list that Bauman compiled, after the jump. (more…)

APS Adopts New, Restrictive Social Media Policy

by Katie Pyzyk | June 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm | 2,063 views | 10 Comments

Arlington public school teachers will have restrictions put on their use of Facebook and Twitter. The Arlington School Board adopted a new policy at its meeting on Tuesday, June 19, setting guidelines for social media use between students and teachers.

The School Board said it recognizes the importance of social media as means for parents, students and teachers to collaborate through evolving forms of communication. However, board members noted the need for clear and reasonable boundaries for interactions between students and adults.

The policy is designed to protect students from misconduct and abuse, and to protect adults from misunderstandings and false accusations. In addition to preventing inappropriate sexual contact from occurring between students and teachers, the policy is also intended to curb harassment and bullying.

Arlington Public Schools will allow students and employees to interact via social media while in online groups, but all content must relate to classroom instruction or school-sponsored extracurricular activities. Adults will not be permitted to engage in one-on-one electronic communication with students, with an added caveat for instances of an emergency.

“One-on-one emergency contact is permissible, provided that the employee would then contact their supervisor, so that the parent could be notified as soon as possible about the reason for the exception being made, or the emergency,” said Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos.

APS has defined social media as any online media that allows users to collaborate and engage in multi-directional conversations, to create personal profiles and to view the personal profiles of other users. This may include APS-approved media tools such as BlackBoard or Google. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online forums and other social media tools generally available to the public are also included in the definition.

The policy is designed to provide guidelines for transparency, privacy protection and responsible use of social media. Some of those guidelines are as follows:

  • Information about the use of any social media should be included in the classroom syllabus or extracurricular information, and department supervisors and school administration should be aware of what social media tools are being used. The classroom syllabus should include a clear statement of the purpose and outcomes for the use of any networking tool.
  • Teachers/staff must ensure that the social media tools they are using have been submitted to the school administration for approval each school year. This may be an ongoing process throughout the school year, to be reevaluated annually.
  • Employees should establish clear rules and expectations and a code of conduct for all network participants. Just as in the classroom setting, online rules should be established to foster an atmosphere of respect, trust, and clear professional boundaries.
  • Parents should be informed of the social media tools being used, how their children are being contacted online, and the expectations for appropriate behavior.
  • Employees should be aware that they will be identified as working for and representing the school in what they do and say online.
  • Communications with students should be professional and appropriate within the context of the teacher/student relationship.
  • Employees should not discuss students or coworkers publicly.
  • Teachers should treat social media as an extension of the classroom, and should weigh every posting for how it affects their effectiveness as teachers.
  • Employees may not use commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary, or libelous. Caution must be exercised with regards to exaggeration, inappropriate language, legal conclusions, and derogatory remarks or characterizations.
  • All laws pertaining to copyright and intellectual property must be obeyed.
  • Remember that all online communications are stored and can be monitored.
  • Inappropriate communications with students in any electronic or other format may be grounds for termination and loss of the educator’s license.
  • Teachers/employees have the obligation to keep all student information private.
  • Users must pay close attention to the site’s security settings and allow only approved participants access to the site.

APS said it will regularly monitor social media used by schools and departments. Staff found not adhering to the new policy will be subject to disciplinary actions. Before Tuesday, there was no formal social media policy in place at APS.

Moran Introduces Autism Legislation That Could Benefit Arlington Schools

by ARLnow.com | April 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm | 2,293 views | 22 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran (D) introduced legislation today that would provide funding to schools for additional training for teachers who work with students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

At a press conference this morning, Moran was joined by officials from Arlington Public Schools, along with several Arlington parents of autistic children. The bill — the “AUTISM Educators Act” — could specifically benefit Arlington schools, where more than 10 percent of the special education population has been diagnosed with ASD, according to Moran’s office.

From a press release:

Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, today introduced legislation, the “Autism Understanding and Training In School Methodologies for Educators Act of 2012,” or the “AUTISM Educators Act,” to establish a pilot program to train teachers who work with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Moran was joined at the bill announcement by original cosponsor Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) parents, children with ASD, and local officials from Arlington County and City of Alexandria Public Schools.

“This legislation is the product of a grassroots effort by parents, instructors, school officials and caring communities,” said Rep. Moran. “Autism Spectrum Disorders are being diagnosed at an exploding rate. We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to provide the best education for our children.”

Autism Spectrum Disorder is now the fastest growing serious developmental disorder in the United States, increasing the number of children with high-functioning autism (HFA) taken out of special education and placed in mainstream classrooms.

Moran’s legislation will create a five-year grant program to allow local school systems to partner with experienced university or non-profit programs to establish a training program for general education teachers who have large numbers of HFA students. The programs will also incorporate parental involvement and retention of skilled educators.

The AUTISM Educators Act has received endorsements from a wide range of organizations including Autism Speaks, the Arlington County School Board and Arlington Special Education Parent Teacher Association.

“Congressman Moran’s bill will provide much needed funding for local school districts as they strive to meet the needs of the growing population of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In Arlington, as across the nation, we have seen a significant increase in the number of students with ASD: from 100 students in 2003 to more than 350 students this year with ASD,” said Abby Raphael, Chair of the Arlington County School Board. “Providing general education classroom teachers and others with additional training is essential to ensuring that students with ASD are successful. The Arlington School Board appreciates Congressman Moran’s leadership and recognizes the work of our very active parent community in working with him, which has resulted in this important legislation.”

In March the Centers for Disease Control released a new study citing the growing rate of ASD. One in 88 children in the United States are diagnosed with ASD before their eighth birthday. Boys are five times more likely as girls, with one in 54 diagnosed with ASD.

“Congressman Jim Moran has brought renewed hope to families across Arlington who have a child on the autism spectrum,” said Alex Arriaga, Arlington resident and parent of a child on the spectrum. “The AUTISM Educators Act of 2012 can help bring essential training to classrooms across the country, improving the outcomes for students on the autism spectrum and making it more likely that they can fulfill their great potential.”

The targeted pilot program would be available only to schools with high incidences of ASD; qualifying school systems must have 10 percent or more of the special education population diagnosed with ASD.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 11, 2012 at 9:05 am | 2,085 views | 83 Comments

Older ‘Quota’ Memos Released — Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott continues to insist that the police department does not and never did have a quota system, despite new memos being unearthed which set “goals,” “expectations,” or “levels of production” for arrests and tickets. [WUSA 9, Washington Post]

Documentary About Arlington Freedom Rider — A documentary is being made about Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, an long-time Arlington resident and one of the original Freedom Riders who fought against racial segregation in the South. [YouTube]

Contest Sends APS Teacher to Volcano – Gunston Middle School teacher John Stewart will be taking an all-expenses-paid educational trip to Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii after winning a contest sponsored by Wonder bread. While in Hawaii, at the country’s most active volcano, Stewart will “provide an interactive educational experience to his 8th grade students at Gunston Middle School, which will also receive 25 free tablet computers for the remote lesson,” according to a press release. [7Wonders of the USA Teacher Tour]

Flickr pool photo by Alex

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | October 24, 2011 at 8:23 am | 2,021 views | 78 Comments

Teacher Diversity Lags in Arlington — While 28 percent of Arlington public school students are Hispanic, only 7 percent of APS teachers are Hispanic. The school system has been actively working to diversify its teacher pool, however. Over the past year, 14 percent of new teachers hired have been Hispanic. [Sun Gazette]

Jury Selection for Lululemon Murder Trial — Jury selection is beginning today in Maryland in the trial of Brittany Norwood, the woman charged in the murder of Rosslyn resident Jayna Murray. Murray was found bludgeoned to death inside a Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda in March. [WJLA]

Wardian Strikes Again — Prolific marathoner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has “obliterated” another record. He ran the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Ultramarathon in central Pennsylvania in 5 hours, 33 minutes and 47 seconds — beating the course record by nearly 10 minutes. [Centre Daily Times]

Photo courtesy Anonymous

Arlington Teacher Attends NBC Education Summit

by ARLnow.com | September 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm | 989 views | 7 Comments

Randolph Elementary third grade teacher Matt Tosiello, Arlington’s Teacher of the Year, was in New York City yesterday for the NBC News Education Nation summit.

While there, Tosiello participated in a two-hour Teacher Town Hall with NBC’s Brian Williams. The event focused on the struggles teachers face in the classroom and on future opportunities for improving the country’s educational system. (Tosiello can be seen briefly, holding an iPhone in this NBC Nightly News clip.)

Before the summit, Tosiello talked to NBC4′s Aaron Gilchrist.

Secretary of Education Visits Randolph Elementary

by ARLnow.com | May 4, 2011 at 9:42 am | 932 views | 2 Comments

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a surprise visit to Randolph Elementary on Tuesday to help celebrate national Teacher Appreciation Week.

Duncan, an Arlington resident, greeted teachers and staff at the Douglas Park-area school during their PTA teacher appreciation breakfast. He congratulated Arlington Teacher of the Year Matt Tosiello — a third grade teacher at Randolph — as well as Gifted Teacher of the Year Pamela Clark and American Association of University Women Educator of the Year Jeanette Anderson.

“Children are lucky to have adults like you in their lives, working for them every single day,” Duncan told the teachers. “Thanks for the hard work and the difference you’re making in their lives.”

“We are honored to have had Secretary Duncan visit with us this morning,” Randolph Elementary Principal Reneé Bostick said on Tuesday. “It was a nice way to thank our teachers for their hard work and dedication.”

After visiting teachers in Arlington, Duncan headed to the White House to join President Obama in a ceremony honoring the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.

Photo courtesy Frank Bellavia/APS

Proposed School Budget Includes Pay Raise for Teachers

by ARLnow.com | February 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm | 1,552 views | 59 Comments

(Updated at 9:20 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy proposed a budget Thursday morning that increases high school class sizes but grants teachers at least part of a desired pay raise.

The proposed FY 2012 budget includes a step increase for teachers and other school employees that was not granted last year amid a serious budget crunch. It does not, however, include a cost of living (COLA) increase. COLA increases used to be granted nearly every year until Arlington’s budget difficulties began two years ago.

Senior employees and employees at the top of the pay scale — who together make up about 33 percent of the work force — are not eligible for a step increase. Dr. Murphy is proposing a one-time payment of $1,000 to  those employees. The total cost of all pay raises is estimated at $16.4 $7.9 million. (The original $16.4 million figure included benefit and retirement increases.)

The new $470 million school budget raises the cost per pupil to $18,115, from a low of $17,322 last year and a high of $19,538 in FY 2009. The budget represents a $27.8 million — or 6.3 percent — increase over last year’s budget. It reflects, however, a projected enrollment increase of nearly 1,000 students over FY 2011.

The superintendent’s budget includes an increase in class sizes for grades 9-12, from 24.4 students per class to 25.4 students per class. Dr. Murphy leaves a one student increase in class sizes for grades K-8 as an “option” for the school board to consider. Dr. Murphy, facing a looming system-wide capacity crisis, also budgets for the purchase of 12 new relocatable classrooms.

“Capacity and enrollment will continue to be something we’re going to have to look at,” Dr. Murphy said, noting that Arlington schools still “have some of the smallest class sizes in the region.”

The budget includes some good news for supporters of the Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium.

(more…)

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 3, 2011 at 5:00 am | 755 views | 16 Comments

Artisphere to Be Named in Contest — Artisphere is holding a contest to name its new restaurant. Anybody with a creative idea will be able to submit it through an online form next week. The winner will receive a private dinner for eight and VIP entrance to an Artisphere event. [TBD]

Columbia Pike Electronics Store May Be Forced to Move — The long-time owner of a small electronics store is trying to decide what to do if he gets the boot from his landlord. Venus Stereos & TV occupies a prime storefront at the corner of the Pike and Walter Reed Drive, next to Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Should the store move, many residents are hoping that a cafe takes its place. [Pike Wire]

Scholarships Offered to Aspiring Teachers — Graduating high school seniors planning a career in education can apply for $2,000 scholarships from the Arlington County Scholarship Fund for Teachers. The organization has been awarding scholarships since 1955.

Egypt Unrest Results in APS Students Losing Their Teacher

by ARLnow.com | February 1, 2011 at 10:13 am | 854 views | 5 Comments

The protests in Egypt are hitting home for a group of Arlington Public School students.

The Egyptian government has cut internet service in response to the unrest.  As a result, Washington-Lee High School has temporarily lost its Arabic teacher, who teaches the class remotely from Egypt.

A “live” teacher has now been brought in to continue teaching the class.

APS sent the following letter home to parents yesterday.

January 31, 2011

Dear Parents,

The recent events in Egypt have caused a disruption in Internet communications and with the Skype sessions that our students have with teachers from the Arab Academy in Cairo.

We would like to inform you that our Arabic students will continue to receive uninterrupted instruction. The online course our students follow is housed in Herndon, VA and therefore students can access the online material at any time. Ms. Wasan and Ms. Mona, APS Arabic teachers will visit each school in person and continue to provide instruction to our students. This plan will be in effect until Skype communication with Cairo is restored.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Regards,

Pat Teske, Supervisor, Office of Instructional and Innovative Technologies Office

Hildi Pardo, Distance Learning Specialist, Office of Instructional and Innovative Technologies

Marleny Perdomo, Supervisor, World Languages Office

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