First, a plan to build a new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at 125 S. Old Glebe Road, a project which has come under criticism for its reduction of the green space next to the TJ Community Center.
Second, a plan for building $54 million of expansions onto Barcroft and Randolph elementary schools. The Arlington School Board approved the expansion plan at its meeting last night as the alternative to the TJ plan. Whichever option is built is expected to open by September 2018.
The Board will vote in January on which option it will move forward with. Arlington voters approved $50.25 million toward the new elementary school seat plan on Tuesday as part of the $106 million school bond package.
Arlington Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick said last night that there could be measures APS takes to bring the two expansions closer to the $50.25 million budget.
Two parents spoke out last night against the plan to expand Barcroft and Randolph, telling the School Board they should focus expansion efforts on schools that don’t lag far behind the rest of the school system in state testing. School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez echoed those parents’ concerns, and was the lone vote against the alternative plan.
“When we look at adding more seats, we keep on talking about seats. We’re not talking many times about students,” she said. “We’re not talking about instructional programs and options we have before us. The part of the county where Barcroft sits and Randolph sits, we have serious instruction issues when we have low achievement of Latino, African-American, students with disabilities, low-income students not perfomrming as they should. We have a problem.”
The other School Board members countered with the fact that APS capacity issues will affect every building in the school system, and performance issues can be addressed during expansion. School Board member Abby Raphael suggested that concerns about the schools’ performance are being overblown.
“Barcroft is a wonderful school. Students are achieving, there’s a wonderful staff. Of course we can do more,” she said. “Because of our growing enrollment, our elementary schools are going to reach 725 students, and we’re running out of land. Ideally, we’d love to have a number of very small elementary schools, but we just simply don’t have the land and the money to achieve that.”
The School Board’s “preferred plan” remains building a new elementary school next to TJ, but that plan is opposed by community group Friends of TJ Park. The group says the new school would reduce crucial parkland, including the community garden. TJ Middle School students spoke up at a School Board meeting last month to advocate for keeping the garden.
“I am so proud to work in the TJ Garden and seeing it every morning reminds me of how important it is to our community and school in Arlington,” seventh-grader Lucy Robinson said. “If the TJ garden were separated from the school, fewer people would go there and be involved. The TJ community would be hurt by this. Please leave our garden in its current location.”
The TJ plan would add 725 seats with the new school, while the two expansions would add a total of about 500 seats, according to APS estimates. The disparity may make the decision clearer after APS released its new set of student growth projections last night.
APS Director of Facilities Planning Lionel White told the School Board that APS figures to grow by 19 percent, or 4,957 students, in the next five years. According to the district’s projection model, APS will hit 30,000 students in 2020. Because of this growth, APS is considering refining elementary school boundaries for next fall.
“This year we had our highest kindergarten class on record, 2,196,” White told the Board. “Next year we’re anticipating [more than] 2,200.”
Many of the students affected by the school district’s boundary changes will be attending the new elementary school next to Williamsburg Middle School. Last night the School Board approved the school’s name: Discovery Elementary School.
“When you go into successful schools, they use language like ‘discovery’ and ‘creativity’ to spark inspiration in the children,” School Board Chair James Lander said. “The fact that Discovery is the recommended name really pleases me.”
Photo (top) via Arlington Public Schools
Halloween Bar Crawl Begins Discounting — Tickets for the Nov. 1 Halloween bar crawl in Clarendon are being discounted from $15 to $9 on LivingSocial. So far, 63 tickets have been purchased on the site. A police source tells ARLnow.com that ACPD is planning on having “a number of officers specifically detailed to Clarendon for the crawl and throughout the night until a little after closing time.” [LivingSocial]
APS Finds Ways to Make Kids Want Veggies – The Arlington School Board was flabbergasted to learn that the school system’s food services division has apparently found a way to make kids want to eat their veggies. The secret: creatively pairing veggies with other foods. For instance, while spinach alone had an anemic 8 percent selection rate, a spinach and strawberry salad was selected by 78 percent of elementary students. [InsideNova]
What Foreign Students Like About Arlington — A group of exchange students from Germany and Ukraine recently talked about their experience staying in Arlington. They said they liked Arlington’s Metro access and bike paths, and were impressed by how proud Americans are of their country. However, our food got mixed reviews: “The food, they said, tastes good but is ‘a bit unhealthy.’” [Falls Church News-Press]
Open House for TJ Site Evaluation — The Thomas Jefferson Working Group, which is charged with evaluating the feasibility of a new elementary school near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, will hold an open house Saturday, inviting the community to “learn about the process, review site materials, provide feedback and ask questions.” A vocal group of residents has spoken out against the potential loss of parkland at the site.
Kudos for Crystal City’s Startup Scene — Southern Alpha, a website that writes about startups in the southeastern U.S., is impressed with Crystal City’s recent entrepreneurial push. [Southern Alpha]
APS Mulls Contract for School at TJ – The Arlington School Board tonight will consider a $4.7 million contract for architectural and engineering work on a proposed elementary school on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson Middle School. That’s despite well-organized neighborhood opposition to the school encroaching on Thomas Jefferson Park. [InsideNova]
Unreliable Mail Delivery in Douglas Park – Residents of Arlington’s Douglas Park neighborhood say their mail delivery has become considerably less reliable in the past year. Talk of missing mail, misdirected mail and delayed mail has reached a crescendo. The Postal Service says it’s investigating. [WJLA]
HOT Lanes Lawsuit Had ‘Unintended Consequences’ – Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze acknowledged at Tuesday’s debate that Arlington County might have erred in pursuing an aggressive lawsuit against proposed High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395. Howze said the suit “had unintended consequences with our relations with Richmond.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
APS Identifies Elementary Schools to Possibly Expand — Arlington Public Schools named two schools that could be expanded as a “plan B” if the proposal to put a new school on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus doesn’t go through. If the new school cannot be constructed, APS has suggested expanding Randolph Elementary School and Barcroft Elementary School. The County Board commissioned a working group last month to look into the possibility of building a new school on the Thomas Jefferson campus. [InsideNova]
Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the deadline to register to vote, both in person and absentee, in the special election next Tuesday, August 19. Voter registration can be done online. [Arlington County]
Free Tacos at California Tortilla – California Tortilla is giving away free tacos today to celebrate being voted readers’ favorite Mexican in Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of Washington 2014″ issue. Arlington’s three locations, as well as all locations nationwide, will offer one free taco per customer all day.
Petition to Protect Thomas Jefferson Park — Some Arlington residents have started a petition to protect Thomas Jefferson Park from redevelopment. Last month, the county announced it had commissioned a working group to study the land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School, including TJ Park, for the site of a new elementary school. [WTOP]
Arlington Mill Residences Nominated for Award — Affordable Housing Finance Magazine has selected The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s (APAH) Arlington Mill Residences as one of 34 finalists in the annual Reader’s Choice Awards competition. It’s the only nominated property in the D.C. metro area. Readers can see the other finalists online and vote for the Arlington Mill Residences in the Best Overall Development category. [Affordable Housing Finance Magazine]
Rosebud Film Festival Accepting Entries — The Rosebud Film and Video Festival is accepting entries for the 2014 competition. The festival is open exclusively to Virginia, D.C. and Maryland film artists. A panel will select 20 nominees to have their work screened at Artisphere in January. Five winners will be chosen from that pool and will be announced at a gala at Clarendon Ballroom. [Arlington Independent Media]
Chili Cookoff Competitors Wanted — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is looking for people to compete in its annual chili cookoff. The event will take place on Labor Day (Sept. 1). [InsideNova]
(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) The Arlington County Board approved the next step in building a new elementary school in South Arlington by commissioning a working group to study land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
The working group, the members of which have not yet been announced, will first meet in September and take five months to study the feasibility of building an elementary school adjacent to the middle school at 125 S. Old Glebe Road.
The site is the preferred choice of Arlington’s School Board, which will ask county taxpayers for upwards of $50 million for the school as part of its $106 million referendum package on the Nov. 4 ballot.
“Our County is desirable and growing, and more students are entering our school system,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “We need to work together to find creative ways to meet this challenge. This working group will bring together community members, Schools, and County staff for a robust consideration of whether to use a portion of the Thomas Jefferson site for a new elementary school.”
The working group — to be comprised of members from surrounding civic associations and members of schools and county staff, advisory boards and commissions — is charged with returning to the County Board with a recommendation in January 2015. Its goals from the County Board include:
- Retaining the current wooded eastern end of “TJ Park” as is (area along the western portion of S. Irving Street and stretching west along Arlington Blvd.); maintain a cohesive park; ensure no significant loss of green space and no net loss of recreational programming.
- Considering the neighborhood impacts of traffic and parking and ensure safety of existing pedestrian walkways and bikeways.
- Ensuring that the community center would remain available for use.
- Ensuring the building massing is compatible with adjacent neighborhood.
The plan has given rise to a new group opposing building the school on parkland, the Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park. The group dressed in green and showed up a few dozen strong at the County Board’s Saturday meeting. The Board approved the working group in its meeting yesterday, but on Saturday, the group’s leader, Jim Presswood, spoke during the public comment period.
“TJ Park is Arlington’s central park and a wonderful resource that needs to be conserved,” he said. “We’re committed to enhancing our park and we’re hoping to be around for a while.”
Fallon, Baker Out; Omara, Schneider In for 48th – The list of contenders in the race to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48) continues to change. Peter Fallon, mentioned as a possible candidate, says he will not run. Steve Baker, who threw his hat in the ring for a few hours, is no longer running. Young Democrats of America President Atima Omara, meanwhile, is running, as is Yorktown Civic Association President Andrew Schneider. At last count, there are six Democrats and no Republicans in the race.
Endorsements in 48th District Race — Candidates for the 48th District special electoin are starting to tout high-profile local endorsements. Del. Patrick Hope and former Va. lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra have endorsed Rip Sullivan. Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes, Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos have endorsed Paul Holland. In Arlington, a firehouse Democratic primary in the race will be held on Sunday.
Hazmat Scare at TJ Middle School — There was a hazardous materials scare at Thomas Jefferson Middle School yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. According to an Arlington fire department spokeswoman, the family of a former school employee who passed away brought a box of art supplies to the school as a donation. A school staff member sorting through the donation opened a bag, smelled a strong odor and began to feel sick. Arlington’s hazmat team arrived and determined that the bag contained a chemical used for gold plating. A cleanup crew was brought in to dispose of the chemical and the employee was transported to the hospital in stable condition.
STEM School Proposed – During a discussion about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the Arlington School Board began talking about the possibility of opening a new STEM-focused middle school or high school. Such a facility could potentially compete with Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school attended by a number of Arlington students. [InsideNova]
New Va. Laws Take Effect – A number of new laws in Virginia took effect Tuesday. Among them: the abolition of a $64 tax on hybrid vehicles, a law requiring fewer Standards of Learning tests for grades 3-8, and a law that requires motorists to maintain more space between their vehicles and bicyclists. [Reston Now]
Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian
(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) The Arlington School Board adopted its 2015-2014 Capital Improvement Plan last night, and it includes a controversial plan for a new elementary school adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road).
The School Board will ask the Arlington County Board to approve $106 million bond referendum this November to fund several elementary school capacity projects and an addition to Washington-Lee High School.
More than $50 million of the proposed bond is slated to build either a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson grounds, the School Board’s “preferred plan,” or to construct additions to two South Arlington elementary schools. According to Arlington Public Schools staff, the new school would add 725 seats by September 2018, while the two additions would add 500 seats for the same price in the same timeline.
Separately, the bond request also includes additions to McKinley and Abingdon Elementary Schools.
The new school next to Thomas Jefferson has drawn the ire of some residents. The Sun Gazette reported “angry community members” spoke at length at Monday’s School Board meeting, and a group called the Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park sent out a press release this morning declaring they were “outraged” with the School Board’s decision.
“The School Board voted to take land purchased for parks and pave it for parking lots and new buildings. This was not what voters wanted when they approved park bond issues,” Jim Presswood, a leader of the Friends group, said in the release. “All versions of the Arlington School Board proposal reduce green space, children’s playgrounds, and fitness options for the public. This reduces outdoor options at the moment our growing country needs them most. Many citizens spoke in opposition to the TJ Park proposal at the meeting and dozens more provided visible support.”
The School Board resolved in its CIP to decide which plan to move forward with by January 2015. If the Board decides on the Thomas Jefferson site, it will decide whether to make it a neighborhood school or a choice program by April 31, 2015.
“This doesn’t make a final decision,” School Board Chair Abby Raphael said last night. “It sets in motion a process.”
A month before the School Board decides the fate of Thomas Jefferson Park, it will decide where to put a planned, 1,300-seat secondary school. There is no site currently identified in the bond motion, but APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said a new school at the Wilson School site in western Rosslyn and moving the H-B Woodlawn program are still on the table.
The School Board resolved to make a decision on where the seats will be placed no later than Dec. 31, 2014. It has requested $4 million for planning and design of the new school in the CIP.
Major projects approved for inclusion in the Capital Improvement Plan last night were:
- A $5 million, 300-seat expansion at Washington-Lee High School, to be completed by September 2016. All funds to come from the 2014 bond referendum.
- A $20 million, 241-seat expansion at McKinley Elementary School to be completed by September 2016. The School Board is requesting $7.47 million in 2014 bond funds, and the rest will be funded by a $12 million 2012 bond resolution and $633,500 in other construction funds.
- A $28.75 million, 136-seat expansion at Abingdon Elementary School, to be completed by September 2017. All funds to come from the 2014 bond referendum.
- A $153.4 million, 1,300-seat expansion at the Arlington Career Center for a secondary school, to be scheduled in three phases, completing for the start of the school years in 2020, 2021 and 2022. No bond funding was requested for 2014.
- $70.11 million for minor construction/major renovation funding. $10.31 million to be requested in the 2014 bond referendum.
Photo (bottom) via APS
‘Trolley Pub’ Bill Fails in Richmond — A bill that would have allowed patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board has been passed over indefinitely in the House of Delegates. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), who introduced the bill, said there were “too many significant issues” around the bill. [Patch]
Middle School PTA Peeved at Bus Inequality – The Thomas Jefferson Middle School PTA is upset that North Arlington schools appear to be getting preferential treatment when it comes to bus service for students inside the standard 1.5 mile perimeter for secondary schools. The PTA president says S. Glebe Road is dangerous for middle school students to cross and the school system should provide bus service for students who have to cross it. [Sun Gazette]
Settlement to Fund Surveillance Cameras — Arlington will use $55,000 from a federal settlement to fund the purchase of portable digital video surveillance cameras. The cameras will be used “to enhance security at large scale events.” The funds from from the $1.5 billion federal settlement with Abbott Laboratories Inc. in 2012 over unlawful promotion of a prescription drug. [Arlington County]
Freedom Rider Shares Memories — “Freedom Rider” and Arlington resident Joan Trumpauer Mulholland spoke earlier this month about her experience in trying to promote civil rights and racial integration in the deep South in the early 1960s. Mulholland was also the keynote speaker at Arlington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration on Sunday. [Falls Church News-Press]
Man Survives Key Bridge Plunge in 1929 — A quirky bit of local history: In September 1929 a drunk 26-year-old man fell off the side of the Key Bridge, landing on his side in the water 120 feet below. Miraculously, he was rescued by a police officer and a boat club employee and “appeared none the worse for his experience.” But alas, it wasn’t a completely happy ending: five weeks later the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. [Ghosts of DC]
Photo courtesy @carmstrong07
Police say last Thursday (December 13), a school administrator noticed two boys outside engaging in what appeared to be suspicious behavior. The administrator thought the boys might be smoking cigarettes. She then checked the boys’ schedules and noticed they were both late to class.
According to police, the administrator found that the boys had returned to the building shortly after the incident, and she pulled one boy out of class to confront him about his behavior outside. A search was performed on the boy’s backpack, in anticipation of finding cigarettes, and a butterfly knife was discovered. Upon searching the second boy’s locker, a similar butterfly knife was also found.
Both boys were charged with Possession of a Weapon in School and released to the custody of their parents. Both have also been suspended.
Nobody at the school was injured. Arlington Public Schools will not comment on the incident to protect the students’ privacy.
John Slye, senior pastor at Grace Community Church, is two weeks into an eight week sermon series that the church has dubbed “Smokin’ Hot.” A mailer sent to local households took the unconventional step (for a church) of promoting the sermon series with the boldfaced words: “Dating. Sex. Marriage. Porn.”
Though the marketing is unquestionably provocative, the overarching goal of the sermon series is improving relationships. Syle says that all too often, intimacy is lacking from marriages and mutual understanding is missing from relationships.
Slye says stress is often the culprit when there’s not enough sex in a marriage. He said there’s even a term for it: DINS, or “Dual Income, No Sex.”
“We see this in Washington, D.C.,” Slye said. “I mean, there’s so much stress here, we have so many Type A people, and we’re just hard chargers. And sex, even among married couples, is just dropping dramatically because of all the stress.”
“In a marriage, sex is meant to be a really positive thing,” he said. “It’s meant to be the glue that holds the husband and wife together. It’s powerful, and that’s what the Bible speaks about.”
“A lot of times when couples first get married, the sex between them is really bonding, but after a while… it either goes away or dries up,” Slye added. “Eventually, married couples — a lot of them — they’re having sex but they’re not kissing. And eventually they’re not even having sex. And you’ve got to do these certain things to instill the passion.”
Another disconnect in marriages and relationships comes from a lack of mutual understanding, says Slye.
“A man has a certain set of love buttons, and a woman has a certain set of love buttons,” he said. “By default, we think that the other sex’s love buttons are the same as ours. And we’re, like, pushing those buttons and it’s doing nothing for them. We have to learn what the opposite sex’s love buttons are, so we have to be real students.”
“Arlington is one of the smartest areas in the country,” he continued. “But we have to be great students, we have to study this person that we’re in a relationship with harder than we study for our PhD, or Masters, or whatever… Both [partners] need to bring something to the table, and they both need to understand each other.”
Slye’s sermon series is based on the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon, which he describes as “the relationship book of the Bible.”
The bi-annual event gives Arlington residents an opportunity to safely get rid of hazardous materials and to recycle items that usually aren’t accepted during the weekly residential recycling collection.
This weekend’s event drew 1,341 people to the parking lot of Thomas Jefferson Middle School, according to the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. DES spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel said residents filled two tractor trailers with some
30 20 tons of electronics to recycle.
This year’s spring E-CARE also collected about 35.5 tons of hazardous household materials, said Whalen McDaniel, who deemed the event a success.
“The weather for E-CARE was picture perfect and residents turned out!” she wrote.
Arlington County is holding its bi-annual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) this coming weekend.
E-CARE gives Arlington residents an opportunity to safely get rid of hazardous materials like paint, solvents, garden chemicals and items containing mercury. It is also is an opportunity to recycle items that usually aren’t accepted during the weekly residential recycling collection, like electronics, bikes, small metal items, shoes, eyeglasses, and durable medical equipment.
Anybody who drops off household devices that contain mercury, like thermometers and barometers, is eligible to receive a $5 gift card courtesy of trash-to-electricity company Covanta Energy. Fluorescent lights are excluded from the gift card offer.
The event is being held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 7 at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road). E-CARE is open to Arlington residents only — not to businesses or to residents of other jurisdictions.
More than 1,000 residents disposed of 36.8 tons of hazardous material and recycled some 16 tons of electronics at the Fall 2011 E-CARE event, according to the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services.
Photo via Arlington County DES
Someone broke into a relocatable classroom outside Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) and stole equipment, according to a recent Arlington crime report.
The theft happened between 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7 and 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 8, according to police. A suspect broke into the school trailer by forcing open a window, and then made off with a laptop, a microscope and keys.
Police do not have a description of the suspect, who remains at large.