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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com January 19, 2011 at 5:21 am 1,461 56 Comments

Arlington Sends Surprise $2.2 Million Bill to Falls Church — Arlington is billing the City of Falls Church an extra $2.2 million for its use of the Arlington County jail, the Falls Church News-Press reported late last night. Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields told the paper that Arlington sent the bill after discovering a “clerical error” that resulted in Falls Church being undercharged since 2008. [FCNP]

Lubber Run Renovation in Doubt — Arlington doesn’t have room in its current budget to pay for multi-million dollar renovations to the shuttered Lubber Run Amphitheater, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said at a recent public meeting. However, Donnellan said renovations could, theoretically, become a priority in future budget cycles. [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Fighting to Start School in August — Arlington has been persistently applying for a state waiver to start the school year before Labor Day. Each year the county applies, however, it gets rejected. Now, school officials in Fairfax County and Alexandria are also considering applying for the right to start school before Labor Day. [Washington Examiner]

Reasonably-Priced Buffet Spots Profiled — TBD looks at seven of the most “notable” and/or “dirt-cheap” buffet options in Arlington. [TBD]

  • SD

    Actually it was profiling buffets, not brunch. “7 notable buffets: Arlington edition”. You can’t have an Arlington brunch article without mentioning Rhodeside or Boulevard Woodgrille (not my fave but always packed).

    While on the subject, I’m bummed Eventide no longer serves brunch.

    • Once in a while there are mistakes that could only be explained by blaming a lack of caffeine. This was one of them.

      • SD

        Haha, totally understand! I thought I was the one who needed coffee. I was wondering who eats Joe’s buffet and some of the other places for brunch?

  • Anon

    Please let this starting school earlier concept finally work. It’s ridiculous to be in school all the way through the end of June, all so Kings Dominion can squeeze a few more bucks out of us.

    • Westover

      We appreciate being able to be at the Beach through Labor Day. Would rather they flip starting times between the Elementary kids and High School kids. Five year olds wake up at 5am naturally, fifteen year olds do not.

      • Maria

        I thought they already flipped the times in Arlington? No?

    • Novanglus

      Kings Dominion would have the same business in June that it would lose in August. But Summer break should stay in the summer, not become late spring/early summer break. We already have a spring break.

      As for “dead time” after the SOL’s: we keep hearing that there’s a bunch of important things not being taught because of SOL’s. Why not cover those then?

  • DT

    The people pushing to have Lubber Run renovated should keep a close eye on the Board’s pet projects throughout the year. They probably could have renovated the entire park with the money spent suing the state over the HOT lanes or the legal fees trying to opt out of the federal immigration reporting.

    • Rover

      No money for parks. Money to sue for HOT lanes, legal fees for immigration, fighting rogue signs….. what a joke.

    • Skeptical

      Also, I note, plenty of money to subsidize an Artisphere featuring pricey performances for the young and trendy along the Orange Line, but a big middle finger to the families who for years have enjoyed walking from their residential neighborhoods to free performances in the summer.

      • Lou

        Same story with Gulf Branch. They were ready to close it and demolish the nature center until enough people got together on our own and protested. We’re getting tired of expending our time and money to show the bureaucrats how stupid some of their ideas are.

    • mehoo

      And even if you support things like Artisphere and splash parks – what’s the point of opening new venues if you’re busy closing or neglecting beloved old ones, like Lubber Run or the planetarium?

      • DT

        6.7 million for the Artisphere. I am sure the fact that none of the Board members live in Arlington Forest has nothing to do with anything. /sarcasm

  • JimPB

    Republicans especially — get the state education bureaucracy out of local decisions about the start date for school.

  • Arlwhenever

    Much more important for Jay and friends to have funds for restaraunt space in his Artisphere party palace than to maintain a facility that has served ordinary citizens well for decades in a natural, invigorating green environment. The sheeple, united will never be defeated.

  • ArlBlueSky

    I like that school starts late. Means less traffic for me for one-two more weeks.

    • Lou

      Seriously. The day the buses return can not come late enough.

      • mehoo

        You guys don’t have kids in school, do you?

        • Rover

          The way buses are operated now is different than 20 or 30 years ago. Then, kids had to all walk to a common bus stop and the bus would stop traffic only so many times. Now, it seems, buses stop at nearly every house to pick up a kid creating more and more of a traffic problem. Of course, maybe I’m more sensitive now than when I was young because I’m a driver.

          • Westover

            Bus stops in Arlington and Fairfax are pretty much set the way they have always been, with one per neighborhood or major streets being the boundries and no kid having to walk more than a half mile.

        • Lou

          I’m commenting merely on the buses on the roads. Whether I have kids or not, I still drive on the same roads the buses do.

          • mehoo

            I know, I was just noting that those of us with kids can’t wait for school to start to get the little freaks out of the house!

          • I’m sure they take after you

            🙂

    • Arlwhenever

      What starting school after Labor Day means for our family is we can get a late summer vacation in a little less crowded, slightly less expensive setting. Most parents I know don’t like having their kids in school the last week or two of August. I would happily support letting the kids off a week or two early in June as well. Frankly, I was better educated in a shorter school year than what is going around these days. Quality beats quantity any time.

      • coco

        I’d rather we had school year round. We’re trying to prepare our kids for the global market place. I guess it’s hard to keep that in perspective consistently.

      • Maria

        When did you go to school? Because the sheer number of standards now sometimes means quantity over quality, I hate to say. We barely have time to cover what we need to cover in the time we’re currently given, let alone in LESS time. I’d welcome an extra week before the SOLs in a second (I’m a teacher is that wasn’t clear).

    • Maria

      But the schools would get out a week or two earlier, so you’d still have the same traffic advantages, just in a slightly altered window.

  • Burger

    Does moving the start date up save money (I doubt it since that would mean higher energy bills to run A/C) otherwise, who cares.

    • mehoo

      Yeah, who cares about, like, whether it helps educate the kids? You could save alot of money by shutting down the schools altogether, Burger.

    • Westover

      Burger, we have had hot Junes and cool Augusts, I would say the energy costs would be a draw of a ten year study.

    • Maria

      Believe me, we’re running the AC in June already. And in most of May. Filling a small classroom with ~30 kids? Hot as you know what.

  • Burger

    Thanks for an honest response. Unless, they are talking about extending the school year (and I doubt the union would go for it without getting paid more) then this is a zero sum issue – because there would be no difference if school started 2 weeks early and got out 2 weeks earlier. It is merely playing with dates.

    But this would economics and that is an issue that you have seemed to not grasp.

    Of course, this is a profession that gets off MLK and then takes the next day off for teacher’s work day. What a complete joke.

    • mehoo

      Yes, it’s probably just playing with dates. So why worry about it either way? It would probably cost about the same. Maybe the air conditioning costs would be offset by lower heating costs later. Maybe we need to ask them why they want to start earlier?

      Why is it a joke to have a teacher’s work day after a holiday? Do you think teachers shouldn’t get a MLK day off?

  • No dim sum?

  • ARLSouth

    Actually Burger, it does make a difference. National tests like AP/IB and state tests (SOLs) are dates set in stone. So, students in California get an extra two weeks to prepare for AP/IB tests while students in Southern VA get an extra two weeks to prepare for SOL tests and those test scores are what schools are judged upon. Higher scores on those tests = higher ranking schools = higher values of homes.

    As for union comment, VA is a right-to-work state and teachers don’t have unions so if the school board wanted to extend the school year, they could and the teachers would have no say.

    The only thing that is a complete joke is your ignorance of how education operates.

    • mehoo

      “Right-to-work” doesn’t mean you have no unions. It just means an individual worker can’t be forced to join one. In general, workers nationwide have the right to unionize by federal law. I think teachers in Arlington have a union.

    • Maria

      There are unions, and they definitely make themselves heard.

      • Maria

        You’re right… associations. But still.

  • ARLSouth

    Teachers in Arlington have an association. The school board is under no obligation to meet with the association and they have collective bargaining ability. They are unable to strike.

    • mehoo

      I don’t know who represents them (do you?), but an “association” could still be a union. I think you meant to say they don’t have collective bargaining ability, right? In that case, they aren’t a union. The ability to strike may be limited by law, but they could still be a union. What’s the name of this association?

      But in general, “right-to-work” doesn’t ban unions. The teachers of Arlington could unionize if they want to, as can most other private and public workers in Virginia.

      • Westover

        Virginia teachers “work to the rule” instead of striking. This means no grading papers, no writing lesson plans, no meeting with parents except during school hours.

        • mehoo

          Just found out – Arlington teachers are indeed union-represented. They are represented by the Va. Education Assoc., which is affiliated with the Nat’l Education Assoc. The name is “association” but it’s a labor union like any other.

          The fact that Virginia is a right-to-work state simply means that teachers can’t be forced to join the union – though I think they may be charged a fee for the service of representing them.

  • Stanley

    Well since “those of use with kids” are speaking for all parents – I’ll chime in. I LOVE that school starts after labor day. Kings Dominion who cares. Between weeks in June and weeks in August, the August weeks are always better!

    For the people desperate to have their kids back in school, you kids will be out of school exactly the same amount of time. In the last week of the break, you will be begging for your kids to go back to school – regardless of which week it is.

    Me, I love that week with my kids. We go to the beach. The weather is beach weather. Hot and sunny. The water temperature is great. And what do you know, the rents are OFF PEAK and the crowds are down. It is simply great.

    Compare this to the beginning of the summer. The weather is the end of spring. Its nice – but not necessarily nice enough for the beach. The water temperature is still cool. The rental rates are summer peak – and the crows are in full blast.

    We have taken advantage of that week every year – it is a fantastic time to have a family vacation. Ending the summer, right before school, with a great time, great weather, less crowds, and reduced rents (and I’ve never gone to Kings Dumbinion)!

    • Stanley makes a good point. Kings Dominion is the reason this proposal always gets squashed.

    • OX4

      It’s nice to hear a parent that actually likes to spend time with their kids. Most of my coworkers can’t wait until school starts, which makes me feel sorry for their kids. My mom was sad when we had to go back to school.

  • Arlingtonian2

    IMO, keep the public school year start after Labor Day and enjoy the holiday weekend. Life is too short! VA colleges start in August. So enjoy your family vacations and long summers while your children are young.

  • Anon

    They can keep the late start if they manage to change the SOL dates until June. It makes no sense to cram your entire curriculum in between September and April, to be ready for the SOLs in May, and then have an entire month in which little to nothing substantive is accomplished.

    • alebt

      Setting aside the question of whether to take your family to the beach, my concern is the above. Currently, Arlington students have almost a month of nothing…no learning from the end of SOL’s until school is out near the end of June. As a parent, I would rather have my student out at the end of May…vacation or no vacation…. and then return to school as most private schools do for the hot, nasty weather the last two weeks in August (if you are not beach inclined).

    • Westover

      Personally, I expect my kids to be educated at a far higher level then the minimum that the SOL’s set. Move them up to November and get them out of the way so that the real learning can begin! Our kids are brighter than those southern Virginia kids, let them take all year to accomplish the basics. 😉

  • Bender

    Teachers striking. Teachers “working to the rule.”

    How about instead of such a selfish, me-first mentality, teachers simply worry about doing a quality job of educating kids?

    • Maria

      When unreasonable demands are put on teachers, it becomes very difficult to “simply” worry about doing a quality job educating our students. I don’t disagree with your point in general because some teachers “work to the rule” ALL the time, which is absurd (and on a personal level, I don’t believe in teachers striking in any form… there are other ways to go about it). However, please understand that while most teachers willingly take on extra responsibilities every day, there may be times when we are not able to do what we’d consider our best because of initiatives and requirements that are forced upon us. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a stand so that we can be better teachers for our kids. So your statement is really too negative and, frankly, simplistic.

      Also, I haven’t heard any reaction from any of the education associations, so I don’t even know if they’re against this. Not sure if this conversation is even worth having yet.

      • Bender

        If teachers are treated the same as any other employee in any other business, then they are not being treated unreasonably.

        And, if they insist on calling teaching a “profession,” then imposing professional standards on teachers (which can be quite daunting in other genuine professions) are likewise not unreasonable.

        But unions do not exist to prevent the merely unreasonable treatment. They exist to insulate workers from accountability and to extract and extort financial benefits from management.

        • Maria

          I don’t disagree with you about the associations. I don’t like them, and I’m not part of any of the big ones. If they focused on real issues facing us instead of trying to pit “us” against “them,” I might feel differently, but they don’t.

          However, teaching is indeed a profession, and we have certain standards of course, but it is not the same as “any other business.” For that matter, no business is the same as any other business, so that’s not a valid statement in general. Let me give you an example: how many other professions have people who routinely work for *hours* outside their contract time and don’t get paid for it? Between all of my “professional responsibilities” during the school day, like meetings, etc., I often don’t have time to get everything done for my teaching responsibilities. That means I get to do it after school or at home. It is not unusual for me to be at school until 5pm (and later) when my contract ends at 2:40. Oh, and I also get to school between 6:30 and 6:45 when my contract starts at 7:10. I’m not complaining about these things because I don’t mind doing it because I just accept it as part of the job (and, frankly, I could do a crappy job teaching and be able to do everything I need to during the day, but that’s not really my style), but my *point* is, I have no way of getting paid for that extra time. How many other professions have employees facing that same issue?

          What’s your issue with teachers, anyway? You seem to have a pretty negative response to the profession (if we “insist” on calling it that… please.).

          • Wash-Lee Parent

            In most professional jobs, people work well beyond their allotted time to get the job done, and if you’re not in a professional exempt job, you are owed overtime. Also, not too many jobs where you get paid that high of a salary for working 9 months with a 3 month vacation. I’m assuming an Arlington teacher makes between $50K and $70K if they’ve been there at least 5 years – and if that is working for only 9 months – they are paid a lot more than this hard working nonprofit employee – and let’s not get into the benefits disparity.

          • Maria

            Of course there are plenty of people who work more hours than allotted, and I’m sure there are people who work more hours every single day. However, based on what I see with my friends and family, I just don’t believe that, in general, it is as *routinely* as many teachers do and with zero opportunity for overtime or bonuses or anything similar. I’m not trying to put other professions down as people work very hard at what they do. I was just responding to Bender who seems to think teachers have no responsibilities other than educating kids. If only it was that simple.

            Also, not to nitpick, but I’m so tired of the “teachers get paid SO MUCH for only working part of the year blah blah blah” argument. We work and get paid for 10 months, unless you count the time off for winter and spring breaks, but most professions have at least that much vacation time, so that’s comparable. For 2 months in the summer, teachers do not work. And trust me, I’m not complaining about that. I say it though, because you say we get this long “vacation” as if we get paid for it. We don’t. We get paid for the 10 months we work, and that’s it. Now, if what you’re saying is that we get paid too much relative to people working 12 months a year, I’d have to respectfully disagree. If a teacher makes $50k in 10 months, that would mean she’d make $60k if it was 12 months. Sorry, but that’s not that big of a difference, and plenty of professions pay people that much or more for 12 months of work. Maybe you think we make too much in general, but that’s a different discussion.

  • What?!

    I don’t understand how we lost track of $2.2M in billing, a shockingly large oversight. Additional cash is always welcome but the implication is that we’ve given Falls Church a $2.2M interest-free loan over 3 years without any awareness of the transaction. I’m glad to see light shined on this issue and collection moving forward. I hope the underlying tracking/ billing issue is also addressed and checks put in place so any billing errors are caught.

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