Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com June 1, 2011 at 8:57 am 2,740 38 Comments

Panel Recommends Building New Schools — An Arlington Public Schools advisory council has come out with a report that recommends new construction to help ease the looming school capacity crisis. The panel recommends building one or two new elementary schools and adding capacity at two existing middle schools. In addition to the construction, they suggest adding as many as 40 classroom trailers. Questions linger as to whether the county has enough debt capacity to follow the building recommendations. [Sun Gazette]

Adopt-a-Cat Month at AWLA — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 South Arlington Mill Drive) has declared June to be Adopt-a-Cat Month. With the shelter — and other shelters like it —  inundated with homeless felines, AWLA is trying to find homes for its “Desperate Housecats” — cats that have been at the shelter more than four months. The adoption of such cats is free through the end of the month. [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]

‘Art Every Day’ at Artisphere — Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) is unveiling two new murals to the public today. The words “Art Every Day” and “Live For Art,” designed by notable local artist Linda Hesh, will appear on two glass panes within Artisphere. The cultural center will also distribute “Art Every Day” decals to visitors, who are then in turn encouraged to photograph the decals in various locales and situations. “Art Every Day” will also appear on food court tabletops at the tourist-laden Pentagon City mall, which should give a boost to Artisphere’s promotional efforts. [TBD]

  • doodly

    The murals were actually made in 2008 but the county only just now approved them for display.

  • LyonSteve

    More borrowing… when will it end?

  • ArlForester

    I guess the annual millions in school bonds have gone to waste.

    • Thes

      Most of that was replacing existing buildings without adding capacity.

      • Adding housing density should also equal adding school capacity. We (meaning Arlington) are so eager to add to our tax base by paving over and urbanizing but we (meaning Arlington) don’t have the money to add more classroom space? What gives?????

      • Stu Pendus

        Kind of.

        The number thrown around for new high schools, for example, is 1600 capacity. That’s what the renovated buildings hold. If you look at Wakefield’s enrollment, however, you’ll see it is less than 1600, while W-L is over 1900 and Yorktown is just over 1600 (2011 numbers). So obviously one of the strategies for high school capacity is to grow Wakefield’s boundaries and balance the numbers.

        I’m curious if the recommendations picked locations for the new proposed elementary schools it recommended.

        • Westover

          Hate to judge but the reality is that until Wakefield has the scores and demographics to equal W&L or Yorktown, parent politics are not going to allow any boundry change. Beside the baby boom will put Wakefield over capacity in 10 years as well.

  • TuesdaysChild

    Is Linda Hesh or the artisphere staff going to go around and pick up all the free decals that are stuck all over rosslyn? Close Jay’s Artisphere now.

  • Art Every Day = $ Every Day

  • Stan

    Arlington has at least one moth-balled school (maybe more). It’s currently the Madison Community Center – it was at one time an elementary school. It would take some rehabing but that building could easily be returned to school use (altho I guess that would impact the dog park).

    As for wasted money – ha! – you dont have a kid in APS schools do you. The work that has been done at APS schools is top notch. W&L facilities are now excellent. Yorktown is in the middle of a much needed upgrade. Wakefield seriously needs the pending renovations. Other schools like Kenmore and Takahoe have tremendously benefited from new facilities. And Arlington make tremendous use of these facilities. A school like Kenmore is in use from dawn to dusk with school, after school programs, community programs (like senior care), adult education, and community meetings. Day, evening, weekends, there is always something happening in that building.

    The result. APS schools are top in the nation, winning award after award. Academic achievement: tops. Integration of technology: tops. Athletic teams: going to nationals and winning. Career skills: going to nationals and winning.

    Will other jurisdictions have attacked their school systems – Arlington has supported their schools and Arlington students have reaped the benefits. We have a great school system!

    • Westover

      I still wonder what was going through the Board’s head when they shut down Walter Reed School. Love the new library, but the Children’s School and the Teen Pregancy Program does not serve the neighborhood, while our elementry schools, are on the verge of total over capacity.

      • PhilL

        For real. There are so many young children in this neighborhood now. Without a school, you see them hanging out in the Beer Garden all day.

        • Westover


      • bb

        You should blame the Teen Pregnancy Program for the over capacity elementary schools. I mean, all these new kids these teens keep having…

        • doodly

          This is strangely logical.

      • doodly

        Did Reed School serve the neighborhood before though? I thought it was only special ed preschool and daycare for teacher’s kids.

        • Westover

          Before it was a The Children’s School (teachers kids daycare/preschool) and Pregnant Teens School, it was the neighborhood elementary school. Still a few folks in the neighborhood who went there.

          • doodly

            Ah, thanks.

          • Westover

            It closed as an Elementary School in 1984, 6 years before the baby boob began a new, and within 20 years, Glebe, McKinley and Tuckahoe, where those kids were redistributed, were all at capacity or over…. I would think the cost of maintaining the place and doing just minor upgrades would have been far cheaper than it will be to build a new school today.

          • doodly

            Opening it as a neighborhood school again might have worked, but the place needed to be rebuilt regardless.

          • Dan

            “6 years before the baby boob began a new”
            Hmmm, one of the better typos I have seen recently !!!

          • PhilL

            Kind of a related item, has the county announced any plans for the old Westover Library site? That corner looks so empty after all these years.

          • John

            According to APS officials, as of a year ago, I recall hearing that the new Reed addition could be retrofitted into a new neighborhood elementary.

          • Roemary

            I went to Reed, Swanson and W-L. My children went to Reed, Swansonand Yorktown.. I one point theywanted to close both Red and Swabson… Bad Idea!. They never should have closed Reed. Now Mckinley and Swanson will have trailers next year. HB Woodlawn has been the number 1 school in test scores for the last 4 years, but the school looks like ir did when I went there for events in the 50’s and 60’s shame on Arlington County…

          • John

            You’re right about Arlington’s proposal to close Swanson. In the end, the county chose to keep Swanson open, in part because they had just replaced the roof after the fire that took out the old cupola in ’78. Stratford Junior High closed instead, which was actually a much newer school.

            In ’93 there was a proposal to reopen both Stratford and Gunston junior highs to deal with the 90s baby boom, but H-B did not like the idea of moving to yet another building. So S Arlington has three middle schools and N Arlington only has two middle schools with boundaries that have not changed significantly since 1978.

          • John

            for a trip down memory lane:

  • Wayne Kubicki

    Here is the link to the Advisory Council report, with School staff’s responses to it sprinkled through the report in italics:


    Given the time it takes to go through the “normal” Arlington community process, finalize site selection, and get architectural/engineering plans completed to a point where construction costs could be reasonably estimated, it is very hard to envision a bond referendum for a new elementary school being ready for a vote in November of 2012.

    By definition, any new school will also involve a re-districting plan. As anyone with any Arlington memory knows, wisdom teeth extractions are a walk in the park by comparison.

    To my mind, the jury should still be out on the enrollment projections being offered to make the case for the need for capacity expansion. Is what APS is currently experiencing perhaps an enrollment blip? Possibly. Did the same projection methodology being used now predict the enrollment increases APS has experienced the last several years? No.

  • cj

    What about reopening Wilson School?

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    APS needs to look at existing buildings that aren’t being properly utilized — Madison Center, Fairlington, Woodmont, Stonewall Jackson (now ATS), Wilson — all buildings that WERE schools and now are being poorly used.
    Be efficient and use our resources better.

    • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayerToo

      Why? Because our taxes are way too high? LOL

    • Burger

      To be honest, it would likely cost just as much to rehab those buildings as to just build new ones. Now, if those buildings were still schools then it makes sense but that’s not the case. You can’t go back in time.

  • The Dope of South Arlington

    The apologists for unlimited immigration always say “immigrants contribute more than they cost” yet how much of this capacity crisis is due to foreign immigration? Whenever I pass by an Arlington school, over half the students I see appear to be Hispanic, yet Arlington is only 15% Latino.

    • Whitney Wilson

      According to APS, the percentage of Hispanic students in Arlington public schools has decreased considerably since 1998, from 32% to 28%. http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/11/civilrights/CR10-11.xls
      I can’t tell what percentage of “Hispanic” students are foreign born, or are from foreign-born families, but its obviously not all. I don’t think immigration per se is the cause of the enrollment spike. Rather, it seems to be a combination of Arlington becoming more family friendly and more families choosing to remain in Arlington rather than moving out to Fairfax and other suburbs than happened in the past.

      • Wayne Kubicki


        A couple of other drivers have been suggested as well:
        (1) a somewhat higher number of births to parents with Arlington addresses; (2) a higher “capture rate” of those births – i.e., a higher than usual percentage of Arlington births eventually ending up in an Arlington school; (3) some families pulling their kids out of private schools during the economic downturn; and/or (4) some acceleration of older empty nesters cashing in on the home value run-up mid-decade, with the buyers of their homes having kids.

    • Burger

      Which would be true except the growth in Arlington has been in white, mostly upper class families. My street has approximately 15 houses on it between 24th and 25th St. In those houses are 31 kids under the age of 14. That is 2.06 kids per house on the block that is replacement level Now, throw out the houses with either empty nesters, older adults, or homes with kids in high school etc. removes 5 house. The average number of kids on the block with homes with kids is 3.1 and they are all lily white. Further, most of the wifes on the block are under 40, there is a good chance this number goes up.

  • Burger

    Lastly, I’ll point out something interesting from the article.

    You know when everyone says it is okay that Arlington can build all this crap like an Artisphere or Trolley car or 5 million dollar dog parks, that goes in the county’s debt levels. Eventually, as the article notes, you bump up against the debt cap imposed and that means you can’t make infrastructure changes or build new schools when you need to because you spent a money on extraneous matters.

    Essentially, Arlington County has been buying TV’s and fancy cars and now there is a hole in the roof and ironically, there might be money to pay for it but the credit card company won’t let the county take out more money.

  • doodly

    Note the poster’s parody name, guys.

  • John

    I’m hoping for massive boundary changes. Let’s shake things up. The last time junior high and high school boundaries changed significantly was when APS was closing schools due to under enrollment in the 70s and 80s and in response to the demographic shifts at Wakefield in the early 90s.

    It’s seems almost ridiculous today, but some people may remember that APS seriously proposed shutting down Yorktown in 1982 due to declining enrollment, but a last minute boundary shift of the Donaldson Run and Halls Hill neighborhoods to Yorktown from W-L averted that. APS will never get Stratford Junior High back though–as a middle school. I just hope one proposal to increase the number of seats at H-B as a way to deal with school overcrowding is defeated. H-B’s program only works as a small school.

    Btw, according to APS projections W-L will have just under 2,600 students in Fall 2016, while Wakefield will still be under enrolled at about 1,600. The boundaries will have to change and it may mean going back to the 1950s-era boundaries where parts of N Arlington were zoned to Wakefield. Let’s do it.


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