APS Agrees to Move Trailer Classrooms at Jamestown Elementary

by ARLnow.com June 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm 3,845 36 Comments

Arlington Public Schools (APS) has agreed to move several relocatable classroom trailers at Jamestown Elementary School. The move comes about a month after residents and parents started loudly complaining about the placement of the trailers.

The relocatable classrooms were originally placed near N. Delaware Street, adjacent to a playground. Several members of the Jamestown PTA wrote a strongly-worded letter to the School Board in response, saying the trailers took up “valuable green space” in a “high traffic area,” were “in direct line of sight of over a dozen homes in the neighborhood,” and “sully the atmosphere of the heart of the Jamestown community.”

Parents also complained about a lack of notice before the trailers were placed on school grounds. Last night parents were notified that, in response to their concerns, the trailers would be moved closer to 38th Street N.

“It’s in the same area, it has just been set back farther,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. No word yet on whether the decision will fully assuage the PTA members’ concerns.

In a letter to Jamestown principal Kenwyn Schaffner, APS superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said the decision was made in response to feedback from the community and from school staff.

Dear Ms. Schaffner:

In response to your request for additional classroom space to meet the rising enrollment at Jamestown Elementary School, and the subsequent pleas from your community that the placement of the modular units be reviewed, and based on feedback I have received from you and the Facilities & Operations staff, I have accepted the recommendation that the units be placed on the Option B location. That is, the units will be moved from their current site to closer to the gym and 38th Street North.

I appreciate your efforts to manage the crowding conditions and to ensure that student learning is at the forefront of our efforts. I also appreciate your response to community concerns and the suggestions you have put forward.

Please extend to your community my wishes for a positive end to the school year and a restful summer break.


Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.

  • Rick

    Wait til the people who live on 38th st hear about this…

    • Sam

      The new spot is a much more logical location. It should (hopefully) really open the field back up for everyone.

      • ronfrom22207

        Where they put them at first was a really dumb decision.

  • Dr_Klahn

    I’m not straight out a’ Compton, I’m straight out the trailer…

  • Elmer

    Learning cottage. Not trailer; not relocatable.

  • GroverOver

    Meanwhile, the relocatable at Glebe Elementary was set down squarely on the school’s blacktop, curtailing basketball and a number of other key activities for the last two years. It is roughly 50 feet from the homes on Culpeper but they are not nearly as fancy as the houses around Jamestown. Shame on us for not being as outspoken as our neighbors to the north. Who knew that the school and surrounding neighbors had a say in the placement of trailers?

    • Jon

      Have you seen the houses around Jamestown? Split levels and ranches – it’s not Country Club Hills.

      • Ov8shun

        The unsightly buildings of learning harm their resale value.

    • drax

      You might still get them moved….

  • Whitney Wilson

    Determined advocacy (“a/k/a “whining”) can often work.

  • South Awwlington


  • Elmer

    Dumb question: Does school board need any prior zoning approval from the county before plopping the learning cottages down anywhere on school property they desire?

    • CA

      Clearly they did not review Section 32 of the Zoning Ordinance and the set back requirements involving “accessory structures.” For shame.

      • Elmer

        “CA”? County Attorney?

        • KalashniKEV


          • Elmer

            Probably not commonwealth. County attorney would be zoning-not commonwealth attorney..

      • DebDownr

        “Learning Cottages” – ha, that’s great! How about “Creativity Labs”? Easier to plop them down somewhere if you don’t call them mobile homes.

        • Rockapotomus


          • DebDownr

            Maybe that’s what they should convert Artisphere into.

          • PC Consultant

            Static Scholarship Trolleys

  • Brian

    Some homeowners don’t have enough to do, it seems. I can’t believe the outrage towards a temporary structure.

    • drax

      Temporary for probably at least five years, that is.

    • William

      These things tend to stick around a little longer than you may think. The previous trailers were there for 5 years and given the capacity issues this will likely be a more permanent structure than a temporary structure. I’m also not sure why you are blaming the homeowners as this was driven by the PTA and if you know the area at all then you should realize that with the new location this isn’t moving out of sight of any of the homes. It’s just a much better spot that allows for the kids, baseball players, soccer players and everyone who uses the field to all have more room.

      • drax

        There’s been a trailer at McKinley Elementary since as long as I can remember, gotta be at least ten years.

      • bigdaddyva

        This wasn’t driven by the PTA. The PTA was completely and utterly ineffectual. They wrote a pathetic letter that misspelled the County Board Chairwoman’s name, took a petulant tone, and generally was unproductive. Thankfully, the PTA president has since resigned, ostensibly to develop her business. Those of us in the school community are more than happy to allow her to save face that way.

        The neighbors and civic association, on the other hand, had a more effective dialogue.

        Ultimately, it was the principal, who went down and apologized for the PTA’s poor behavior and managed to get this done.

        • William

          Good to know. Thanks for the correction and it sounds like good work by the principal to get things sorted.

  • CMG

    I wonder why Patrick Murphy and APS refused to work with Tuckahoe PTA on an alternate to putting their trailers on the blacktop, taking away over half of the kid’s play space. It’s not like Tuckahoe did not try. We wrote letters, held special meetings etc. And they went squarely where APS wanted them. Fascinating how in a “public” school system there is preferential treatment for certain schools over others.

    • GroverOver

      +1 Would love to know what makes this Jamestown incident different.

    • William

      This is just a guess but it could be because this is really a reorientation of the trailers more than anything. They will likely end up being moved only a total of 25/30 feet away from the current location but the way they will be angled and positioned will allow for a better use of the field. It sounds a little bit different than what you are proposing which (if I’m reading it correctly) is to move them to a completely different location in which you run into big cost concerns with sewage, electrical, etc.

  • HenryBennetXIII

    How much does this move cost the rest of us?
    Meanwhile on Columbia Pike an Arlington resident is resorting to prostitution of the most carnal degree for a mere ten bucks.

    • Richard Cranium

      There are degrees of carnality? My interest is piqued! Please elaborate . . .

  • Gymmyray

    What nobody with APS is saying is that this “minor” move is going to cost Arlington taxpayers in the area of an additional $50,000! If I paid taxes in Arlington I’d be pissed!

    Annoyed APS Employee

    • Parent

      Not true. 50k was the cost to move them to the back of the school. The chosen location cost is 10k which, to me at least, is worth it given how long these trailers will be in place.

  • Dan

    Anyone have a clue about what all of the old tires are used for ??

    • Jeter

      Football practice drills

  • Gymmray

    Tires are from the wheels the trailers come in on. They are mobile and can be moved from location to location.

    I stand corrected on the $50K, but even $10K is more than should be paid to move the trailers to a new location. The community association should have to pay the extra expense.


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