Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com October 3, 2012 at 8:15 am 4,271 92 Comments

Local Parties to Hold Debate Watching Parties — Local Republicans and Democrats will be holding viewing parties for the first of the 2012 presidential debates tonight. The Arlington Republican viewing party will be held at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd). The Arlington Democratic viewing party will be held at Bailey’s Pub & Grille in Ballston (4238 Wilson Blvd).

Parents Say Bus Changes Are Taking a Toll — Students are not performing as well academically and at least one mom lost her job as a result of changes to the County’s school bus policies, according to a group of parents. Parents of Campbell Elementary students are planning to carpool — to Thursday’s School Board meeting, to voice their concerns. [WTOP]

More Local BRAC Moves Coming — According to one estimate, government agencies with leases expiring between now and 2015 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act occupy more than 4.5 million square feet of office space in Arlington and Alexandria. The BRAC move-outs are impacting the bottom line of some commercial property holders. Vornado, with office space in Arlington and Fairfax County, expects earnings to be down as much as $60 million as a result of BRAC. [Bloomberg]

Church Series on ‘Restoring Political Civility’ — The Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ (5010 Little Falls Road) will be holding a four-part series that will “discuss how citizenship is a responsibility rather than a privilege, and how to restore civility to the political process.” [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Keithhall

  • Charles

    Asleep at the wheel? How about some “Morning Notes” on why a half-mile of Lee Highway at N Geo Mason was without power or traffic lights last night? And also the intersection where the west-bound Rt 66 offramp comes up to Glebe? Reportage, please.

    • Arlington, Northside

      First World Problems

    • CrystalMikey

      Power issues…they happen.

    • PL25rd

      I live near there, and the power was out because of a “circuit breaker issue at a substation,” according to Dominion when I called to report my outage. It was out for less than an hour.

    • ToeHead

      When you can’t instantly have what you want and complain about it, well…that’s what babies do. Whhhaaaaaaaaaah!

  • UA

    (Jose Armando Cubias, Esmeralda Guevara and Emilio were translated from Spanish by WTOP’s Andrew Mollenbeck)


  • ArlMom

    The county can’t afford money for extra school buses, but it has grant money for bocce courts. Way to prioritize Arlington.

    • What’s Shakin’

      ……and ARTISPHERE !!!!
      Your county board at work……

      • Clarendon

        My understanding was that the county board controls the budget for things like the bocce court and the artisphere, but the school board controls the budget for things like the school buses.

        • Observer

          All of the school board budget money is approved by the county board though. The buck stops in the county board room.

          • Meg

            No, the county board does not have any power over the school budget. There is a revenue sharing agreement in the county to make the school board budget process independent of the county board. The school system gets a fixed percentage of county revenues and distributes the money how it sees fit.

          • Clarendon

            I thought there was a formula (not sure if mandated or what) that allocated the budget between county and schools. I’ve always been under the impression that the schools get more than their sahre of the budget. You think they should get more ?

          • Observer

            Yes, I think they obviously need more money since they have too few buses.

            Do you think they get too much money? I guess your comment kind of indicates that you do.

          • Meg

            They have plenty of bus capacity. Most of the buses are now operating far under capacity, arriving at schools with dozens of empty seats. However, just like it is easier to run a business with no pesky customers, a hospital with no pesky patients, and a household with no pesky family messing things up, it is easier to run buses with no passengers.

            It is not a question of “no money” — it is a question of priorities. Getting our children to school safely and on time should be higher on that scale.

          • Control The Presses

            Yep, it is all the same pot no matter how much they try to obfuscate.

          • Josh S

            So you’ve worked in local government budgeting offices here in Virginia?

  • Kramva

    The bloomberg article called highland at the Clarendon metro a “quiet” street…wonder if the author lives in manhattan and thinks that everything west of the Hudson and south of battery park is rural farm land?

  • DarkHeart
  • Just thinking

    Where/why did 1 mile as a walking distance for an an age range from 4 to 11 yoears old ever get deemed reasonable, especially on many of the roads and traffic seen in Arlington (some w/o sidewalks e.g., Tara-Lee). Surely most reasonable folks believe that is not the case for the younger end of this range.

    • RJ

      answer: Kid touchers, kid touchers are everywhere and want to touch your child.

      • ArLater

        How is that funny?

        • Sam

          It’s not.

        • RJ

          Wasn’t supposed to, parents have an irrational fear that the absolute worst thing will happen once they release their kids into the wild.

          • ArLater

            Irrational to fear for your kids safety. Got it.

          • I don’t think these parents want to live in a prison, but irrational fears for safety do exactly that. And it isn’t healthy for a family.

    • Is it that unusual?

      I walked a little over a mile (each way) to school from K-3– usually on a trail through an empty, hilly field in the late 80s. Granted, I was usually accompanied by my brother, who was two years older. And it was in Southern California, where the weather is a little better.

      That said, it’s hard for me to sympathize. In middle and high school, my fairly wealthy public high school district didn’t provide buses at all– and I lived four miles away…Frankly, I’m amazed the buses here haven’t been hacked sooner.

      • Just thinking

        Your second paragraph is why I only commented on the lower age ranges. Reasonableness factor of the walking ranges is different for the older kids. Btw, this is subjective. Most parents made this mental calculation when they bought/rented there home. Now this has been completely up ended with no meaningful notice. I am sympathetic to this.

        I any case 1 mile in aArlington and k thru 3 just doesn’t pass the common sense test.

      • ArLater

        I bet you walked up hill both ways too.

      • drax

        Was the empty, hilly field full of speeding cars and buses? I doubt it.

    • Future

      A one mile walk for a Kindergartener before school is just too long. All the walkers I know live much closer to the school. Those at 1 mile drive, especially if they live downhill from the school.

      • bob

        Parents thinking a 1 mile walk is too long is why our country is a bunch of fatasses.

        • Just thinking

          Think most parents would trade fat for dead or injured.

        • ArLater

          Yup, nothing like making sure that 5 year old is nice and slim by ensuring he walks a mile on rush hour streets with his heavy backpack. Maybe they should also do pushups and chinups once they get to school. Dont want a country filled with wimps either…

          • Not so fast my friend…

            Now that you mention it, I don’t want my 5 year old walking alone 1/2 a mile, and I can’t walk with her because I need to work, so I want a bus for her, too. The bus could then stop and pick up my friend’s kid who lives down the street, 1/4 mile away from the school, because he shouldn’t have to walk alone either. In fact, I think all kids 5-6 should have door to door bus. It’s too dangerous out there and we parents can’t be expected to take them every day.

      • arlmimprov

        Many of the parents in my neighborhood have always walked the kids to school at 0.75-1 mile away. We still have buses but I think it is a busy road thing.

        They would most likely let the kids do it on their own as they get older–but since there is one very busy street to cross most choose, for safety reasons, to accompany them the whole way.

        The fast cars and a**hole drivers around here are the deterrant for letting little kids walk the whole way.

        • Meg

          And also the fact that Child Protective Services says that children under a certain age must be with a responsible adult at all times. Sending a 6 year old to walk alone along route 50 in the dark doesn’t sound too consistent with that policy!

    • dk (not DK)

      I agree that this is a patently ridiculous claim.

      I was opposed to the change because of the last-minute way in which it was handled (which left many working families scrambling to secure before-school care or convince a boss to let them come to work later) and also because I don’t believe much thought was given to safety issues (streets without sidewalks, children crossing busy multi-lane streets, etc.).

      However, to claim that a young child’s school performance is suffering because they have to walk a mile in the morning? Give me a break.

      • South Awwlington

        Agreed. Now it seems grasping at straws and having the media focus on families in lower income areas and with limited or no English is the latest tactic in trying to force the Board into reconsideration. You gotta admit, these helicopter parents will do ANYTHING.

    • South Awwlington

      Arlington is a walkable community. It is not outside the realm of rational thought to assume children who live in transit oriented communities such as DC, Arlington, etc…would take advantage of that transit system and of those sidewalks. For an “Urban Community” with such a distaste for the outer suburbs such as Loudoun, or residents sure as heck expect a school busing system more like the outer burbs and less like an urban area.

      Children are the responsibility of their parents (just like my dog is my responsibility.) If you can’t meet the demands of that responsibility, it doesn’t mean you should depend on the school to do it.

    • gmfbcc

      You missed the lively debate weeks ago. The most condescending were the folks who claim the exercise is good for kids and that they used to walk 2 miles uphill to school in negative 20 degree weather with an 80 pound backpack on.

      I suspect they may be the same people as the County School Board.

    • Meg

      Just thinking, can I give you an honest answer? People always have known that those distances were unreasonable, so bus stops were placed right on the edges of those zones. That way, if it was safer or more sensible to walk to a bus stop than school, families just walked to a bus stop — meaning that the actual distance walked would rarely be more than half that distance.

      We did it. Our neighbors did it. It made sense, saved on gas, protected the environment, and gave us all a nice brisk walk in the morning. This is how things worked for years, everyone was very supportive at APS, and it worked quite well. Until this year, when we found out that we all were being accused of being “walkbacks” (i.e. scallawags, scoundrels, pick your favorite disdainful eptithet) and were being thrown off the buses.

      You are absolutely correct. By law, children under a certain age are not allowed to walk to school unsupervised. This is no problem for shorter distances, but it takes a LONG time to walk a three-mile round trip, and what working parent is able to do that in the morning and afternoon? Of course 1 mile for a four year old is unreasonable and 1.5 miles for an 11 year old is unreasonable.

  • B Div

    The comments on the WTOP story make the comments here sound like a vicar’s tea party.

    • Just thinking

      Guess those folks would not go in my reasonable folks category:)

    • Wow, I Guess Trolls Don’t Just Live Under Bridges Anymore

      You are not kidding. I guess, despite everything I’ve seen in comments on ARLnow, stuff is much, much worse on other sites.

  • ArlMom

    The 1 mile as a walking distance for school children is especially troublesome since the PEG application for the bocce court puts the court within four blocks of the applicants house. Longer than 4 blocks put the court past a major street and that was the justification for putting it close to his house.

  • Keith

    Thank you for posting my photo!

    • Arlfloater

      loved the rt 50 flooding pic! The morning notes photos are generally delightful–sometimes I have to think a little about them — no harm in that! thanks Arlnow for finding them for us. Is there an archive for the pics you use?

      • Keith

        Thank you!

        If I shoot a photo something in Arlington I usually add it to the Arlnow Flickr photo pool (http://www.flickr.com/groups/arlnow/). The latest are Rocky and Bandit – two raccoons my wife and I saw scurrying in the shrubs next to Summer’s (http://flic.kr/p/deHNzp)

        This was taken during the torrential rain/tornado on 9/7. The full set is here: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjC1Nj2E The flooding across 50 was like something I had never seen before.

  • PL25rd

    The Washington Post has a similar article to the WTOP one today, and the comments to that article are not nearly as nasty as the comments on the WTOP article.

  • funny how that works out

    Parents can arrange a carpool to complain at a meeting about having to arrange carpools because the buses don’t stop near them anymore? Ha!

    • donna

      Aren’t school board meetings held in the evenings? Organizing a carpool during evening hours is much more attainable than participating in one that can/will make you late for your typical office job.

  • sunflower

    guess jersey barriers dont hold back silt–except on the down side

    • nom de guerre

      Most excellent stormwater management/erosion control plan and measures are in place.

      • B22201

        Has 50 been repaved yet going towards DC? I’ve been avoiding it for the past 3 weeks as it was killing my car (low profile tires equate to a VERY rough ride on that screwed up road).

        • Cate

          Nope. At least they painted lane markers, I was quite grateful for that at least yesterday morning.

          I don’t know when they put them down, but now there are steel plates mixed up in that mess too. Normally I don’t find those bothersome but combined with the fact that the rest of the road is a hot mess already…ugh.

    • Observer

      Looks like someone’s been flushing their TP in Court House again.

  • Mike Hunt

    the next thing they will be demanding after they get their bus routes reinstated for their snowflakes is subsidized housing in Clarendon, oh wait…

  • ArlMom

    The PEG process was created “To enable these improvements to be completed without going through the normal County budget process.”


    Maybe parents can apply through there to get a school bus for their neighborhood.

  • Sheesh!

    What is worse than NIMBY’s? Namby Pamby parents who coddle their children!

    Oh, horrors – a mile walk to school. Puh-leeze! Back in the day we walked barefoot through snowdrifts waist high and if we were late we would be beaten with switches in front of our peers.

    Kids these days have it so easy, they just have to dodge traffic.

    • Garden City

      And the wolves. Don’t get me started on the wolves.

    • arlmimprov

      I posted above. We walk the mile. We like the exercise.

      I just have to accompany the kids because of the a**holes that come flying through the stop signs and down our residential streets at 50mph in the morning. We have to cross both N.Highland and Kirkwood to get to school. That is not safe for young kids to do alone…esp not a 5 year old.

      • Just thinking

        Ok, so this is why parents that are not able to walk with kids where so disrupted by this decision. Most with youngsters new full well their walking verses riding situation when they bought or rented there home.  Now the new rule has changed that equation and some may now be forced to have there kids walk down and cross roads and distances inappropriate to their childs age based on a decision by a person that does not fully understand the circumstances associated with the child’s walk.

        This is not the case for me…but I can see why this would be a real bummer.

        • Just thinking

          Pls excuse inane typos..using an ipad

        • arlmimprov

          Yes. I work from home so I am able to walk or drive my kids to school. My neighborhood also has maintained the bus routes…even though we are right at the cut-off mark. I think this has to do with the busy/unsafe road crossing.

          It sounds to me like there are many regions where bus routes were cut that still have the ‘busy road issue’.

          Also–if I were to have my kids ride the bus in the morning –the bus comes at 8:19am vs the school start at 9am. I think this 40 minute difference is a big deal for parents that need to be in the office at an exact time. In my house–we use the extra time to sleep and eat a healthy breakfast but I have the luxury of working from home and don’t need the time to commute to work.

        • dk (not DK)

          Yep, exactly. School starts at 8:45. If you have to be at work at 9 am and you believe it is unsafe for your child to walk alone to school, you’ve got a problem. But if you live a mile or so from the school and you are assigned to a bus, you have an easy solution: you put your kid on the bus at 8:15 and go to work.

          When that bus is suddenly taken away 2 weeks before school starts, you’re back to having a problem and not much time to work it out.

          • John Fontain

            So you’ve basically admitted that busing provided you with a half hour of free child care and now you’re mad that that government funded subsidy has been taken away.

          • Just thinking

            Not sure that is what poster was “admitting”.  Think the real issue was the short notice and commensurate time to respond and determine a new plan.  Shoot, we got 2 years notice when the metro simply decided tomhave every third blue train go a different direction from Roslyn.  Btw, its hard to find jobs that let you report after 9 am or hire a person to walk your kid to school, I’ve tried.  And, for me, the other issue is the arbitrary but unreasonable distance for the really young kids.  Would think we would want to provide a common sense bus service if we have one at all.

        • SnArl

          I think people here are missing the point. Don’t have kids if you are going to be too “busy” working to walk your kids a mile to school! People here are so self-entitled it is sickening. Go to work to pay for your $800,000 home and leave children out of it.

          • Greg

            “Don’t have kids” is your solution? Do you hear yourself? You’re delusional.

          • SnArl

            Having kids is not a right, it’s a privelege. It’s not the school’s responsibility to raise them, nor transport them to school. If you can’t properly provide for them, take care of them, walk them to school, or hire someone to help you – DON’T HAVE THEM!

          • drax

            Can we dispense with the idiotic “don’t have kids” thing already? It’s pathetic.

            Public schools have certain responsibilities. You are welcome to disagree about what they are, but others can have other opinions. “Don’t have kids” is not an argument for that.

          • SnArl

            Drax – “Don’t have kids” isn’t my argument for anything. It’s my opinion. And not just with schools, it’s in general. Not everyone is fit to be a parent – which you can see by the way a lot of children behave. If you are complaining about walking your kid a mile to school in the morning and not making it to your job by 9am, you probably fit into that category.

          • Josh S

            Having kids is “a privilege?” Who, pray tell, is granting such “privilege?”

          • Wow..from an aghast working parent from 21st century

            Hence the gender gap

  • Not so fast my friend…

    The county never said elementary school kids less than a mile away have to walk, let alone have to walk alone. They said those less than a mile away will not get a bus, which means it’s up to the parents to arrange transportation. Big difference. They can walk with them, drive them, throw them on the back of a bike, buy a ricksha. I feel for the folks with no car, particularly in the rain, but how about car pooling with someone who does have a car? Figure it out folks.

    • Anon

      Exactly! Thank you!

    • Just thinking

      With this logic…why provide bus service at all? Why do only the parents outside of a reasonable walking distance but within the prescribed 1 or 1.5 miles have to “figure it out”?

      • Not so fast my friend…

        Because there are reasonable distances that parents can be expected to arrange for transportation for their children.

        By your logic, shouldn’t we bus everyone? We live 1/2 mile away from my 5 year old’s school. I’m not going to allow her to walk alone, and I’d rather not take time out of my schedule to bring her there and back. So why shouldn’t I get bus service? Maybe we should just send private cars to everyone’s house.

        • Just thinking

          Ok…I’ll bite. What makes 1 mile “the reasonable distance that parents can be expected to arrange transportation”? I thought the purpose of a bus was to provide transportation for distances too far for kids to walk most often based on safety. Not as a way to arrange transportation for some parents and not for others when it is too far to walk. I’ll admit that this distance is subjective. You clearly don’t think .5 miles is a safe walk alone. I think most feel 1 mile is too far a 4 thru 6 year old to walk. I also think most felt old system accomodated this belief and found a reasonable middle ground, based on the reaction many think the new system does not. Maybe a reasonable middle ground would be to let kids under 8 on any bus and enforce a pass rule at a later age where a mile is more reasonable. This issue does not apply to me but I gotta tell i find your and many other responses uncompassionate to those with differing circumstances. You’re lucky you have the options you have.

          • Not so fast my friend…

            That seems like a reasonable solution. Allow K-garten, 1st, and maybe 2nd graders to “walk back” like they used to. However, I imagine 99% of the parents that are complaining would still complain. I’d bet most of them have kids that are older than 7 for whom they’d still have to figure something out. They couldn’t leave them alone at home for the time they’d normally get cared for on the bus. They are just jumping on the “you’re making my 5 year old walk alone for a mile in the rain across highways” argument because it seems compelling.

          • Just thinking

            Yeah..I know. It’s a judgement call with slippery slope implications. But it seems less draconian and strikes right at that heart of legitimate safety concerns.

  • JimPB

    Bravo to the Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ for its forthcoming Sunday evening series on ‘Restoring Political Civility.”

  • Gramps

    As said before, Booo, freakin, hooo… When I was a kid we walked 5 miles to school, each way, up hill, and milked the cows before we left, and worked the fields when we got home. Barefoot. Rain or Shine. And we didn’t have running water, let alone iThingys to give us a personal soundtrack while we did it. If walking to school is the hardest thing a kid ever has to do they’re lucky.

    • Glebe Roader

      Hey, you’re funny … NOT.

      • Gramps

        Wasn’t supposed to be funny, so we’re in agreement.

        • Josh S

          Not funny and not really very interesting at all.

    • John Fontain

      I agree.

      The funny thing about this is that I don’t think it’s the kids that are doing the complaining – it’s only the parents who shudder at the thought of having to take responsibility for their kids for an extra 20 minutes each day.

  • doug drabek

    Debate Viewing Parties?


    • sunflower

      it will take a lot of alcohol to compensate for having to watch the debates

    • Novanglus

      For those fed up with the partisanship of the D’s and R’s, you can join the No Labels Virginia viewing party at Busboys and Poets, Shirlington.

  • Mc

    “at least one mom lost her job as a result of changes to the County’s school bus policies”

    Sounds like some parents view public schools as day care.

    • Hmmm

      Wasn’t aware that sending school age kids anywhere other than school (such as daycare) was an option. Let’s not convolute the issue. We live in a era where more times than not both parents work by choice or not. This decision was thrust open the community with little notice or time to react. Because of this, Some parents had to make less than ideal employment decisions or suffer consequences not of there choosing. Let’s not lay on this BS that parents deem school as daycare. It is as condescending as lot of the other posts. Vast majority of parents know what school is regardless of circumstances or level of income.


Subscribe to our mailing list