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Boundary Change Options Down to Final Two

by Katie Pyzyk February 26, 2013 at 6:00 pm 3,594 58 Comments

Recommended plan for new school boundaries Alternative recommended plan for new school boundaries

The task of re-working the Arlington Public Schools boundaries is in the home stretch. The options have been whittled down to two, and tomorrow night (Wednesday) the public can get a detailed look at the final recommendations.

The School Board approved the creation of new boundaries to accommodate a new elementary school on the Williamsburg site and to help ease crowding at seven other elementary schools: Ashlawn, Glebe, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham, Taylor and Tuckahoe. Since the announcement last year, there have been numerous meetings and the public has submitted suggestions and concerns about the changes.

The two final options will be revealed to the community tomorrow at a 7:00 p.m. meeting at Williamsburg Middle School. The maps are largely similar to each other, with the main differences appearing along the Glebe/Taylor border and along the Glebe/McKinley border.

After the public gets a chance to discuss the choices at Wednesday’s meeting, staff will present their recommendations to APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy. He will review the options and decide which plan(s) he will present to the School Board at its meeting March 21.

  • ph7

    Mommyblogs in Arlington will be going apeshit.

  • meh…

    Confused, are they renaming some schools as well? What/where is Glebe Elementary School?

    • Arlingtoon

      Glebe Elementary is located on Glebe Road, north of 16th Street but south of Lee Highway. It’s a wonderful school.

      That being said, I have a difficult time understanding the two maps. Too may lines; difficult (if not impossible) to identify streets, and numbers that as far as I’m aware don’t correlate to anything lay people might understand.

      Whether its confusing by design or not I’ll leave to others to conclude.

      • ARL Parent

        This doesn’t get said enough. Following those maps without real streets on them is near impossible. It may well be by design so that people give up on figuring out if or how it will affect them.

        • ph7

          It’s pretty easy to figure out. See my instructions posted in this thread.

        • ARL

          I found my house in a few seconds. It’s not that hard.

        • Josh S

          Real streets?
          Do you see any fake streets on the maps?

      • Disappointed Glebe Parent

        You have to be following the process to understand what’s happening. Per these latest 2 options presented by APS, there are some communities that have little change, and some communities, such as Glebe, that will be affected whatever way they slice & dice it. APS website has tons of data on there if you want to attempt to understand it all.

  • Mary-Austin

    Oooh…safe to say people in Country Club Hills are going to be pissed.
    I don’t know if it’s like this anymore but schools in 22207 should stop taking transfers from other parts of the county that want to self-segregate. Used to be fairly common 5-10 years ago don’t know if it still is.

  • gymmyray

    Oh boy, hope APS staff are wearing protective clothing as many tomatoes may be thrown at this meeting!

  • TC

    Can someone explain who wins and loses in these plans? I don’t know anything about this topic.

    • ARL Parent

      The people who “loose” are the kids that have to change schools from one year to the next, and learn to deal with a new schedule, a different learning culture, and (probably most difficult) making new friends. Some would argue that all of these schools are more or less equally great, so these are all relatively minor (and temporary) things, but it’s tough to be made to change communities against your will.

      I think if they allowed current students to be grandfathered in, 90% of the objections would be overcome.

      • Back to the drawing board??

        Yep. One specific note is that Taylor and Glebe families lose because many who can walk to school will now be placed on buses. This is largely because of the weird kinda choice set-up for ASF/Key and the resulting HUGE Taylor sending district where most of it comes from the south of Taylor. As a result, planning units that are contiguous to Taylor will end up at Jamestown. Clearly a process that was not well thought out at the start.

        • New School Parent

          With a large % of Jamestown going to the immediately adjacent New School, does anyone really expect APS to leave Jamestown at 75% capacity? Because that’s what happens when they add Jamestown students to the New School but don’t move anyone over from Taylor. Jamestown has no other source of students to replace those moving to the New School.

          Oddly, friends of mine with to be affected kids in Bellevue Forest are happy about the move, despite the noise coming from the “Taylor Walkers” lobby. Having sat through the meetings and small group discussions, I understand the singular focus some have on this issue. But it isn’t as if it wasn’t heard and considered. Some earlier plans split 2303, some of which are current Taylor Walkers and others Taylor Busees to keep those kids using their existing modes of transit. But despite that consideration, those weren’t adopted.

          Also, unless someone has a lot more info than has been presented during these discussions, it is impossible to say how slaughtering the “sacred cows” would affect numbers across the country. Turning those to neighborhood schools might keep 1-2 units of Taylor/Glebe walkers closer and reduce bussing, but it could also create a ripple that would massively affect overcrowding at various schools. For example, what if 20% of the choice school attendees were from Taylor and the kids in the neighborhoods surrounding these schools only filled it to 80% capacity? More overcrowding at Taylor and more unused capacity at other schools? Unless someone has access to all the information [which, incidentally, APS does] and can take it all into account, any plan will be–to say the least–not well thought out from the start.

      • speonjosh

        Well, A) the changes don’t go into effect until 2015. So, unless you have a K-2 grade kid, they won’t impact you.
        B) Kids are tremendously flexible. Yes, there will be a period of adjustment, but, in most cases, it won’t last past December. The move from 5th grade to middle school will likely be just as jarring, if not more so.

        C) It’s not like you’re moving to a new state or even a new town. So much will be the same. Do different elementary schools in Arlington have different schedules? I don’t think so. Different learning culture? I guess that’s possible, but it’s also possible/probable you get a different learning culture each year as you go from teacher to teacher.

        D) And since everyone avoids going to overcrowded schools, it seems like everyone gains something.

        • Since you asked…

          A) I have a kid in K next year and in 2nd now, so next question

          B) I’m sure you’d love to have your kids have to go to a new school with NO friends going with them, since several planning units being moved are less than 20 kids and being orphaned to random schools all over Arlington. (It took me about 2 minutes to find studies from the Dept. of Education discussing the negative impact of moving schools)

          C) they have different programs– we will lose FLES moving from Glebe to Taylor that is an awesome program. I will also miss the diversity my school offers. My child has gotten alot out of learning with kids from different cultures, we’ve made that a focus when we found her daycare, and then at Glebe. This will be lost in a move to Taylor.

          D) My neighborhood isn’t gaining anything except the pleasure of riding a bus to school rather than walking a few blocks….

      • ArlMom

        There is loss in the short term, yes. But right now the kids who are losing are those who have to eat lunch at 9:45 am because that’s the only way to get everyone through the cafeteria in a building that is stuffed beyond capacity, that has 7 trailers outside covering nearly all of their fields, that can no longer hold assemblies or back to school night or any other school-wide meetings. Yes, this is all the result of poor planning done long ago. But there will be hurt feelings no matter where the lines are drawn. Fortunately, no one is plucking up one child and moving him or her to another county, far away. They will be moving with their other neighborhood friends. Grandfathering is very nice in concept, but doesn’t it just prolong the overcrowding agony?

        • dk (not DK)

          My kid is too old to be affected by these changes, and I have no objection to the school we will be rezoned for, so I have no dog in this fight. But I will say that as far as I know, there is no one else in his grade in the Glebe planning units slated to move to Taylor. So if he were to be moved, he would not feel like he was moving with any friends. He is friendly with several kids in our planning unit, but he doesn’t see them at school because they are in different grades. I don’t think moving to Taylor would feel any different to him than moving to a Fairfax County school. Now, would he adjust? Of course. But it would be hard, and he would be unhappy about the move. Grandfathering absolutely would make a difference. But so far I haven’t experienced the overcrowding at Glebe to be agony, so YMMV.

        • PTMom

          Grandfathering does prolong the agony and can make it so only one kid moves. If your K-2 child doesn’t have an older sibling to anchor them to the school, they may be the only one moving on your street.

  • RandomDude
    • RandomDude

      Apologies, it seems the PDFs don’t zoom in to provide more detail 🙁

  • Sam

    It would be helpful to have an existing boundary map to compare these two against.

    • Parent

      The thick red lines show where the existing boundaries are, so you can see where “planning units” are being shifted from current schools to new schools.

      • Sam

        Thanks – missed that on my tiny iphone screen.

  • ph7

    To easily decipher these maps:

    Click here, enter your address, select “school planning units” layer, deselect all other layers.

    Make note of the planning unit number your residence falls in.

    Then, look at the maps on the top of this page – each planning unit number has a color corresponding to an elementary school. You can see what school is assigned to your address under either plan.

    • ARL Parent

      LESSON LEARNED – Make sure to enter your address to search for it (and to force a tight zoom in doing so), or to zoom in close to your street/house if doing it manually. The “School Planning Unit” numbers don’t appear if you’re zoomed out too far, and they don’t appear to be click-able in any way.

      But in any case, that seems to me to be a heck of a lot of clicking and cross-referencing just to get basic information given that “community engagement” was one of their top stated priorities. It shouldn’t be this hard. The PDF versions (linked by RandomDude) need to have street names so that people can zoom in and make heads or tails of it in their neighborhood.

      • ph7

        I don’t know about that. It took fewer than 5 minutes, using Google, to find which schools would be assigned to my address under the alternative plans. That doesn’t seem like an extraordinary effort.

      • speonjosh

        I was able to do it just by looking at the maps here. Granted, I’m nowhere near the boundary lines, but still, I recognize the street network enough to know where my house is.

  • LanaDelTacoBell

    I’m in south Arlington, never heard 3 of these schools before. Will the High school lines have to change soon as well?

    • Poor planning

      Yep. that’s in the offing in the next decade. Your elementary schools will be changing two years later as well/ Why they didn’t put all of the elementary schools (including choice schools) on the table at the same time is beyond me.

  • Strangely enough….

    Weirdly, the parents in the county-wide survey asked for a focus on proximity — keeping walkers walking. Yet, the preferred option buses kids that live within a few (3?) blocks of Taylor/Glebe to other schools, while the other option doesn’t save any buses because they are beyond the mile limit or have to cross major streets.
    This doesn’t make any sense after Bus-gate.

    • ph7

      You have the draw the lines somewhere. The maps appear to be geographically balanced, with little gerrymandering-type anomalies. Are there some anomalies? Sure, it’s impossible not to have them is districting schools; you try to keep them to a minimum. Does it suck if you are caught in the anomalies? Absolutely – as always, life can be unfair, and sometimes you get the short end of the stick. Does it make the plan bad? No. Addressing one resident’s complaint will almost certainly require shifting the displeasure to some other resident. Will people in the anomalies still complain about the plan? Yes, it’s the nature of districting, and the nature of people.

      • Boom!

        We could maximize proximity by getting rid of ATS and ASF.

        • Tasty Meat

          If only the sacred cows could be placed on the table…

      • Duplicitous??

        There are other places that the lines can be drawn that don’t increase
        the number of kids on buses. All we heard from the School Board and
        Administration during Bus-gate was the importance of having as many kids
        walking to school as possible.

        Yet the recommended option will
        require MORE busing than other options (including the Variation option).
        Depends which side of the mouth their talking out of….

    • Guest

      When ACB hints of bus costs you can almost predict busing will become even more expensive in the future – spinning buses. Also, remember busing kids Northerly is how ACB forces its integration on neighborhoods. ACB knows better than you.

  • Lebowski

    Were those maps done by 3rd graders?

    • 5% increase in 2013

      Nah, highly paid consultants. Your tax dollars at work. A company named Reingold based in the District….

  • Homeowner

    All this work and many of the schools are still over capacity with future growth still projected. Seriously?

    • speonjosh

      Please show us your solution that is better.

      • Homeowner

        In addition to the new school on the WMS site, make the current ATS facility a neighborhood school. The ATS program could be moved to Hoffman.

        • southarlington

          Is that a option b/c I know years ago the parents threw a fit with that suggestion and so did the staff at Hoffman Boston ?

          • Poor planning on their part…

            Gee whiz, so some people’s feelings are more important than others? The worse part of this process, is that it’s being done piecemeal, and we’ll be doing the Elementary Schools again in TWO YEARS. Put it all on the table at once with a phased implementation- rather than making quite suboptimal decisions- like sending 1513 to Ashlawn in both scenarios, when there are 10 elementary school facilities closer.

          • south arlington

            Makes sense but no one seems to listen and your are exaclty right some people’s feelings are more important then others and …No one wants to make hard decisions and with this school board they never will so the overcrowding issues will never be solved effectively because they are worried about the reprecussions …Do what other school districts do make decisions with public input but if you go against the public input people that do not like it will deal with it or go to a private schools …..

  • Ashton Heights Represent

    What happened to Long Branch? I am confused by this map.

    • dk (not DK)

      I guess Long Branch is going to be dealt with in the next round with the South Arlington schools?

      • believe it when I see it

        Correct and in theory the choice schools

  • dk (not DK)

    Elementary school assignments could make so much more sense if we could just rid ourselves of the plague we call “choice” schools. We live less than a half a mile from ATS and less than a mile from Glebe (our current school), but will be moved to Taylor under one of these options.

    Since I have a 4th grader, I don’t care that much–unless the elementary school shift impacts middle school assignments. I am very opposed to moving to Taylor if doing so means we also move to Williamsburg.

    • magentabike

      Here’s an interesting map that shows 1/2 walking radius around affected North Arlington neighborhood schools.


      For reference, I think ATS is in planning untii 1411, Walter Reed is in 1606 and ASF is in 2319. What sticks out to me are how close Tuckahoe, Nottingham, the new school and Jamestown are to each other – their walkable neighborhoods overlap to a high degree. They are all hard up against the Fairfax county border too, so you can’t really draw circles around them to create decent walking zones. In contrast, there are big deserts with no neighborhood schools in the center because of the presence of ATS, ASF, Key and the Walter Reed site.

      I think it is an interesting idea to make Key school a neighborhood school to reduce the pressure placed on Taylor by the Rosslyn/Clarendon corridor. The Spanish immersion program could be moved to the new Williamsburg site – I imagine many kids would be bused there, which would reduce the amount of car traffic that is such a concern to neighbors.

      Although people are saying “it’s a done deal”, the fact is that no ground has been broken and no hole dug and no student changes have been made yet.

      • APS needs to listen…

        Brilliant idea. Anyone on N. Quincy listening? Probably not

      • tchoupitoulas


    • Need a Medicine Man

      A plague it is indeed. Sadly the plague is powerful, and APS seems unable/unwilling to do battle with it….

    • dk (not DK)

      sorry, that should read: we live less than half a mile from ASF. Not ATS.

  • lalalynn

    I was under the impression that for North Arlington, this is just the first round of boundary changes for elementary schools. And that more changes will be proposed later (maybe this fall) to address the additions to McKinley and others that are set to be done in 2016.

    Can anyone clarify or shed light on this?

    • If only…

      That is correct. Another round of elementary school boundary changes to be decided in two years. Pure stupidity. Put everything on the table county-wide now, and make smart decisions….

      • lalalynn

        What a mess. We are right in between two of the impacted schools with one of those getting an addition in 2016. I could care less which one we are zoned for, but why not let us know now and not make my kid start and one and then switch the next year.

        I guess this will be nothing compared to when they re-zone the high schools.

  • JT

    I wonder why no one has pointed out the many out of county students who attend APS because their parents work for the school system. Is it really 900? And the rumor is that it is mostly ed center people who take advantage of this….grandchildren and such….

  • Guest

    It’s disengenuous to adust boundaries for the North Arlington schools excluding the South schools below Ashlawn when the South schools are flooded with illegals via the uber affordable housing complexes. It really shows how the APS writes off the southside and how we have given up. My taxes are going up too yet the affordable housing doesnt show up in the neighborhoods who just had their boundary issue addressed. Throw us a life line and/or reduce the snub.


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