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Moving H-B Woodlawn Among School Capacity Options

H-B Woodlawn (via Google Maps)(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Relocating H-B Woodlawn and building a new middle school next to Washington-Lee High School are some of the preliminary options on the table for the Arlington School Board to address overcrowding.

Last week, the School Board held a work session to determine the basis on which it will make its decisions when it develops a new Capital Improvement Plan this spring. APS, which has been busy planning and building new elementary schools and school additions to address overcrowding in primary schools, is now shifting its construction planning focus to middle schools.

APS facilities staff presented eight options for increasing elementary school capacity, seven options for increasing middle school capacity, two options for relocating or adding on to the H-B Woodlawn secondary program’s facility in the former Stratford Junior High School, and three other options for high school capacity.

The proposed changes to H-B Woodlawn are already drawing some concern from parents and students. The Board will weigh whether to build an addition to the facility and expand the program or move the H-B Woodlawn program to a leased space and build an addition to create a 1,200-seat middle school in the current facility.

“This is terrible,” said one apparent former student, via Facebook. “I hope the school board sees sense and doesn’t institute either of these ‘ideas.'”

Another capacity-increasing idea being considered is building a 1,200-seat middle school on the site of the Arlington Public Schools administrative offices next to Washington-Lee High School.

APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos was careful to note that these “options” are very preliminary, and are being floated for the purpose of further community discussion.

“Yes, a lot of options have been thrown out by staff and community members… but there is no plan at this point,” she said. “We’re hoping that more options become available. We need to work with the community to determine what will be the next best step.”

The School Board will vote on its CIP in June, but before then it needs to finish or update feasibility studies on the 20 possibilities. Nine of the options already have completed studies, and Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations John Chadwick said they were “all feasible to some degree.”

“The School Board has made it clear it wishes to address the areas of most critical need for new seats within APS’ available debt capacity,” Chadwick told ARLnow.com.

The School Board listed capacity planning, alignment with APS’ Strategic Plan, feasibility and smart growth as criteria for its decision. Chadwick said ranking the options won’t happen until April or May after an extensive community outreach process.

There is a community forum to discuss the issue scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) in the Washington-Lee High School auditorium.

Photo via Google Maps

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