The latest Arlington Public Schools elementary boundary process earned some public plaudits, a relative rarity, after the number of students who would have been assigned to new schools was cut nearly in half.
The superintendent’s recommended plan makes enough changes to accommodate the new Reed and Key elementary schools, which open in the fall of 2021. Twenty-two planning units, or about 800 students, will be reassigned among Arlington Science Focus School, the Key school site, and Ashlawn, McKinley, Taylor and Tuckahoe schools. The move increases the number of students who can walk to school by 600.
Originally, some 1,400 students were to have been reassigned.
The larger set of boundary changes was first proposed in early October. A public hearing on the superintendent’s new proposal will be held on Dec. 1, before the board considers adopting it on Dec. 3.
A separate countywide boundary process is slated for as soon as 2022.
The new plan presented on Thursday night was drafted after APS staff received numerous messages from parents who requested that the process avoid impacting children’s friendships and relationships with teachers, which have been harder to develop and maintain during distance learning.
Staff told the School Board that Superintendent Francisco Durán’s new boundary recommendations make minimal adjustments and preserve flexibility for a broader process to come.
Many parents who spoke at the meeting commended the school system for the changes.
“It’s clear stakeholders listened to community feedback, took it on board and made real effort to try to align boundaries to minimize disruption and better utilize space in available schools,” said Katie Geder
For another parent, Mike Flood, the recommendations checked all the boxes: limited disruptions, balanced enrollment, stability and proximity to neighborhood schools.
June Locker said parents in her planning unit were surveyed and a majority believe that APS has addressed their concerns, she said.
School Board members were divided on how to alleviate the crowding not addressed in the new plan, and with enrollment declining, questioned how severe overcrowding will be next fall.
Board member Reid Goldstein said the plan leaves too many planning units alone.
“While we’re doing virtual [learning] is the perfect time to make the necessary capacity changes,” he said.
Both Goldstein and board vice-chair Barbara Kanninen said they were nervous the countywide boundary process would not happen in 2022 as planned, and asked Durán for a commitment to one.
Durán said the goal in providing additional flexibility is to have a broader, countywide boundary process.
“There is that commitment to do that,” he said.
Board member Tannia Talento disagreed with the calls for bolder boundary changes, saying the system needs flexibility in the event that capacity needs are lower than projected in the next few years.
Board member Nancy Van Doren predicted that enrollment will bounce back because most of those who opted out this year are in prekindergarten and kindergarten, ages when it is easier to keep kids home.
“We may have more of a pop back, quickly, than we might be concerned about,” she said.
In February, the School Board approved an elementary school building swap to account for the new Reed School building in Westover, as well as the former home of the Key Spanish immersion program near Courthouse being converted to a neighborhood school to account for population growth in the area.
Tour the secluded and quiet Bellevue Forest with its local parks, trails, forested areas and more in Neighborhood Spotlight.
In loving memory of William Dinwiddie Tucker, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 95.
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Meeting for lunch? Starting Monday, January 30 and running until Friday, February 3, Copperwood Tavern, The Pinemoor, and Brass Rabbit Pub will be offering buy one, get one free soups, salads, sandwiches, and…
St. Charles offers a play-based curriculum in a welcoming, Christ-centered environment.
Our program focuses on socio-emotional development and kindergarten readiness through hands-on and engaging activities. Our programs offer different schedules ranging from 7:30 am-5:30 pm for students, ages 2-5. We feature a full-day Jr. kindergarten class for older 4’s/5’s. Our facility includes a full-sized gymnasium, school chapel, and library. All of our students enjoy music and physical education weekly. Children have an opportunity to participate in enrichment classes such as soccer, basketball, ballet, and science.
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For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at www.stcharlesarlington.org or call (703) 527-0608.
If you are a lifelong learner over 50+ who wants to make new friends, power up your brain, and enjoy a wide-variety college-level courses, Encore Learning is for you. An Arlington based nonprofit, Encore Learning offers courses in the arts, theater, literature, history, technology and more. This semester we offer our most popular course, Global Hot Spots as well as 25 new courses. Courses are presented either online or in-person at George Mason University at Virginia Square and other Arlington locations.
Join the free presentation to learn about courses and meet the instructors. This is Encore Learning’s signature event to highlight the upcoming semester with brief presentations by each instructor.
The Spring Course Preview event is Thursday, February 2nd at 9:30 AM via Zoom:
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