Press Club
Flags in at Arlington National Cemetery on 5/26/22 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Happy Memorial Day weekend, Arlington.

We hope you’re able to get some rest and reflection in after this long week. Once we push past some rain this evening, it’s looking like sunny skies, high temps and grilling weather through Monday.

Now, here are the most-read Arlington articles of the past week.

  1. Thousands without power in Arlington after strong storms roll through
  2. First case of monkeypox reported in N. Va.
  3. Greek restaurant Our Mom Eugenia to open in Shirlington, aiming for fall
  4. Republicans nominate Arlington resident as 8th Congressional District candidate
  5. Massive ‘Pike’ sculpture is being installed this week near the county border
  6. Smash and grab theft at Pentagon City mall jewelry store
  7. Taqueria el Poblano staying open through the summer, now set to close in August
  8. Police: Parking aide assaulted, more cars broken into
  9. ACPD stepping up patrols of schools in wake of Texas shooting, Alexandria stabbing
  10. Arlington now under Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Feel free to discuss these stories or anything else of local interest in the comments. Enjoy the weekend, Arlington!

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Karina Lipsman, the Republican nominee for the 8th Congressional District, holds a campaign sign (via Fairfax County Republican Committee/Facebook)

Local Republicans nominated Arlington resident Karina Lipsman on Saturday to seek the U.S. House seat currently held by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Early voting is underway for the primary to determine whether Lipsman faces Beyer or his primary challenger, Victoria Virasingh, in the November general election. The 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.

At the local GOP’s ranked choice convention, Lipsman earned 61.5% of the votes in the first round of vote counting, according to a press release on her campaign website.

Votes for Lipsman came out ahead of other Republican hopefuls as the slate of candidates sought to catch the wave that elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Alexandria resident Kezia Tunnell received 19.12% of the vote, and the 2020 nominee Jeff Jordan received 15.92%. Two other candidates, McLean resident Monica Carpio, and Heerak Christian Kim, a registered nurse and former public school teacher, did not break 2.5%, the release stated.

Lipsman was nominated “to take on the progressive establishment” in the 8th District, an email from Arlington GOP read. The seat has been held by a Democrat for decades, including by Beyer who won a crowded primary for former Congressman Jim Moran’s seat in 2014 and the general election later that year.

Lipsman fled Ukraine when it was still under Soviet Union control and came to the United States with her mother and grandparents, according to her campaign website. They didn’t speak English, survived on food stamps and lived in low-income housing in Baltimore. When she was 18, Lipsman became a U.S. citizen.

https://twitter.com/karinacongress/status/1525243734480367617?s=21&t=YbRc9C9C12GqVzMD-SorYg

She received a bachelor’s degree in economics while she was working full-time in the financial industry, and later earned a master’s in engineering from Johns Hopkins, according to the website. She’s worked in the national defense industry for over a decade.

Her website outlines priorities like supporting law enforcement, opposing tax increases, stopping illegal immigration and her stance against abortion.

She says she supports school choice and community colleges, technical schools, and vocational training programs. She also wrote, “We must fight the dangerous voices that call for lowering educational standards in the name of equity.”

After her nomination, Arlington Democrats posted to Twitter calling her an “extreme right candidate,” linking to a recording of her allegedly saying “Fauci should be jailed” at a candidate forum.

Lipsman’s website mentions extremists and divisive politics.

“Let’s be honest — there are loud extremists on both sides, who benefit from dividing our country, and we cannot let that happen,” the website says. “Divisive politics are poisonous and we must work together to overcome the gridlock on the critical issues that are facing our country.”

After living in Arlington for more than 10 years, she says she understands the issues facing the community.

“As your congresswoman, I will engage with you directly and represent your interests and put solutions for our district before partisan politics,” her website reads. “I will advocate for common-sense policies that fight crime, reduce inflation, ease transportation and improve our educational standards.”

Photo via Fairfax County Republican Committee

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.

Two companies that help grocers and shoppers get the best deal have reached a deal of their own.

Canadian artificial intelligence company Fobi is set to acquire Basket, an Arlington-based startup’s grocery pricing app that lets users compare in-store and online prices for items, according to a press release.

Basket, which was developed by Grocery Shopping Labs, provides its data to product manufacturers and retailers so they can understand shopping trends, such as how often shoppers search for products at different stores and what drives purchasing decisions. Fobi, based in Vancouver, provides insights from retail, sports, entertainment and tourism data to its clients, which include large companies across the globe.

“Basket has always been about taking the blindfold off shoppers to help them save money and time, and simultaneously providing shopper insights to some of the top [consumer packaged goods] CPG brands and retailers,” Grocery Shopping Labs CEO Neil Kataria said in the release. “Now, together with Fobi we can significantly grow our audience, delivering more value for shoppers and more value for the CPG brands we work with.”

Tech startup Basket co-founder Andy Ellwood talks at an event marking its move to Arlington in 2016 (file photo)

Basket was started in 2014 in D.C. and moved to Clarendon in 2016. The company raised $12 million in capital and has had hundreds of thousands of users.

Basket allows people to scan barcodes for their favorite products to create smart shopping lists that compares prices for products across various local stores, online shops and delivery companies, as well as the cost of the entire list across all of the stores. Basket’s data combined with Qples by Fobi Grocery Coupon Network app will give users a better experience and optimize cost savings for the brands, the release says.

“Shoppers can simply scan the product barcode and see if there are any coupons available for that product from Qples by Fobi, and if there are, they can be applied automatically at checkout,” according to the release.

The idea for Basket came to Kataria when he was a child, clipping coupons with his family and comparing his grocery list across five stores near him, he previously told ARLnow. As an adult, he realized the amount of money he was wasting by not comparing prices and began to aggregate data generated by shoppers.

The app built a community of shoppers who shared prices from grocery stores across the U.S.

“I’m excited by the opportunity we have together with Fobi to transform the grocery business with pricing visibility and shopper data, but I’m also excited about taking this transformation to other industries next,” Kataria said in the release.

The acquisition of Basket is well-timed, as inflation rises and manufacturers and consumers are even more interested in saving money, Fobi CEO Rob Anson said in the release.

“This deal immediately grows our revenue streams and immediately grows our addressable audience and the amount of shopper data that we have access to,” he said. “Our combined AI & Big Data capabilities will now enable a new era of personalized marketing at scale with unprecedented data analytics, and valuable insights as to campaign performance and measurement for the retail ecosystem.”

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Demolition began on the former Jaleo building in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The weekend has arrived and, apparently, so have mid-summer temperatures.

Perhaps a little too early. Forecasters warn residents not to let the heat take them by surprise as temperatures could reach the mid-90s.

But there’s plenty to do, so if you’re venturing out, be sure to hydrate, wear sunscreen and rest in shaded areas.

Now, here are the most-read Arlington articles of the past week.

  1. Kenmore Middle School dismissal delayed due to possible security threat
  2. JINYA Ramen Bar opening this weekend and giving away free ramen in Ballston
  3. Four more local businesses coming to Amazon’s HQ2
  4. ACPD: Thieves break into 17 cars, steal three with keys inside
  5. Woman seriously injured after reportedly being pushed out of an SUV near Ballston
  6. Elderly woman armed with gun tased by police after firing at ‘known individual’
  7. ACPD: Drunk driver slams into 7-8 parked cars, garbage cans and a utility pole near Rosslyn
  8. Demolition begins on former Jaleo in Crystal City as redevelopment plan advances
  9. Car bursts into flames after crash near Pentagon City
  10. Police: Dozens of cars stolen or stripped of airbags over the past three weeks

Feel free to discuss these stories or anything else of local interest in the comments. Enjoy the weekend, Arlington!

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A dog that served in Afghanistan is receiving a lot of special attention this week as his family prepares for a loving send-off after discovering he has an aggressive tumor.

A Nextdoor post about K9 Rony, the purebred Belgian Malinois living in Arlington, has garnered more than 500 reactions and 140 comments — and prompted Arlington County Police Department to honor him with a vehicle procession Tuesday.

Arlington County police decided to honor Rony “to show our respect and gratitude for his years of service,” a tweet from the department reads. “We are thankful for the time we got to spend with him and ask that you join us in keeping his family in our thoughts during this difficult time.”

Rony served alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan for many years, his owners wrote in the Nextdoor post. He retired from the U.S. military where his service included over 380 combat missions, they wrote on the social network.

“A few days ago, Rony had to go to an emergency vet hospital where surgeons found an aggressive fast-growing tumor in his abdomen,” the post reads. “They do not believe he will survive the surgery. Together, we all realized that the kindest gift we could give to him is to allow him to pass away peacefully through euthanasia.”

The family invited users to send notes that will be read aloud to Rony during an “honorable and loving sendoff surrounded by those who love him” this Saturday. The messages will then be shared with other military working dogs and their handlers training for a future deployment, the post says.

The family also hopes to include the letters in a children’s book about the life of a military working dog.

“Military working dogs like Rony have helped protect our country alongside our men and women who serve,” the post reads. “Even after serving, they continue to love and inspire others.”

The full post is below.

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Arlington County staff present the details of County Manager Mark Schwartz’s $3.9 billion CIP for 2023-32 (via Arlington County)

From a new Columbia Pike library to a dedicated pickleball court, County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed 10-year $3.9 billion capital improvement plan would fund projects across Arlington.

The first 10-year plan for capital projects in four years would budget for infrastructure projects between 2023 and 2032. The CIP proposal, slated for adoption in July, is a 40% increase from the plan approved four years ago, Schwartz said in his presentation to the County Board Tuesday.

“This CIP proposal aims to address current and future capital needs in Arlington County as we emerge from the financial setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schwartz said in a statement. “We want to focus on key planned investments in addition to following through on commitments from prior plans to benefit county residents and businesses long-term.”

Stormwater projects would receive $331.3 million in funding, including $77 million for Spout Run, $14.7 million for Torreyson Run, $28.5 million for Crossman Run and $49.5 million for Lubber Run — all flood mitigation efforts. Streams and water quality funding is proposed at $52.1 million and maintenance at $50.2 million.

A slideshow outlining what Arlington’s investment in environmental goals looks like in the 2023-32 CIP (via Arlington County)

While Metro remains one of the largest investments in the CIP, at $356.4 million, the proposal also outlines $1.8 billion in non-Metro transportation funding. This includes $16 million for Vision Zero street safety improvements program, $64 million for bridge replacements and renovations, and $89 million for bike and walk programs.

Other highlights include:

The proposed CIP includes new park programs that focus on emerging needs and natural resiliency, a new fire station on the west end of Columbia Pike, and facilities consolidation to enable remote work for county staff.

Schwartz said the needs of the county have changed since the last 10-year CIP, as the county is in “a world shaped by the pandemic where we do our business differently.”

Michelle Cowan, deputy county manager overseeing the Department of Management and Finance, noted during the presentation that the finance department works entirely remotely now, potentially a harbinger of a money-saving reduction in the county’s office footprint.

“We have reduced our footprint which… allows us then to do some really strategic consolidations that you’ll hear about in other county buildings that could get us out of some aging assets,” Cowan said.

The CIP will continue to fund debt service obligations for the investment in housing at Barcroft Apartments, construction of Fire Station 8, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2023, and the design and planning process for the proposed Arlington boathouse.

Preliminary construction funding for the lower boathouse site is included in the later years of the CIP.

This CIP returns funding levels for the Arlington Neighborhoods Program, formerly the Neighborhood Conservation Program, which are projects identified by individual neighborhoods and include street improvements, streetlights, parks, beautification and sidewalks. The program had steep cuts in previous CIPs.

The 2023-32 CIP proposal would provide $85.2 million in funding to the program. That includes $4 million of funding for projects in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and would increase to $9 million in 2030 and 2031, Director of Management and Finance Maria Meredith said.

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Demolition of the former Jaleo restaurant building in Crystal City began this week, as the site plan review process for a redevelopment on the block kicked off earlier this month.

The proposal by JBG Smith is making its way through the county approval process to turn the 2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd Street S. buildings into two apartment towers with ground floor retail and an underground parking garage.

The two 30-story apartment towers replacing the former restaurant space and the aging 11-story “Crystal Plaza 5” office building would include:

  • A “West Tower” at 223 23rd Street S. that would be 309 feet tall and have 613 dwelling units, 4,379 square feet of retail and 184 parking spaces
  • An “East Tower” at 2250 Crystal Drive that would be 304 feet tall, and have 827 dwelling units, 13,059 square feet of retail and 249 total parking spaces

An underground garage structure would serve both buildings, averaging 0.3 spaces per unit, and connect to the existing parking structure on the block, county planner Michael Cullen said in a presentation earlier this month.

JBG Smith also proposes moving the plaza and pedestrian access to a collection of underground shops and corridors to the northwest corner of the east tower.

Once approved and constructed, the buildings would make the block, called “Block M” in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan, 80% residential. Most of the buildings on Block M are owned by JBG Smith.

There was one adjustment in JBG’s most recent presentation to the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC).

Along the east-west connection, JBG Smith added a park option based on community feedback at the Long Range Planning Committee, said Madhvi Shukla with JBG Smith. In both options, the whole east-west connection, which links Crystal Drive and another path to 23rd Street S., would be publicly accessible.

“The section that isn’t chosen for the park would have a public access easement to ensure whichever park space is chosen has public access to both Crystal Drive and to the underground entry,” she said.

A graphic of the east-west connection for the 2250 Crystal Drive project shows a new location option for a park on the right (via JBG Smith)

Three park spaces are incorporated in the plan, which ultimately will total 26,000 square feet, but one of the spaces will be phased into its final size over time, Shukla said.

The 13,000-square-foot park envisioned in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan would not be fully finished unless JBG Smith redevelops the Crystal Plaza 6 apartments at 2221 S. Clark Street. In the interim, the park will total about 8,000 square feet on the site’s southwest corner, and an alley between the two towers will be a dead end.

The north-south connection between 23rd Street and the east-west connection would be designed to prioritize pedestrians, with 8 and 9-foot sidewalks, elevated planters for protection and string lights to signal it’s a pedestrian-first zone, Shukla said.

On 23rd Street, there will be protected bike lanes going in both directions, Shukla said, as well as a protected bike lane on Crystal Drive. While the 23rd Street realignment will narrow the roadway, it will have the same number of lanes without a median.

A rendering shows what 23rd Street S. will look like with protected bike lanes and without a median (via JBG Smith)

On June 13 and July 21, there will be virtual SPRC meetings to discuss the project. Planning Commission meetings and a County Board vote are expected this fall.

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Amazon has announced four more local businesses that will open at the first phase of its HQ2, known as Metropolitan Park, in Pentagon City.

HQ2 will be home to Arlington’s second Conte’s Bike Shop, a South Block, the second location of Vienna-based Social Burger and the first brick-and-mortar location of HUSTLE — a high intensity cycling workout business.

The businesses will join the two that were already announcedDistrict Dogs and RĀKO Coffee.

South Block’s Met Park spot will be one of four new planned locations that will open in the next two years, South Block’s Vice President of Marketing Lindsey Parry told ARLnow.

“For us, it’s always been about our community first and so the opportunity to build new blocks and to be a part of HQ2 to us is just really establishing those local roots, continuing to grow,” she said.

A common thread among the businesses is making an impact in their communities.

South Block owner Amir Mostafavi started nonprofit Fruitful Planet that gives fresh fruits and vegetables to food insecure communities and people in need. And at Social Burger in Vienna, 40 meals a week that its customers purchase go to Lamb Center, a homeless shelter.

Social Burger Owner Denise Lee said she’s looking forward to showcasing the business and bringing the burger spot to a bigger setting.

“I’ve been there several times through the construction phase,” she said. “It’s amazing. I’m excited to be part of that. It’s going to be a beautiful campus when the time comes.”

The restaurant will be larger than its original, with a planned 38 seats, and some outdoor seating, Lee said.

HUSTLE co-founder Sunny Miller started the online workout platform during the pandemic to continue connecting with the community she had built through cycling classes. HUSTLE later began pop-up classes at the Wharf in D.C., but to have a permanent space for the business is something special, Miller said.

“This space is going to mean so much for my team and the community because we finally have a place where they can come on a regular basis,” she said.

HUSTLE has already started running free strength classes in Long Bridge Park, Miller said. And they will also be starting cycling classes there every Saturday, beginning in June.

Conte’s Bike Shop co-founder David Conte said the approximately 4,000-square-foot space will feature a mezzanine with a studio for seat fitting, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a coffee bar similar to the one at its Navy Yard location.

“For us to have an opportunity to literally be on the ground floor with an organization like Amazon that’s going to serve the community and the county really quite fabulously, is really humbling and it’s a real privilege,” said Conte’s co-founder Wayne Souza.

“Amazon is excited to bring these businesses and more to HQ2, helping to build a vibrant, buzzing neighborhood,” the company said in a blog post this morning.

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County Board member Libby Garvey (left) with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission delegation in Germany (via NVRC/Twitter)

Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey is quarantining in Germany after testing positive for COVID-19 while on a trip.

Garvey told ARLnow she’s doing relatively well, and feels mostly like she has a bad cold. She said she plans to keep up with Board work this week as much as she can.

“Hopefully I will have a negative test soon so I can fly home,” she said. “I’m checking on the regulations. I hope to get better quickly and be able to come home by this Thursday or Friday.”

At the County Board meeting Saturday, Chair Katie Cristol said Garvey was absent after being unable to return from her trip with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission “due to a medical condition.”

She was later able to join the meeting via video conference, about two hours in.

Garvey said she visited a family member in Germany and then joined the regional delegation, which was there to learn about the transition away from fossil fuels.

The delegation was in the Stuttgart region for five days and finished in Hamburg, where Garvey said she started experiencing symptoms that felt like allergies. She self-administered a Covid test, which was positive.

Garvey then went with the group to get a test at a German facility, and tested negative, she said. But she continued to have a runny nose, scratchy throat and was tired — although that could be attributed to the long days of walking and seminars.

In order to board the plane home, she was tested again Friday and was positive. The rest of the delegation tested negative and was able to fly home Saturday, she said.

Garvey said she’s lucky enough to have family in the country to quarantine with.

“I feel mostly like I have a bad cold, but it gets better and then worse again several times a day,” she said. “When it’s worse, I feel pretty yuck. When it’s better, I feel not too bad. I also feel a little dizzy at times, but not badly so.”

Garvey said she doesn’t know where she may have picked up the virus. She’s mostly been wearing a mask in Germany, except for meals or when all were seated and spaced apart, she said. She’s been fully vaccinated and had two booster shots.

Her takeaway: it’s really easy to get Covid given fewer people wearing masks and variants getting more contagious.

Garvey recommended residents get vaccinated and boosted so they won’t become seriously ill, “as I am very hopeful that I will not.”

“And, so far, so good,” she added.

Arlington recorded a new seasonal high today in its average daily case rate, with just over 175 new cases reported per day, on average, over the past week. That’s up from about 150 cases per day a week ago.

The test positivity rate in Arlington is currently 12.8%, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Covid hospitalizations in Arlington remain relatively low but continue to rise. The county is seeing 4.9 Covid-related admissions per 100,000 in population, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Virginia Hospital Center is seeing small week-to-week changes in Covid hospitalizations, but is “generally hanging in a comfortable zone,” ER chief Mike Silverman said in his weekly update Friday.

“For the most part, people are not requiring hospitalization for COVID, which is the benefit of vaccines,” he said.

But the ER has remained busy. Silverman said the prior week was the second busiest for total ER volume in the last several years, only surpassed by the last week of 2021 when Omicron was surging.

Photo via Northern Virginia Regional Commission

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.

Cybercriminals are not the stereotypical teen in their mom’s basement wearing a hoodie.

Cyber crime has become a highly organized business, with people specialized in different parts of the process, nonprofit Cyber Threat Alliance President and CEO Michael Daniel said. And cyber threats, such as ransomware, have exploded as people are more connected to the internet and can move money more easily.

“We’ve entered a stage where cyber crime poses a very significant threat to the global economy and the global system, equivalent to what normally would only be associated with nation-states,” Daniel said. “And so that’s a big challenge and a big change.”

Based in Clarendon, Cyber Threat Alliance enables cybersecurity companies to share threat information with each other quickly to prevent and respond to these attacks.

“No individual company has a complete view of what’s going on in cyberspace, so in order to be able to protect your customers, or work with the government, law enforcement agencies or others to help disrupt the bad guys, you need more information,” Daniel said.

Cyber Threat Alliance CEO Michael Daniel speaks during a presentation (courtesy of Cyber Threat Alliance)

People who work in cybersecurity policy talk about information sharing a lot, but there wasn’t anyone dedicated to it for the industry until the nonprofit was formed five years ago with its six founding members — Palo Alto, Fortinet, Check Point, Cisco, McAfee and Symantec.

“The leaders of those companies really understood that talking about information sharing in cybersecurity, well, everybody talks about it, but it’s hard to do,” said Daniel, who worked in federal government for 20 years, including as former President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity adviser.

As for locating in Arlington, where Daniel and his wife had settled, the decision was simple.

“This is a great place for getting started and working in the cybersecurity industry because the Washington, D.C. area is the hub for policy and other kinds of development,” he said. “And this is really home for us. It’s not really more complex than that.”

Now, CTA has 34 member companies, which are required to share a minimum amount of threat intelligence each week, and employs seven people. Its members are headquartered in 11 countries around the world and run the gamut of household company names, like Cisco, to relatively smaller cybersecurity companies.

There’s a list of companies in the pipeline to become members, which opens up possibilities for hiring additional staff and offering more services, Daniel said.

In the upcoming year, CTA hopes to add technological capability to its sharing platform and is involved in projects, including one with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Cybersecurity to understand the criminal ecosystem so it can support government action against cybercriminals.

“Ransomware is a huge problem, cyber crime is a big problem, and it’s something we need to really tackle if we want people to be able to use the digital world in the way that we want,” he said. “Cyber threats are not a problem that we’re going to solve but it’s a problem that we’re going to have to manage. We are building for the long term.”

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Arlington School Board members clap after approving the final budget for the 2022-23 school year (via Arlington Public Schools)

The Arlington School Board unanimously approved a $749.9 million budget for the 2022-23 school year during its meeting Thursday night.

Revenue for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget includes a $563.8 million ongoing transfer from the county, a one-time transfer of $20.5 million, $3.5 million in carry-over funds from the 2021-22 school year, state and federal funding, and the use of $21.3 million in reserves.

The budget process, Chair Barbara Kanninen noted, went well. It was the first time in four years that the School Board was presented a balanced budget — as opposed to recent years when the superintendent proposed spending more than was anticipated in revenue.

Similar to the county budget, school system funding in the upcoming year emphasizes compensation for staff.

“We want to support our students as much as possible but a big part of that is recruiting and retaining that outstanding staff,” Kanninen said.

The budget will allow the school system to begin implementing its new compensation plan, which will update salary scales, provide consistent step increases and catch up from missed missed step increases in the past. On average, teachers, principals and administrators will see a 6.8% pay increase, while support staff will see an average of a 9.5% increase.

School Board members Mary Kadera and Cristina Diaz-Torres said when they first heard the proposed compensation increases, they thought it would be a “moonshot.”

The budget reduces class size by two students at the elementary level and one student at the high school level, funds additional school-based equity and excellence coordinators and an equity data dashboard, and adds more resources for English learners.

Adjustments to school bell times, which were also approved at the meeting, are expected to result in nearly $2 million in savings for the school system. The changes reduce the number of school start and end times from eight across APS to five, thus streamlining school bus routes and schedules.

The School Board added to Superintendent Francisco Durán’s proposed budget, including funding for four psychologists and social workers, trauma-informed professional learning, the National Board Certified Teacher program, a partnership coordinator, and a math curriculum supervisor.

A chart noting the School Board’s additions to the superintendent’s proposed budget (via Arlington Public Schools)

Other updates to the budget included $147,871 in funding to open the planetarium in October or November 2022 and hire a director, $391,484 for four high school math coaches and $628,000 for a year of tutoring for grades 6-12.

A few public commenters noted the disparities in minority students’ test scores and the need for more funding to compensate for lost learning during the pandemic.

“We took a first step, we have more steps to go until we see each and every one of our students be successful and right now we have a lot of students that are still having some academic and social emotional needs,” Durán said in response.

The Virginia General Assembly still has not adopted a budget for the Commonwealth, so the School Board will likely have to amend the budget to account for any state revenue changes. If there’s a shortfall, the superintendent proposes to fund them with reserves.

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

The School Board also kicked off its Capital Improvement Plan process, as Durán put forward his proposal, which totals $388.23 million between 2023 and 2032.

The CIP will be the first 10-year plan since 2018. The school system has only budgeted three years in advance since, in part due to budgetary uncertainty during the pandemic, but can return to the longer range planning now that APS is in a better place fiscally, Durán said.

All proposed project funding includes money set aside for escalation and inflation, as well as contingency.

While about 45% of the CIP will go toward the Arlington Career Center project, Durán said his proposal incorporates many other improvements. He proposed the larger of the two concept options for the career center, which could accommodate 1,795 students. The center is the county’s only career and technical education center.

“This is a major part of our CIP, certainly, but not the only one,” Durán said.

A pie chart in a slideshow depicts that 45% of the 2023-32 Capital Improvement Plan is budgeted for the Arlington Career Center (via Arlington Public Schools)

His presentation to the board also highlighted kitchen upgrades, security vestibules at schools, athletic field replacements and accessibility enhancements.

The first school renovation would have a target fall 2026 start — but the school system hasn’t determined which school will be upgraded.

In the proposal, new synthetic turf would be installed at Wakefield High School in fiscal year 2023, at Washington-Liberty High and Williamsburg Middle School in fiscal year 2024, and at Greenbrier  Park (Yorktown High School) in fiscal year 2025. Kenmore’s field will also be converted but costs will be shared with the county, Durán said.

An HVAC replacement at Barcroft Elementary School is under design and Randolph Elementary’s roof replacement will go to bid this fall.

Other items included in the proposal were upgrades to finance and HR staff software, known as STARS, replacing lock and key systems, and PA system replacements at six schools.

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