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by ARLnow.com — September 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a community meeting tonight, seeking input on the proposed design of a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson middle school and community center site.

One expected hot topic of conversation: whether parking for the school should be partially above ground or completely below ground.

From an APS email about the meeting:

APS wants to hear your input and questions related to the New Elementary School at the Jefferson Site. Planning is currently in the schematic design phase and a proposed design is expected to be submitted to the School Board in October. On September 13, 2016 APS will host a Community Forum beginning at 7 PM in the Thomas Jefferson Middle School Library. The purpose of the event is to inform the community of the planning progress made so far and to hear feedback from community members. The event will be an Open House format with materials on presentation boards. APS staff and consultants will be available to answer questions. Participates are welcome to come and go as they please.

Originally a number of community members fought against a new elementary school on the TJ site, but they only succeeded in delaying the project for a year before the County Board voted to approve it in December.

by ARLnow.com — September 8, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Gunston Middle SchoolGunston Middle School students will be dismissed just before noon today due to an air conditioning issue.

School administrators say they are “currently without air conditioning in the majority of our building.” The A/C troubles come as temperatures are expected to reach into the upper 90s today.

Separately, Taylor Elementary School is also reported to be experiencing air conditioning problems.

“There is an issue with the HVAC in three classrooms,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “The problem is intermittent and right now it is on. Maintenance is looking into the problem and we are watching it closely.”

A parent tells us that her daughter’s kindergarten classroom, another classroom and the school’s gym are “a sweatbox.”

“My daughter was talking about fighting to sit by a fan,” the parent said.

The letter from school administrators to Gunston parents, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — September 6, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) With the notable exception of Barcroft Elementary, which opened on Aug. 1, today was the first day of school for Arlington Public Schools students.

Kids and parents flocked back to local elementary, middle and high schools this morning, as the APS bus fleet traversed local roads. There were no major hiccups reported, save perhaps a fire alarm that was set off in the teacher’s lounge of Taylor Elementary around 10 a.m. (No smoke or fire was found.)

This morning at Abingdon Elementary, which is being renovated and expanded, students were greeted by a number of newly-installed relocatable classroom trailers on the field next to the school. Several Arlington County police officers were stationed at the intersection of 29th Street S. and S. Abingdon Street, to help keep cars moving amid a new traffic pattern for dropping off students.

At Carlin Springs Elementary, meanwhile, administrators literally rolled out a red carpet for new and returning students. At the new Arlington Tech, the program’s first 40 students arrived and began classes. At the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, upperclassmen formed tunnels for freshman students on their first day.

Arlington County Police and APS are urging drivers to be extra cautious on the roads as school gets back underway.

ACPD and APS officials, School Board members and school administrators were busy ringing in the first day of school on Twitter this morning. More back-to-school tweets, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — August 30, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington County Police Department are reminding students, parents and drivers to watch out for one another on the roads as a new school year starts.

Yesterday APS released a new Public Service Announcement video, above, featuring Superintendent Patrick Murphy, Police Chief Jay Farr and School Resource Officer Supervisor Lt. Susan Noack.

Among other things, the video reminds parents to practice safe walking with their kids and reminds drivers that it’s never okay to pass a school bus with its stop arm out.

The first day of school for the vast majority of APS students is a week from today — Tuesday, Sept. 6. Barcroft Elementary Students, however, are already back at school; their first day was Aug. 1.

by ARLnow.com — August 17, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools administration buildingAs we noted this morning, Arlington Public Schools was not included in Newsweek’s rankings of the 500 best public high schools in the country.

But there’s a big asterisk to that fact, says an APS spokesman.

As opposed to 2010, when all APS high schools were included in the top 500, for the past couple of years the school system hasn’t even applied to be ranked by Newsweek.

“Unlike the Niche, Great Schools and many other ‘school rankings; which are compiled by outside sources who access data from readily available sources like the VDOE and the US Department of Education, Newsweek is one of about a dozen or so rankings that ask school divisions to complete detailed forms and provide additional data to them,” said Frank Bellavia.

“As a result, for the past few years, APS (and many other school districts in Virginia and the U.S.) have chosen to not participate in the Newsweek list,” Bellavia said. “It is a time consuming endeavor that takes away time away from providing instructional and other supports to our students and families. Consequently, while interesting, the list is not scientifically valid since it does not report using data from all eligible school divisions.”

Bellavia said APS’ participation in the Newsweek rankings ended after 2010, when Newsweek was sold by its then-owner, the Washington Post.

“2010 was the last time Newsweek partnered with the Washington Post on the Challenge Index,” Bellavia said. “We continue to participate in the Post’s Challenge Index because it our local ‘hometown paper.'”

In the 2016 Challenge Index rankings, Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School was on the rise, ranking No. 5 in the D.C. area, while H-B Woodlawn, Yorktown and Wakefield were all down, ranking No. 8, 11 and 84 respectively.

by ARLnow.com — August 8, 2016 at 2:15 pm 0

A new county-owned synthetic turf field at Yorktown High School has been vandalized.

The $1.6 million turf replacement project just wrapped up last week. Over the weekend, a vandal or group of vandals spray-painted the field and the surrounding track and caused some other damage.

“At approximately 7:36 a.m. on August 7, police were dispatched to 2700 N. Greenbrier Street for the report of destruction and vandalism,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com via email. “An unknown subject(s) spray painted derogatory terms on the field, knocked over several trash cans and a portable restroom. The investigation is ongoing.”

The photos above, taken Monday afternoon, show the cleanup still in progress. Note that photo #3 contains an image that some may find offensive or not safe for work (NSFW).

Photos (top) by Jackie Friedman

by ARLnow.com — July 15, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Screenshot of new Arlington Public Schools (APS) website

Earlier this month, Arlington Public Schools relaunched its website with an updated design and new technology.

There are still some minor bugs evident — many older links to specific pages on the site are not working — but for the most part the transition appears to be complete.

Here’s what APS said about the relaunch, in a press release.

The multi-year redesign will relaunch the APS website with improved functionality and technological integration for the future.

After a rigorous search, APS selected local vendor Materiell to custom-build the new website using the WordPress platform, which was chosen for its adaptability to new technology, and its potential for future development as an open-source platform.

APS invited staff, families and the community to provide feedback in three rounds of user testing over the past year; the most recent was completed mid- April. Their comments and suggestions have been incorporated into the site functionality and design

When the site launches, it will feature:

  • an intuitive user interface
  • seamless integration with our back-end systems
  • improved video and social media integration
  • an elegant new design

Among other features, the APS homepage now includes academic highlights from the previous school year at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of new Arlington Public Schools (APS) website

by ARLnow.com — June 22, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Wakefield High School(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) The summer starts today for Arlington high school students.

Arlington Public Schools high school students will have an early dismissal today, their last day of the school year.

The last day of school for APS middle school students is Thursday; it’s Friday for elementary students. All schools will have early dismissals on their last day.

(Barcroft elementary ends its school year early — it had its last day yesterday. Private, Arlington-based Bishop O’Connell High School had its last day of school on Friday, June 10.)

The graduation and celebration schedule for Arlington Public Schools is as follows.

  • Wednesday: Williamsburg Middle School (8:15 a.m.), Gunston Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Kenmore Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Swanson Middle School (8:30 a.m.), Jefferson Middle School (9 a.m.), H-B Woodlawn (6:15 p.m.)
  • Thursday: Washington-Lee High School (10 a.m.), Yorktown High School (3 p.m.), Wakefield High School (8 p.m.)
  • Friday: Arlington Mill High School (9:30 a.m.), Langston High School Continuation Program (1 p.m.)

by Adrian Cruz — June 21, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

Recycling BinsStudents at Yorktown High School have released a petition seeking integrated recycling bins for the school’s hallways and classrooms.

Right now, the school uses a system of regular trash cans and blue recycling bins to sort its garbage.

“One would think that we already have an effective system as there are blue recycling bins in every single classroom,” said the petition. “However, these recycling bins are just treated as normal trash cans by a majority of students. This eliminates the whole purpose of the recycling bins and teaches students that the environment is not that important and can be overlooked or put aside.”

The new integrated recycling bins would streamline the recycling process into one large bin. One side is marked for recyclables such as paper, glass and plastic. The other side is labeled for landfill trash.

The petition has a goal of 1,000 signatures. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had received just over 150 signatures.

by Andrew Ramonas — June 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Renee Bostick (Photo via Arlington Public Schools)Hundreds of have signed a petition calling on the county to keep Randolph Elementary School’s principal in place after she was told to step down this month.

In a June 15 petition to the Arlington School Board, more than 330 Randolph parents, school employees and their supporters said they are “deeply concerned” about the panel’s decision to give principal Renee Bostick a new, unspecified role at Arlington Public Schools July 1. She has led the school at 1306 S. Quincy Street since 2004.

APS told the Randolph community her removal was due to “test scores,” but didn’t elaborate, according to the petition.

“The Randolph community is in total disarray,” the document says. “Students and staff are distraught. We have many unanswered questions, not least why a beloved, experienced, dedicated, and effective principal is being shown so little respect.”

In a letter he sent to the Randolph community today, APS superintendent Patrick Murphy didn’t address the petition, but he wrote that APS is slated to hold a meeting at the school with parents next Monday, June 27, at 7 p.m. to discuss the principal hiring process.

Interviews for Bostick’s successor are expected to begin in early July, Murphy wrote. By August, he anticipates the school board will appoint a new principal.

“We will keep you posted throughout the process and look forward to working with the Randolph community in the coming weeks,” Murphy wrote.

Photo via Arlington Public Schools

by ARLnow.com — June 15, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

iPadStudents at some Arlington elementary schools will be allowed to take their school-issued iPads home for the summer.

Letters were sent to parents of eligible students last week, asking them to “supervise and monitor your child while on the device” but also giving them the option of refusing the take-home iPad.

“The decision to allow students to take the APS issued iPads home over the summer is made individually by the administration at each school,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “We are excited for the opportunity for our students to be able to extend their learning over the summer through access to high quality digital resources including curriculum specific tools as well as thousands of eBooks through the APS Library and Arlington Public Library systems.”

The letter sent to parents of Hoffman-Boston Elementary students, after the jump. A full list of the schools allowing take-home iPads was not immediately available.

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by ARLnow.com — June 10, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

HB Woodlawn Secondary School (via Arlington Public Schools)A group of anti-abortion protesters conducted an unannounced demonstration outside of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program Thursday afternoon.

The group “had graphic signs, they filmed students, parents and staff members, attempted to distribute flyers and to engage students in discussion,” according to the following letter to parents, sent by the school’s principal.

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This afternoon, at dismissal, members of an anti-abortion group appeared in the auditorium parking lot and then on bus loop sidewalk in front of H-B Woodlawn. No advance notice was given to Arlington Public Schools or to H-B Woodlawn and this was not an approved event. HBW administrators and the Arlington police asked the group to move off of school property, but they claimed that they were in the public domain on a public sidewalk.

They had graphic signs, they filmed students, parents and staff members, attempted to distribute flyers and to engage students in discussion. It is unfortunate that they chose that type of confrontational method to express their views to students who are mostly ages 11-18. Please be assured it is not anything we would ever approve of or encourage, and we regret that the events took place. We will continue to have conversations here amongst staff and students about our procedures should they return.

Sincerely,

Casey Robinson
Principal

by ARLnow.com — June 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm 0

A car caught fire this afternoon in a parking lot at Washington-Lee High School.

The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m. Arlington County firefighters responded to the scene and quickly extinguished the flames in the car’s engine compartment.

The car appeared to be an older red Mustang convertible. No injuries were reported.

by ARLnow.com — May 18, 2016 at 11:45 am 0

Gunston Middle SchoolArlington Public Schools and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington are trying to figure out how to get a cat and her kittens off of the roof of Gunston Middle School (2700 S. Lang Street).

The feline family recently took up residence on the school’s roof, apparently after the cat climbed a tree to get there.

Both APS and AWLA want to get the cat and kittens down from the roof, but are still formulating a plan for how to do it.

“We think that the mother cat is feral, and we want to capture the kittens while they are young enough to be socialized,” said AWLA’s Susan Sherman. “Once the kittens are old enough to get down from the roof on their own, they will likely be too old to socialize.”

Sherman said an AWLA animal control officer has been to the school “several times” to talk to officials from the school and the attached Gunston Community Center. One sticking point is deciding who’s going to go up on the roof. School workers don’t want to get attacked by the cat and animal control officers don’t want to play Spiderman.

“We offered to assist the school facilities people to set a humane trap on the roof, but they said the mother cat might attack them,” Sherman explained. “Our officers do not climb up on roofs. The part of the roof the cats are on is flat, and we requested access from classroom windows but the school facilities person told us the windows cannot be unscrewed or removed.”

“We are working on a plan to capture the kittens as soon as possible but want to do it in a way that is safe for the cats and people,” she said.

by ARLnow.com — May 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm 0

(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) The Reed School building in Westover may be tapped as the site of a new elementary school.

Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has included a $45-63 million renovation of the building, to create a new 725-seat elementary school, in his proposed FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The school would help to alleviate what’s currently projected to be — without further building — a 1,387 elementary seat deficit countywide.

The Reed School building currently houses The Children’s School, a co-op child care center for APS employees, and the Integration Station, a program for Pre-K children with disabilities that allows them to integrate with The Children’s School students. The Westover Branch Library is also located in the building but is not expected to be displaced by the new school.

Some Westover residents are organizing on Facebook to speak out against the plan at the School Board’s public CIP hearing, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. They say APS is planning a choice elementary school for the site — and thus would be busing in students from around the county. While seeming to accept the inevitability of changes to the Reed site, one of the few APS-owned pieces of land suitable for a new school, residents say they would prefer any new facility be a neighborhood school, open to local students.

Some residents have suggested that the newly county-purchased Buck site, across from Washington-Lee High School could instead be a good location for a choice school.

In 2014, more than 1,000 people signed an online petition opposing a proposal to move the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program to the Reed site. At the time, APS staff described Reed as “underutilized.” Ultimately, the Wilson School site in Rosslyn was selected as H-B Woodlawn’s future home.

Dr. Murphy’s CIP identifies Rosslyn-Ballston corridor elementary capacity and countywide high school capacity as APS’ most pressing capacity problems.

The CIP also includes:

  • Two 200-seat elementary school additions
  • Two minor modification projects to add new 60 seats apiece to Gunston and Kenmore middle schools
  • Modifications to add 300 seats apiece to Wakefield and Yorktown high schools
  • A 600-seat facility for the Arlington Tech secondary program

If the CIP is approved by the School Board, work on the new Westover elementary school could start as soon as 2017.

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