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by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Summer school classes have been canceled at Washington-Lee High School today due to an air conditioning failure.

The failure was caused by damage inflicted by a power outage Friday afternoon, following strong storms that rolled through the area, according to Arlington Public Schools.

Repairs are underway but it is as-yet uncertain whether classes will resume Tuesday.

More from APS:

APS is cancelling high school summer classes on Mon, July 17, due to inadequate air conditioning inside Washington-Lee High School. Last Friday, July 14, a power outage occurred at the school following strong thunderstorms in the area. The power outage caused temporary damage to the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems in the building and resulted in no air conditioning throughout the building over the weekend.

APS Facilities and Operations have been working through the weekend to resolve the issue, but will not be able to restore the system to full operation by tomorrow. We are working with the principal and teachers who will ensure students are able to complete work that is missed during this time. Tomorrow, we will provide a school operations and status update for Tuesday, July 18.  We thank you for your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.

Photo (top) via Google Maps

by Chris Teale July 13, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will look to temporarily add more space to try to cope with its rising enrollment by adding temporary classrooms and making interior adjustments at several schools.

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on a slew of proposals across eight schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels at its meeting Saturday (July 15). The temporary solutions are all recommended for approval by county staff, as “student enrollment is growing at a faster rate than APS can provide new schools and classrooms.”

Some are looking to add more temporary, trailer classrooms — known in APS parlance as “relocatables” — while others will make interior adjustments to add more space.

The following schools are applying to add relocatables:

The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:

Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps

by Brooke Giles July 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School are set to be replaced in the next year.

The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday (July 15) on a plan to replace the fields with synthetic turf. Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a report that the current fields are “worn beyond reasonable repair.”

For the past eight years, the turf fields at TJ have been used in the neighborhood and for scheduled use by affiliated sports leagues and school programs.

The upgrades at the field are part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program, aimed at replacing heavily-used natural grass fields. Currently, there are 15 synthetic turf fields in Arlington, although the move to add more has come in for some criticism from some.

In addition to the new turf, the fields would get new corner flags and goals for soccer games, as well as new bleachers.

The upgrades would coincide with the construction of the county’s new elementary school on the west end of the site, and staff said Arlington Public Schools will plan out activities with the two projects in mind.

APS will share the cost of the upgrades with the county. Just under $475,000 would be spent on the new field, with an extra $47,000 held as a contingency.

by Chris Teale July 7, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Construction crews have moved in and are well on the way to demolishing the former Wilson School in Rosslyn to make way for the future H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs.

As of Thursday, very few walls from the school at 1601 Wilson Blvd were remaining, with piles of rubble, metal and bricks piling up as workers continue to clear the site. Construction on the new $100 million building is set to start later this year.

The new structure is scheduled to open in fall 2019 and house 775 students across both programs. The Stratford Program will have the majority of the space of the lowest level, while H-B Woodlawn will have classrooms on the first through fifth floors. There will be shared spaces throughout the building, with outdoor terraces allowing open space for recreation and learning.

The site will also be home to a temporary fire station while the current Fire Station 10 in Rosslyn is rebuilt, despite a bout of back-and-forth drama over the plan last summer.

The former Wilson School had been recommended for designation as a historic district, but that request was denied by the Arlington County Board in 2015. Instead, the Board directed Arlington Public Schools to incorporate pieces of the old building into the new school.

Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4

by Chris Teale June 30, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

County Manager Mark Schwartz announced Friday he is recommending lights for two synthetic turf fields near Williamsburg Middle School and Discovery Elementary School.

Schwartz recommended that the two fields be lit with shielded LED lights that could be dimmed during evening play, and that lights be left on no later than 9:45 p.m. Eighty-four lights would be installed on six 80-foot poles to light the fields.

Schwartz said in a statement:

I appreciate the hard work that the Williamsburg Fields Evaluation Work Group put into assessing the risks and benefits of lighting the Williamsburg fields. Their thoughtful evaluation formed the foundation of my recommendation.

This was not an easy call, but the county’s policy is that we light synthetic turf fields, and I am convinced, by our experience in lighting other fields in residential neighborhoods, that we can mitigate whatever adverse impacts lights might have. Our entire community will benefit from providing more playing time for our growing number of young people who are playing field sports.

The recommendation has brought a strong reaction from local residents, who delivered a petition with more than 550 signatures against lights on the fields to the County Board.

The Board previously appointed the Williamsburg Field Site Evaluation Work Group to study the effects of lights and propose options, but Gail Harrison, a member of the group, said it was not presented with the plan Schwartz has advanced until a few days before its last meeting.

Harrison said the “11th-hour proposal” by lighting company Musco was a “fundamental breach of the public process.” Harrison said adding lights is not appropriate for the Rock Spring neighborhood.

“The [Rock Spring] Civic Association surrounding the fields has taken a strong and consistent position over many years that field lights at this location are incompatible with the character of the neighborhood,” Harrison told ARLnow on Friday afternoon. “The neighborhood civic association has stressed going back to at least 2009 or before that, its intention to try to preserve the neighborhood in its natural condition, to minimize traffic, to protect wildlife habitat and the tree canopy. The proposal would be inconsistent with all of those neighborhood goals.”

Schwartz said he made his recommendation based on the need for more playing time on Arlington’s fields. He will bring his recommendations to the County Board’s September meeting for further discussion.

More from a county press release after the jump:

(more…)

by Chris Teale June 30, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will add 1,300 high school seats across the Education Center and the Career Center after the School Board approved the so-called “hybrid option” at its meeting Thursday.

The option, put forward by Superintendent Patrick Murphy last month, would add 500-600 seats to a renovated Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) by 2022, then add another 700-800 at the Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive), which would get a renovation and an addition. The County Board denied a request to designate the Education Center as a historic district last month.

Murphy’s proposal had not been among the original short list of three finalists for the new high school site, but Board members said it would balance the need for more seats with limited building space, and make use of what already exists.

“We cannot allow this Ed Center site to lie fallow,” said Board member Reid Goldstein. “We go to the County Board every year and we tell them we need more: we need more money; we need more land. I’m a taxpayer too. We cannot have a site that could hold students going unused.”

By December, Murphy must also provide a list of recommendations for the Education Center, including its cost, any boundary changes needed and educational programming. He must make similar recommendations for the Career Center no later than May 2018.

In addition to their vote in favor of the plan, Board members directed Murphy to include options for a fourth comprehensive high school, including programming, cost and location, in APS’ 2019-2028 capital budget. Arlington currently has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Wakefield and Yorktown.

“It’s not a blank slate,” said Board chair Nancy Van Doren. “We have eight points we want answers to, we have a finite amount of money and we have a vision that says we’re going to need to potentially add onto those and make them into something even greater going forward. So we want to leave our options open, and one thing I think we’ve learned to do is not create buildings that aren’t flexible.”

The Board voted 4-1 in favor of the plan, with James Lander the lone dissenting vote. He said the plan was not the best use of the space at the Career Center, had safety concerns around traffic on S. Walter Reed Drive and worries about locating high school students close to Patrick Henry Elementary School.

“If you know someone with 40 acres in Arlington who is willing to sell to the school system, I would be happy to negotiate that,” Lander said. “Until then, we have to utilize the space effectively that we have now, and we have to think about what our needs could be potentially down the road. I think this site could be better used than just 600 seats.”

The perceived lack of consultation with nearby residents on the new option came in for some criticism during public testimony. Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association, urged the Board to delay their vote to explore the hybrid model further.

“We feel disappointed in the way the solution came about because we don’t feel like we were presented with the various scenarios and had an opportunity on what would affect us greatly,” she said.

Goldstein raised similar concerns with the way the fourth option came forward, and challenged his colleagues to think about how they continue engaging with the community even as new ideas come forward late in the game.

“How do we do idea changes or option changes in a project like this when there isn’t enough time to extend the community engagement process?” he asked.

Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen said APS intends to get “right back out there” in the fall to begin discussing the new schools, and may look at convening something similar to the South Arlington Working Group that helped site a new elementary school.

“After tonight, we’re proceeding with two projects, and I’m excited about both of them, the Ed Center project, the Career Center site, but it’s no longer a hybrid,” Kanninen said. “These are two projects, just like we have several other projects on the books.”

by ARLnow.com June 16, 2017 at 11:20 am 0

(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Swanson Middle School, McKinley Elementary and Ashlawn Elementary were placed in “secure the school” mode Friday morning due to an armed robbery in Fairfax County.

The robbery happened just before 10:30 a.m. in the Willston Center, on the 6100 block of Arlington Blvd. While each are about a mile or more away from the robbery scene, the schools were nonetheless secured as a precaution.

More from Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Harris:

At approximately 10:30 a.m., Swanson, McKinley and Ashlawn enacted our “Secure the School” protocol due to nearby police activity. Students and staff remained safely inside our school buildings for approximately 45 minutes. There was never any danger within the school buildings. A “Secure the School” exercise is not a “Lockdown” protocol. This exercise was in response to police activity within the outside community.

No one was hurt in the robbery, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

by Chris Teale June 16, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated 11:30 a.m.) Almost 300 Wakefield High School students had to re-take a Standards of Learning test after staff discovered what they described as an “irregularity” during testing.

A letter to parents from Wakefield principal Chris Willmore said that on May 30 and 31, students had to move examination rooms after two-and-a-half hours of taking a test that does not have a time limit.

But, Willmore said, some students began talking while moving to the new testing area. Willmore said staff immediately reported what happened to the Virginia Department of Education, but a VDOE spokesman challenged that assertion and said it was reported after regular business hours on June 8. VDOE decided earlier this week that students had to re-sit.

Those re-sits took place yesterday and today. An Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman said around 280 students were affected.

Willmore’s full letter is below.

Dear Wakefield Families:

I am writing to let you know about an irregularity that we experienced during Standards of Learning (SOL) testing a week ago that affects your student. As you may know, some SOL tests have no time limits which means students may take as long as they need to complete the test. During SOL testing on May 30 and 31, some students needed more than the two and a half hours that had been scheduled in the rooms where they were taking tests. Although the state allows schools to move students to another location when this occurs, we experienced some talking among students while they were moving. Because talking is not allowed when students are regrouped, the APS staff who were serving as the Wakefield testing monitors immediately reported this “testing irregularity” to the APS Office of Planning and Evaluation staff who alerted the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) as required.

Although this was reported to VDOE a week ago, we did not learn until yesterday afternoon that the state has decided to void all of the student scores for these tests because of the irregularity. This means that your student is among the group of students who will need to retake an SOL test.

The SOL retakes will be given on Thursday and Friday this week. Students will be informed by their classroom teacher today about the retake. For those students who have a final exam during the time when they need to retake the SOL test, they will be excused from their final exam and their final grade will be calculated using the fourth marking period grades. Also, because Friday is an early release day, for those students who need more time, regular transportation will be available in the afternoon at our normal dismissal time.

Finally and most importantly, I want to sincerely apologize to all of our Wakefield students and families for this error. We have had an amazing year with great progress and achievement and I regret that we have experienced this mistake during our administration of some tests this year. Please know that we will do everything possible to support our students and help them finish the year successfully.

Sincerely,

Chris Willmore, Principal

In a second letter sent Thursday, Willmore took full responsibility, and urged parents not to contact VDOE with their concerns, but him.

Willmore wrote:

Yesterday, we learned that Wakefield parents and staff have been contacting VDOE about the need to retest some students.  I need to urge you again to instead direct your concerns to me.  For those I have already spoken with, I appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts and feelings about what has happened.

In the end, Wakefield is required to follow the procedures set in place for all schools by the state and, unfortunately, that did not happen this year. I want to assure everyone that we will implement a corrective action plan so we learn from this year’s testing difficulties and can ensure that this type of irregularity does not occur again.

An anonymous tipster said students that needed to re-take the tests had been put at a significant disadvantage, and they called on the Virginia Department of Education to let their scores stand.

“They’ve been away from the subject for two-three weeks, putting them at a distinct disadvantage,” the tipster wrote. “Someone should put pressure on the state to let the scores stand.”

The APS spokeswoman said an irregularity during a test can be defined in any number of ways, and that staff are trained to report anything that happens.

“[A] ‘testing irregularity’ is anything that happens outside the norm,” the spokeswoman said. “A student getting sick and throwing up during the test is an ‘irregularity’ and test scores are thrown out by the state for the class. Same thing if there’s a fire alarm or power outage. We have monitors in all schools during testing who must share anything that occurs with our head of testing and, then our head of testing reports that to the state.”

by Chris Teale June 15, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

The Arlington School Board will consider a new contract for Superintendent Patrick Murphy, one year before his current deal expires.

According to a memo sent to her colleagues on the School Board by chair Nancy Van Doren, Murphy has requested a new four-year contract, effective July 1.

At tonight’s meeting, the Board will vote on whether to advance a notice of intent to renew Murphy’s contract as part of its consent items. If it passes, the contract would then likely be debated at the Board’s June 29 meeting.

Van Doren’s May 18 memo reads:

The Superintendent has requested that his contract be replaced with a new four-year term, with some modifications, effective as of July 1, 2017. This memorandum provides notice to the Board, pursuant to Va. Code 22.1-60(C), that the Board may act upon this request at its June 29, 2017 meeting or thereafter, and a vote is tentatively planned for that purpose.

An Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman declined to comment further on the new contract and those modifications, except to say that the Board is “considering the renewal.”

“I know that the procedures for contracts of any type (personnel, construction, equipment, contractors, etc.) are private until the contract has been finalized and approved, so terms of this (or any other) contract would not be public until it is finalized and approved by the Board at some point in the future,” the spokeswoman said.

Murphy’s current contract, which expires at the end of the 2018 school year, provides an annual salary of $223,242.50. He has been superintendent since 2009.

by Katherine Berko June 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

All 15 high school graduates from the pilot year of AHC Inc.’s new college guidance program will progress into higher education.

This year, the seniors applied to 71 schools and were accepted into 54. Together, they received nearly $500,000 in scholarship money, including full rides to Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania. Many of the students are the first members of their family to attend college.

AHC, an Arlington-based affordable housing provider, hosted a celebration Monday night at the Lyon Park Community Center for the graduates, their families and mentors.

The free mentoring program is part of AHC’s resident services program, which began in 1993. The initiative is designed to provide students of all ages with something productive to do in their afternoons.

The program includes after-school activities for elementary school students, tutoring for middle and high school students and now a mentoring program to help high school seniors with the college process.

Each senior is paired with an adult for an entire year. The mentors aid their students with the college process, including financial aid, essays and scholarship applications.

Jasmine Connor began working with her mentor, Marjorie Macieria, in the fall.

“Working with Marjorie was the best. We clicked,” Connor said.

The two met weekly, primarily focusing on scholarship applications, of which Connor has received two: the “We Are the Dream” oratorical scholarship and the Arlington School Administrators Spirit Award. The scholarships will help fund Connor’s ambition to graduate debt-free from Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.

Connor plans to pursue a major in Early Childhood Development with a minor in Special Education. She has been inspired by her own teachers to help students with learning disabilities.

“Just because you have a learning disability, that doesn’t mean anything,” she said. 
”I have one and I got two scholarships and I’m going to college.”

Kyle Yapching-Galang began working with his mentor, Carter Vaden, in the seventh grade. Initially, she tutored him in French and then branched out to help him with English. While Vaden did not help Yapching-Galang with his college applications, she has been a part of his school career for six years.

“She’s a really good friend who helps me when I’m struggling or when I’m angsty,” Yapching-Galang said.

Vaden said she has seen Yapching-Galang grown from a shy middle-schooler into a confident adult. Yapching-Galang plans to attend Northern Virginia Community College in the fall.

Zanab Farooq has been attending AHC’s programs since pre-school. Yet, she credits her mentor of the past year, Joseph Maltby, for helping her get into college.

“I don’t think I would’ve gotten into college without him,” Farooq said. “He knew what to do, what not to do and how to stay on top of things.”

Farooq will be attending the University of Mary Washington in the fall, where she hopes to major in Marketing. With various scholarships secured, all she has to pay for is textbooks and a meal plan.

During the celebratory dinner, guest speaker and local Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) said he was proud of the graduates’ achievements.

“You are what we need. You are medicine,” he said. “You are the source of pleasure and accomplishment and hope for everything that ails every community. Your thirst for education and knowledge and the fact that you’ve done it, says so much about you.”

by Kalina Newman June 13, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will begin to mark the end of the 2017 school year over the next week with graduation and promotion ceremonies.

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for the following times and places.

  • Arlington Career Center PEP (Friday, June 16, 10 a.m. in the Career Center)
  • Stratford (Friday, June 16, 1 p.m. in the H-B Woodlawn auditorium)
  • Arlington Career Center GED (Friday, June 16,  7 p.m. in the Washington-Lee High School little theatre)
  • New Directions (Monday, June 19, 11 a.m., Arlington Central Library)
  • H-B Woodlawn (Tuesday, June 20, 5 p.m., H-B Woodlawn cafeteria)
  • Comprehensive high schools (Wednesday, June 21, DAR Constitution Hall – Washington-Lee at 10 a.m., Yorktown at 2 p.m., Wakefield at 8 p.m.)
  • Arlington Community High School (Thursday, June 22, 9:30 a.m., Washington-Lee auditorium)
  • Langston Continuation Program (Thursday, June 22, 1 p.m., Washington-Lee auditorium)

The last day of school for APS is as follows.

  • Tuesday, June 20: High schools
  • Thursday, June 22: Middle schools (promotion ceremonies that day)
  • Friday, June 23: Elementary schools (a number also have celebrations that day)

The first day of school for the next school year is Tuesday, Sept. 5.

by ARLnow.com June 12, 2017 at 10:55 am 0

Washington-Lee High School has been closed and students sent home early due to air conditioning issues.

The HVAC problems at W-L struck on one of the hottest days of the year so far.

Separately, the air conditioning system for the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program was down this morning, but workers were able to get the chiller “back up and running,” according to an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman. Classes there remain in session.

Washington-Lee’s principal sent the following email to parents this morning.

Dear W-L Families,

We appreciate your children’s patience and resilience as we deal with the HVAC issue in the building.

APS has decided to release students early. We will follow these procedures:

Buses will operate per usual routes.

Walkers will make their way home as normal.

Students who are unable to depart at the new dismissal time may remain on campus — a room in the trailer, where HVAC is unaffected, is available.

APS Facilities and Operations are currently in the building trying to address the problem.

Thank you to our families for their flexibility and support during this unusual situation.

Sincerely,

Gregg

Dr. Gregg Robertson
Principal, Washington-Lee High School

Photo via Google Maps

by Brooke Giles June 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools parents and teachers remain divided over the county’s one-to-one technology initiative ahead of possible revisions to the school system’s strategic plan later this year.

The rollout of the program began during the 2014-2015 school year and provides iPads for elementary and middle school students, Macbook Air laptops for high school students. The hope was that every student attending an Arlington school would have a device by 2017.

Prior to the program teachers had to check out laptops for assignments that were based online, or reserve computer lab space. In some cases, students had to pair up to complete assignments.

One middle school parent said that although her children have access to technology at home, the program is the county’s “best option” for those who don’t — helping to level the playing field for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Attended by parents and teachers, the conversation was focused on how the technology is impacting the classroom. The main concerns for many parents were how teachers could balance the use of the technology with traditional learning and how parents could monitor how their child is using their device.

Jennifer Burgin, a second grade teacher at Oakridge Elementary School, shared how her students used their iPads to identify real deer teeth samples. When the assignment was over, the devices were replaced with pencil and paper. 

“iPads are not meant to replace me, instead they help unleash me,” said Burgin. “As I learn more about deeper learning practices and ensuring equity for all my learners, I use iPads to my advantage when they benefit all learners.”

Several middle school teachers said that the technology makes their students more interested in learning, allowing them to research additional information or record and re-watch their teacher explaining challenging concepts.

Some parents, however, wanted to know what is being done to protect children from the dangers of the internet, with some saying there needs to be a county-wide policy on the use of the devices.

While there are schools that have blocked apps and have teachers conducting spot checks on student devices, parents said that there are still students who get in trouble for breaking the classroom guidelines. One anonymous parent alleged there is a culture of students using their iPads for inappropriate content. 

“I can tell you that if a child is reported to have inappropriate content, their iPad is checked and if the content is there, the iPad is taken away from the child,” she said. “But that is a Band-Aid on instance on a much wider systemic problem.”

The one group that was absent from the meeting were parents of high schoolers. The older students got laptops instead of tablets because of their heavier course load and lengthier assignments.

“[Now] that students have laptops — which they have by and large learned to bring to class, charged, every day — [it] has facilitated a sea-change in how I deliver instruction,” said Doug Burns, an English teacher at Wakefield High School. He said that an effective lesson plan helps keep students from misusing their devices.

Some suggestions for a more cohesive program included a training program for both teachers and parents, and placing more restrictions on the devices.

“If they would have thought about curriculum, investigated helpful apps, locked down the iPads to only those apps, not provide Safari, and train the teachers prior to rollout, the iPad initiative could have been much more successful,” said one parent.

APS is set to revisit its strategic plan for the devices later this year.

by Chris Teale June 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board members clashed Thursday over an attempt to add language encouraging more diversity in Arlington Public Schools.

The Board was discussing the new enrollment and transfer policy around neighborhood and option schools. The policies have been rewritten to help APS keep up with steep growth.

The revised policies are designed so students could have equal access to an option school with a more specialized curriculum, while also guaranteeing students a place in their neighborhood school.

The new policies will go into effect for the 2018/19 school year, with siblings able to attend the same school at the elementary level if one already attends.

But an effort by Board member Reid Goldstein to add new language that says the policy “will include steps to enhance diversity across our option schools and through our neighborhood transfer practices” got the cold shoulder from his colleagues.

Goldstein said steps that could be taken to enhance diversity could include looking at new options around transportation, to enable a better mix of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

He also said that higher-income families could thus be encouraged to attend schools where there are more lower-income students and families.

But Tannia Talento said Goldstein’s efforts represented “microaggressions,” the casual degradation of those less fortunate than others.

“While I support diversity, I think diversity is a great thing, it’s very hard for me to sit here and listen to some of this, because there are some things in here that I feel are microaggressions that I’m offended by,” Talento said.

Later, Talento added that previously, she has been seen as the “token Latino” and “token woman” in various settings. Any conversation about enhancing diversity should include all affected communities and be part of a robust public engagement process, she said.

Goldstein said his efforts were focused on helping the county and APS improve its diversity, given what he said are major disparities across the system.

“This should be a call to action for a community that so vociferously hails its diversity and proudly proclaims how diverse and inclusive it is,” he said. “And yet, outside of our vision state and our core values, APS’ definable steps to achieve diversity are scarce.”

But James Lander rejected that, and the idea that the income of fellow students’ families could be a determining factor for where people want to send their children to school.

“It’s been my experience that families choose instructional programs, not how much money their neighbors make, to determine what is the best instructional journey for their children,” Lander said. “I want to bring this back to instruction, because that’s important.”

The board voted down Goldstein’s plan, 3-2. Chair Nancy van Doren said that not only did she believe it was making an attempt at “forcing” or “incentivizing” diversity, it was too late in the process to introduce such an amendment. The Board then unanimously approved the new transfer policy, despite opposition from some parents.

by ARLnow.com June 1, 2017 at 9:55 am 0

There have been 18 drug arrests on public school grounds in Arlington so far in 2017.

That’s according to the Arlington County Police Department, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. ACPD has thus far not provided additional details about the nature of the arrests, the suspects or the schools involved.

The new statistic comes as ACPD starts conducting K-9 drug searches after hours in Arlington public high schools.

Current and former students, who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity, said there is drug problem within the school system.

“Over the past two years or so, I have definitely seen an increase in drug usage among high school students, particularly Xanax and Adderall,” said one recent graduate. “If I had to place blame on one thing, I would say that stress is what’s driving most kids towards drug use, but particularly Xanax and Adderall. The stress problem is really something that APS needs to get out in front of sooner rather than later.”

A current junior at Yorktown High School said the issue extends beyond prescription drugs.

“Yorktown definitely has a drug problem,” she said. “So many people have started getting into cocaine and a lot of the other harder drugs and many of them don’t even think much of it just because they see it around so often. It’s definitely considered ‘cool’ to be into that sort of thing, which is why I think so many kids are drawn to it.”

“There’s not much else to do so a lot of people do for fun,” said a recent graduate. “I don’t think people really think of themselves as addicts.”

“The middle schools are the worst,” said a senior. “Kids have older siblings that are in high school and are able to sell to the younger students. It’s a cycle.”

In a prior statement, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman said APS is taking steps to combat drug use, adding that the problem is part of a larger trend that extends well beyond Arlington.

“As you know, substance abuse and opioid use is a growing problem both in our region and across the US,” said Frank Bellavia. “In collaboration with our law enforcement partners, we are taking steps to make sure that our students are safe and that our schools remain drug free. We also want to make sure that parents are aware and having conversations with their children at home.”

Kalina Newman and Brooke Giles contributed reporting. File photo.

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