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by Tim Regan — February 5, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

APS Enrollment Report screenshot 2

The number of PreK-12 students enrolled in Arlington Public Schools is expected to surpass 30,000 in 2022 after steadily rising for years, according to APS in its newly released enrollment report.

School officials say 25,238 students were enrolled as of Sept. 30, 2015, the first time since 1969 that APS has reached the 25,000 student milestone. By 2017, the school projects 27,491 students will have enrolled, an increase of 4.5 percent over the previous year. And steady growth continues from there: The school says its student body will grow by at least 2.5 percent until the 2021-2022 school year, when it’s expected to surpass 30,700 students.

According to APS, the total number of enrolled students “has risen at an unprecedented high growth pattern since 2008.” Since fall 2005, the number of students has grown by more than 6,800 students, an increase of about 37 percent.

Growth will likely slow to 1.7 percent by 2023 and continue to wane thereafter, APS adds. By 2026, the school’s student body is projected to grow only by 0.6 percent and reach an enrollment total of 32,807.

Overall, the school expects to add nearly 7,600 students between now and 2026.

APS Enrollment Report screenshot alternative projectionsThough all other alternative projections put the school over 30,000 students by 2024 at the latest, APS says it’s possible that the number of enrolled students could shrink instead of grow by that time. One projection says the school could lose 1,181 students between 2021 and 2025. But the school cautions that such alternative projections “are not statistical confidence limits, but instead represent judgments made by planning staff as to reasonable upper and lower bounds.”

Among the factors used to project school enrollment was historic birth rates in Arlington County, which are used to project the number of future incoming kindergarten students.

APS Enrollment Report screenshot birth dataAn average of 2,800 live births per year were recorded in Arlington between 2004 to 2008. Between 2009 and 2013, a period APS refers to as “the wave,” about 3,100 births on average were recorded each year. As children born during “the wave” grow up, they’re expected to crowd schools as they advance through elementary, middle and high school.

In response, APS has in the past undertaken several actions to mitigate school crowding, like hiring 387 new teachers last summer and utilizing trailer classrooms.

Among the steps being taken by APS to add more capacity for the growing student body are adding an elementary school at the Thomas Jefferson Middle School site, expanding Abingdon Elementary in Fairlington and building the new Stratford Middle School while moving the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program to Rosslyn.

Graphs via APS Enrollment Report

by ARLnow.com — February 5, 2016 at 11:05 am 0

Students going back to school (file photo)Arlington Public Schools will soon no longer be sending paper flyers home in students’ backpacks.

The so-called backpack mail for parents of elementary and middle school students is being phased out in favor of an electronic system, following a successful pilot program, according to APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

The system, called Peachjar, is specifically designed for schools. It sends electronic flyers to parents’ email inboxes, thus cutting costs and staff time that would otherwise be spent making paper copies and distributing them.

The new system is being rolled out to all elementary and middle schools “over the next few weeks,” Bellavia said.

Families can request that they keep receiving paper copies and paper flyers will be posted on school bulletin boards. Otherwise, there are a number of options for electronic delivery.

“Parents can access the flyers via weekly email notifications they receive, by checking the school’s website, or accessing flyers on the APS Mobile App,” said Bellavia. “Families like the Peachjar option because electronic copies stay online for at least 30 days, and are linked directly to the organization’s website where they can access more information or directly sign up for programs electronically, which is more convenient than keeping track of paper copies and following up on advertised services.”

The pilot program took place at six elementary schools and one middle school last fall and of the families surveyed about it, 86 percent said they wanted to keep the new system instead of returning to backpack mail, according to APS. Nonprofit organizations and PTAs also participate in backpack mail and APS received an enthusiastic response from them.

“More than 100 nonprofit organizations who participate in our backpack mail program were surveyed, and only one respondent indicated a desire to return to backpack mail,” said Bellavia. “APS, schools and PTAs can use the service for free, and nonprofit organizations pay a nominal fee that is less costly than making copies, to distribute their flyers electronically to families. Our PTAs are excited about the service because they can use it for free to distribute their flyers, saving time and the expense of printing paper copies.”

“This program supports the APS commitment to its core value of sustainability, and many families, community members and staff have urged APS to find a paperless (environmentally friendly) alternative to backpack mail,” Bellavia noted.

High schools do not have backpack mail and thus are not slated to get the new system. After the jump, a video about Peachjar.

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by ARLnow.com — February 1, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Six-foot high mountains of snow in the Taylor Elementary school zone (file photo)Arlington Public Schools students are off today due to a scheduled teacher grade preparation day. It’s the eighth consecutive weekday off for APS students, who’ve enjoyed one snow day after another since Thursday, Jan. 21.

Care-free snow days, however, could eventually become a thing of the past.

APS is likely, in the near future, to consider the idea of having students “telecommute” from home when school is cancelled. They would do so from their school-issued computers — APS is in the process of outfitting every high school student with a Macbook Air and every second- through eighth-grader with an iPad.

Once every second-grade student and up has a laptop or iPad, teachers could assign homework, reading and online lessons remotely and students could complete it from the comfort of their own homes. Theoretically, at least — some policy changes would be needed, particularly when it comes to expectations for teachers. There’s also the question of whether all APS teachers and families have internet access at home.

“For students, it will be explored in the future once all students have devices,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. “For teachers, this will require some policy changes which will probably be discussed in the future as well.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com — January 28, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Arlington Public Schools logo(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools will be closed Friday, for the seventh weekday in a row.

School offices will be open on time but students will not have classes, APS said. The last school day for students was Wednesday, Jan. 20.

The last time APS students had this many days off in a row as a result of weather? During the “Snowmageddon” blizzard of 2010.

Students also have a scheduled off day on Monday, due to a teacher grade preparation day. There are no plans to change that, said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

According to Bellavia, so far there is no need for makeup days.

“This year’s calendar included 181 instructional days for elementary, middle and high school students,” he said. “The state requires that students receive either 180 days or 990 hours of instructional time. Based on instructional hours, the first 10 days lost (or the equivalent of 10 school days) will not need to be made up.”

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Donna Owens, a parent of three Arlington Public Schools students. It’s co-signed by more than three dozen members of the Arlington Special Education PTA and the Arlington Reading Yahoo group.

Dear Editor:

In response to Peter’s Take: Reform APS Reading Curriculum for Dyslexic Students, we believe that APS’ School Board and Superintendent need to assess if decisions are being given the appropriate priority and objectivity to effectively identify and successfully instruct our dyslexic students, a population that Mr. Rousselot suggests may be as many as 5,000 in APS.

Students in Special Education are entitled to services through an Individualized Education Program to meet the student’s unique needs for their disability. Those services should occur in the least restrictive environment, which is generally presumed to be the classroom with their non-disabled peers. APS defines its available dyslexia resources (Orton-Gillingham, SpellRead, Phono-Graphix, My Virtual Reading Coach, and Read Naturally) (see http://www.apsva.us/Page/31000) as “Interventions” to serve students with dyslexia. However, APS does not define how these resources should integrate with the core English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum.

By not providing a process to incorporate the dyslexia instruction into the student’s regular English/Reading class, too many of our dyslexic students are shackled with the burden to navigate difficult scheduling complexities to receive their dyslexia instruction outside of their English/Reading class, when, in fact, the student is failing to learn how to read in their regular English/Reading class. Not only is this model inefficient, but it also perpetuates a cycle that may jeopardize the student’s rights to be educated in the least restrictive environment.

Perhaps an even bigger concern are the struggling readers who are not identified through the current screening process and fall further behind with each passing year. A well-administered screening process should pinpoint the who, what, and why for poor readers. Do these students have trouble sounding out the words, reading the words with fluidity, or comprehending what they just read? Are these struggling readers still learning the English language or do they need more exposure to books? Until APS can fully answer these basic questions for each of their students, how can we ensure that our students are being provided the most appropriate instruction?

APS provides 2 – 2.5 hours of daily language arts instruction for grades K-2 and 1.5 – 2 hours for grades 3-5.

APS needs to investigate if these ELA blocks of time are being used as constructively as possible, and those decisions should be viewed from the lens of the struggling readers.

Sincerely,

Donna Owens

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2016 at 5:40 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools logo(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools will be closed Thursday due to an anticipated icy morning commute and remaining snow and hazardous driving on neighborhood streets.

The school system made the announcement around 5:30 p.m.

Students are now entering their second week off; schools have been closed since last Thursday. Students have a scheduled off day on Monday due to a teacher grade preparation day.

Arlington County announced tonight that it has completed initial plow passes on all county roads, making at least one drivable lane in residential areas.

From APS:

All APS schools will be closed tomorrow and offices will be open on time. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time.

We apologize that today’s notice is later than earlier this week, but we wanted to take more time to assess the situation across the County.  Like you, we want to open schools as soon as possible to resume instruction.  We still recognize, however, that there are still challenges with snow throughout the community in many neighborhoods.  As a result, we have decided to close again tomorrow and our offices will be open on time.  Please be assured that APS will open schools as soon as conditions improve.  Thank you for your patience and understanding this week.

by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Pedestrian walk sign next to a large snow bank (photo courtesy Dennis W.)It’s generally agreed that it would take awhile to recover and clean up from this past weekend’s historic blizzard, which dumped some two feet of the snow on Arlington. But that’s not stopping a myriad of complaints from rolling in.

Since the storm county crews and private contractors have been working in shifts around the clock to clear roads, sidewalks and parking lots. As expected, even today there are plenty of examples of places untouched or barely touched by snow crews.

Some Arlington residents — especially those along major arteries and Metro corridors — have had their street cleared to the point where it’s drive- or walk-able. Others, especially those in single-family home neighborhoods, have not been so lucky.

As of 1:30 this afternoon, Arlington County said half of all residential streets have been plowed. Snow crews have been working for 92 straight hours, the county said.

Some residents who remain snowed in are taking the “keep calm and carry on” approach. Others, however, are upset and are expressing their displeasure on TV, on social media and in emails to ARLnow.com.

After the jump: some of the letters — and photos — sent to ARLnow.com by local residents.

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by ARLnow.com — January 26, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Snowy scene in Arlington (photo courtesy Bryanna Lansing)

Snowy Scenes in Arlington Make National TV — A number of national television outlets have used video of snowy streets and outdoor activities in Arlington during their coverage of the East Coast blizzard. [ABC News, Weather Channel]

Local TV Stations Cover Resident Complaints — Some Arlington residents have taken their complaints about the pace of snow removal on residential streets to the local TV stations. [Fox 5 DC, WUSA 9]

Groundhog Day at Aurora Hills Library — The 1993 Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day will be played “over and over again” at the Aurora Hills library branch on Tuesday, Feb. 2, starting at 1 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]

APS: Please Clear Your Sidewalks — In a letter to parents, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy urges Arlingtonians to clear sidewalks and bus stops in their neighborhood so that students can go back to school safely. APS is closed through at least Wednesday. Students have Monday off due to a regularly-scheduled grade preparation day. [Arlington Public Schools]

Photo courtesy Bryanna Lansing

by ARLnow.com — January 25, 2016 at 3:10 pm 0

Snowy school bus in January 2015Arlington Public Schools will remain closed Wednesday, the school system announced this afternoon.

Students last attended classes this past Wednesday, Jan. 20, before schools were closed on Thursday due to Wednesday night’s snowfall and traffic disaster. Schools remained closed Friday, in anticipation of the weekend blizzard, and have remained closed since.

School offices will be closed Tuesday, but may reopen Wednesday, APS said.

“Essential employees should report as scheduled,” the school system said. “School officials will announce the status of operations for buildings and offices on Tuesday afternoon.”

by Tim Regan — January 24, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

snow plow jan. 24 2(Updated at 2:14 p.m.) Arlington County government offices and Arlington County Public Schools will be closed tomorrow due to anticipated road conditions.

Libraries across the Arlington area will also be closed tomorrow.

APS students will not have classes on Monday and Tuesday. Though school offices are closed tomorrow, the school has not yet said whether the offices would be closed on Tuesday.

Monday’s trash and recycling pickup is also cancelled tomorrow and Tuesday. Monday and Tuesday Service will resume on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2.

The county is currently in phase two of its snow removal process.

Photo of snow plow from earlier this morning

by Tim Regan — January 21, 2016 at 6:35 am 0

Car hits a stuck school bus at S. Joyce and 23rd Street. No children were on board.

Arlington County Public Schools will be closed today, Thursday, Jan. 21.

Why the closure? Last night’s nightmare traffic conditions might have something to do with it.

Additionally, slick roads have refrozen and are not in good condition this morning, according to The Virginia Department of Transportation.

From APS:

All APS Schools will be closed and offices will open at noon. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled.

VDOT is urging motorists who must head out to use extreme caution, as low ground temperatures overnight mean that even treated roads have refrozen.

“Slow down, allow extra time to destinations, and take extra care on areas prone to freezing such as bridges, ramps and secondary roads,” VDOT said in a statement.

About 500 trucks worked through the night to clear extremely treacherous conditions, said VDOT. Crews will remain on duty through the morning rush hour to continually treat slick roads.

Drivers are reminded to check www.511virginia.org for road conditions and to follow @VaDOTNOVA on Twitter.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — January 13, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

The sun drops behind an office building in Rosslyn

Advisory Board Wants Birthday Cake Banned from Schools — Student birthday celebrations are getting out of hand in Arlington Public Schools, with too many sugary treats being consumed as a result. That’s the view of the Student Health Advisory Board, which made its case to the School Board last week. Some individual schools in Arlington have banned birthday celebrations or, at least, sweet birthday treats. The overall school system, however, does not currently have a formal policy on the matter. [InsideNova]

Del. Hope Wants to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ — Del. Patrick Hope (D) has introduced a bill to ban so-called conversion therapy for minors in Virginia. Practitioners of the controversial “therapy” claim that it can change the sexual orientation of individuals from homosexual to heterosexual. [Washington Blade]

The Corner Tex-Mix Lives? — Despite being pronounced dead by ARLnow and Google, it appears that The Corner Tex-Mix at 1621 S. Walter Reed Drive was open last night, at least for a short period of time. A tipster said lights were on and an employee answered the phone and confirmed they were open, shortly before a power outage sent everyone home. The county health department confirmed to ARLnow this morning that there have been no health code violations that would have closed the restaurant temporarily. The tipster said The Corner Tex-Mix seems to just be keeping “odd hours.” [ARLnow]

‘WeLive’ Apartments to Feature Free Cleaning, Sunday Supper — Details of a new apartment building in Manhattan from co-working company WeWork have been released, and they’re likely to also apply to the company’s second “WeLive” building, in Crystal City. The apartments will be fully furnished and will have cable TV, monthly cleaning and a communal Sunday supper included, among other amenities. [UrbanTurf]

$5 Ribs from Texas Jack’s Barbecue — Ribs at the recently-opened Texas Jack’s Barbecue in Lyon Park will cost you around $5. As in, nearly five bucks per rib. The restaurant, in the former Tallula and EatBar space, features a menu of smoked meat created by Executive Chef Matt Lang, winner of the Food Network’s Best in Smoke 2011 and formerly of Hill Country Barbecue in D.C. [DCist]

Va. Voter Registration Deadline Approaches — The deadline to vote in Virginia’s March 1 presidential primary is Monday, Feb. 8. On the GOP side, the election will feature a somewhat controversial loyalty pledge requested by the state party. “Voters who wish to vote in the Republican Primary must first sign the following non-binding statement, which is permitted under § 24.2-545.A of the Code of Virginia: ‘My signature below indicates that I am a Republican,'” county officials note. In-person absentee voting, meanwhile, starts Friday. [Arlington County]

by ARLnow.com — January 7, 2016 at 11:35 am 0

Construction on the expanded front of Pentagon City mall

Design of New Wilson School Lauded — “The new Wilson School might be the fanciest public school building in the nation.” So says the influential urbanist news website Citylab, of the design of the future home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. The fan-like design comes from a team of two architecture firms, including the Bjarke Ingels Group, which is noted for its experimental designs. The total project cost is estimated at $86-94 million. [Citylab]

APS Seeks to Squeeze More Capacity Out of Existing Schools — Facing a continued capacity crunch, Arlington Public Schools is seeking to find additional room for students in its middle and high schools. APS thinks it can squeeze another 600+ students total in its three high schools and another 150 students at middle schools, by finding additional usable space in the existing buildings. Growth in school enrollment, meanwhile, is slowing down but is not expected to stop. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

APS Wins Budget Award — Arlington Public Schools has been awarded a Meritorious Budget Award for excellence in budget presentation from the Association of School Business Officials International. The entry fee to be eligible for the award is more than $1,000. [Arlington Public Schools, ASBO]

by ARLnow.com — December 22, 2015 at 9:35 am 0

"Uh oh" (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Arlington School Administrator Dies — Kathleen Meagher, the director of secondary education for Arlington Public Schools, has died at the age of 53 as a result of a scuba diving accident. Meagher, who joined APS in 2014 after serving as a school administrator in Palo Alto, Calif., was vacationing with her partner in St. Kitts and Nevis, in the Caribbean. [Washington Post, Daily Democrat]

TSA May Stay in Arlington After All — A judge’s ruling has opened up the door to the Transportation Security Administration potentially keeping its headquarters in Arlington. The TSA is currently headquartered in Pentagon City, and was set to move to Alexandria, but may now be able to consider the Stafford Place complex in Ballston, from which the National Science Foundation is moving in 2017. [Washington Business Journal]

Difficult Primary for Poll Workers — Arlington County elections officials are preparing for what might be a challenging primary. With intense interest in the presidential primary, turnout is expected to be heavy. There are 13 Republicans and three Democrats that have qualified for their respective primaries. And a loyalty pledge that’s being mandated by the Republican Party of Virginia may cause confusion and animosity at the polls. [InsideNova]

Va. DMV to Allow Smiling, Sort Of — The Virginia Dept. of Motor Vehicles is lifting its ban on smiling in driver’s license photos, kind of. New rules will allow smiling, but only without showing teeth. [WJLA]

A Streetcar Named Regret in Fairfax Co. — A Fairfax County official is still lamenting Arlington’s cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar project. Supervisor Penelope Gross said the streetcar “was going to be important to maintain the viability of Skyline.” The streetcar was to run through the Skyline section of Fairfax County, improving prospects for the vacant and partially-vacant office buildings there. Fairfax County is currently trying to figure out what to do about so much vacant office space. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Jennifer Currier — December 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm 0

New elementary school near Thomas Jefferson (via APS)

Update at 10:45 a.m. — The Thomas Jefferson site has been approved. From Arlington County:

At its Dec. 15 Recessed County Board Meeting, the Arlington County Board voted 5-0 to approve the use of the northwest portion of the Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Community Center site (currently a parking lot) as the site for a new south Arlington elementary school. the Board’s action came in response to the Arlington Public School Board’s request that the site be approved.

The Board also directed the Acting County Manager to “expeditiously initiate the public facilities review committee process with participation by all appropriate stakeholder groups, building on the site analysis, including placement and impact mitigation, already done by the Thomas Jefferson working group.”

Earlier: After a year of back-and-forth over choosing a site for a new South Arlington elementary school, the County Board is expected to reconsider the land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School for the project.

The Thomas Jefferson site is the final item on tonight’s recessed meeting agenda.

The County Board originally rejected the School Board’s request to build a new elementary school on the county-owned land, following objections from a vocal group of residents who expressed concern about parkland and traffic. As part of the rejection, the Board agreed to reconsider the request if APS took adequate time and measures to analyze other potential sites.

The South Arlington Working Group was established in June for that purpose.

The group’s work was finished earlier this fall. It considered approximately 20 different potential sites, choosing Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Gunston Middle School/Oakridge Elementary School and Drew Model Elementary as the finalists.

In its most recent report, the group once again preferred the Thomas Jefferson site. The School Board, which voted on Dec. 3 to select the TJ site, is asking the County Board to do the same so that the proposed project could be completed in time for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

The County Manager is now also recommending the Board approve the TJ site for the school, which would then be subject to use permit approval, design adoption and other planning processes.

The Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park group, however, says it’s still “concerned” about an elementary school on the TJ site, despite steps taken to mitigate negative impacts on the park, which is adjacent to the middle school.

“We ask that if you select this location for a new elementary school, you commit to fully funding necessary improvements and ensuring the community continues to have full access to park and recreation assets at Thomas Jefferson Park,” the group said in a letter to the County Board.

 

Funding and specific plans for the elementary school project have not been finalized. However, when the Superintendent first proposed a new elementary school in his 2015-24 Capital Improvement Plan, the plan said the school would cost $50 million and have 725 seats.

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