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by ARLnow.com — April 21, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Budget Plan Has Slightly Lower Tax Rate Hike — The 2017-2018 county budget that Arlington County Board members are set to vote on this weekend includes a 1.5 cent tax rate hike, a half cent lower than first proposed. The budget includes increased funding for schools, Metro, county employee raises, land acquisition and services for immigrants faced with deportation. It raises the tax burden on the average homeowner by about $300. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

No Easter Egg Roll Tix for APS — Arlington Public Schools received hundreds of tickets to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll under the Obama administration, but did not receive any for President Trump’s first egg roll this year. D.C. Public Schools also were not invited. Critics say minority children were under-represented at the event. [Patch]

Big County Events This Weekend — Among the events in Arlington this weekend are a trio of major annual happenings: the Arlington Homeshow and Garden Expo at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, the Arlington Teen Summer Expo at Wakefield High School and the Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon.

Blue Virginia’s County Board Endorsement — Influential local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the race for Arlington County Board. A party caucus will be held next month for the four-way Democratic contest. [Blue Virginia]

by Katie Pyzyk — April 19, 2017 at 5:30 pm 0

And then there were three. The list of nine possible sites for Arlington County’s new public high school has been whittled down to three finalists.

At a work session last night, the School Board weighed constructing a 1,300-seat high school at the sites of Kenmore Middle School, the Arlington Career Center and the APS Education Center. The new school is expected to open at one of these locations in September 2022.

The options have been narrowed based on staff analyses of the pros and cons each site presents, along with feedback from the Facilities Advisory Council and the community.

The Board still must determine whether the school would be a specialized choice school, like Arlington Tech or H-B Woodlawn, or a community high school like Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The information gathered thus far from surveyed community members indicates that 44 percent favor a neighborhood school and 56 percent favor a specialized school.

Board member Tannia Talento brought up the importance of further examining the impact of traffic, parking and walkability at each site. She said that parking needs and traffic for extracurricular activities and special events come into play in addition to the daily school needs.

“How is it impacting the neighborhood? These things will come into play when we’re adding 1,300 seats at a site like the Ed Center or Kenmore,” she said.

School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen questioned the feasibility of renovating or expanding any of the proposed sites rather than starting from scratch with building. That potentially could accelerate the project for completion before 2022. Regarding school overcrowding, “We really know we hit trouble in 2021,” she said.

Board chairwoman Nancy Van Doren echoed Kanninen’s sentiment about site renovation or expansion, adding that such an option could provide cost savings, perhaps even through a phased plan for adding seats over time.

“I would like to perhaps consider a hybrid option,” Van Doren said. “One of my personal criteria is cost and making sure we have enough money to build all the seats we need going forward. So if there are ways that we can provide additions or renovations at a lower cost than the total amount of money that we have currently allocated, then I’d be very interested in that.”

Site analyses will continue through mid-May, and final recommendations are expected at the Board’s May 15 work session. Final site approval is anticipated for June. Until that time, staff will continue to engage the community about the three high school site options, including through feedback received via the “Engage with APS” website.

“This is about our kids and about our families and it is emotional,” Van Doren said.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 14, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

County Board Candidate Forum Recap — The four Democrats hoping to win Jay Fisette’s seat on the County Board addressed issues such as infrastructure and a real estate tax increase at a candidate forum Wednesday night. [InsideNova]

APS Principal, Teacher Finalists for Honors — An Arlington Public Schools principal and a teacher both are finalists for Washington Post awards. Swanson Middle School Principal Bridget Loft is a finalist for the Principal of the Year Award, and Wakefield High School Teacher Michelle Cottrell-Williams is a finalist for the Teacher of the Year Award. [Washington Post]

Local Student Serves as Speaker — Wakefield High School senior Wisam Mustafa served as the speaker for the 2017 Virginia Model General Assembly program. The three-day session in Richmond included 550 high school students from across the state. Mustafa got to meet Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and House Speaker William Howell (R). [InsideNova]

Closings for Easter — Libraries will be closed on Sunday for the Easter holiday, as will county community centers. Parks will remain open.

by Chris Teale — April 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools’ preliminary FY 2018 budget has an $11 million gap in funding after the School Board approved its proposal last night.

The budget now stands at just over $614 million, down from Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s initial plan of $617 million.

County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed additional real estate tax hike, in part to help fund schools, would likely make up the shortfall in county funding. The state has also kicked in an additional $78,000 to help with construction projects.

“What we’ve done with our budget is taken it to the point where it fits with what the county manager has proposed to the County Board,” said School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen. “We’re looking at the county manager’s proposal as his sincerest effort to do what’s needed at the county level. We hope the County Board sees it that way.”

During Thursday’s meeting, members found savings by again tweaking the budget plan. Savings include $1.8 million on technology, adding a transportation planner and removing a School Board staff member. Various other job cuts would only take effect if the County Board does not provide the extra money.

Board members emphasized that the savings on technology do not relate to the controversial one-to-one policy of giving each elementary student an iPad. Leslie Peterson, assistant superintendent for finance and management services, said that instead the savings have come through looking at the school system’s procurement of contracts.

School Board member Reid Goldstein said staff and elected officials have worked tirelessly to bring the funding deficit down from more than $20 million. He said that even with the efficiencies found, the budget plan balances educating students with fiscal responsibility.

“I think we’re in a spot where we’ve got something really viable and [it] does contribute to our needs, and the overwhelming cost of course is growth for next year,” Goldstein said.

School Board members presented the budget plan to the County Board earlier today. The County Board is set to adopt its budget and tax rates on April 22.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 7, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Spring Break Activities — Today is the last day of school for Arlington Public Schools students before spring break. The county’s parks and recreation department has some suggested activities to keep kids of all ages occupied next week. [Arlington County]

Casual Adventure Property’s Familiar New Owners — The owners of long-time Virginia Square outdoor retailer Casual Adventure announced this week that it’s closing, and the property sale reportedly already has taken place. The new owner is 1404 Hancock Street Investment LLC, a company registered to Brian Normile of BCN Enterprises. He’s partnering with Stephen and Mark Fedorchak, who own Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall and Northside Social. [Washington Business Journal]

CEB Acquisition Complete — IT consulting and research firm Gartner has completed its acquisition of Arlington-based technology and insights firm CEB in a $3.3 billion deal. Gartner plans to expand CEB’s consulting services into new markets and develop a line of new research and advisory products. [StamfordAdvocate]

Solid-Waste Plant Upgrade Raises Flaring Gas Concerns — Arlington County is encountering some pushback over the $100 million upgrade to the Water Pollution Control Plant. Concerns have been raised over a proposed new process that might cause flaring gas. [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy Rob Laybourn

by Chris Teale — April 4, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Three Arlington School Board candidates looked to ease neighborhood fears about the future Reed Elementary School at a forum Monday night.

A presentation last month by Arlington Public Schools staff suggested the 725-seat elementary school offer the International Baccalaureate as a countywide choice program when it opens in 2021.

But neighbors have raised concerns about the traffic impact of students being bussed in, and neighborhood children having to be educated elsewhere.

And at a candidate forum hosted by the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association, incumbent James Lander and challengers Maura McMahon and Monique O’Grady all agreed the IB designation was just a suggestion and not set in stone. A fourth candidate, Mike Webb, was absent.

“There is no decision, there is no proposal, it’s a concept,” said Lander. “It’s a concept I don’t support, but it was a way to get the conversation started with the community.”

The school currently hosts The Children’s School, a nonprofit that provides education and child care for the children of APS parents, and the Integration Station, which helps students with disabilities integrate with those without disabilities.

But it is set to be the temporary location for the Stratford program while the Stratford School building is renovated.

The Stratford program will then relocate in 2019 with H-B Woodlawn to the redeveloping Wilson site in Rosslyn.

The Reed School site would then be revamped as an elementary school, with construction likely to begin that year once Wilson is open, Lander said.

And rather than be an IB choice program, the majority of those present appeared more supportive of Reed being a neighborhood school. O’Grady encouraged neighbors to make their voices heard on that point.

“I keep hearing from the community that a neighborhood school is important,” she said. “If that’s what you want, I suggest you come together and advocate for that.”

McMahon, meanwhile, said APS must be strategic to combat its growing enrollment and ensure the programs it already has are of a high standard. She cited previous conversations with parents about adding schools with immersion programs in world languages like French and Mandarin.

“My opinion is they would be great, but we have a lot of other things we need to focus on first, like do we have enough schools?” she said.

Transportation and traffic also weighed heavily on the discussions around Reed. Lander said he wanted to revisit adding an exit on the back of the site, a plan that has not been supported in the past. McMahon said discussions on bussing must also involve catering to low-income families who use public transportation to get to and from school.

And while several attendees said the community is often consulted too late in the planning process for such projects, O’Grady said getting involved early would be a good way to shape the future.

“I think it’s an exciting time for your community, and it’s the perfect time to step up and say, ‘This is what we want,'” she said.

by ARLnow.com — April 4, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

As Arlington school officials consider locations for a new high school, a resident has nominated one of the potential sites for consideration as a local historic district.

The 1960s-era Arlington Education Center and planetarium, next to Washington-Lee High School, should be designated historic and preserved, says Nancy Iacomini, an Arlington Planning Commission member.

More from the website of Preservation Arlington:

Designed by Cleveland-based architecture firm Ward and Schneider, the building is an excellent example of “New Formalism” which combined classical design elements with modern materials and techniques. Bethlehem Steel used a new cost-saving technique of steel wedges to construct the building. Both buildings were completed in 1969, having been funded by a 1965 bond referendum and designed with community-wide input. In 1967 a special citation from the American Association of School Administrators said the center “should attract the public and focus attention on the importance of education.” The two buildings were built as a pair and symbolize the great civic pride of Arlington and its’ investment in the future.

Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will now consider the nomination. If the HALRB recommends historic designation, public hearings will then be held by the Planning Commission and County Board.

Iacomini says there is both architectural and cultural significance to the Education Center, which currently houses Arlington Public Schools administrative offices and the School Board’s meeting room.

From her nomination letter:

Structures are literally visual landmarks of our shared history; the Education Center is emblematic of an important era of Arlington’s past…

Clearly the 1960s was a boom time for the county — a time when we were beginning to plan for the future of the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and time of great growth in our schools but also still a time of grappling with social issues in our schools. The Education Center and the planetarium are physical embodiments of the forward thinking of Arlington and our County’s hope for the future. They should stand as reminders of our accomplishments and goals of the past as we continue to provide for the future.

The Education Center and Planetarium are proud civic buildings of a set, carefully designed and constructed with taxpayer funds on publicly owned land. It is not unlike the commitment we’ve made to the new school on the Wilson site. They are part of our shared civic heritage.

by Chris Teale — April 3, 2017 at 3:15 pm 0

Parents were left frustrated on Saturday after registration for Arlington Public Schools’ Extended Day Program was beset by server issues for the second time in as many months.

Originally, the program’s registration portal had opened at midnight on March 1, but suffered technical issues and was closed indefinitely to be fixed.

APS reopened online registration at 3 p.m. April 1 for Summer School and the 2017-18 school year, but within minutes the system struggled with technical issues.

Several parents vented their frustrations on the APS Facebook page at the repeated technical issues.

“This was the issue a month ago and it is still not fixed,” wrote one. “Please provide additional guidance to parents (many of whom signed up the first time at midnight) on if we should continue to wait for the site to be fixed (now at 36 mins of trying) or try again later. It is the weekend and expectations should be managed.”

“Thanks for wrecking a Saturday afternoon,” wrote another. “It would be much appreciated if you would either offer a time frame or advise whether or not we should keep trying. You have a lot of parents feeling stuck and afraid not to keep hitting ‘refresh.'”

At 4 p.m., APS posted the following on its Facebook page:

UPDATE from Extended Day:

We greatly apologize for the inconvenience as the registration website is again experiencing issues. The developers are working to correct any issues and make the process faster.

Please send an email [email protected] with your student(s)’s name, school and requested sessions and we will process your registration. You will be contacted in the next few weeks with additional information.

But less than an hour later, APS posted to say the website “appears to be working now,” then again the following morning to “apologize for the inconvenience as the registration website experienced issues.”

There do not appear to have been any further issues with the website since.

by Chris Teale — March 29, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Numerous Arlington residents spoke out last night against the County Manager’s “optional” proposed cuts to lessen a planned tax increase.

The County Board’s public hearing Tuesday saw opposition to suggested cuts to the Lee Highway Planning Initiative, snow removal from trails and the Glencarlyn Library among other programs.

County Manager Mark Schwartz proposed a $1.2 billion budget for FY 2018 that includes a tax increase of 2 cents per $100 of assessed value. One cent apiece would go towards Arlington Public Schools and Metro’s increased funding needs.

After direction from County Board members, Schwartz produced a version that would only have a 1-cent increase and cuts elsewhere to make up the difference.

But the suggested cut to funding Lee Highway planning — which would shelve the project until further notice — brought strong opposition from residents and business owners. Under the $500,000 budget cut, the Lee Highway Alliance, a grassroots partnership that looks to improve the quality of life along the corridor, would lose all $60,000 of its county funding, according to speakers.

“The Lee Highway Alliance is the Arlington way: it’s a grassroots effort that sprung up as we realized the need for planning in this corridor,” said Karen Kumm Morris, a representative of the Rock Spring Civic Association.

“A good idea is meaningless without the courage to act,” agreed Sandi Chesrown, an executive board member on the Waverly Hills Civic Association.

Also coming under fire was the plan to cut the Glencarlyn Branch Library’s days of operation from six to two, but it brought one of the two-hour hearing’s lighter moments.

Jeffrey Liteman, representing the Glencarlyn Civic Association, first unfurled a 20-foot petition signed in opposition to the planned cuts. He then sang and played guitar in support of the library, backed by other attendees holding signs behind him.

“It’s the heart of the community, two days are not enough,” he sang.

Members of the county’s Community Services Board advocated for various budget requests, including new case managers for those with developmental disabilities, six placements in a mental health group home and a $75,000 study to determine services for young adults on the autism spectrum.

Among the other topics discussed Tuesday night:

  • Arlington Public Schools and the need to fill the approximately $13 million funding gap between Schwartz’s plan and Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s proposed $617 million budget.
  • Various solutions to increase the county’s affordable housing stock, including more funding for housing grants and a higher zoning fee for apartment developers.
  • Funding for the county’s streetlight repair program, which is in line to receive a big boost under Schwartz’s proposed budget but not under his optional cuts.
  • Opposition to an optional cut to the $50,000 program that removes snow from local trails with the same priority as street snow removal.
  • The financial literacy program within the Virginia Cooperative Extension and permanent county funding for the financial education program associate position to run it.

Earlier this month, opinion columnist Mark Kelly suggested that Schwartz’s optional cuts were purposefully unpalatable, “designed to make taxpayers believe there are few desirable options when it comes to trimming the budget.” Schwartz, in a statement, said making budget cut recommendations “is always difficult, particularly given the growing demands and potential impacts on our community.’

The County Board will return for another public hearing tomorrow night, this time about the proposed tax rate and fee hikes. The budget is slated for final adoption on April 22.

by ARLnow.com — March 29, 2017 at 11:25 am 0

A new petition is calling for Arlington Public Schools to discontinue its program of giving each elementary school student an iPad for educational use, but some parents are critical of the iPad critics.

The Change.org petition has just over 150 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

“Parents, teachers, pediatricians, librarians, art therapists, poets, doctors and taxpayers of Arlington County are asking that APS discontinue immediately the current 1:1 iPad program within APS elementary schools for grades K-5,” the petition says. “The 1:1/Digital Learning/Personalized programs, which put a personal iPads in the hand of elementary school children, over the past three years has not only cost millions for devices, staffing and infrastructure, but it has put children into a social experiment that is likely to harm their physical and social-emotional well-being.”

The petition calls for giving parents the ability to opt-out of iPads for their children and wants APS to send parents “a waiver to explicitly list the potential risks of iPad usage not limited to attention issues, screen addiction, blue light effects on eyesight, Wi-Fi radiation, and effects on reading acquisition.”

But some parents are pushing back against the petition, supporting the use of iPads and questioning the scientific basis of the “risks” listed in the petition. In one local neighborhood Facebook group, it has sparked a debate dozens of comments long, with most in favor of keeping the iPad program as-is.

“You [have] got to be kidding me! What are you using to post this?” a parent said in response to a post critical of student iPad use. “How do you expect your kids to be exposed to digital world and be prepared how to handle it when they are out of your wings. While I’m against screen time for my kids 24/7 some exposure is pretty useful if we want to keep up with the rest of the world.”

One parent called the iPads “extremely beneficial” to her child, while another said her kids — one labeled as gifted and the other as having learning disabilities — have both “been engaged in learning in exciting ways.”

Those in support of the iPad program are being asked to counter the voices against the program by providing positive feedback on the APS website.

by ARLnow.com — March 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

A naming process is underway for a new elementary school being built next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

The new school will be home to students of what is now Patrick Henry Elementary, which will in turn house the Montessori program currently at Drew Model School.

While Patrick Henry is being considered for the name of the new elementary school, which is set to open in September 2019, Arlington Public Schools has formed a naming committee to consider other name recommendations.

The committee is encouraging stakeholders to weigh in on the name via an online Community Input Form, which was published late last week.

“We are asking each Patrick Henry Elementary School parent and staff to fill out the appropriate survey,” a page on the Patrick Henry PTA website says. “Our timeline is short, so we hope you can do it soon. It should not take more than 5 minutes.”

The survey notes that while Patrick Henry was a Founding Father and Virginia’s first (and sixth) governor — remembered for his “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech — he was also a plantation owner and slave owner.

It asks respondents to consider the importance of “maintaining the current name in recognition of Patrick Henry” or, alternatively, “selecting a new name that reflects the diversity of the student body,” among other questions.

The committee is expected to submit its naming recommendation to Arlington Public Schools later this spring.

by ARLnow.com — March 21, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

The following Letter to the Editor was written by Arlington resident Matt Rizzolo regarding the county’s potential purchase of the Buck property, across from Washington-Lee High School, and the land use decisions that will accompany the purchase.

With over 8,000 people per square mile, Arlington is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. It’s no surprise, then, that Arlington is often held up as a model of walkability and smart growth, and the county government rightly champions such accolades. But being such a small, highly populated and growing county presents unique challenges–with transportation and facilities issues, including schools, high on the list.

This is where the county’s possible purchase a six-acre parcel of land in North Arlington comes into play. This plot, known as the “Buck property,” is in a central, high-value location: for example, it’s within walking distance of three different Metro stations, including Ballston and Clarendon. The size of the land–rarely available in Arlington–understandably has Arlington leaders champing at the bit to see how best to use this property to satisfy some of the county’s many needs. Arlington’s growing population requires more schools to educate students, more storage for school and county buses, more emergency and municipal facilities, and more open space for playing fields, to name just a few. A few months ago, I wrote a piece for the Washington Post urging the county to think big about this property–including exploring decking over I-66–and not simply take the path of least resistance. To me, the first step in this process is elementary–as in, elementary school.

Despite being located in one of the most densely populated parts of Arlington, houses near the Buck Property have no nearby neighborhood elementary school–most nearby children either walk nearly a mile to Glebe Elementary School (crossing busy Glebe Road), or most take buses to Taylor or Ashlawn Elementary Schools, both several miles away. (Arlington Science Focus School, located a couple blocks from the Buck property, is a choice school that offers no geographic preference to nearby households.) The location of the Buck property and the density of the surrounding neighborhood provide the county with an opportunity create a new, “walkers-only” elementary school–an opportunity the county should seize.

Building an elementary school on the Buck property would allow Arlington to “walk the walk on walkability,” and also to satisfy multiple county needs at once. Arlington doesn’t provide transportation for elementary school students who reside less than a mile from their school–here, a new elementary school could likely be filled with students who live within just a half mile from the site. A walkers-only school, drawing from the current boundaries of Glebe, Taylor, and Ashlawn, would obviate the need for these children to ride buses or walk long distances to school. Such a school would obviously hew to Arlington’s mission of smart growth and walkability, and could be used as a model for elsewhere in the region (and possibly, the nation).

Students’ health would benefit from walking even short distances to school instead of taking buses. A new elementary school would also alleviate the pressure on the already-stressed school system, which is currently forced to use over 100 trailer-type portable classrooms countywide. Arlington would be able to construct a new school without the expense of purchasing, housing, and servicing new buses to support the student population; the county would likewise be able to re-route or re-purpose buses currently used to transport students to Ashlawn or Taylor. Fewer buses moving students through the county’s busy corridors means reduced traffic and less pollution.

Finally, this new school could be just the first step in a larger, long-term project for the surrounding area. The school grounds could be combined with nearby Hayes Park and provide additional green space playing fields for students and the Arlington community. With so many schools and the David M. Brown Planetarium nearby, the county could explore partner with a private entity to establish a children’s learning center or athletic facilities. And the decking of I-66 should be analyzed, to possibly stitch back together the neighborhoods of Ballston-Virginia Square and Cherrydale (split by I-66 back in the early 80’s) with development above the highway.

The possibilities are many, but the first step here is for Arlington to walk the walk on walkability. Let’s examine the potential for walkers-only elementary school on the Buck property.

Matt Rizzolo
Arlington, Va.

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

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2017 at 8:20 am 0

Frigid, icy conditions have prompted Arlington Public Schools to open on a two-hour delay today.

From APS:

All APS schools and offices will open two hours late today. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.

Arlington County government and the federal government, meanwhile, are opening on time. Metrorail and Metrobus, likewise, were operating on a normal weekday schedule as of 5 a.m. Certain Arlington County Parks and Rec programs, however, have been cancelled or delayed.

From the parks department:

  • All Congregate Meal Programs are cancelled for the day.
  • All Early Childhood Programs (Preschool and Co-op) are cancelled.
  • All Enjoy Arlington Classes, 55+ classes, Trips, Nature Center Programs and sports league activities with a scheduled start time prior to 11:59 a.m. today are cancelled in all APS and DPR buildings.
  • All Enjoy Arlington Classes, 55+ classes, Trips, Nature Center Programs and sports league activities with a scheduled start time of Noon or later will proceed as scheduled.
  • All afternoon and evening Enjoy Arlington Classes, 55+ classes, Trips, Nature Center Programs and sports league activities will proceed as scheduled.
  • All community centers and senior centers locations will open on time as scheduled.

In addition to very cold temperatures, a Wind Advisory has been issued for Arlington and the D.C. region. Forecasters are warning of 45-50 mile per hour gusts which could blow down branches, trees and power lines.

From the National Weather Service:

… WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM EDT THIS EVENING… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A WIND ADVISORY, WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM THIS MORNING TO 6 PM EDT THIS EVENING. * TIMING… AFTER DAYBREAK THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON. HIGHEST GUSTS EXPECTED LATE THIS MORNING INTO THIS AFTERNOON. * WINDS… NORTHWEST 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND 45 TO 50 MPH. * IMPACTS… STRONG WINDS MAY BLOW DOWN LIMBS, TREES, AND POWER LINES. ICE AND SNOW COVERED LIMBS, TREES AND POWER LINES ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO DAMAGE. SCATTERED POWER OUTAGES ARE EXPECTED. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WIND ADVISORY MEANS THAT WINDS OF 45 TO 55 MPH ARE EXPECTED. WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. &&

by ARLnow.com — March 14, 2017 at 8:05 am 0

Snow and sleet covered roads in Ballston 3/14/17A mix of sleet, snow and ice is making for slick driving conditions outside and has prompted the closure of Arlington Public Schools and government offices.

Local roads remain partially snow and slush covered, though traffic is very light. ART buses are operating on a “severe” service schedule, while Metrobuses are operating on a “moderate” snow plan. The Metrorail system is open and operating on a Saturday schedule.

APS announced just after 4 a.m. that it would be closed today.

All APS schools and offices will be closed today. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. All custodians report at 6 a.m. regardless of your regular shift. Extracurricular activities, interscholastic games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs in schools and on school grounds are canceled. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics. For information about Arlington County programs and operations go to www.arlingtonva.us.

Arlington County announced that it was closed for the day just after 5 a.m.

Arlington County government offices, programs, courts, & facilities are closed today, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. If possible, stay off the roads while snow and ice removal efforts continue throughout the day.

VDOT is asking drivers to stay off the roads if at all possible.

Crews and almost 4,500 pieces of equipment worked through the night and continue to treat roads with salt and sand, and to plow in areas where there is enough accumulation.

Interstates and primary roads have stretches of slush and ice as snow and sleet continue to accumulate between plow passes.

Secondary roads and neighborhood streets remain mostly snow-covered.

HOV restrictions are lifted this morning on I-66, I-395 and the Dulles Toll Road.

Drivers are advised to continue to stay off the roads. If you absolutely must go out this morning, reduce speeds, use extreme caution and be alert to icy and inclement conditions. Road temperatures are expected to remain below freezing all day with potential for continued refreeze.

Virginia State Police say they’re dealing with a number of crashes in Northern Virginia.

Virginia State Police are currently on the scene of 10 traffic crashes throughout Northern Virginia. Only two involve injuries – minor – and the remainder of them involve damage to vehicles. From midnight Tuesday through 7 a.m., Virginia State Police have responded to 15 traffic crashes – all of which involved damage to vehicles only and no injuries.

Motorists are reminded to give extra time for travel, slow their speed for conditions, not to tailgate – to provide additional stopping distance in slick conditions, and to always buckle up.

The federal government, meanwhile, will be opening today on a three-hour delay. From the Office of Personnel Management:

Federal agencies in the Washington, DC area are OPEN under 3 hours DELAYED ARRIVAL and employees have the OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK. Employees should plan to arrive for work no more than 3 hours later than they would be expected to arrive.

by Chris Teale — March 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

Williamsburg Middle School (photo via APS)After his whereabouts became a source of gossip among parents, Arlington Public Schools announced Monday that Gordon Laurie, principal of Williamsburg Middle School, has resigned.

Tipsters reported that Laurie had not been seen in school since February 24, and that earlier this morning they spotted that his office had been cleaned out. The tipsters mentioned that rumors were swirling about the reason for his departure.

In a letter this afternoon to Williamsburg parents, students and staff, Superintendent Patrick Murphy said Laurie has resigned for personal reasons after 15 years with APS. An APS spokesman did not elaborate on the exact reasons behind Laurie’s resignation.

“After working closely with the exceptional and dedicated Williamsburg Middle School staff to put programs in place that helped students reach new levels of achievement, I am excited about completing my dissertation in pursuit of my doctoral degree,” Laurie wrote in a letter to parents.

Connie Skelton, a retired superintendent of instruction at APS and former Williamsburg teacher, will fill in as acting principal for the rest of the school year. Murphy and APS staff will begin the search for a new principal in the near future.

“Connie is an exceptional school leader who is very familiar with our instructional and administrative framework, and will work closely with the Williamsburg team to ensure a smooth transition in leadership while continuing to provide excellent support for the students, families and staff,” Murphy wrote.

Murphy’s full letter is below:

Dear Williamsburg Families, Students and Staff,

I am writing to share with you that Mr. Gordon Laurie, Williamsburg Middle School Principal, has resigned from the Arlington Public Schools for personal reasons.  In his letter Mr. Laurie wrote, “After working closely with the exceptional and dedicated Williamsburg Middle School Staff to put programs in place that helped students reach new levels of achievement, I am excited about completing my dissertation in pursuit of my doctoral degree.”

I want to thank Mr. Laurie for his 15 years of service to APS and wish him the best in his academic and future professional pursuits.

For the balance of the 2016-17 school year, Connie Skelton, retired APS assistant superintendent of Instruction and a former Williamsburg teacher, has agreed to fill in as the acting principal for the remainder of the school year. Connie is an exceptional school leader who is very familiar with our instructional and administrative framework, and will work closely with the Williamsburg team to ensure a smooth transition in leadership while continuing to provide excellent support for the students, families and staff.

We know that changes in the middle of a school year can be challenging so all of us are committed to providing any added support that may be needed, and we will work to make this change as smooth as possible for everyone in the school community. In the coming weeks, Dr. Kristi Murphy, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, will join me to begin a process to select another strong leader for the school community.  I look forward to your participation in that effort.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.
Superintendent

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