Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]
Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]
Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [Niche, Washington Business Journal]
ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]
Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]
Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]
Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Superintendent Presents Proposed Budget — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy presented his proposed, $617 million budget to the School Board last night. The budget includes $9.2 million for student enrollment growth and $8.7 million for teacher and staff pay increases. [Arlington Public Schools]
Wakefield Girls Advance to Regional Finals — With a semifinal win in Leesburg, the Wakefield High School girls basketball team has advanced to a regional championship game for the first time in the program’s history. They will play defending champs Edison tomorrow (Saturday) at Edison. The boys team, meanwhile, lost in the regional semifinals; both teams will also advance to the state tournament. [InsideNova, Facebook]
More on the County Budget — County Manager Mark Schwartz presented his proposed FY 2018 budget to the County Board Thursday afternoon. His budget presentation suggested that Arlington will make service delivery and customer service a priority in the upcoming fiscal year. Among the initiatives that may be coming soon: building a one-stop county permitting system and providing “virtual access to public meetings.” [PDF]
‘Blarney Blowout’ Coming to Arlington — The Shamrock Crawl bar crawl may not be coming back to Clarendon this year, but its organizers are planning a new event dubbed the Blarney Blowout. Four Clarendon and Courthouse bars are participating in the event, on the day after St. Patrick’s Day, featuring a “free all-you-can-eat breakfast Buffet, St. Paddy’s Day shenanigans, entertainment, party favors and more.” The event is “not your traditionally tame “kegs and eggs,” its website says. [Blarney Blowout]
(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) A co-op child care center for Arlington Public School employees has plans to move to a new space in Ballston, possibly splitting it up from a special needs program it has long integrated with.
The Children’s School’s board of directors this week signed a letter of intent to relocate its program to 4420 N. Fairfax Drive for the 2017-2018 school year.
The relocation could separate the center from the Integration Station, a program for Pre-K children with disabilities that allows them to interact with The Children’s School students. Both the daycare and the special needs program have worked together at the Reed School building in Westover for more than 20 years.
The move comes months after a plan from APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy to create a new 725-seat elementary school at the site of the Reed School building. Under the proposal, both The Children’s School and the Integration Station would likely have been displaced from their current home.
“APS has consistently informed TCS that they do not have any space and are running a deficit,” TCS board member Alec Strong said in a statement. “Our ultimate goal remains keeping TCS and Integration Station together, but we need APS’s help.”
The prospect of separating the daycare and integration program has worried many parents whose kids are enrolled in them. A group of parents and supporters of the programs spoke out against the plan during a School Board meeting earlier this month.
“As a mother of a student in Integration Station, the culture of Reed is one of safety, love and value to the special needs community, and that is something you just don’t find in a lot of places,” said one parent at that meeting. “Splitting it up would be devastating, both to the teachers, their children, and the special needs community.”
In a statement given to ARLnow.com on Feb. 3, APS said the decision regarding the future of TCS and the Integration Station is a tough one to make.
“While APS will continue to explore options as we move through this process, we cannot guarantee that we will be successful with any of the available space options,” the statement reads. “APS is committed, however, to continuing to provide support for students in the Integration Station program either as a partner with The Children’s School, or integrated into existing APS programs.”
Read a release from TCS about the move below:
The Children’s School Board of Directors signed a letter of intent yesterday to relocate its program to a new location in Arlington for the 2017-2018 school year. This follows confirmation at a School Board meeting two weeks ago that Arlington Public Schools does not have any space during planned renovations of the Reed School for the non-profit program, which has served pre-school aged children of APS teachers since 1987, and special needs students in the Integration Station program for more than 20 years.
In a statement to ARLnow.com, APS said: “While APS will continue to explore options as we move through this process, we cannot guarantee that we will be successful with any of the available space options. APS is committed, however, to continuing to provide support for students in the Integration Station program either as a partner with The Children’s School, or integrated into existing APS programs.”
The TCS Board of Directors maintains that APS has never offered any space or location to TCS. “APS has consistently informed TCS that they do not have any space and are running a deficit. Our ultimate goal remains keeping TCS & Integration Station together, but we need APS’s help,” said TCS Board Member Alec Strong.
In a January 30, 2017 letter to concerned Integration Station parents, many of who spoke at the School Board meeting in support of the two programs remaining together, TCS Director Naseera Maqsood said:
“As of Friday, January 27, 2017, we were informed (by Assistant Superintendent Leslie Peterson) in very clear terms that we need to find a new location. We were informed that there is no space at the Madison Community Center (technically an Arlington County property) and that no Arlington Public School grounds have enough space for us to put relocatables (trailers). Arlington County has also indicated that there is no space for us to use relocatables.”
“We want desperately to keep all of our children together,” Maqsood added. “As educators, we are committed to having our students in integrated classrooms. We will ensure that any space we seek to lease or buy will have room for the Integration Station students. Ultimately though, the decision to keep our programs together is in the hands of Arlington Public Schools, not The Children’s School.”
“We continue to hope and work towards some miracle that will allow us to remain on APS or Arlington County grounds, and to continue providing more than 150 affordable childcare positions to Arlington teachers and parents,” Maqsood added. “We believe this aligns with our shared values, legacy and the desires of the Arlington County electorate.”
Fairfax Drive photo via Google Maps
Arlington County’s new public high school could end up at one of nine proposed sites.
Arlington Public Schools is scheduled to hold a joint meeting with its Advisory Committee on Instruction (ACI) and Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital (FAC) programs tonight (Wednesday) to share options in consideration for the new school. The meeting, to be held at the Syphax Center at 7 p.m., is part of a four-month process to determine the instructional focus of the school.
To be discussed at tonight’s meeting: where to build a new high school in a county where land and open space is at a premium and many schools are overcrowded. As part of its Capital Improvement Plan, APS is planning to build 1,300 new high school seats in time for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
A new report from the FAC council identifies nine potential APS-owned sites for the new high school seats, divided between “tier 1” and less feasible, more complex “tier 2” options.
“This analysis was completed between January and February of 2017 and because of this short timeframe, focuses on APS-owned properties,” the report says. “In developing the list of properties to consider the group received input formally and informally from community members and referenced established documents from the South Arlington Working Group, the Community Facilities Study, etc.”
The tier one site options are:
- APS Education Center at Washington-Lee High School: Either expand the existing high school or build a new one on the Ed Center site, which is used by APS administration.
- Pros: Existing high school-sized facilities on the site.
- Cons: Adding 1,300 students would make W-L the largest APS school at 3,500 students and increase the use of W-L fields and facilities by around 50 percent.
- Gunston Middle School: Add a 1,300 seat high school to the Gunston campus or move the middle school to another site and expand the current building to house 1,300 high school students.
- Pros: The new school could create a neighborhood high school for the southeast quadrant of the county and wouldn’t necessarily displace the middle school.
- Cons: Adding seats at Gunston may limit the availability of the neighborhood’s community programs and may result in the relocation of the community center.
- Kenmore Middle School: Construct a new separate high school building on the site or move Kenmore to another location and expand the existing middle school to create a new option or comprehensive high school.
- Pros: The property is in south Arlington and therefore could be zoned as a comprehensive high school with its own district or a option high school. The area is also student-dense and walkable.
- Cons: The site may not have room for a comprehensive high school and its amenities, like as a football field, track, or baseball field.
- Wakefield High School: Either add on to the existing high school, or build a new high school on the 32.8 acre campus.
- Pros: The site could accommodate 1,300 new students and minimize impact on existing students.
- Cons: This would create a “majority minority” concentration of students in the southern portion of Arlington County that “could be politically sensitive without significant redistricting,” planners said.
The tier two options are:
- Arlington Traditional School: Convert and expand the site’s buildings to accommodate 1,300 new high school students, potentially potentially moving or closing the elementary school.
- Pros: The site is somewhat centrally located and houses one of the smaller programs in the county, meaning fewer students impacted.
- Cons: This plan requires a major conversion from an elementary school to high school, which would mean expanding and updating the existing facility, up to a “complete tear-down.”
- Career Center/Patrick Henry Elementary School: This option would develop a master plan for the site, which would expand Arlington Tech and add a 1,300 seat high school, potentially by replacing the Patrick Henry building. Another scenario is to build a new elementary school to house the Montessori program and replace lost facility at Patrick Henry.
- Pros: Co-location of multiple high school programs could allow for ebb and flow of enrollment at the various programs.
- Cons: The plan could mean 2,500 students use the site every day, “clearly intensifying the use of what would be the smallest high school.”
- Drew Model School: The plan would add a new high school on the 8.4 acre campus.
- Pros: The site would serve an underserved part of Arlington and “could create a new group of potential walkers for a zoned school.”
- Cons: The existing facility is half on park land, complicating the plan. The school also “has deep history with the neighborhood,” planners said.
- Hoffman-Boston Elementary School: Update and expand the school building and relocate the elementary school seats.
- Pros: Hoffman-Boston was originally built as a high school, so demolition wouldn’t be necessary. Columbia Pike also has “strong transit options.”
- Cons: The conversion would require renovation of existing facilities and an addition.
- Reed School site: A new high school would be built at the side of the Reed School or a new elementary school would be built to house the Arlington Traditional School in conjunction with the ATS high school option.
- Pros: The new school would be located in a walkable community near shops that would benefit from increased foot traffic. The school would also be located in an area where a significant high school-age population is projected.
- Cons: The Reed campus is too small for a 1,300-student school in similar scope to other nearby high schools and there are potential historic preservation issues due to the 1938 building.
Should the new high school displace an existing elementary or middle school or other APS program, the FAC council identified a number of sites for the displaced programs to go, including:
- Reed School
- APS Education Center
- Virginia Hospital Center urgent care site on Carlin Springs Road, which is in consideration for a land swap between VHC and the county
- Wakefield High School campus
- Aurora Hills Community Center / Virginia Highlands Park
- Gunston Middle School
The various options are all likely to garner opposition from parents and members of the community, but an Arlington resident involved in the creation of the report emphasized that it is early in the process, that any option is going to be “imperfect” and some shared sacrifice may be needed.
“The report is just a starting point for discussion with the instruction advisors and staff for APS,” the resident said. “It is important that we all have a common understanding of what could be done or what would be needed to move forward with certain proposals… Anything you can do to promote discussion as the community hopefully finds consensus or at least an understanding to accept and support APS going forward, would be an invaluable service.”
While the “Patriots Know” signs remain up in classrooms, according to an Arlington Public Schools spokesman, Pasi apologized for the “distress” the issue — which has received national attention from conservative media — may have caused.
“We sincerely regret any distress this may have caused our students, parents or anyone in the Yorktown community,” Pasi wrote. “We want our focus to continue to be instruction, while at the same time providing a safe and supportive environment for discussion, consistent with the YHS and APS mission, vision and core values.”
Pasi said that Yorktown has adopted sign policies in place at other Arlington high schools, although he did not elaborate on the specifics of those policies nor their application to the current controversy.
The full letter is below.
For many years, Yorktown High School’s philosophy and goal has been to work deliberately, daily and collectively on fostering respect for ALL. Our long standing social-emotional learning (SEL) and ROCS (Respect for Others, Community and Self) programs are designed to help foster a positive, respectful school climate for ALL. It’s a feature of our educational program we take seriously and have worked on each day. We want every student here to feel valued, supported and respected.
We all know that we live in a challenging and sometimes difficult political climate. With that, many schools (including Yorktown) are dealing with new situations and issues. Here at Yorktown, one of those issues has been signs that have been posted with good intentions that some members of our community have supported while others have taken exception to for one reason or another.
We sincerely regret any distress this may have caused our students, parents or anyone in the Yorktown community. We want our focus to continue to be instruction, while at the same time providing a safe and supportive environment for discussion, consistent with the YHS and APS mission, vision and core values.
Last year, some APS high schools experienced a few difficulties with how and when students could post signs equitably because so many student clubs and organizations were interested in promoting their activities and events. To help provide clarity, a set of procedures and guidelines for posting materials in high schools were developed by a team of high school staff that is also consistent with the APS Printed Materials Policy.
While this was not a concern for Yorktown at that time, last week we experienced confusion over how to determine what should be posted. Moving forward, we have decided to use the same guidelines and process here at Yorktown that the other APS high schools are following so that all high schools are approaching these decisions in a uniform way.
On Friday, I met with teachers and many of our students to discuss this and we have revised our processes to be consistent with the other high schools. We also will be meeting with representatives of each YHS student organization so that everyone knows and understands our process as we move forward.
In the future, there may be differences of opinions on one issue or another. We need to recognize that it is in the best interest of our entire community that we work together to create our future. That comes through cooperation and understanding our similarities as well as accepting our differences. We will continue to strive to create a school climate that is inclusive and supportive of all students.
E-rate is funded via Universal Service Fund fees and is intended to make “telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries in America.”
O’Rielly, however, said in a Feb. 10 letter that APS using E-rate to pay for half the costs of building a backup system — when a county-run fiber system and Comcast connections are available — is “troubling.”
“As an initial matter, I do not believe that our rules permit funding for backup networks,” O’Rielly writes. “Regardless, I see absolutely no justification for using E-rate funds for such a purpose. Instead, any universal service funding for broadband deployment should be targeted… to underserved communities most in need of support.”
Commissioner O'Rielly's February 9 letter to USAC CEO worries E-rate funds have been used to build back up networks: https://t.co/VNKDZLmKbP
— E-Rate Central (@ERateCentral) February 13, 2017
— Doug Levin (@douglevin) February 13, 2017
Glebe Elementary students were bused to Washington-Lee High School this morning after a power outage closed the school.
The school sent the following letter to families.
Dear Glebe Families:
Power went out at Glebe Elementary School this morning due to high winds. There is no estimate as to when power will be restored, so students are being bused to Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford St.) for the remainder of the day. Students will continue instruction at W-L and lunch will be provided.
Students in Extended Day will remain at Washington-Lee until they can be picked up. If possible, families of students in Extended Day are encouraged to pick up their students early. To pick up your child, please go to the main office (Door 1) at Washington-Lee. A staff member will be there to assist you. Students who ride the bus will be transported from Washington-Lee to their normal bus stop.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Forecasters say strong wind gusts will continue through the afternoon, though the worst of the wind is over.
High wind warning downgraded to wind advisory in DC area. Gusts in 40-50 mph still possible thru this afternoon: https://t.co/8kbQyv6tsh
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) February 13, 2017
That’s according to the Arlington Public Schools website, which details a planning process that will soon be kicking off for the new school.
A four-month process is planned to determine the instructional focus of the school, concluding in June with a staff recommendation to the School Board. Via APS:
By September 2022, APS will open the doors to a new high school.
Beginning in February 2017, we will launch a community engagement process to determine the instructional focus for the new high school. The process will include:
- February 15: Joint ACI and FAC meeting to share options considered for location and instruction
- February-March: Community Survey
- March 30 and April 4: Community Meetings
- May: School Board work session to review options
- June: Staff recommendation to the School Board
It has not yet been determined whether the new high school will be a specialized choice school, like Arlington Tech or H-B Woodlawn, or a comprehensive, community high school like Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown.
“That’s what we’re working to decide — it will be decided in the coming months with feedback from the community process and looking at available options, budget, etc.,” Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos tells ARLnow.com.
Also this month, APS will begin the design and construction planning process, which will determine the location of the school, the architect, the design and the construction firm. The location and architect is expected to be selected later this year, while the design will be finalized in 2019. Construction is expected to start in 2020 and wrap up by August 2022.
The new high school is being built as part of the school system’s latest Capital Improvement Plan, which was approved last year and calls for 1,300 new high school seats by the fall of 2022.
“The 2017-26 Capital Improvement Plan, which the School Board adopted on June 16, 2016, included $146.71 million funding for 1,300 new high school seats to be completed in time for the start of school in 2022,” notes the APS website.
A petition launched last year called on APS to build a new high school rather than just staggering schedules and adding seats to Arlington’s existing high schools, as was under consideration.
APS is encouraging those with questions or suggestions about the new high school to email them at [email protected].
Following an unprecedented tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, the country’s new Secretary of Education was confirmed Tuesday, 51-50.
Betsy DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist from Michigan, was the Trump administration cabinet pick who garnered the most stout resistance from Democrats. Opponents worry that she will support private K-12 schools and voucher programs at the expense of public education. That even pulled two Republicans over to vote “no” alongside all 48 senate Democrats.
What DeVos means for Arlington Public Schools is unclear.
In confirmation hearings she voiced support for giving states more decision-making power over education. That contrasts with concerns from teachers unions and public education advocates, who worry DeVos could use her role in the federal government to push for school-choice policies, like those implemented with questionable results in Michigan.
Federal funding only accounts for about 2 percent of the overall APS budget, meaning that in a worst case scenario — APS refusing federal funding so as to not be subject to new federal mandates — the school system would have to trim expenses or increase revenues by about $13 million.
Arlington School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren says APS is taking a wait-and-see approach to the new Dept. of Education leadership.
“We will, of course, continue to work with the U.S. Department of Education in a variety of key areas,” Van Doren said in a statement. “Arlington receives only about two percent from the federal government. It is too early to predict what impact her leadership will have. Like all public schools in the country, we have to hope for the best.”
Photo via Wikipedia
A plan to build a new educational facility at the Reed School in Westover has some parents worried for the future of a daycare and special needs program there.
Last year, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy announced a renovation project to create a new 725-seat elementary school at the site of the Reed School building in Westover.
The Reed School building currently houses The Children’s School , a co-op child care center for APS employees, and the Integration Station, a program for Pre-K children with disabilities that allows them to interact with The Children’s School students. Both the daycare and the special needs program have worked together for more than 20 years.
But the longtime collaboration may soon come to an end. Under the proposal, The Children’s Center and the Integration Station could be moved out of the building and separated from one another. Arlington Public Schools hasn’t yet announced a home for either one.
The possibility of separating the daycare and integration program has worried some parents whose kids are enrolled in both. A group of parents and supporters of the programs spoke out against the plan during a School Board meeting Thursday evening.
“As a mother of a student in Integration Station, the culture of Reed is one of safety, love and value to the special needs community, and that is something you just don’t find in a lot of places,” said one parent. “Splitting it up would be devastating, both to the teachers, their children, and the special needs community.”
One parent fought back tears as she urged School Board to keep the two programs under the same roof. She described how her son, who is autistic, benefitted from the Integration Station.
“Had he not received the level of special integration care from the staff, I’m sure he would not be where he is right now, which is attending a typical school surrounded by typical kids,” the parent said.
She continued: “Without TCS, the Integration Station is no longer possible and much of its value is lost… We ask that the board take concrete steps toward ensuring that the children’s school can continue to serve both the staff and the students of the Integration Station.”
— Sara Shaw (@SaraShaw7) February 3, 2017
In a statement given to ARLnow.com, APS said the decision regarding the future of TCS and the Integration Station is a tough one to make.
Everyone in Arlington knows that APS is facing a period of unprecedented enrollment growth that is creating significant demands on school capacity. Providing seats for the growing number of students in APS has stretched the capacity of our schools and our school sites. APS is working closely with the County and The Children’s School to explore viable options for relocation. To date, TCS wants to continue to pursue additional options beyond those that have been identified.
While APS will continue to explore options as we move through this process, we cannot guarantee that we will be successful with any of the available space options. APS is committed, however, to continuing to provide support for students in the Integration Station program either as a partner with The Children’s School, or integrated into existing APS programs.
Arlington Public Schools has hired a consultant to review its high school enrollment projections.
The consultant, Dr. Richard Grip, previously worked on the Arlington Community Facilities study. He will be studying the way APS projected enrollment during its recent high school boundary change process.
“To ensure our methodology follow best practices, we have hired an external statistician who will review the projections and methods used,” said APS Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos. “The November projections will be updated in March, which is our standard practice, to finalize the budget for next year.”
The move comes as parents are questioning a slide from a recent School Board meeting (above) that seemingly shows overcrowding at Yorktown following the controversial boundary changes, which shifted students from overcrowded Washington-Lee to the somewhat less crowded Yorktown and Wakefield.
“The projected attendance numbers used during the redistricting process were wrong,” said an email that has been circulating among parents, which was forwarded to ARLnow.com. “APS staff underestimated the number of students who will be attending Yorktown in 2020/21 and now Yorktown is projected to be over capacity by about 700 students… apparently a new consultant has been hired to re-do the projections.”
Erdos, however, says that is not the case. The slide, she says, shows two different things: enrollment projections bef0re boundary changes and the total number of students in each of the three high school zones. But the latter numbers, shown in the right column, include students who attend magnet/choice schools like H-B Woodlawn and the new Arlington Tech program, and thus do not reflect any sort of net enrollment projection.
“The November projections vs. January analysis is like comparing apples and oranges — they were developed for two totally different reasons,” Erdos said. “The January report was only intended to be an analysis of the ethnicity of the student population in the three neighborhood boundary zones because of earlier questions raised.”
“Staff is not aware of any plan by the School Board to revisit high school boundaries at this time,” Erdos added.
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is expected to address the projections review and timeline during tonight’s School Board meeting.
Wardian Dominating Global Marathon Event — Arlington resident and running superhero Michael Wardian has won the first two races in the World Marathon Challenge. Wardian, 42, posted a time of 2:54:54 in Antarctica, the fastest marathon ever run on the continent, and a time of 2:45:42 this morning in Punta Arenas, the South American leg of the seven day, seven continent and seven marathon event. Wardian is trying to break the event’s record average race time of 3:32:25. [Facebook, Twitter, Washington Post, Runner’s World]
APS Projected to Keep Growing — Arlington Public Schools is bursting at the seams, building new schools to keep up with rising enrollment — and that enrollment is expected to keep growing over the next decade. According to projections presented at a School Board meeting last week, the APS student body is expected to rise from around 27,000 now to 32,500 by the fall of 2026. In terms of per-student costs, the added 5,500 students could add more than $100 million to the school system’s current $600 million annual budget. [InsideNova]
Northern Va. Restaurant Week Coming in March — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce and other regional business organizations are teaming up for the second year in a row to organize Northern Virginia Restaurant Week. The week of dining discounts and discovery is scheduled from March 20-27. [Arlington Chamber]
Extra Metro Trains for Pro-Life March — Metro says it will run extra trains during mid-day Friday in order to accommodate crowds for the 2017 March for Life in the District. In a press release, Metro also said it “will run more 8-car trains (the longest train length possible), all midday track work will be cancelled, and additional staff will be on hand to assist visitors.” [WMATA]
Nearby: Car Stolen With Baby Inside — Two men stole a car that had been left running near a bank ATM, then abandoned it, apparently after discovering a baby inside. The incident happened Monday afternoon at the Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria, across from Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood. The child was unharmed. [WJLA]
Williamsburg to Implement Block Scheduling — Williamsburg Middle School will, in fact, be implementing a block schedule for classes next year, an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman tells ARLnow.com. While Kenmore has a modified block schedule for sixth grade, and Gunston is “exploring moving to a flexible schedule for next year,” Jefferson and Swanson are not considering moving to a block schedule, we’re told.
Home Prices Decline in Arlington in 2016 — Per WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh and listing service MRIS: “The median price in Arlington County last year was down 1.8 percent from 2015. Arlington and Alexandria were the only local jurisdictions to see declines in 2016 prices versus 2015.” [WTOP]
Grand Opening for Pamplona — New Clarendon restaurant Pamplona is holding its grand opening celebration tonight. The Spanish tapas restaurant is set in a self-described “sultry and sophisticated space, featuring colorful Spanish tiled floors, unique murals… and of course, an arsenal of bullheads.” [Facebook]
H-B Photography in Richmond — Work by H-B Woodlawn photography students is on display in the Richmond offices of Del. Patrick Hope. Hope plans to highlight one piece a day during the legislative session. [Twitter]
Multi-Generational Housing Construction — A 1950s ranch home near Bishop O’Connell High School is being torn down to make way for a new multi-generation house for a couple, their daughter and husband, and their grandchildren. [Falls Church News-Press]
When You Don’t Want Someone to Take Your Parking Cone — South Arlington is “so rough you have to lock up your cones,” as a photo apparently taken yesterday demonstrates. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Monday marked a milestone for the county’s multimillion dollar ConnectArlington fiber optic network: It has completed phase one of migrating Arlington Public Schools to the system and off of Comcast’s internet access.
But as APS prepares to enter phase two of the migration, it also has an open request for proposals (RFP) to build another fiber network, a potentially pricey project that it says is a “contingency plan.”
With phase one complete, 14 APS sites are now on the ConnectArlington network. Another 23 are expected be online by December.
Early last month, however, APS issued an RFP for a contractor to build a new fiber network for the school system. Proposals originally were due Monday, but the deadline has been extended to January 17. APS is supposed to choose a contractor for the project “as soon after that date as possible,” according to an addendum to the RFP. The RFP states that the new network must be constructed and functioning by April 2018.
APS says the additional fiber network is a contingency plan and ConnectArlington still will be its primary network. Therefore, APS will continue moving forward as planned with getting the next bunch of sites online with ConnectArlington by year’s end.
“APS is contracting for a backup system to remain in place until we know that ConnectArlington is complete and fully functional. With all of our instructional, testing, business functions and state reporting requirements, APS cannot risk not having a viable network infrastructure in place if ConnectArlington is delayed and not completed for any unforeseen reason,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
“Like the insurance policies we purchase to protect the investment in our buildings, buses and other critical components of APS operations, we hope we will never need the insurance, but those policies are in place — just in case,” said Linda Erdos, assistant superintendent for school and community relations
Arlington County communications director Bryna Helfer said that the remaining 21 county and 23 school sites included in the ConnectArlington project’s phase two — which begins in March — will continue to receive Comcast service until they’re fully migrated in December.
The county says that it cannot speak for APS’ desire for another fiber network but asserted that the ConnectArlington network has been performing for nearly two years without issue.
“We are completely confident that we will install fiber into every planned county and school facility by the end of calendar year 2017, based on our previous years’ experience with the construction and operation of this project,” said James Schwartz, deputy county manager for public safety and technology.
In addition to the 14 APS buildings and 33 county buildings on the network thus far, Schwartz said, more than 130 traffic signals have been connected. Plus, the public safety radio system — previously supported by microwave antenna — has been migrated to ConnectArlington and “is operating without a problem,” according to Schwartz.
“This system allows fire, EMS and police to communicate during emergencies and requires the highest reliability standard — that standard is being met by ConnectArlington,” he said.
APS spokespeople say the backup fiber network is eligible for federal E-Rate funds, which assist schools and libraries with obtaining affordable telecommunications and internet access. The Federal Communications Commission explains that the discount a school district receives depends on two factors: “(1) the poverty level of the population the applicant serves and (2) whether the applicant is located in a rural or urban area.”
“The RFP ensures that APS can receive a potential 50 percent reimbursement of [the backup fiber network] costs through the federal government’s E-Rate funds,” Bellavia said.
Earlier School Closing Decisions — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy says the school system will try to make school closing decisions earlier this year, preferably the night before a snow or ice event. [InsideNova]
Arlington Company Gets $1 Billion Investment — Rosslyn-based satellite internet company OneWeb has received a $1 billion investment from SoftBank. The Japanese company said it’s the “first step” in its $50 billion commitment to President-elect Donald Trump to create jobs in the U.S. [Reuters]