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by ARLnow.com — May 25, 2017 at 4:55 pm 0

Arlington County Police K-9 units will be deployed to Arlington’s public high schools as the school system addresses what some see as a worsening drug problem.

During the last few weeks of the school year and throughout the summer, the dogs will patrol secondary schools after hours to try to sniff out illegal drugs.

Described as a “proactive measure” in a letter to parents, sent today (Thursday), the searches come at a time when parents are becoming increasingly alarmed about the presence of drugs in middle and high schools.

“I have two children in middle school and have heard of numerous times this year alone of students overdosing on prescription drugs on school grounds or having drugs on school grounds,” one Arlington Public Schools parent said in an email to ARLnow.com.

“Drugs in APS middle and high schools are a real problem,” said an APS employee, who wished to remain anonymous. “Administrators are quick to sweep the drug problems under the rug so it won’t make the school look bad. Do the police warn drug dealers of a raid before the raid? I’m a concerned parent, tax paying citizen and an employee of APS.”

In an email to staff yesterday afternoon, obtained by ARLnow.com, Washington-Lee High School Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson acknowledged that Arlington “has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances.”

As many of you may be aware, Arlington, like many areas of the country, has seen an increase in the use of controlled substances. Over the course of the past year, APS staff worked closely with a number of county agencies to respond to this uptick and to ensure that our schools continue to be safe spaces for students and staff. One of the new measures that will be implemented to help minimize the presence of illegal substances in the schools is the use of the Arlington Police Department K-9 unit. Beginning later this month, the police will come to each of the high schools with the K-9 units to search for drugs. The searches will take place in the evening after students and staff have left.

APS has been communicating this information to families, and all high schools will make an announcement tomorrow (Thursday) morning. I wanted you to be aware of this initiative as I am sure students may have questions.

The drug dogs will only patrol high schools, not middle schools, according to APS.

At least one middle school principal downplayed the extent of the “drug problem” at her school. In an email sent to parents on Monday, Williamsburg Middle School principal Connie Skelton said the problem was limited to “a small cohort of students.”

I’ve had some questions about the “drug problem” at Williamsburg. I want to assure you that this is not a widespread problem, however, we do share your concern. In our school, there is a small cohort of students we are carefully following for drug related issues. If you have any information you would like to share with me, please give me a call.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system is taking measures to keep students safe in the face of a nationwide upswing in drug use.

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

by Chris Teale — May 24, 2017 at 4:20 pm 0

County residents will see their electricity and gas bills rise slightly as of July, while next month fares will increase on both Arlington Transit and Specialized Transportation for Arlington Residents.

And the County Board denied a request that the Education Center and adjacent planetarium be designated as a historic district, so that Arlington Public Schools can continue to keep the site as a contender for a fourth high school.

ART and STAR Fares To Go Up

Fares on ART and STAR will go up on June 25 to keep up with similar hikes for Metrobus and MetroAccess.

The ART adult bus fare will rise from $1.75 to $2 and the ART discount fare for seniors, students and people with disabilities goes from 85 cents to $1.

Local STAR trips will increase in cost from $3.50 to $4, while trips inside the Capital Beltway and trips beyond increase 50 cents each, from $5 to $5.50 and from $9 to $9.50, respectively.

ART’s iRide program offering discounts for teens would be extended to elementary school students, while the program allowing free use of ART by personal care attendants accompanying MetroAccess-certified riders would also be extended.

Board members said they have heard several complaints about the cleanliness and reliability of buses in the county, and urged transportation staff to keep on top of any problems. Board member Christian Dorsey, who also represents Arlington on Metro’s Board of Directors, drew a comparison between STAR and MetroAccess.

“I do think it’s essential with STAR that Arlington not accept the mediocrity that Metro has dealt with with MetroAccess,” he said. “It was once considered a shining star in the paratransit world, it needs to continue to do so.”

Education Center Historic District Denied

The Board voted to deny designating the Education Center and the adjacent David M. Brown Planetarium at 1426 N. Quincy Street as a historic district, in agreement with staff’s recommendation.

The center is one of three remaining options for the county’s next public high school not counting a new option involving the center, floated by superintendent Patrick Murphy.

County Board member John Vihstadt said that while he appreciates the 1960s-era architecture, Arlington Public Schools should not have its options cut down when it faces capacity issues.

The board asked staff to work with their APS counterparts to look at possible adaptive reuses of buildings built in the “New Formalist” style, which the center is an example of.

“The school system, I believe, needs certainty and clarity now,” Vihstadt said. “If we defer, it leaves a cloud over the building, it leaves doubt, it leaves conjecture. If we recommend designation, it potentially hamstrings APS as to cost, as to timeframe, as to process.”

Gas and Electricity Bills Set For Slight Hike

Residents will see a slight uptick in their gas and electricity bills, a plan county staff said will generate more than $650,000.

The electricity tax rate will increase to $0.005115 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from $0.00341 per kWh, with the first 400 kWh per month excluded from taxation. The natural gas tax rate will increase to $0.045 per 100 cubic feet (CCF) from $0.030 per CCF, with the first 20 CCF per month excluded from taxation. The hike will be most keenly felt by those residents who use a lot gas and electricity.

A staff report on the plan notes that Arlington’s would still be among the lowest utility tax rates in Northern Virginia.

From the extra revenue, factored into the FY 2018 budget approved in April by the County Board, the cost of a full-time staff member will shift from the county’s General Fund to the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, consultant costs are covered and more than $400,000 will go towards energy efficiency in county and APS buildings.

County Board chair Jay Fisette said the extra tax money is “all to do good things to move the community energy plan forward and meet the goals of that master plan.”

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The fidget spinner toy fad has caught the attention of Arlington school administrators.

Kids have apparently been doing too much fidgeting, because at least two schools — and likely more — have addressed the issue in emails to parents.

A parent who did not wish to be identified said emails have been sent to her from Williamsburg Middle and Nottingham Elementary schools, saying that schools are cracking down on the toy, which was originally intended to help students relieve stress and concentrate in class.

That follows similar crackdowns at other schools throughout the U.S. and U.K.

Here’s an excerpt from the WMS email:

We need your help with two issues. First, the entrepreneurial spirit has hit Williamsburg! And not necessarily in a good way. We have noted students selling spinners and slime to other students. This activity takes the focus off of learning and we are making every effort to stop it. On a somewhat related issue, we are continuing to see an explosion in the number of spinners. The spinners are getting larger, more complex and increasingly distracting. Unless your child has an accommodation to use a spinner, please encourage them to leave the spinners at home.

There has been “no guidance from central office as of yet” regarding spinners, said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia. “Principals handle this sort of thing and make decisions based on what they are seeing in schools.”

by ARLnow.com — May 10, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

It’s Bike and Walk to School Day — Expect additional pedestrians on local roads this morning as parents, students and teachers participate in Bike and Walk to School Day. [Twitter, Twitter]

Sun Gazette’s County Board Endorsement — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Erik Gutshall in the Democratic County Board caucuses, which are happening this week. At the same time, the paper urged readers to also consider Kim Klingler, thanks in part to her background on public safety issues. [InsideNova]

SoberRide Triples Cinco de Mayo Usage — Having switched from offering free taxi rides to free Lyft rides, the regional SoberRide anti-DUI program reported that its ridership on Cinco de Mayo tripled this year: 676 riders compared to 225 last year. [Washington Regional Alcohol Program]

Hurricane Hunters at DCA — Government officials and members of the public were on hand at Reagan National Airport yesterday to tour the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hurricane hunter aircraft. Among those on hand were acting FEMA director Bob Fenton and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The director of the National Hurricane Center called it “the biggest, baddest hurricane awareness tour stop we have ever had.” [Roll Call, Capital Weather Gang]

TV Station Visits Local School — WJLA (ABC 7) and meteorologist Brian van de Graaff broadcast live from Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, near Columbia Pike and I-395, yesterday as part of the station’s “lunchbox weather” program. [WJLA]

Activists Target FCC Chair’s Arlington Neighbors — In their fight to retain net neutrality policies, activists have been leaving advocacy materials for and knocking on the doors of FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s neighbors in Arlington. Pai has suggested such policies should be rolled back. [Silicon Beat, DSL Reports, Popular Resistance]

Arlington Water Quality Report Posted — The results of Arlington County’s annual water quality testing have been published online. Per a press release: “Based on sampling data taken throughout the year at our treatment plant and distribution system, the report confirms that Arlington’s high-quality drinking water meets and exceeds all federal and state requirements.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — May 8, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Two Arrested After Fleeing Traffic Stop — Two suspects were arrested by Arlington County Police earlier this morning after they took off on foot following a traffic stop in Pentagon City. Army Navy Drive was closed between Fern and Eads streets while officers on the ground and the U.S. Park Police helicopter searched for the suspects. [NBC Washington, Twitter]

Barcroft Fitness Room Closing — The fitness room in the Barcroft Sport and Fitness Center is scheduled to be closed between May 15 and this fall due to planned renovations.

PreCheck RV Coming to Crystal City — A TSA PreCheck mobile enrollment station will be parked at two different locations in Crystal City during the last two full weeks in May. The RV will be open weekdays; walk-ins are welcome but reservations can be made online. [WTOP]

Closing the Achievement Gap — The head of the Civic Coalition for Minority Children says lagging standardized test scores among African-American and Latino students in Arlington Public Schools can “be traced to disparities in teaching literacy to young children.” [InsideNova]

Dog Takes ‘Snuggle Tours’ of AWLA Offices — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington on Friday posted a video of Irma, a cuddly pup who takes “snuggle tours” of the AWLA offices, seeking extra belly rubs. [Twitter]

by Chris Teale — May 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm 0

Just days after local parents launched a petition favoring building a high school next to Kenmore Middle School, others have begun a petition of their own against the plan.

The petition against the Kenmore plan raises concerns about the impact on traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, which it says would increase the number of students that attend nearby schools from 2,200 to approximately 3,500.

“Carlin Springs Road is one of the County’s few north/south arterials and a major commuter thoroughfare,” the petition reads. “There is no reasonable alternative to Carlin Springs Road for many people using this route. Adding students would add vehicular traffic in the form of school buses, and cars for students and staff. The increase in traffic and the increase in the number of students crossing Carlin Springs Road will increase the threat of accidents involving students.”

The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33-acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new 1,300-seat high school.

The other two options remaining are to develop a ninth-grade academy on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee High School, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created, or build at the Arlington Career Center site to co-locate with Arlington Tech.

The petition was also critical of the process to determine the site of the new high school.

“The planning process by the County and the School Board to engage in more proactive planning is appreciated,” it reads, “but it appears that the effort to site the 1,300 [seat] high school seats is short circuiting the process.”

Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Education Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.

by ARLnow.com — May 2, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

McDonald’s to Open Next Week in Rosslyn — The new McDonald’s restaurant in Rosslyn is expected to open on Monday, May 8. It will feature “mobile and kiosk ordering, with six touch-screen kiosks,” as well as “table service, with servers bringing customers their food after orders are placed using the screens.” [Washington Business Journal]

Petition Against Proposed APS Policy — Among those signing a petition against a proposed new school enrollment and transfer policy is former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra. He writes: “We need to be expanding, not restricting access to Arlington’s award-winning, integrated elementary school science curriculum! Counter to the data-driven ‘Arlington Way,’ this proposal is inappropriately rushed with debate or impact analysis. Sad!” [Change.org]

ACPD Officer to Be Added to Memorial — Arlington County Police Cpl. Harvey Snook is being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in D.C. Snook died last year of cancer caused by his service during the recovery effort at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attack. Snook will also be added to Arlington’s Peace Officers Memorial on May 10, the first name added since 2005. [WTOP, Arlington County]

Arlington Woman, 109, Still Stays Up Late — Viola Graham, a 109-year-old resident of Arlington, says she still feels young and still doesn’t go to bed until midnight. Graham also “takes no medicine, besides the occasional Tylenol.” [WUSA 9]

Britt McHenry Goes Off the Air — Arlington’s own Britt McHenry is among the mass layoffs at ESPN. Though the sportscaster is going off the air, she said last week via Twitter that her fans would see her again on TV “soon.” McHenry formerly worked for WJLA (ABC 7) in Rosslyn. [Florida Today, Twitter]

Gubernatorial Candidates in Arlington — Democratic candidates for governor in Virginia, Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, will be debating at a progressive forum in Ballston tonight. [Facebook]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

by ARLnow.com — May 1, 2017 at 11:25 am 0

Parents and community members are being asked to help choose the name of the new elementary school that’s being built next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

A naming committee has narrowed down the choices, which included suggestions submitted via an online survey, to five. The finalists, each with an explanation from the naming committee, are below.

  1. Alice West Fleet Elementary School — “A native Virginian, a granddaughter of slaves, and a long-time Arlington teacher, resident, community activist and leader… she broke down racial barriers, serving as the first black reading teacher in Arlington and the first black teacher to teach in an all-white school in Arlington.”
  2. Grace Hopper Elementary School — “Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was an acclaimed computer scientist, professor, and long-time Arlington resident… Ms. Hopper was key to the development of COBOL, a computer programming language that helped make coding more accessible.”
  3. Journey Elementary School — “The new elementary school building is designed with different levels and sections representing different biospheres… The name ‘Journey’ was recommended through the Community Input Form and represents the students’ journey through the building as they explore our diverse world as well as the educational journey that students and their families experience.”
  4. Liberty Elementary School — “The name ‘Liberty’ is a tribute both to Patrick Henry’s famous ‘Give me liberty, or give me death!’ speech and to his support of the Bill of Rights. This option represents a name change that maintains a connection to the school’s existing name.”
  5. Patrick Henry Elementary School — “Patrick Henry Elementary School was given its name in 1925, renaming the original school name, Columbia Elementary School. Patrick Henry was a lawyer, orator, and statesman who served as the first and sixth governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He was also a slave owner.”

The new school is expected to open in September 2019. Students and staff will be moving from the existing Patrick Henry Elementary, near the Columbia Pike Branch Library, to the new school.

The naming committee says it received input on both sides of the debate over the current school’s name.

The committee heard compelling arguments both for keeping and for changing the name of the school. Some felt that keeping the name would provide continuity and maintain a connection to the school’s history, while continuing to honor one of our nation’s founding fathers. Others thought that the school name should be changed in order to avoid confusion between the new and existing school, or to reflect the creative design of the new building. Some also felt that Patrick Henry’s name should no longer be used since he owned slaves.

The committee says it received more than 500 survey responses via its online form. Among the serious suggestions were at least a few from pranksters, we’re told; other name suggestions included Howard Stern Elementary and Pokemon Elementary.

This time around, the committee is hoping to only receive input from Patrick Henry Elementary and Jefferson Middle School parents, students, staff and nearby neighbors.

by Chris Teale — April 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

A proposal to build a high school next to Kenmore Middle School appears to have garnered some support among local parents.

The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33 acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new high school.

A petition in support of the Kenmore plan — and against expanding Washington-Lee High School — has garnered more than 100 signatures.

“This would be a smaller high school initially but would have the potential to become a 4th comprehensive high school if a new middle school building can be built elsewhere in the near future,” the petition says. “School start times could be staggered, and officials have recognized the need to improve access to the campus to relieve traffic.”

(Currently, the county has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield.)

Of the other two options remaining, Superintendent Patrick Murphy said a ninth-grade academy would be developed on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created.

That, says petition supporters, would make W-L far too large of a school.

“Students would share common spaces and fields with students already at W-L,” says the petition. “This would place 3,500 to 4,000 high school students in one location.”

The third option is to build at the Arlington Career Center, expanding Arlington Tech and allowing for the repurposing of the Education Center. Supporters of the Kenmore option say the plan to build at the Career Center would force that to be a choice program, something that has come in for criticism online given Arlington Public Schools’ enrollment growth.

“Choice schools were great when the schools were under-enrolled and kids had a decent chance of getting into them,” wrote one commenter on a message board for local moms. “Now getting into a choice school is like a Golden Ticket while everyone else is crammed into high schools that are getting too big and you don’t know the people in your class. We can’t afford to spend $100 million on choice schools like HB [Woodlawn] while the rest of the peasants make do in trailers smuched [sic] together at other high schools.”

“[The] Kenmore option is the only option that establishes a solid pathway to a 4th comprehensive high school, which the APS system desperately needs,” the petition says.

Earlier this week, the Yorktown PTA hosted a town hall with Board members Barbara Kanninen and Reid Goldstein. Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Career Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — April 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

McAuliffe Visits New District Brewing — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) made a “quick stop” at New District Brewing near Shirlington yesterday, touring the brewery and posing for photos. [Twitter, Twitter]

Caps Continue Playoff Fan Activities — For their Round 2 playoff matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals are continuing a series of fan activities, including free yoga classes and viewings of team practices, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [Washington Capitals]

County Gets Planning Award — Arlington County is one of a dozen recipients of the American Planning Association’s Gold 2017 National Planning Achievement Award. “County government and the community have together built Arlington into one of the nation’s best places to live, work or play,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. [Arlington County]

APS Pushes Solar Power — “Clearing a legal hurdle that may affect other Virginia school systems, Arlington Public Schools has created a new type of purchasing authority so it may enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar power.” [Blue Virginia]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by Chris Teale — April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools says it has saved more than $2 million by moving from paper flyers to electronic messaging.

APS implemented a system called Peachjar last year, replacing paper-based “backpack mail” with email that’s sent directly to the inboxes of elementary and middle school parents.

With a click, families can also use Peachjar to register their children for school events, after-school programs and other activities.

In a statement issued just prior to Earth Day, APS said the switch has saved $2.1 million in paper costs and staff time, while saving 475 trees from being cut down.

APS said the switch has been part of an “effort to reduce waste, promote sustainability, and save valuable time and money.”

by Chris Teale — April 24, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

Arlington residents can expect to pay an extra $277 on average in property taxes after the County Board approved a 1.5-cent tax increase for fiscal year 2018.

The tax hike, less than the Board’s advertised maximum raise of 2 cents, will help fund Arlington Public Schools and Metro. APS will receive an extra $23.3 million, while Metro will get more than $14 million more, meaning Arlington’s contribution to its operating budget will be $71 million a year.

“This budget is a compromise and a consensus of the Board, and reflects the values of this community,” said Board Chair Jay Fisette. “The Board agreed to a modest increase in the property tax rate — less than the [County] Manager recommended — because of the extraordinary funding needs of Metro and our public schools.”

Residents will see several fees increase too. The household solid waste rate will increase by $6.88 a year to $314.16 annually, while the water/sewer rate will increase to $13.62 per thousand gallons. The Residential Utility Tax will see a hike too, while a new $60 accessory homestay permit fee has been added for those who wish to use services like Airbnb to let others stay in their homes.

The Board also hold a public hearing in May on proposed fare increases for Arlington Transit (ART) and Specialized Transportation for Arlington Residents (STAR), the county’s transit service for the disabled. Board members said increases are consistent with Metrobus fare increases, and would help with rising operating costs.

Also included in the $1.5 billion is an extra $1.3 million for the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, taking its total in the budget to just over $15 million. The County Board also approved hiring seven new sheriff’s deputies, three more emergency call takers and three police patrol officers. The sheriff hirings will be phased over several years.

Among other programs to receive extra funding were the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and the Lee Highway Alliance. The latter had been slated for a budget cut alongside other programs, but last month supporters spoke against that plan.

The Board also provided $100,000 to fund groups that help assist undocumented County residents, families with mixed immigration status and refugees.

At its meeting Saturday, Board members also gave the green light to a 3.5 percent pay increase for all county employees, including themselves. Under the plan, Board members’ pay would rise to $53,282, with the chair’s pay at $59,610.

Board member John Vihstadt (I) tried to separate discussion of other county employees’ raises from talk of Board members’ increases, as he said it would make the talks more transparent.

“I just find it a little anomalous that at the very time we are going to be imposing a fairly sizable property tax increase, which I am voting for, that we’re able to find the money ourselves to help us cope with that increase, but the community doesn’t have such a luxury or advantage,” he said. “I oppose us giving ourselves our own pay raise like this.”

But other Board members objected, and questioned why that issue was raised so late in the game.

“There were so many other important things that we dealt with, and this is 100 percent political posturing that is disappointing to me,” Fisette said. The pay raises passed together with Vihstadt’s abstaining, and he promised to donate the extra money he will receive to charity.

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.

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