Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Another School Boundary Process Coming — “It might go well, or it might be the civic-engagement equivalent of a bloodbath. But either way, Arlington school leaders are about to embark on a new round of rejiggering elementary-school boundaries.” [InsideNova]

Fire Station 8 Contract Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a $16.1 million construction contract and a concept design for a new, energy-efficient, four-bay station to replace the obsolete Fire Station No. 8 at 4845 Lee Highway. The new fire station will better serve the community while honoring Fire Station No. 8’s long history.” [Arlington County]

Local Man Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Violations — “An Arlington political consultant who served as the treasurer of multiple Political Action Committees (PACs) pleaded guilty today to lying to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) about approximately $32,500 in payments of PAC money that he directed to himself and a close friend.” [Press Release]

Run With a Running Legend FridayUpdated at 2:45 p.m. — “Kathrine Switzer, who in 1967 became the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon – wearing bib number 261 – and is the founder of the global non-profit 261 Fearless, will be in Arlington this Friday to run with the 261 Fearless Club DC Metro/VA. The short, easy run will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington. It is free and open to the public; all are invited.” [Press Release]

ACPD Celebrates Accreditation — “The Arlington County Police Department has received its Initial Accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). The announcement comes following an intensive on-site assessment, which took place in April 2019.” [Arlington County]

Notable Local Candidate Endorsements — The website Greater Greater Washington has endorsed a number of Arlington candidates, including Del. Alfonso Lopez for the 49th House of Delegates district, Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol for County Board, and Parisa Dehghani-Tafti for Commonwealth’s Attorney. Additionally, Cristol has endorsed Dehghani-Tafti. [Greater Greater Washington, Twitter]

Photos by Verónica Colón/Twitter, Sandra P., Bill Colton, Arlington County Fire Department/Twitter, and Susan C.

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Morning Notes

Cards Coach Has Good Day in Arlington, At Least — “Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux hit not one, but two holes-in-one during a morning round of golf at the Army Navy Country Club, manager Mike Shildt revealed to reporters on Monday. The country club later confirmed the achievement to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.” [Yahoo]

Real Estate Market Awash in HQ2 Hype — “As of the first week of October, there were nearly 70 active listings for single-family detached homes in Greater Washington that mentioned Amazon’s HQ2 in their description… The median driving distance for the homes was about 7.4 miles.” [Washington Business Journal]

County to Sponsor Marine Corps Marathon Again — “Arlington County Board members on Oct. 19 are expected to ratify a sponsorship agreement for the Marine Corps Marathon, and allocate $85,000 in funding. The marathon, to be held this year on Oct. 27, is ‘the largest annual event held in Arlington, driving significant spending at local businesses and generating related tax revenues for the county.'” [InsideNova]

Video Shows Cars Stopped in Bike Lane — A video posted to Twitter shows numerous cars stopped, blocking the bike lane along Crystal Drive in Crystal City. In addition to voicing frustration about the blocked bike lane, the video poster wrote: “why are all these drivers doing pickups, dash-ins, etc, not given space, in favor of people street-parking adjacent to a huuuuge underground garage?” [Twitter]

No In-School Flu Vaccines This Year — “Arlington Public Schools students will not have access to free, in-school flu vaccinations this fall, county school officials said. Last school year, the school system partnered with Healthy Schools (CareDox) to offer the in-school service.” [InsideNova]

WeWork Phone Booths Emitting Fumes — “Colleen Wong, a director with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, said she noticed a pungent smell in the phone booths at WeWork’s Rosslyn location in Arlington, Virginia, where she’s a tenant. ‘I always noticed, from the first time I entered a phone booth, a strong chemical odor,’ Wong told Business Insider.” [Entrepreneur]

Reminder: Voter Registration Deadline Is Today — “The Voter Registration Deadline for the November 5, 2019 General Election is… Tues. Oct 15.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) As the development plans stack up for Crystal City and Pentagon City, the need for a new school could be growing.

As plans progress for Amazon’s second headquarters, developer JBG Smith has submitted its own plans to the county proposing to build thousands of additional apartments (and potentially condos) in the area, to help house the tens of thousands expected to one day work at HQ2.

JBG Smith’s plans for Crystal City and the Pentagon City area so far include adding:

However, the public elementary school that serves the area, Oakridge Elementary in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood, already is facing significant overcrowding.

While apartment buildings catering to younger workers are unlikely to generate an abundance of students — in 2015 it was reported that the entire 1,670-unit Riverhouse complex in Pentagon City only housed 30 Oakridge students — the redevelopment plans are still raising an eyebrow among those monitoring school capacity issues.

Local officials tell ARLnow that there are no specific plans in the works for building a new school to accommodate new students in the area. There has been past discussion, however, of Vornado (now JBG Smith) providing a site for a new school.

“As of this moment, [Arlington’s planning department] has not had any discussions with JBG Smith about any of their pending applications regarding providing a school site,” a county spokeswoman when asked whether there are current school-related discussions with the developer.

In an interview with the Washington Business Journal, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said that in exchange for approving the massive developments, the county could ask JBG Smith for a package of “truly transformative community benefit improvements.”

Dorsey did not immediately respond to a request by ARLnow to clarify what might be included in such a package.

“APS has discussed an elementary school in that area in the past,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia, when asked if Arlington Public Schools was considering adding a new school to the area.

“Specifically, the South Arlington Working Group had identified the Aurora Highlands neighborhood,” which is adjacent to Pentagon City and Crystal City, as a potential site, Bellavia said Thursday. “We are in the process of working through our future seat needs and will most likely need elementary seats in that neighborhood.”

Prior to its merger with JBG Smith, Vornado had given APS a tour of vacant office space it owned nearby which could be converted into a school.

APS will be updating its facilities plan in early 2020 as part of the county’s 2021-30 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), according to Bellavia.

A spokeswoman for JBG Smith said the developer is “working with the County but it’s too early to discuss the community benefits package.”

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Morning Notes

New Restaurant Opening Soon in Ballston — “Zoup! Eatery, the fast casual restaurant known for its award-winning soups and made-to-order sandwiches and salads, is set to open its first Arlington location on Monday, Oct. 21.” [Press Release]

School Library Lending Down Slightly — “Who says print is dead? Circulation of print materials at Arlington’s public-school libraries held relatively steady during the 2018-19 school year at about 980,000 items – or about 36 items per student. The total figure… was down about 1.5 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]

Notable Tree Nominations Open — “Since 1987, Arlington has identified and registered its most notable trees, as well as the residents who care for them.” Nominations for 2020 notable trees nominees are now open, with a Dec.  1 deadline. [Arlington County]

Job Fair for Local Census Workers — “Interested in a job with the U.S. Census for 2020? @ArlEmploymentCt is hosting recruitment events this month. The first two sessions are Tuesday, Oct. 8.” [Eventbrite, Twitter]

‘Cautionary Tale’ for Gondola Plans — “Several years after closing the gondola that served the Alemão favela, the state of Rio de Janeiro has kept up hope that it would restart service. In May, the state said it would reopen the line by the end of the year. But with three months left in 2019, there’s little sign of action.” [Wired, Twitter]

Nearby: Bearer of Bad News for Hire — “Want a divorce? Have to quit your job? Need to tell your family you crashed your car into the side of the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center? Sometimes there’s no easy way to break bad news, so don’t. An Alexandrian is offering his services via Craigslist to break the bad news for you.” [ALXnow]

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Classes are expected to go on as usual at Washington-Liberty High School on Monday after a threatening message on social media prompted a police investigation over the weekend.

A tipster tells ARLnow.com that the social media message in question was an Instagram account that said “don’t come to school on Monday.” That tip could not be immediately confirmed.

In an email to parents Sunday night, school officials said that Arlington County Police “determined there is and was no direct threat to the safety of the students and employees of Washington-Liberty High School.”

The full email is below.

Earlier today (Oct. 6, 2019), Wshington-Liberty High School and Arlington Public Schools became aware of and alerted Arlington County Police Department to a social media account that contained concerning language. The Police Department has investigated the post, identified the individuals involved and determined there is and was no direct threat to the safety of the students and employees of Washington-Liberty High School.

Arlington Public Schools takes the report of threats and concerning language/behavior seriously. Students who make concerning comments of a threatening nature can face disciplinary action to include suspension, alternative school placement, and up to a recommendation for expulsion. The safety of our students, employees, and visitors is always a top priority and we want to remind all families that if they “see something, say something.”

We encourage all families to also review our webpage dedicated to threat assessment located at https://www.apsva.us/emergency-management/threat-assessment/. Students and families can take in a 15 minute training from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education as part of the Youth Violence Project. This training program is designed for all students ages 12 and up and parents to learn about the threat assessment process, what are concerning behaviors and how using threat assessment can help prevent violence in our schools.

In the event that your student raises questions about the social media account, we wanted to share this information with you. If you have any concerns or questions about the incident, please feel free to contact Principal Dr. Gregg Robertson during normal school hours at [email protected]

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The following op-ed was written by Levi Novey, Laura Watchman, and Elenor Hodges, members of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

Last December, Aracely Vance, a teacher at Claremont Elementary School, was tasked with figuring out what to show in the primary display case at the school entrance.

Aracely is a science teacher and is also very engaged with sustainability efforts. Recently she had learned that Claremont had one of the highest recycling rates among schools in the county. But she was also surprised. Anytime students, teachers, or parents discussed recycling at the school, the attitude was pessimistic. Few people believed that recycling was actually happening. A group that was frequently blamed for the perceived lack of recycling were the custodial staff. Aracely decided she wanted to tell a different story. She decided to make the display case a tribute to them, and feature them as “recycling heroes.”

Aracely’s idea would have an immediate impact at Claremont, and later an even larger impact than she originally could have imagined.

What she did inspired us and our colleagues with whom we serve on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for Sustainability for Arlington Public Schools (APS). We are a group of sustainability-focused professionals who have a connection to APS, either as parents, students, teachers, staff, or community members. Our charge is to help the school system find ways to be more sustainable through both its operations and its teaching and learning.

This past year, the Sustainability Advisory Committee chose to have a major focus on helping schools to both reduce waste and increase their recycling. During committee discussions, we noted frequently that we needed to change misperceptions at schools about recycling. Like Aracely, we heard repeatedly that people think recycling does not actually happen and that the custodial staff are often to blame. In reality, our research indicates it is often the opposite, and that custodial staff are working hard to implement successful recycling programs. It’s worth noting that the recycling industry at large is undergoing a lot of changes, based on the economics of recycling items such as glass. It admittedly can cause a lot of confusion and frustration.

We also know from comprehensive site waste assessments conducted at eighteen schools this past year that APS has taken many positive steps. For instance, recycling and waste bins are available in most school classrooms, cafeterias, and hallways, as well as some signage. When you look inside bins, however, you can frequently find items that can be recycled in the trash. Items that are trash are also frequently put in recycling bins. In other words, there’s contamination and there is a lot of room for improvement from everyone.

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H-B Woodlawn students adjusting to life in their new school building, The Heights, have built a unique friendship with the office next door with a friendly message system crafted from Post-It Notes.

The sticky note dialogue began after workers in the building at 1600 Wilson Blvd put up a sign in their windows over the summer complaining about construction noise.

When the H-B Woodlawn students moved in for the new school year, a group of sophomore students decided to respond by sticking up a message that said “Hi.” Since then, it’s grown into a daily exchange with messages saying everything from, “How You Doin” to the office responding, “Want to Intern?”

Mary Plunkett, a student who started the messages with a group of her friends, reached out to ARLnow to share the exchange, noting it’s been a way to foster a sense of community as they adjust to the new building.

“The first day of sticky notes, we wrote ‘Hi’ this past Monday afternoon,” Plunkett said. “We hoped for a response, but we weren’t sure of it. We were ecstatic when we showed up to school on Tuesday and two different offices wrote back!”

One of the offices at 1600 Wilson, Wakefield Research, separately shared with ARLnow that the “research analysts and managers in the office are all happier people” because of the exchange.

“We spend our days on research projects for the world’s biggest and most demanding companies, so it’s refreshing to connect on a personal level with young people,” said Paul Bragan, senior partner at Wakefield Research.

“The students sending Post-It messages today will be colleagues and clients tomorrow. What started as a fun exchange by our creative team has really grown into a neighborhood movement. Welcome to the block, H-B Woodlawn!”

This year, H-B and Shriver Program students moved from their former home at 4100 Vacation Lane — what is now Dorothy Hamm Middle School — across town to the newly-constructed Heights building in Rosslyn.

“Moving into this new building was definitely a big adjustment at first, but I think we are gradually getting used to our new space,” said sophomore student Georgia Thomas. “I think the sticky notes are a great way to build new connections in our new environment, and I love how involved 1600 Wilson Blvd has gotten.”

Since the initial sticky note windows are almost at capacity with messages, Plunkett says they’ve moved into other parts of the building.

“It’s so encouraging to see happy messages from our neighbors saying things like ‘make it a great day!’ or ‘we <3 you too’ or even something as simple as ‘good morning’ when we get to school, it really sets a good tone for the whole day,” she said.

A similar sticky note conversation blossomed among office workers in central Rosslyn last year.

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The Arlington County Police Department is reminding drivers to expect more kids and parents walking and biking to school tomorrow.

Wednesday is Walk, Bike and Roll to School Day, a yearly “international celebration that encourages students to walk or bike to school while teaching them about the health, environmental and transportation benefits of walking and biking,” according to Arlington Public Schools.

More from APS:

Held annually on the first Wednesday in October, Walk and Bike to School Day also helps to raise community awareness about the importance of pedestrian and bicycle safety education, safe routes to schools, well-maintained walkways, and traffic calming in our neighborhoods and around our schools.

APS schools and students are encouraged to walk the walk all year long by adopting weekly walking and biking promotions like “Walking Wednesdays” and “Foot Fridays,” supporting formation of Walking School Buses, Bike Trains and other creative commutes, and sharing important pedestrian and bike safety information for all ages. […]

Arlington Public Schools celebrated Walk and Bike to School Day 2018 on Wednesday, October 10. All 37 schools and programs took part, contributing to a record-breaking 364 events across Virginia, second only to California.

“Drivers can expect to see increased pedestrian and bicyclist traffic” on Wednesday, Arlington County Police said last week. “Remember: our students rely on all of us to keep them safe. Slow down, avoid distractions and proceed with care and caution.”

More from ACPD:

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools has established separate review and planning committees to kick off the design phase of its $185 million Arlington Career Center expansion project.

The Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) and the Public Facilities Review Committee (PFRC) will meet ten times before March 2020, when the Arlington School Board is set to act on a concept design.

The expansion is slated to create 800 new high school seats at the Career Center by 2025, plus an additional 250 Arlington Tech seats — for a total of 600 seats at the high school program — by Sept. 2021. The Career Center will go from 1,100 seats now to to 1,900 seats by 2025, according to APS.

After years of deliberation from the School Board and the County Board, the completed Career Center will include:

  • A high school-sized gym/assembly space
  • A Performing Arts Center complete with a theater, black box theater, and music classroom
  • A cafeteria and multi-use space
  • A multi-use outdoor synthetic turf field
  • A 400 to 500 space parking garage
  • The replacement, enhancement and/or expansion of existing Career Technical Education programs

The athletic field and parking is projected to be complete by the 2023-24 school year, while the performing arts center should be finished by 2025-26 school year. Despite the large increase in its student body, which will help to alleviate a capacity crunch at Arlington’s high schools, the Arlington Career Center will be an option school and not a comprehensive high school.

Total cost for the Career Center expansion is budgeted at $185 million, plus an additional $13 million for the Arlington Tech expansion.

The BLPC will serve as the primary line of communication between community stakeholders and the School Board. During a project update during Tuesday’s County Board meeting, Board member Katie Cristol said that the School Board has asked BLPC to look for low-cost construction alternatives during the design process.

Meanwhile, the mission of the PFRC is to ensure the project properly utilizes the limited available land at the Career Center site near Columbia Pike, working as a direct line of advice and input with the County Board and County Manager.

The two committees held an introductory meeting on September 17, with the next scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 2.

“This has a very significant budgetary implication in the Arlington Public Schools Capital Improvement Plan, and it’s because of the number of amenities that are coming along with these seats,” said Cristol.

Construction will not impede on the adjacent, recently-opened Montessori Public School of Arlington — formerly home to Patrick Henry Elementary — according to an APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. A member from the Montessori school will serve on the BPLC.

The Career Center recently moved eight new trailers onto its grounds to accommodate more than 150 new students who joined for the 2019-20 school year. Contrary to initial reports, the trailers do not intrude on the space used for the Career Center’s Animal Science Program, Bellavia said.

An open community meeting is scheduled to review the new, proposed Career Center designs. The meeting is set to take place on January 22, 2020, in the Arlington Career Center Commons (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) beginning at 7 p.m.

Photo via Google Maps. In-text photo via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Climate Change Protests in D.C.Updated at 8:45 a.m. — As expected, demonstrator are blocking a number of key intersections in D.C. this morning to protest against government inaction in tackling climate change. The roadblocks have caused major backups on northbound I-395. [WTOP, Twitter]

APS Implements New Verification System — “Arlington school officials say a new, higher-tech effort to gather requisite start-of-school information from parents is moving forward as expected. The new online-verification process has been completed by 54 percent of families as of Sept. 19, Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members.” [InsideNova]

County Board Approves Pike Redevelopment — “A new six-story apartment building and ground floor retail will replace an aging shopping center and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, under a plan approved today by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]

Worker Hurt Friday in Madison Manor — “Scanner: ACFD on scene of a worker who fell out of a tree on the 900 block of N. Potomac Street in Madison Manor. Being transported by ambulance to a local trauma center with potentially serious but non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]

Post Praises Swell Sausages at Ballston’s Bronson — “The five kinds of housemade sausages emerged from the kitchen tinkerings of Barley Mac chef Chris Harman and co-owner Mike Cordero, Koh says. Both the bratwurst and the wiener, reminiscent of a hot dog that spent a semester abroad, have a pleasantly snappy casing and a peppery pungency. The Bronson is rightly proud of its sausages, which are available to-go from a case at the front.” [Washington Post]

Ballston Harris Teeter Design Event — “Come share your thoughts on the consolidated design for the public space at Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Rd at an open house Mon., Sept. 23 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Arlington Room at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex (accessible from the 8th floor). This design is based on prior community feedback. Don’t forget your sweater! The Arlington Room is next to the rink and you might get a little chilly.” [Arlington County]

APS Trying to Fix Bus Issues — “Arlington school officials continue to work out start-of-school transportation kinks, with a goal of having everything running as expected by the end of the month… ‘We have heard from families who are still experiencing challenges,’ Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members on Sept. 19. ‘We’re working to resolve all the concerns.'” [InsideNova]

New LEED Certification in Ballston — “4201 Wilson Boulevard, a 595,000-square-foot office building at Ballston Exchange in Arlington, VA, has earned LEED Silver certification, making it the first office building in the state of Virginia to certify using the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction green building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building constitutes one half of the 776,000-square-foot Ballston Exchange development.” [Press Release]

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A group of local students is organizing a demonstration in Arlington tomorrow (Friday) as part of a nationwide climate change strike ahead of the UN Climate Change panel.

Teenage organizers of the Northern Virginia effort say they’re organizing a teach-in about environmentalism from 8-11 a.m. at American University, followed by a rally beginning at 11:45 a.m. outside Arlington County government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse, to help the planet they’re about to inherit.

“The most important thing is to educate,” said organizer and Yorktown High School student Hannah Knittig. “That goes for government officials and also to the public.”

The students organizers are working with the Northern Virginia chapter of the Youth Climate Strike organization, and is hoping to attract attendees and passersby to the Courthouse rally with speeches, a voter registration table, and posters the local effects of climate change.

“I hope they can see that they can get involved from home where they live,” said another organizer, Cecelia O’Sullivan, 15, at the Potomac School in McLean. “They can see that this is really an accessible moment happening all over the country.”

The teen organizers who spoke to ARLnow cited concerns about global warming raising flood threats and spawning more extreme storms, also noting how activities like fracking pollute the environment and contribute to the problem.

“Our water supply and our excessive need of products in Arlington impacts people who live in Blacksburg and all over Virginia,” said Knitting. “I definitely know that my lifestyle, and my family’s lifestyle, does impact other people.”

“Seeing all these very small occurrences, which at first they don’t link immediately link to climate change. But once you dig deeper, you just see it’s all part of that larger effect of climate change,” said Saahithi Achanta, 17, who is also helping organize the event from Chantilly High School.

Knittig, 16, said that around eighty students from across the Northern Virginia area have signed up to join the Arlington strike, and another 80 students have pledged to attend the same-day sister strike in Richmond.

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