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by Heather Mongilio — August 24, 2015 at 11:35 am 3,163 0

One of the parking lots at Dominion Hills Area Recreation Association

(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) Ashlawn Elementary School is facing a lack of faculty parking after its parking contract with the Dominion Hills Area Recreation Association was not renewed this year.

The contract between Dominion Hills and Ashlawn allowed the school to lease parking spaces in the pool’s parking lot.

Without the renewed contract, Ashlawn Elementary School is facing a shortage of parking with 30 spots for 130 faculty members, according to a PTA statement from Ashlawn PTA President Carlin Schwartz. Currently, teachers are being told to park at the Powhatan Springs Park (6020 Wilson Blvd) and walk over to the school.

“As you can imagine, this will be burdensome to our staff,” Schwartz said.

The decision to not renew the contract was a “difficult” decision, according to a statement from the Board of Directors at Dominion Hills. Trash in the parking lot, delays in payment, increased traffic in the parking lot and “an inordinate amount of time spent by our Resident Manager attempting to enforce the terms of the agreement,” were among the Board’s reasons for not renewing the contract.

The pool also needed the parking lot spaces for the last four weeks of the pool season, which overlap with the beginning of the school year. The frequent use of the lot was also causing wear and tear damage, and the pool was using funds to resurface the lot instead of using them for maintenance of the pool, according to the statement.

“A large part of our decision came down to the fact that we are in the swim club business, not the parking lot business. As such, we need to focus our energies on safety issues, grounds maintenance and infrastructure related to that — a huge year-round task,” the Board of Directors said.

Arlington Public Schools and Ashlawn President Judy Apostolico-Buck asked Dominion Hills to reconsider, but the Board of Directors did not overturn its decision, according to the PTA statement.

“It is unfortunate that APS did not plan for sufficient parking for Ashlawn Elementary School. We strive to be good neighbors with Ashlawn, and have been, particularly through its construction period,” the Board of Directors said. “However, a renewal of the prior parking agreement is not in the best interests of DHARA.”

Schwartz and the PTA parents are encouraging Ashlawn families to call or email the school board with any concerns or questions. Suggestions for parking can be emailed to Schwartz or Apostolico-Buck.

“Ashlawn families, staff and neighbors have been incredibly patient, gracious and supportive through the many challenges that the construction process has created and it is greatly appreciated. I hope we can face this newest challenge with the same with mindset,” Schwartz said.

Ashlawn Elementary was not notified about trash issues in the parking lot, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.

by Heather Mongilio — August 17, 2015 at 12:35 pm 3,324 0

The new Wilson School, future home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, will be a multi-story building with fanning terraces and more shared spaces.

The idea behind the new building was to use space as effectively as possible, and the project team and architects behind the new school kept the needs of both programs in mind with the new design, said Sean Franklin, a designer with BIG, one of the architecture firms behind the project.

“What we really wanted to do was foster an environment of sharing between these programs,” Franklin said during a Aug. 13 School Board meeting, where the new design plans were unveiled.

The new Wilson School will have a main entrance on Wilson Blvd, with a separate entrance on 18th Street for Stratford program students to allow them to more easily access the building. The Stratford Program will have the majority of the space of the lowest level, while H-B Woodlawn will have classrooms on the first through fifth floors. There will be shared spaces throughout the building.

Stratford Program Principal Karen Gerry said that she is working with H-B Woodlawn Principal Casey Robinson to identify spaces in the Wilson School that they could share, including a new multipurpose room, a black box theatre, cafeteria and library.

“Casey and I believe this will allow for more collaboration between H-B and Stratford staff and H-B and Stratford students, and that’s a win-win for all of us,” she said.

The new school will also feature fanning terraces, which will allow for open spaces for both recreation and learning. The terraces will each be designed differently, depending on the classrooms on the same level, Franklin said.

“The idea is that they’ll each have their own identity tied to something that’s inside the classroom. So if the classroom has a theme, it’ll carry on to the terraces,” he said.

Connecting the terraces is a central staircase that will be wide enough to also use as a learning space and to supervise students in the tall building, she said.

“Day lighting” was also an important part of the new designs, Gerry said. The new classrooms, which will be larger than existing classrooms, will be designed to allow in more daylight, which “decreases sensory input to heighten
instructional output.”

The total cost for the new school will be about $100 million, about $20 million more than the original cost, according to the design plans. Additional costs came from parking needs, elevation factors and market prices.

The current design calls for 92 underground parking space, at a cost of $5.7 million.

Arlington Public Schools will be examining ways to reduce costs without compromising learning in the next steps of the design process, according to the plans.

by ARLnow.com — August 13, 2015 at 9:30 am 2,554 0

Backyard deer near Stroman's Branch (Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok)

Impede Apartments, Get a Self Storage Place — In an editorial, Falls Church’s newspaper of record is warning of “The Lesson of Cube Smart.” The lesson: when Arlington County put up roadblocks to the development of the proposed Shreve Apartments in East Falls Church, developer Mark Silverwood eventually lost patience and figured out that building a “by right” self-storage place would be easier and more lucrative. Separately, Silverwood also proposed an apartment building in Bluemont that was rejected by the community, canceling a proposed revamp of the neighborhood’s Safeway supermarket. [Falls Church News-Press]

More Orange Line Delays — There were morning rush hour delays once again on Metro’s Orange and Silver lines today. A train malfunction at the Virginia Square station prompted single tracking past the station and, once that was cleared, residual delays. [Twitter]

Arlington Man Wins $100,000 — Arlington resident Robert Thomas won $100,000 in a Virginia Lottery Cash 5 drawing last week. Thomas purchased the winning ticket at the Chanda Market at 5550 Columbia Pike. [WJLA]

APS SOL Score Rise — Arlington Public Schools is touting “impressive results” on its students’ 2015 Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Among those achieving significant test score gains were Limited English Proficient and minority students. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

by ARLnow.com — August 7, 2015 at 10:35 am 2,301 0

Merry-go-round at Arlington County Fair (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Kitchen Fire at Zaika — A kitchen fire closed Zaika restaurant at Market Common Clarendon last night. Firefighters had to ventilate smoke from the Indian restaurant after quickly extinguishing the small blaze. [Twitter]

Nude Glebe Road Runner Identified — Police say the man arrested for running naked along Glebe Road while screaming at passing cars is Timothy Lowe. Lowe was previously arrested for doing pushups in the buff, in the middle of a street in the Nauck neighborhood. He also spoke out against alleged police harassment at a community forum last year. Police found a “large quantity of crack” after Lowe was arrested yesterday, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

History of Arlington View Co-op to Be Preserved — Arlington County is working on a plan to help preserve the history of the George Washington Carver Cooperative Homes in the Arlington View neighborhood. The circa-1945 cooperative is set to be razed to make way for a new townhouse development after residents agreed to sell it to developer Craftmark Homes. [InsideNova]

East Falls Church Profiled — The Washington Post profiles the real estate market of East Falls Church, which will be undergoing some changes as the area around the Metro station eventually develops into a “neighborhood center district” over the next couple of decades. [Washington Post]

New APS Teachers Hired — Arlington Public Schools has hired 325 new teachers this summer to keep up with rising enrollments and staff retirements. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — July 22, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,463 0

Rosslyn sunset and helicopter (Flickt pool photo by John Sonderman)

Grant for New Bikeshare Stations OKed — Arlington County will receive nearly $300,000 from the federal government to install eight new Capital Bikeshare stations along the GW Parkway. Among the locations set for a new Bikeshare station are Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Gravelly Point Park and Reagan National Airport. [Arlington County]

Jefferson Davis Name Change Unlikely — The Virginia General Assembly is not likely to approve changing the name of Jefferson Davis Highway any time soon. “Jefferson Davis was an avid racist and segregationist… But there’s not a whole lot of people clamoring about it except coffee-shop liberals in Arlington,” Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) told the Sun Gazette. Plus, Arlington County already has numerous streets and schools named after slaveholders. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

APS Honored for Healthy Food Options — Arlington Public Schools has received the top award in the “Healthy School Meals” category of the 2015 Virginia School Boards Association Food for Thought Competition. [Arlington Public Schools]

Lighting Task Force Approved — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved the appointment of a citizen working group that will study the issue of athletic lighting in Arlington. After a public process, the group is expected to come back to the Board in 11 months with a recommendation as to whether all artificial turf fields in the county should have lighting, a controversial issue for many who live near such fields. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Heather Mongilio — July 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm 3,893 0

Darryl Evans Drew Model Principal (Courtesy of APS)

Drew Model Elementary School Principal Darryl Evans has resigned, citing family reasons and a desire to seek a job closer to home.

Evans led Drew Model for one year after coming to the school in the summer of 2014 after former principal Jacqueline Smith retired following a driving-under-the-influence arrest.

“I spoke with Mr. Evans yesterday and I hope you will join me in wishing him well in his next endeavors, both personally and professionally,” Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy wrote in a note to Drew Model families (below, after the jump).

APS has not yet released a plan for hiring a new principal, Murphy said. For the time being, APS staff will work with assistant principals Catharina Genove and Wendy Pilch to help the school get ready for the next school year while a new principal is sought. School is back in session on Sept. 8.

“We will continue to work together to ensure that Drew provides an excellent instructional program for our students,” Murphy said in the statement.

Drew Model serves the Nauck area and has about 502 students in kindergarten through fifth grade — 642 including pre-Kindergarten programs — with more than half requiring free or reduced meals.

Evans’ resignation is the latest challenge facing the school, which has been plagued with financial and testing troubles.

Last May, the school’s PTA held its first Spring Fair in order to close a $22,000 funding gap. Last year, the school struggled with test scores, ARLnow.com reported. In 2014, the school was performing at an average of 23 percent lower than the county average on third through fifth grade Standard of Learning Exams.

APS did not have any information on how Evans’ departure will affect the school at this time.

(more…)

by Mariah Joyce — July 8, 2015 at 4:45 pm 740 0

Parents and teachers at Barrett Elementary have started a weekly outdoor library to encourage kids to keep reading during their vacation.

The program, Barret Book Blast, was created by the Family and Community Engagement committee at Barrett Elementary as a way to combat the seemingly inevitable “summer slide” in reading comprehension.

The outdoor library can be found every Friday from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. outside of the Gates of Ballston Community Center (4108 4th Street N.). At the weekly event, which is run by Barrett Elementary teachers on an entirely volunteer basis, neighborhood kids can check out up to three books or listen to a librarian from Arlington Public Library read some stories.

Barrett Elementary teacher Emily Sonenshine estimates that on June 19, the program’s second week, almost 65 children came by to check out books and visit their teachers. Sonenshine added that attendance at the weekly checkout hour has been consistently on the rise.

This Friday will mark the program’s fourth week. Sonenshine says the events are scheduled to continue through the summer, ending Aug. 28.

The books for the outdoor library were supplied by donations from Books for America and Donors Choose, as well as neighborhood donations.

Photos courtesy Emily Sonenshine and Jen Flores

by Heather Mongilio — July 8, 2015 at 3:45 pm 685 0

APS app homepage

Despite budget cuts, Arlington Public Schools may get to keep its mobile app after all.

The school system originally planned to cut the app on July 1, in order to shrink its budget. The app cost about $12,000 a year to maintain, said Linda Erdos, APS assistant superintendent.

The app, which launched two years ago, allowed parents to view messages from APS’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts and gave them quick links to APS sites like the Family Access Center, MySchool Bucks, the APS directory and lunch menus.

“The app was intended for those who prefer the convenience of receiving and checking information and notifications on their mobile device through a single application,” Erdos said.

APS was ready to stop the app when fate intervened: Parent Link, the company that built the app, was bought by Blackboard, a company that provides an online platform for assignments, grades and communication between students and teachers. Blackboard, APS recently found out, was willing to give them a sweet deal.

“Because we are already a customer with Blackboard for School Talk and these other educational web-based solutions, Blackboard has offered to include the app into our current contract for APS School Talk as an added feature at no cost to APS,” Erdos said.

APS is still waiting confirmation from Blackboard before announcing that the app will continue, Erdos said.

If the contract does go through, the app will not look any different.

“Blackboard won’t do anything different with the app,” she said. “Based on what they have proposed, since Blackboard now owns Parent Link, they will continue to support the availability of our app, and will support APS staff if changes are needed.”

Photo via screenshot

by Heather Mongilio — July 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm 1,277 0

Blowing past a school bus with its stop sign extended may result in a $250 ticket, if the driver is caught by one of Arlington Public Schools’ newly-installed cameras.

Some APS buses are now equipped with cameras to help police officers catch drivers who do not stop when a bus extends its stop sign. APS operates 165 buses to transport about 10,000 kids a day, said Dave McCrae, APS director of Transportation.

“Essentially, the safety of our students is our primary focus,” McCrae said.

McCrae declined to say how many buses have the cameras, saying that revealing that information may encourage drivers to try their luck. Last year APS officials said that 10-20 percent of buses would get the cameras.

There are six total cameras on the buses: five in the front, one of which is a motion sensor camera, and one at the rear. Together the cameras work to capture the vehicle, including the license plate number, as it drives past a bus with its stop. Footage is then wirelessly sent to the Arlington Police Department, where the footage will be reviewed to determine if a violation has occurred, before a citation is issued.

“Cameras are a way of capturing video and providing law enforcement with evidence needed to prosecute a violation,” said Charlie Territo of American Traffic Solutions, which provides the cameras.

The new program is a result of a partnership between American Traffic Solutions, APS and the Arlington Police Department. The program is self-funded with the money collected from tickets paying for the cameras and upkeep.

Without the cameras, it is often difficult to catch drivers who run the bus’s stop sign, said Ken Dennis with Arlington Police Department. If a police officer follows a bus, drivers use their best driving behavior. It’s when they don’t think they can get caught that most drivers will break the law, he said.

Bus drivers told APS that drivers were often ignoring their extended bus stop signs, which led to the program’s implementation, McCrae said.

Driving past the signs is often not malicious, said Daniel Roseboro, a bus driver of 25 years. Instead, he has noticed that people are often just not paying attention or in a rush when they drive past a bus’s stop sign.

“I think the cameras will help, but I think one of the biggest things is the publicity,” he said. “It’s always good to know Big Brother is watching.”

McCrae said that he is hopeful that the cameras will prompt drivers to pay more attention when they see a school bus.

“If I had one goal of the program it would be no gets a ticket,” he said.

Cameras on school buses have proven to be effective, Territo said. American Traffic Solutions has provided equipment for buses in about 30 school districts across the country, he said. And drivers who get violations are often not repeat offenders.

Fully equipped buses rolled out yesterday. From now until the start of school (July 8-Sept. 7), drivers who pass a bus stop sign will receive a warning. Once school starts (Sept. 8), a violation will result in a $250 ticket.

The bus cameras work similar to red light cameras, Dennis said. Tickets are issued to the vehicle so violations will not result in points on a license.

“This is a good thing. This is to stop bad driving behavior,” Dennis said. “And sometimes the only way to do that is with a fine.”

by Heather Mongilio — July 7, 2015 at 4:05 pm 3,046 0

CARD-logo

A newly-formed citizens group is raising questions about the Affordable Housing Master Plan, the County’s plan to address the need for more affordable housing.

The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development (CARD), which currently has around 70 members, is concerned with the geographic distribution of affordable housing units and the effect affordable housing has on Arlington Public Schools.

The County Board has set public hearings on the housing plan before the Board and the Planning Commission in September to allow for more public comment. The plan, as proposed, calls for the creation of 15,800 additional affordable housing units by 2040, bringing the total to 22,800 units or 17.7 percent of the total housing stock in Arlington.

For CARD, the question is not the amount of affordable housing, but where it is placed in Arlington. There are large discrepancies in where affordable housing units are located, leading to socioeconomic segregation, said Joye Murphy, a founding member of CARD.

Murphy points to neighborhoods along Columbia Pike — particularly the western end of the Pike — that feed into Randolph Elementary School. In some neighborhoods along the Pike, the county set of a target of having 15 percent of their housing available as affordable housing. However, the neighborhoods exceeded that target and have about 38 percent of its housing affordable, Murphy said.

At the same time, she said, some North Arlington neighborhoods have failed to reach their targets.

Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike“What we’ve seen is a disproportionate percent of affordable housing along specific areas of Arlington,” Murphy said.

One of CARD’s aims is to have affordable housing across the county, not just in specific sectors. By spreading affordable housing, there will be more diversity in Arlington’s neighborhoods, which will benefit all Arlington residents, said Maura McMahon, another founding member of CARD.

“CARD’s goals are for responsible development in Arlington that fosters socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods and schools so that all Arlingtonians can benefit from what Arlington has to offer: top schools, efficient transportation systems, quality recreational facilities and parks, etc.,” McMahon said. “We believe every individual and every child should be afforded an equal opportunity to achieve his/her potential.”

The current targets for the amount of affordable housing units that should exist in each neighborhood are not referenced in the new plan, Murphy said. It only lists distributing housing units throughout the county as one of its goals.

The targets allowed for accountability, said Dedra Curteman, a CARD founding member.

“The primary fault with the master plan as written is it doesn’t call for targets for geographic distribution,” Curteman said.

Without the targets for each neighborhood, affordable housing developers could theoretically place most of the new affordable housing units in specific areas of the county instead of throughout Arlington.

“I worry that the targets were deleted because they shot past the targets in many areas,” Curteman said.

Pie chart of housing on Columbia Pike (via Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance)

CARD wants County Board members to include tools and specifics in the housing plan to ensure geographic distribution. The group plans to send a letter with their recommendations to the County in the next week, Murphy said.

The county is replacing the targets with three different ways to address affordable housing, said County Board Chair Mary Hynes.

“The plan really has three buckets that the Board would be using to achieve affordable housing,” Hynes said.

The first is preserving existing units, the second is looking at bringing affordable housing to transit corridors and the third is to look at areas with many single-family homes to see where additional housing units could be added. Hynes said that CARD is right in saying that the county does not yet have the tools needed for the second and third buckets, but after the plan is adopted she hopes the county will work on developing these tools.

The targets also did not work as the county did not have the tools to bring affordable housing to each area according to the targets, Hynes added. A lack of available land and high costs could make building affordable housing in certain parts of the county particularly difficult.

CARD members say the lack of geographic distribution affects the Arlington Public Schools, as research has shown that having a large amount of children that need reduced or free lunches influences test and achievement scores.

“Housing policy is education policy,” Murphy said.

(more…)

by Heather Mongilio — July 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,105 0

Emma Violand-Sanchez, School Board chairThe Arlington School Board voted unanimously this morning to include gender identity and expression to its nondiscrimination policies for hiring teachers and other employees.

The language is intended to prevent discrimination and harassment against transgender individuals.

The School Board also voted to ensure that all of its employment policies include protection against discrimination based on disabilities, marital status, sexual orientation, economic status and national origin.

“I’m very proud that we have these policies, and we are going to implement it,” said Emma Violand-Sánchez, who was elected as the School’s Board 2015-2016 chair during the meeting. “And that we are going to implement it with students, with the staff, within the hiring process, and I think we have to eliminate bullying, harassment and more than anything enhance the candidates in our school system for employment.”

Including gender identity and expression is in line with the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, a law that requires schools to provide an equal opportunity learning environment for both genders. Title IX includes gender identity and expression, according to Ellen Kennedy, the director of Employee Relations at Arlington Public Schools.

Complying with the federal government was one reason the board members adopted the new changes. But members also said it was the right thing to do.

“We do not want to put our community, legally, down the road,” outgoing chair James Lander said. “And so, again, in alliance with our County Board colleagues, the state and the federal government, we again are showing progressive leadership.”

The School Board did receive emails about the changes, Lander said. However, many questioned the procedure and not the policy. Residents were worried that the board would make the decision behind closed doors.

There were no public speakers at the meeting, which was a surprise, member Abby Raphael said. However, throughout the process, there had been little dissent from the community or APS employees, Barbara Kanninen noted.

“It was very clear from the beginning we were going to do this,” she said. “I don’t think it was ever an issue of any disagreement in terms of wanting to do this.”

The School Board also updated its bullying and harassment policy today to include protections based on creed and age. The bullying policy, which had last been updated in 2008, already included protections based on gender identity or expression.

Update at 12:40 p.m. — Democratic County Board candidate Christian Dorsey has issued a statement commending the School Board’s action and calling on Arlington County to make similar policy changes. “I urge the County Board to pursue ways to update the County Code to ensure that people are not discriminated against in Arlington based on their gender identity,” he said.

by Heather Mongilio — June 30, 2015 at 12:30 pm 1,119 0

Arlington School BoardThe Arlington School Board voted this month to provide $640,000 to train teachers in student use of school-issued Apple iPads and Macbooks.

The funding was approved after an amendment to stop it failed one to four.

The professional development will help teachers be able to better incorporate digital tools, such as laptops or iPads, in lesson plans. It is part of the Arlington Public Schools’ digital learning initiative, which has the goal of equipping children in second to eighth grades with an iPad and high school students with Macbook Airs.

Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sánchez submitted the amendment to defund the professional development for digital learning. She argued that while technology is important there were other areas recommended by advisory committees that needed the money more, she said during the School Board meeting on June 16.

“We have forgotten the whole child,” she said. “We have forgotten any of the support systems or professional development we need for that. We have forgotten professional development that could be needed for English language learners. We have forgotten the needs for the middle schools and other areas I feel are needed.”

Emma Violand-Sanchez

But other board members said that the professional development was key to the success of the already-approved digital learning initiative.

“I fundamentally believe that technology is going to be a key component of any future change for our children, our ability to include all students in a general education setting and to provide the differentiating instruction,” member Nancy Van Doren said.

Van Doren agreed with Violand-Sánchez that professional development was needed in other areas but said it was not a question of one or the other. Instead, the School Board should look to providing the financial needs for multiple areas of professional development, she said.

The digital learning initiative also provides for the whole child, member Abby Raphael argued. In order for the digital learning to be successful, teachers need the training, she said.

“I think it is so meaningful. And it affects special education students, it affects [English language learners], it helps accelerate students, and it really, I think, does personalize learning and individualize learning,” Raphael said.

The digital learning also provides low-income children with the opportunity to interact with technology that they would not have otherwise, Chair James Lander said. Low income families often only buy what they need, and laptops and iPads do not always make the list, he said.

“I believe in technology, and I believe this is a way for a school that is majority minority to have an opportunity to get their hands on technology and start to close the digital divide,” he said.

But the program is not without its problems. Members brought up monetary concerns about the costs of the actual devices and the software that each would need as APS increases the number of devices it maintains from 5,000 to 25,000.

Barbara Kanninen also brought up concerns about the lack of planning involved in the rollout of the devices and questioned whether they actually helped to accelerate learning. She attempted to halt the program in the past until budget and educational concerns were addressed.

“I still feel, as I did then, that we need a full evaluation of this program,” she said. “So far we had a work session earlier this year, we’ve heard a lot of anecdotes about successes in our schools system, but we don’t have solid evidence that it’s truly achieving our goals.”

Despite that, Kanninen voted against Violand-Sánchez’s amendment, saying that the training is necessary.

Van Doren said there is also a need to look a security and privacy concerns brought up by parents.

“We must address the parent concerns related to security, privacy and the continuous feedback and improvement related to the devices,” she said. “That is tantamount in allowing parents to be partners in this process.”

Parents need to feel that their children are safe while using these devices, and they need to feel as if they are partners with the school system, she said.

Lander agreed that those areas are important and should be part of the next steps going forward. However, despite the budget, educational and concerns, utilizing technology in school is too important of a priority to stop, he said.

“We can’t hold back the tide of technology,” Lander said. “This is how we do business.”

by ARLnow.com — June 24, 2015 at 9:15 am 1,741 0

Post-storm sunset over the Air Force Memorial 6/23/15

Graduation Live Streaming Nixed — Arlington Public Schools canceled internet live streaming of its high school graduation ceremonies this year due to budget cuts. Graduation ceremonies has been streamed online for the past two years. [InsideNova]

Police Foot Chase in Pentagon City — Last night, after the Pentagon City mall was evacuated due to a power outage, mall security spotted two men lingering and entering closed stores. Police were given a lookout and one of the alleged suspects was spotted outside the mall. A foot chase ensured and the man was apprehended behind nearby Pentagon Row. No word yet on any changes.

Economic Chief Has a Plan For Arlington — New Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins says he has a plan for economic growth in the county that will reduce the county’s office vacancy rate from the current 21 percent to 10 percent over the next six years. The plan includes “a mix of much more aggressive marketing efforts, incentives and other government aid, and the help of ‘frenemies’ in competing local governments such as the District and Alexandria.” [Washington Business Journal]

A-Town Plans ‘Sunday Funday’ Summer Kickoff — “Ballston’s rowdiest bar,” A-Town Bar and Grill, will be kicking off its summer “Sunday Fundays” this weekend with “squirt guns, beach balls, popsicles, barbecue, water balloons” and multiple DJs. [Clarendon Nights]

by Heather Mongilio — June 3, 2015 at 11:05 am 15,301 0

Oakridge Elementary is getting desks with bicycle pedals and swinging bars in an effort to incorporate movement and exercise into classroom learnings.

The new desks, as well as yoga ball chairs, are part of a pilot program to improve kids’ ability to learn while in school.

The idea behind the new equipment is based in science, said Heather Suave, a member of Oakridge’s 2Fit2Quit Committee and Wellness Council. Research has shown that when kids’ brains are active, which happens during exercise, they are able to retain more information.

“Kids in elementary school have the wiggles, and it’s a good energy release,” Suave said.

Oakridge Elementary was able to raise $9,000 through sponsorships and donations — from Pentagon Mixed Martial Arts, the Oakridge PTA and individual donations — to buy three of the two person pedal desks, four stand-up/swinging desks and eight yoga ball chairs.

The pilot program has only been in place for a month, Suave said, but it is already showing promise.

Jenn Crain, a third and fourth grade teacher, said the new equipment has helped with keeping her students focused and have not been a distraction in the classroom. She has had the pedal desk and standing desks in her class.

“Some of them prefer the pedal desk, some of them prefer the standing desk, some of them prefer none,” she said.

The kids have also had positive feedback toward the equipment, she said during a presentation.

Maxwell Thomas, an 8-year-old student, likes the pedal desk because they help him concentrate while he does his math schoolwork.

“I can get my body moving while I work,” Maxwell said.

Annabella Brooks, a fifth-grade student, likes the standing/swing-desk “because people have a way to fidget without making noise.”

The desk helps her concentrate and she finds it relaxing, Annabella said.

“It’s easier to think while moving,” she said.

This is the first pilot program in Virginia. The equipment is also used in 30 schools in Texas and in 32 other states, said Lowell Lease, a representative with KidsFit, the company that provides the equipment.

The company has received good feedback on the equipment from other schools as well, Lease said.

“The kids love it,” he said. “The teachers love it because the kids pay attention better.”

by ARLnow.com — May 27, 2015 at 9:00 am 2,811 0

Bluemont Oak (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

GOP Offers Support to Gun Store Owner — A Change.org petition against a planned gun store in Cherrydale has reached more than 1,900 signatures. The store’s landlord now says he’s trying to figure out ways to legally break the lease. Countering the backlash, the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans have launched a petition in support of the store and its owner, 28-year-old Marine Corps veteran James Gates. “We can’t remain silent while Arlington liberals push their radical anti-gun agenda,” the petition says. [AFCYR]

Hynes Fires Back at Reevesland Sale Critics — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes is firing back at criticism of the Board’s 3-2 decision to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse to a private owner. Critics charge that the sale was hastily added to the Board agenda the day before the vote and that citizen groups should have had more time to propose alternatives. Hynes said the house would have needed $2.5 million in work to be brought up to code for public use and noted that interested groups have had 5 years to suggest better alternatives for using the house. [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Outdoor School in Fauquier County — Every year thousands of Arlington Public Schools visit the APS-operated Outdoor Lab in Fauquier County, experiencing nature and wildlife first hand. The property was purchased with private funds for school use and is beloved by students. However, some worry that a proposal to increase summer use of the 225 acre site may overtax the lab and its ecology. [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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