(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) The Arlington School Board could soon change which students are allowed to attend Nottingham Elementary School, and some parents are pushing back on the proposal.
Arlington Public Schools staffers see Nottingham as a candidate to become an “option school,” meaning that students from around the county would be able to attend the Northwest Arlington school, and it would offer specialized programs. APS also is considering converting three other schools to option schools as it re-examines attendance boundaries ahead of opening two new elementary schools over the next three years.
Right now, only students living in a set area near Nottingham can attend the school, and some in the community hope to keep it that way. An online petition created by a user known as “Nottingham Community” on April 19 is urging the board to spurn a recommendation from school staffers and maintain Nottingham’s status as a “neighborhood school.”
The petition, which currently boasts more than 500 signatures, notes that roughly 82 percent of Nottingham’s student body is eligible to walk to school, but converting the school to an option facility would require expanding the bus program to bring in students from other parts of the county.
“Nottingham is tucked away in an upper corner of the county and inside a neighborhood making traveling to and from other parts of the county cumbersome, with potentially very long bus rides,” the petition reads. “Option schools should be centrally located to allow equal access from all parts of the county.”
APS officials stressed at an April 12 School Board work session that other factors are at play in their analysis of Nottingham. For example, they noted that if students are bused to Nottingham from other parts of the county, many existing Nottingham students could be redistributed and walk to other nearby schools — Tuckahoe and Discovery Elementary Schools — instead.
Lisa Stengle, the APS director of planning and evaluation, pointed out that APS may run into trouble drawing new school boundaries in the area once a new elementary school opens at the Reed School site in Westover. APS is currently planning to open that building in 2021, and Stengle believes converting Nottingham to an option school could ease the process of divvying up students in the region.
“Otherwise, we may be developing these boundaries that go long and narrow down the county, which requires lots of buses,” Stengle told the board.
Stengle added that APS is projecting that northwest Arlington’s student population will continue growing rapidly in the coming years, which could put even more of a strain on Nottingham if it remains a neighborhood school.
She added that no final determination has been made about which other schools will be recommended to the School Board for conversion to option schools, although Claremont, Carlin Springs and Arlington Science Focus are strongly being considered. County staff plan to release a full draft list of recommendations for neighborhood and option school designations next week, on April 30, then collect community feedback through May 10. APS staff plan to release final recommendations this fall.
“This is really saying that every neighborhood school is at play, but every option school is as well,” said School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen. “It’s really equalizing the stress we’re feeling across the community.”
Photo via Google Maps
The Arlington School Board could soon overhaul the school division’s policy governing how students use electronic devices in classrooms.
Arlington Public Schools officials presented a new version of technology “acceptable use” guidelines for the board to consider on April 19. The policy would create a new set of standards around how students use their own devices in schools, as well as equipment provided by APS.
Though APS has long relied on guidelines governing how students and teachers can use electronic devices and the internet, school staff are in the midst of a wholesale revision of those policies to keep up with advances in technology.
The proposed acceptable use policy for students stipulates that the use of devices is a “privilege, not a right,” and lays out the division’s process for handling incidents where students use electronic devices in inappropriate ways.
“In essence, if you can’t do something off of technology, you can’t do it in technology,” Tara Nattrass, Arlington’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, told the board.
The proposed policy also sets limits on how APS can collect student data through electronic devices. Specifically, the document bars APS from collecting “unnecessary personal information by means of its website” and directs the division to only take in data “only to the extent necessary to serve its constituents and the community.”
However, the policy does still allow school officials to archive, read and monitor any content generated on APS-owned devices or networks.
Nattrass stressed to the board that this acceptable use policy does not address issues like screen time limits for younger students or the use of devices at home. However, she noted that officials do plan to release more information on those issues later this summer, and some on the board heartily encouraged Nattrass to keep the community apprised of that process.
“I need to know when the rest of this is going to get done and where this is going to be,” said school board member Nancy Van Doren.
The board is set to vote on the draft policy on May 3.
Flooding Closes Roads, Prompts Warning — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — Many Arlington residents may be bleary-eyed this morning after being woken up twice overnight: once by thunder, and another time by a Flash Flood Warning that sounded on many phones. Heavy rain caused flooding that prompted the temporary closure of I-66 in Arlington and the HOV lanes of I-395 just before the 14th Street Bridge. A Flood Warning remains in effect until 11:45 a.m. as additional rain is expected this morning. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]
Crystal City ‘Makes Parking Garages Cool Again’ — Some national press for the Crosshairs Garage Races in Crystal City: “Unbeknownst to the few at street level, there’s a crowd gathering in a parking garage below an unremarkable office building. Inside, giant speakers blast rock music. Cow bells ring. There’s whooping and hollering, there’s pie and beer–and there are bikes everywhere.” [Citylab]
County Employee Recognized for Preventing Abuse — “Cheryl Fuentes, who has been working in the Arlington County government for more than a quarter-century changing the lives of parents and children, was honored as Arlington’s 2018 ‘Ally in Prevention’ by Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia.” [InsideNova]
APS Finalists for WaPo Awards — Hoffman-Boston principal Kimberley Graves and Thomas Jefferson Middle School teacher Timothy Wyatt Cotman, Jr. are among the finalists for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year awards. [Washington Post]
ACPD to Hold Award Ceremony — “The Arlington County Police Department will hold its annual Principles of Government Service Awards (PGSA) Ceremony on Monday, May 7, 2018, at Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road, at 7 p.m. The ceremony recognizes the achievements of police personnel in service to the community and highlights the Department’s dedicated pledge of duty, honor and commitment.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Kathleen Branch
New Rooftop Beer Garden in Clarendon — The company behind Ambar is opening three new Mexican restaurant concepts in the former La Tasca space: “Tacos, Tortas & Tequila (TTT), Buena Vida and eventually a rooftop Mexican beer garden called Up.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
School Board to Gather Once More at Ed Center — Past and present Arlington School Board members will gather prior to the April 19 board meeting for a final group photo at the Arlington Education Center building. School administrators are leaving the 50-year-old building for leased administrative offices along Washington Blvd, to make way for a new high school program. [InsideNova]
Deloitte Expanding in Rosslyn — “Global consulting firm Deloitte LLP plans to significantly increase its footprint in the Waterview building in Rosslyn, where it recently subleased about 120,000 square feet from Gartner Inc. The sublease boosts Deloitte’s presence at 1919 N. Lynn St. to about 450,000 square feet, including the five floors it has picked up from Gartner… The firm now has around 8,000 employees in Rosslyn, its largest of 13 offices across Greater Washington.” [Washington Business Journal]
Parents were informed this morning of Annie Turner’s passing. The cause of death “is unknown at this time,” according to the email.
“This morning, a support team of administrators, psychologists, counselors, and social workers from Arlington Public Schools joined our Henry team to provide counseling and support to the staff and students,” the email noted. “Counselors will be available today and throughout the days ahead for those who need additional support with this news.”
Turner, who has degrees from the University of Virginia and George Mason University, first joined Arlington Public Schools as a physical education teacher at Jamestown Elementary in 1986, according to her school biography. She became principal of Patrick Henry in 2014.
Turner is married and enjoyed “vacationing, exercising and walking together and attending sporting events and concerts” with her husband, the biography said.
The letter to parents and school staff is below.
Dear Henry Students, Staff and Families:
It is with great sadness that we are writing to let you know that Annie Turner, principal of Patrick Henry Elementary School, died unexpectedly on Saturday morning. The exact cause is unknown at this time.
We know that this is a shock for everyone in our school and the community, and ask that you join us to remember and celebrate Annie’s life. On behalf of the Turner family, we also ask that you to respect their privacy during this difficult time as they grieve their sudden loss.
It is very difficult for all of us to face the death of anyone close to us. This morning, a support team of administrators, psychologists, counselors, and social workers from Arlington Public Schools joined our Henry team to provide counseling and support to the staff and students. Counselors will be available today and throughout the days ahead for those who need additional support with this news.
Your child may be coming home with questions and worries about this loss. Although we cannot predict how any child may react, we will work to be sensitive and aware of the common reactions experienced by grieving children. We also are enclosing some suggestions that may be helpful to you as you discuss Ms. Turner’s death in the days ahead. Please feel free to contact the school if you have an issue you would like to discuss.
I know you join us in extending our heartfelt sympathy to Annie Turner’s family. When we receive word about funeral arrangements, we will share the information with you. […]
Cameron Snyder, Assistant Principal
Dr. Patrick Murphy, Superintendent
Some Arlington Public Schools parents are unhappy with proposed budget cuts that would lead to fewer weekly world language instructional hours.
The proposed 2019 APS budget includes a number of reductions that aim to resolve the “$16 million in reductions this year in the face of our continuing growing enrollment needs,” wrote APS assistant superintendent Linda Erdos in an email to ARLnow.
The budget proposal includes the following FLES, or Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools, teacher reductions:
The planning factor formula for FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools) teachers is changed. This results in a reduction of 11.5 FLES teacher positions as follows: a 0.50 reduction each at Abington, Arlington Science Focus, Arlington Traditional, Ashlawn, Barrett, Drew, Carlin Springs, Henry, Jamestown, Long Branch, McKinley, Discovery, Nottingham, Oakridge, Randolph, Taylor and Tuckahoe and a 1.0 reduction each at Glebe, Claremont, and Key. The new planning factor allocates a 0.5 teacher up to 100 students, a 1.0 teacher for 101 to 215 students, a 1.5 teacher for 216 to 340 students, a 2.0 teacher for 341 to 470 students, 2.5 teachers for 471 to 610 students, and 3.0 teachers for 611 to 770 students, and 3.5 teachers for 771 to 930 students.
Instructional time would be reduced alongside the staff reductions.
“Staff will work out the model and schedules with principals so it’s equitable for all elementary schools,” wrote Erdos.
One Arlington parent, Kelly Alexis, emailed those she referred to as “Friends of FLES,” imploring that they take time to support the program by contacting School Board members themselves and asking for more information as to how this cut was agreed upon.
Alexis also sent the following email to School Board members regarding the potential reduction:
Dear School Board Members,
I am certain that all of you share the goal of providing equitable and quality education to our elementary school children, though I do not see a unified vision.
Looking at the proposed cuts that include FLES, Arts and more, and hearing School Board members question the need for such programs, it is clear to me there is no unified vision or focus on instruction for our youngest learners and as a whole for APS. When the need for FLES is questioned even though APS has set as a strategic goal to have APS students proficient in two languages upon graduation we have an instructional management issue.
More cuts in instruction will not solve this problem, ignoring the need for ES students to have exposure to World Language will not improve test scores.
What is the School Board’s instructional vision? The Superintendents proposed budget’s FY19 Elementary School priorities are disturbing and miss the “whole child”, social and emotional well being and World Language completely, how does that even happen?* As a county we can easily put ourselves in the position to pit program against program though it will take a School Board with vision and fortitude to stick with its own strategic goals meeting the essential and basic needs of our students and ensuring that program are delivered with consistency and equity.
APS or School Board members must be able to explain to the community how they have evaluated every proposed budget addition or budget cut against that vision, and how they have arrived at each of their decisions in the context of that vision. You cannot continue to cut staff and access to language instruction without communicating how these actions “refine” and I assume improve (how?) World Language delivery as stated in the budget.
We cannot throw out or reduce programs such as FLES due to arbitrary questions without looking at the facts. Putting FLES against recess is ridiculous and short sighted, why not provide both? If we are going to throw out programs due to inconsistent feedback and program delivery then 1:1 should be at the top of the list. Lets review the data and look at the best practies set forth by ACTFL and see how we measure up to meet the needs of our World Language goals.
We must provide APS students appropriate resources to ensure safe learning environments, strong social emotional supports and instruction that is developmentally appropriate and evidence based. We know early exposure to language provides tremendous learning benefits, its proven with years of study. World Language acquisition is a vital skill and early exposure is essential.
We know that many APS programs are not perfect, though I feel APS is not trying hard enough and this budget process is showing true colors on priorities – SOL’s and devices in young hands prevail while humanities and Art take a back seat.
Our youngest learners deserve better and APS owes us an explanation NOW, before you cut staff and vital instructional programs through this budget process, of what your vision is in regards to FLES, 1:1 and instruction overall that does not involve an SOL test score.
Thank you for your time,
The School Board has one remaining work session to discuss and make changes to the proposed budget, on Tuesday, April 3. The School Board is set to adopt the proposed budget at the School Board meeting on Thursday, April 5.
(Updated at 10 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools’ classes and offices will open two hours late tomorrow (March 22) as the county cleans up from the winter storm that left at least four inches of snow in the area today.
The delay comes after the Virginia Department of Transportation warned of overnight refreezing of melting water.
From APS spokesperson Darryl Johnson:
All APS schools and offices will open two hours late on Thursday, March 22. The Extended Day program will also open two hours late and morning field trips are canceled. Essential employees and food service workers should report to work at their regularly scheduled time. All other employees should report to work two hours past their usual start time. For updates about Pool Operations, go to www.apsva.us/aquatics.
Also Thursday, Metrobuses and Arlington Transit buses will start the morning with limited service. From WMATA:
Metrobus will begin Thursday, March 22, on a light snow plan with snow detours in effect on a route-by-route basis where hilly terrain or narrow streets may be problematic for buses.
MetroAccess paratransit service for riders with disabilities will be restored on Thursday. Customers may experience delays and service impacts due to road conditions.
Metrorail will open tomorrow at 5 a.m. with normal weekday service on all rail lines.
County HQ Renovation Vote Delayed — The Arlington County Board last night agreed to defer consideration of renovations to county government headquarters until April. The Board will discuss the “‘opportunity costs’ for the $10 million in rent abatements that will fund part of the renovation project,” in the context of the current county budget discussions, according to Board Chair Katie Cristol. [Twitter]
Arlington Declines Amazon FOIA Request — A Freedom of Information Act request for more information about the county’s Amazon HQ2 bid, sent from the Washington Post’s Jonathan O’Connell, was denied on the grounds that the information was “exempt from disclosure.” At the County Board meeting this past weekend, several speakers called on the county to release more information about what it has offered Amazon. [Twitter, WTOP]
Letter: APS Should Revise Gym Shorts Policy — Eighth-grade students wrote a letter to the editor encouraging Arlington Public Schools to revise its policy on girls’ gym shorts. Per the letter: “The shorts we are required to wear by the school system cause many of us embarrassment because the wide, open legs allow others to see our undergarments, especially during floor exercises. Additionally, the current gym shorts are too big for petite girls.” [InsideNova]
Arlington TV Now in HD — “You can now watch Arlington TV (ATV), the County’s government cable channel, in high definition (HD) on Comcast Xfinity. From live County Board meetings to original programming about Arlington, viewers with HD sets can now watch the same programming on Channel 1085 on Comcast Xfinity’s HD tier.” [Arlington County]
Auditor Releases Report on ECC Overtime — Arlington County Auditor Chris Horton has released a report on overtime incurred by the county’s Emergency Communications Center, which handles 911 calls and dispatches first responders. The ECC’s overtime costs were about $1.4 million last year. Horton found that “a more efficient training process could result in greater staffing efficiency, and potentially reduce overtime expenses.” [Arlington County]
GGW Boosts Gondola — “While [the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola] might not be the one, most important transportation project in the whole region, it’s a worthwhile way to help people reach jobs and shops and reduce single-passenger car trips.” [Greater Greater Washington]
USB E-Cig Banned at APS — “Schools in Arlington, Virginia, have specifically banned a new type of e-cigarette that has gained popularity among local teenagers: the Juul.” [WTOP]
‘Collision’ to Showcase N. Va. Tech — Arlington and Alexandria’s economic development agencies last week “announced their collaboration in showcasing the brightest and emerging startups on a national platform next month at one of the fastest growing tech conferences in the country.” [Alexandria News]
Beyer Unhappy With Military Helo Report — “A 400-page U.S. Army report on military-helicopter noise in the Washington area has failed to satisfy the member of Congress who authored legislative language requiring its compilation.” [InsideNova]
Snow Predicted for Arlington Tonight — “Expect a sloppy mix of precipitation that slowly transitions from rain to sleet to perhaps snow between early Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.” [Capital Weather Gang]
The police department released the statistics after another series of threats against Yorktown High School and Williamsburg Middle School last night.
“The Arlington County Police Department continues to work with our partners at Arlington Public Schools to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff,” the department said. “[ACPD] encourages parents and guardians to talk to their children about the seriousness and possible consequences of making threatening statements.”
According to police, 13 of the 30 threats have been reported since the Parkland, Florida school shooting one month ago.
More from a press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has investigated 30 school-related threats or complaints this academic year, with 13 having been reported since February 14, the day of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida. These include alleged threats to commit serious bodily harm as well as reports from concerned parents and community members regarding individuals who have made suspicious comments or social media postings. Following a thorough investigation into each report, police determined there were no credible threats to the safety and security of the students, staff or schools.
The Arlington County Police Department continues to work with our partners at Arlington Public Schools to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff. All allegations of threats and suspicious activity are taken seriously and each report is properly investigated and documented by police. We all play an important role in keeping our school community safe and students and staff are most well-acquainted with what activity may be suspicious at their schools. The community is encouraged to continue reporting suspicious activity by calling the Emergency Communication Center at 703-558-2222 or by filing an online crime report. Tips can also be reported anonymously by calling Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.
The Arlington County Police Department encourages parents and guardians to talk to their children about the seriousness and possible consequences of making threatening statements. Following an investigation by police and a review by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, those making threats to schools may be charged with Virginia Code §18.2-60 Threats of death or bodily injury to a person or member of his family; threats to commit serious bodily harm to a person on school property, a Class 5 felony; Virginia Code §18.2-83 Threats to bomb or damage buildings or means of transportation; false information as to danger to such buildings, etc.; punishment; venue, a Class 1 Misdemeanor; and/or Virginia Code §18.2-427 Use of profane, threatening, or indecent language over public airways or by other methods, a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Social Media Threats Against Arlington Schools — “There is an increased police presence at a middle school and high school in Arlington Friday after authorities say they were the targets of social media threats Thursday night. Arlington County Police say ‘threats of violence’ were made to Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School… police have identified a person in connection with the incident.” [WJLA, Twitter]
Cannonball Found Near the Run — “A remnant of the most turbulent period in Arlington’s history was unearthed during the recent renovation of the Arlington Food Assistance Center’s warehouse space in the Four Mile Run corridor. A 24-pound spherical shell was found during the construction period.” [InsideNova]
Snow Showers Dust Area — Winter is not over yet. A brief period of snow showers left some white patches on lawns this morning. Meanwhile, a potential snowstorm looms for next week. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) Students at Arlington’s high schools walked out of class Wednesday morning to protest gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting.
The 10 a.m. walkout was planned nationally, on the one month anniversary of the shooting, and in Arlington it was the second such protest in as many months. Washington-Lee, Yorktown, Wakefield, Langston and H-B Woodlawn were among the schools participating. Students at Kenmore Middle School also walked out, according to the school’s Twitter account.
At Washington-Lee, hundreds — if not thousands — of students gathered on the football field amid cold, blustery weather for a solemn remembrance of the slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and teachers.
A group of students sat in the bleachers, holding signs with the names and photos of the victims, while another group of students read each of their names and a bit of biographical information, one by one, about one per minute. The gathered students stood still, in silence only broken by a brief applause at the end, before returning to the school.
A couple dozen administrators and teachers watched over the event, along with a pair of Arlington County police officers, there to provide security. A few W-L graduates, parents and local residents also attended, some holding signs.
During Yorktown’s walkout, meanwhile, students wrote letters about school safety to members of Congress
Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy said late last month that today’s walkout would be the last walkout in which participating students would be granted a blanket excused absence.
School Walkouts Today — Student walkouts are planned at Arlington’s high schools today, part of a national demonstration against gun violence. The walkout is happening at 10 a.m., is expected to last 17 minutes, and is being treated as an excused absence by Arlington Public Schools. Middle schoolers at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, meanwhile, have organized a 2:30 p.m. prayer service to honor the victims.
JBG Talks HQ2 in Quarterly Earnings — Property owner JBG Smith has stayed largely mum about its wooing of Amazon — until now. In its quarterly earnings report, JBG said it believes that its Crystal City properties are well-positioned to win the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. The D.C. area’s tech prowess “combined with our blend of walkable places, in-place infrastructure and low-cost housing makes Crystal City a compelling location,” the company wrote. “Our holdings alone can accommodate Amazon’s entire long-term space requirement and we have a cost advantage over our competitors given the existing in-place parking and substantial infrastructure.” [Washington Business Journal]
Lobbyist Claims Attack at Local Hotel — Jack Burkman, a “conservative lobbyist known for his controversial positions” who in January told police he was pepper sprayed outside his house near Rosslyn, is alleging another attack. Burkman claims, in a press release, that he was “run down by a large, black SUV” last night while “working with an FBI whistleblower” at the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn. [Twitter]
Two Charged in Murder of Arlington Man — Two suspected gang members from Maryland have been charged in the fatal stabbing of an Arlington resident in Oxon Hill, Md. on Feb. 25. [Town of Morningside]
Arlington House Closing for Rehab Project — Arlington House, the iconic historic mansion at Arlington National Cemetery that was formerly home to Gen. Robert E. Lee, “is closing to the public beginning Monday, March 19, so it can undergo a monthslong rehabilitation project… part of a $12.35 million restoration plan.” [WTOP]
National PTA Meeting in Arlington — The National Parent Teacher Association is holding its annual legislative conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City this week. The conference runs from March 13-15 and kicked off yesterday with a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. [National PTA]
Amazon Could Change Conversation — If Amazon were to establish its second headquarters in the D.C. area, it could have wide-ranging effects, including tightening the commercial real estate market and easing antitrust pressures on the company. Writes the Economist: “Having 50,000 employees going to the same country clubs and putting children in the same schools as government officials is a shrewd strategy if Amazon wants to fend off government attacks.” [Washington Business Journal, The Economist]
One Hospitalized During Hazmat Incident — An employee at a catering business was hospitalized after a reported chemical spill at a warehouse along Four Mile Run Drive. [Twitter]
Principal on Leave at Nottingham — Nottingham Elementary School Principal Mary Beth Pelosky is “currently on leave” and former Arlington Public Schools administrator Connie Skelton is taking over as acting principal, according to an email to parents from APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy. No explanation was given for Pelosky’s sudden departure.
No More Early Cherry Blossom Bloom — Initially expected to happen later this week, the peak cherry blossom bloom is, due to cold weather, now expected to occur at the end of March and possibly the beginning of April. [Capital Weather Gang, WTOP]
APS May Take Advantage of Recess Law Change — “The chairman of Arlington’s School Board appears optimistic about a change in state law that will permit school districts to squeeze more recess into the existing school day.” [InsideNova]
Photo via @thelastfc
A bill that will bar Virginia public school employees from providing job recommendations to fellow employees who have sexually assaulted students landed on Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk this week for signing.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), who represents Arlington and Alexandria, said he introduced bill S.B. 605 after Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) brought the issue to his attention.
Ebbin learned that a Loudoun County school employee from received a “glowing” recommendation by a school principal even after the employee was accused of improper behavior with students. The teacher was later able to work in Florida after working at the Loudoun school.
No known, similar incident has occurred at Arlington Public Schools, according to Ebbin.
“It is unconscionable that anyone, particularly a school official, would recommend someone who they know or have reason to believe committed sexual misconduct,” Ebbin said. “It would be horrific to have a child sexually abused when that abuse could have been easily avoided.”
Ebbin added that he intends to work toward applying the bill’s provisions to private schools in the future. The bill initially included private schools, but was later amended.