(Updated at 8 p.m.) Despite protest from some students, faculty and alumni, Marymount University will be removing some majors, mostly in the humanities, from its catalogues.
On Friday, the Board of Trustees voted 20-0 to move forward with the plan, university spokesman Nick Munson said. He asserted that the change was faculty-led and administration-supported and the eliminated majors were “no longer serving Marymount students.”
“The impacted majors are rarely selected by Marymount students and, in fact, have only graduated a handful of students in the past decade,” said spokesman Nick Munson, noting that 74 students have declared majors that will soon be cut. “This decision reflects not only our students’ needs, but our responsibility to prepare them for the fulfilling, in-demand careers of the future.”
Ahead of the unanimous vote, some faculty, students and alumni decried the decision and tried to prevent it. Earlier in this process, a majority of faculty in the faculty council voted in favor of a different proposal that would see two programs cut and course consolidations to others to save some money. Students and alumni sent President Irma Becerra letters and two demonstrations were held.
They are still planning demonstrations, with a third set for tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.
Marymount says it is making these changes to improve its finances and cut programs with low enrollment.
Two recent signs of rocky finances include assessments by Forbes and Moody’s Investors Service, according to a joint letter from Marymount alumni.
“In the 2022 Forbes College Financial Grades, Marymount University was bestowed a financial grade of ‘D’ — the lowest grade on Forbes’ scale — with a financial GPA of 1.39,” the letter said.
Moody’s downgraded the university’s issuer and debt ratings to B1 and Ba3, due to a combination of factors, including “very high financial leverage with thin operating results, declining liquidity, debt structure risks inclusive of a project financing currently subsidized by the university, and a highly competitive student market.”
The alumni used these two points to argue that Marymount’s decision will “bring instability to the institution during a time that requires much needed stability.”
But Moody’s downgraded school ratings still seem warm to the programmatic changes the school is making.
“New financial leadership is deliberately focused on realigning student programming, right sizing expenses and enhancing revenue,” Moody’s said.
Marymount provided numbers breaking down how many students are majoring in the fields headed to the chopping block.
- B.A. Art (10)
- B.A. Economics (13)
- B.A. English (15)
- B.A. History (15)
- B.S. Mathematics (6)
- B.A. Philosophy (3)
- B.A. Secondary Education (0, though this was not a primary major)
- B.A. Sociology (8)
- B.A. Theology & Religious Studies (0)
- M.A. English & Humanities (4)
“These programs are simply not ones that are in demand,” Munson said. “However, we will continue to provide a strong liberal arts core and offer classes in the subjects above.”
Students will still be required to study these subject areas as part of the school’s core curriculum, and Marymount will continue offering a more general bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies.
“Marymount will always be dedicated to the education of the whole person,” Munson said. “Every one of these foundational subjects remain part of our core curriculum, which supports our mission and Catholic identity.”
Alumni say this won’t achieve the same outcome.
“It would… erode — not strengthen — our intellectual community, which must be multidisciplinary to ensure students are prepared for the challenges and opportunities they will face in our present and future world,” the letter said.
Budget materials shared with ARLnow show the school forecast lower tuition revenue this fiscal year from in-person undergraduate and graduate students, but higher revenue for students in online programs.
Last fall, per the presentation slides, Marymount was staring down a budget deficit of $3.5 million.
Those opposed to the cuts argued that the moves would not realize much savings, given that most faculty would have to remain on staff to teach the core curriculum. They instead pushed for the school to focus more on growing its fundraising take.
Tax documents indicate Marymount’s net income in recent years has generally ranged between $1 million to $5 million per year, with losses in some fiscal years (available figures run through mid-2021). In recent years, donations swung between $2.5 million to $5.7 million.
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Marymount University is cutting several degrees to save money, but in the process has angered some in the school’s community.
In a bid to cut fruitless vine branches, the school is eliminating 10 degrees and programs — mostly in the humanities, including theology and English.
The looming decision has roiled the school community, including current and former students, faculty and even a national association of historians.
In a letter shared with ARLnow, the Catholic university’s president Irma Becerra said Marymount will eliminate bachelor’s degrees in theology and religious studies, philosophy, mathematics, art, history, sociology, English, economics and secondary education, as well as a master’s program in English and the humanities.
“Over the long term, it would be irresponsible to sustain majors [and] programs with consistently low enrollment, low graduation rates, and lack of potential for growth,” Becerra said. “Recommendations and decisions on programs marked for elimination are based on clear evidence of student choices and behavior over time.”
Becerra said the savings from ending programs for these subjects — to which Catholic thought has contributed for more than a millennium — would support more popular majors. Other savings would come from a voluntary retirement program.
The attention to the university’s budget comes after what appeared to be a fruitful 2022 for the Catholic school, with higher enrollment rates, new softball and wrestling teams and new majors. It was even mulling building a new athletic facility.
Reaction from the school community has been swift. Alumni started a petition and the Student Government Association and the American Historical Association have sent letters to Becerra pleading for her to reverse course. Long emails blasting this decision have poured into ARLnow today (Friday) from current and former students and faculty.
“This is unnecessary and a real threat to shared governance and our faculty’s ability to serve our students well,” said Holly Karapetkova, English and composition professor and Arlington County’s poet laureate. “That’s what we’re all here for and we know the programs are valuable to the students.”
She added that these programs benefit the entire student body by supporting campus publications and regularly hosting events.
“The consequences of this ‘academic realignment’ have not been thought through,” said Adam Kovach, a Marymount philosophy professor. “The administration claims program closures will allow the university to shift resources to grow programs with larger enrollments and to create innovative new programs, but this is all vague and aspirational.”
“We have not heard any definite plan for how to grow,” Kovach continued. “We have not seen evidence these changes will lead to cost savings that could just as well be achieved without closing programs. The strategy appears to be, wreck first and find out what to build later.”
A report shared with ARLnow from the Director of the School of Humanities shows there are around 91 students majoring in art, English, history, math, philosophy, sociology and religious studies. Some 93% said they would have gone elsewhere had these programs not existed, taking some $2.7 million in room and board and tuition fees with them.
Alumna Elyssa Giordano said the comments on the petition, which had more than 400 signatures as of 4 p.m. Friday, “express how disappointed people are with this decision,” adding that while 300 people signing a petition normally “is not a huge deal, it is for a small school where total enrollment ranges from 1,500-3,000.”
Ethan Reed, a sophomore and the president of the school’s College Democrats, predicted “this will only hurt our community with an even smaller population and will further harm the social sciences and sociology programs at the school.” Read More
Arlington’s fire and police unions are poised to lose a battle to change the pay scale the county uses — one that union representatives say contributes to ongoing staffing shortages.
This year, the Arlington County Police Department has hired 29 officers and lost 52 officers, Arlington Coalition of Police (ACOP) President Randall Mason told the Arlington County Board in a meeting earlier this month. It will lose five more by February 2023.
“This is the worst staffing crisis we’ve had in 30 years,” Mason said. “Our overtime to make minimum staffing was at 7,000 hours in 2021. It’s on pace to break that this year. The year before that, it was 4,000 hours. We’re right on the verge of mandatory overtime.”
The attrition, due in part to burnout and low morale, has forced ACPD to scale back some services. Amid this trend, last summer the Arlington County Board voted to reinstate collective bargaining for the first time since the 1970s.
For ACOP and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2800, the vote meant a chance to renegotiate pay scale structures to keep officers from going to better-paying jurisdictions.
Currently, Arlington County uses an open-range system, which union reps say results in officers with less experience earning more than people of the same rank with more experience. In October, 204 out of 304 ACOP members were paid less than at least one person in their same rank with fewer years of service, Mason said.
“That’s a direct result of the open range system,” he said.
For this reason, ACOP and IAFF are asking for a step scale, which they say is used by most municipalities and more fairly rewards years of service. But this year, the unions and the county reached an impasse regarding this change, among others, and had to go to arbitration.
Unions asked the county to make the switch in one year — a pricy ask the county rejected due to inflation and high commercial vacancy rates putting pressure on its tax revenue and expenditures. ACOP estimates making the switch in one year for police would have cost the county $9 million.
“Just like the fire department, we shot too high,” Mason said. “[But] 66% of officers being paid in an unfair manner isn’t an aberration — it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Arbiters sided with the county in both negotiations because making the change in one year would be financially unreasonable, but they did indicate their support for a step scale.
“Overall, the weight of the evidence supports the Union’s proposal to move to a step wage structure which will address the problem of salary compression and is in other comparable departments,” writes Samantha Tower, who was the arbiter for the negotiations with the fire department.
IAFF President Brian Lynch told the county Tower did not have the power to provide a middle-ground solution.
“She went out of her way to say there is a better path,” he said.
The Arlington County Board could make a decision on the public safety employee contracts next month. If members approve them as is, they would cement the current pay structures for three more years. The Board could also force county staff and unions to go back to the table and renegotiate.
That’s the path Lynch says he hopes the Board takes.
“With time, your support and the guidance that arbitrator provided… we can make the promise that collective bargaining holds for firefighters in the community we protect a priority we hope you join us in that effort,” he said.
The Arlington firefighters union says the county’s proposed 2022-23 budget underfunds the fire department and puts residents in unnecessary danger, but county officials dispute the characterization.
The union wants the budget to support having someone with Advanced Life Support training on each fire department vehicle, something that county officials say is not necessary. ALS providers are certified to treat critically ill patients with life-saving drugs or intravenous medicines, among other training that goes beyond basic emergency medical care, also called Basic Life Support.
Currently, Arlington has a mix of ALS and BLS medic units on duty at any given time.
The budget also does not include premium pay for the Swift Water Rescue Team to reflect the riskier work they do, while wages have stagnated for rank-and-file members, according to the union.
IAFF 2800, which represents more than 300 firefighters, proposes adding $8.5 million to the 2022-23 budget to address these issues.
Budgeting decisions regarding wages “have led to diminished emergency services at the risk of potential harm to the citizens, businesses and visitors of Arlington,” the union said in a letter to the Arlington County Board and County Manager Mark Schwartz. “It is with this in mind that we bring these issues to the forefront before it escalates to a point that causes unnecessary harm to the community we serve.”
The $8.5 million would provide a 7% raise to keep up with inflation, make firefighters whole for missed pay increases since 2018, provide premium pay for responders who took on more work due to labor shortages, and increase compensation for the Swift Water Rescue Team, IAFF says.
County Manager Mark Schwartz says the union’s account is inaccurate and the county has not been cutting costs.
“All County residents should know that there is no ‘unnecessarily hazardous situation’ and that each resident can rely on a strong and well-trained workforce to respond to their needs,” he said in response.
Specifically, ACFD has stepped up its medical care without “over-resourcing” every call through mobile diagnoses, on-site treatments and new technologies that give patients more options, he said, adding that “not every patient needs an Advanced Life Support provider.”
Schwartz says the Swift Water Rescue Team does not receive premium pay, but he is committed to adding compensation for the team in addition to funding that addresses stagnant wages.
Employee compensation is the chief focus of the 2022-23 budget, which is currently being hammered out. Schwartz proposes 6.5% salary increases for public safety employees and a $2.2 million increase for the fire department over the 2022 budget, according to a recent presentation.
Among other changes, the increase would fund the implementation of the Kelly Day, which will reduce each firefighter’s average work week from 56 to 50 hours, improving work-life balance and reducing attrition, the county says. The county hired nearly 40 additional firefighters over four years to instate the Kelly Day.
Today, the department is close to full staffing and is experiencing vacancies comparable to Arlington’s historical average, Schwartz said. ACFD loses about two employees a month, and there are currently 15 uniform vacancies.
“I hope that the historic investments we have made over the past four years in a reduced work week and exemplary practices will continue to attract the best staff in the nation,” he said.
Months after parents and students wondered if rising freshmen in Arlington could attend Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the results are in.
The Class of 2025 will include Arlington kids, although the exact number is not known.
The results, released Wednesday, cap a turbulent admissions cycle. Fairfax County Public Schools made significant changes to the school admissions criteria — among them scrapping a standardized test and written teacher recommendation — which parents protested and challenged with two lawsuits.
The changes resulted in the school’s “most diverse class in recent history.”
Thomas Jefferson, nicknamed “TJ,” is a STEM-focused magnet school open to students from Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties who meet certain academic requirements to get in. US News ranks it as the number one public high school in the United States.
While Arlington annually sends students to the school, the relationship is not a steady one. When facing a budget deficit, Arlington Public Schools sometimes suggests cutting funding. That happened earlier this year, when Superintendent Francisco Durán’s proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year, which had a $42 million gap, put TJ funding on the chopping block.
In response, some Arlington parents and students mobilized to advocate for funding tuition. Then-sophomore Lauren Fisher was among four parents and students to speak at a School Board hearing on March 23.
“If I were to sum up TJ in a few words, it would be an animated community of nerds,” Fisher said. “The students there are incredibly enthusiastic and encouraging, and this energy is contagious. I’ve never felt more encouraged to try or learn new things regardless of how nerdy they might be.”
When the School Board released its amended budget in early April, TJ was no longer among the next school year’s cuts, though the reason for the reversal was not clear.
Still, Arlington students’ access to the magnet school could end in a future budget cycle. Director of Secondary Education Tyrone Byrd tells ARLnow that in difficult budget situations, funding for the magnet school would be among the first of proposed cuts.
“Our commitment is to APS kids and APS buildings, that’s our first priority,” Byrd said. “As far as I know, there’s no purposeful movement toward removing TJ from our options to kids, but when it gets tight, we have to start looking for avenues to correct that.”
Former TJ parent Jennifer Atkin, who remains involved in the Arlington-TJ community, recalled a similar effort two years ago when then-Superintendent Patrick Murphy suggested cutting transportation funding.
“I believe one of the values that Arlington and the School Board profess is equity and access, and I think there’s a feeling amongst parents that in order for them to make good on that they really need to continue the relationship that they have with TJ,” Atkin said. “If you cut off access to this public education opportunity, what you’re really doing is cutting off access to [specialized] programs to the people who are middle and lower-income within Arlington, which runs counter to this idea that you’re promoting equity and access.”
Atkin suggests that the magnet school remains a target for budget cuts because the Arlington-TJ community is relatively small, and tuition cuts would anger fewer people than cuts to other programs. Byrd disputes that theory, saying that the county considers these cuts because the APS prioritizes its own resources first and foremost.
Should access to her school be in danger next year, senior Alexandra Fall said she is prepared to pick up where she left off in April, writing to board members and motivating peers to take action.
“I would try to get people involved,” Fall said. “I know that the community of Arlington kids at TJ is very strong because they ride the buses together and they’ve all come from a similar place.”
Fall and Atkin said they doubt the struggle to keep Arlington students at TJ will ever reach a resolution.
“The problem is with every election cycle, the composition of the school board changes,” Atkin said. “Even if this school board were to say, ‘We’re going to stop proposing cuts to TJ,’ it doesn’t mean that the next school board will operate the same way. That’s the nature of politics.”
Photo courtesy of Sean Nguyen
About 2,000 students who left Arlington Public Schools after buildings shuttered in March 2020 have indicated they will not be returning this fall, according to APS staff.
This enrollment information — which could alter the budget for the 2021-2022 school year — landed in the laps of the Arlington School Board and school administrators during a budget work session Tuesday evening.
The problem? School Board members are slated to vote on the $700 million budget tomorrow (Thursday) and APS administrators say they do not have enough time to draw meaningful conclusions about how the budget will be impacted.
During the work session, however, School Board members asked staff to try anyway. They said recalibrating the budget for 2,000 fewer children could knock down the $11-$15 million budget deficit that APS is facing and could determine how the board votes to compensate staff.
(Since the School Board adopted a proposed budget in early April, which then included a $14.9 million deficit, Superintendent Francisco Durán and board members have proposed changes lowering the deficit to $11 million.)
“Our budget is funding for at least some students who we assumed would be part of our enrollment who are not,” Vice Chair Barbara Kanninen said. “We can’t not do anything with this information. I don’t know how we’re going to pull it off that quickly, but we have to: We owe it to the taxpayers of Arlington and we owe it to our staff, not to lowball them on compensation because we couldn’t figure out where the students will be.”
Durán cautioned against using the information to cut down on staffing without knowing more information. He vowed to provide more details tomorrow.
“We still need a deeper analysis to understand what the implications are,” he said.
APS previously projected 29,653 students would be enrolled in the school system next year. On multiple occasions, staff members have said they calculated the increase based on numbers from 2019, as 2020 was too irregular of a year given the pandemic.
But Lisa Stengle, Executive Director of Planning & Evaluation for APS, said the new survey responses are just one piece in a bigger puzzle of figuring out what next school year’s enrollment will look like.
“This number is about students who left, but we also have the intent-to-return surveys, we have new families not counted in this, and five years ago, we had the largest number of births to Arlington parents in quite a period of time,” Stengle said. “There are a lot of other factors. We need time to work all of those through. This is trying to estimate human behavior in a pandemic that we don’t have patterns for.”
Board member Reid Goldstein, however, said it is public knowledge at this point that members of the board believe 29,653 students is an overestimation. During the budget process, board members asked APS to calculate the savings if enrollment dropped to 28,500 students; staff said APS would save $5.9 million under such a scenario.
“This new information about 2,000 students planning not to come back is really giving me a lot of heartburn, given the budget that’s a day and a half away,” he said.
Kanninen brought up the enrollment news halfway through the meeting, which, up until then, had included a lengthy discussion on the myriad employee compensation plans the board will have to choose from.
Taking into account one compensation plan and the several million dollars in new budget cuts, APS faces an $11 million budget deficit. Meanwhile, a plan that provides a 1.5% cost of living increase at the start of the year — favored by a number of APS teachers and staff — would increase the deficit to $13.9 million.
Another option would provide a state-recommended 2% cost of living increase to all staff and would make APS eligible for $657,783 in state funding. Some School Board members said they want to take advantage of this funding and supported this option which would increase the deficit to nearly $16 million.
Board member David Priddy said by his math, the enrollment drop would save APS $8.3 million, and would cover any of the compensation plans.
“I think that we should pursue that,” he said.
Image via Arlington Public Schools
Pandemic Doesn’t Change Amazon’s Plans — “Schoettler, who oversees Amazon’s global portfolio of office space, said the past year hasn’t changed the way the company thinks about its office strategy… Amazon still views the office as the best place for work because of the ability for employees to collaborate, and it still envisions its footprint centered around large corporate campuses like its Seattle headquarters and its HQ2 development in Northern Virginia. ” [Bisnow, Twitter]
Sheriff’s Deputy Charged with Fraud — “India Middleton, a deputy sheriff with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted in Georgia by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Middleton was one of 10 defendants indicted in a multi-state scheme to submit fraudulent loan applications for non-[existent] businesses as part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.” [Patch, Arlington County]
New Irish Pub Opening Soon — From the social media account of Mattie & Eddie’s, Chef Cathal Armstrong’s new Irish restaurant and bar in Pentagon City: “Practice test! All your grand Irish pints coming soon!” [Facebook]
APS May Cut Magnet High School from Budget — “As part of his proposed budget for the 2022 Arlington Public Schools (APS) fiscal year, Superintendent Francisco Dúran has suggested cutting funding for Arlington students to attend [Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology]. Should the proposed cut pass, current Arlington students at Jefferson will be allowed to remain, but all future classes — including this year’s rising 9th graders — will be barred from attending the school.” [TJ Today]
Lopez’s Gun Loophole Bill Signed — “Introduced by House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), HB 2128 was one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam before the end of the session. The bill expands the amount of time state police and agencies have to conduct a background check on a ‘default proceed’ gun sale, from 3 days to 5 days.” [Press Release]
View of Old Coal Trestle from New Bridge — “A new view of the 1926 W&OD Railroad coal trestle remnants next to the new Lee Hwy bridge.” [Twitter]
(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) For his first budget as Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools, Francisco Durán said he is proposing a conservative budget “that reflects our most urgent needs.”
The 2022 budget for APS, which he presented to members of the School Board on Thursday, comes to $704.4 million in expenditures and $661.9 million in revenue. APS, which has expected budget gaps in years past, is expecting a $42.5 million shortfall for its next fiscal year.
“We are facing very unique challenges as our school division works through the pandemic and what is to come,” Durán said. “Over the past year, we have seen the impact that this has had on our local economy and significant losses in revenue in Arlington.”
The county will be transferring $529.7 million to APS, which is $5.1 million higher than the 2021 fiscal year, according to a county budget presentation document. County Manager Mark Schwartz presented his proposed budget two weeks ago.
Durán said increases in local and state contributions will be lower they have been over the last three years. The county has increased its contributions by an average of $19 million a year, while the state increased its contributions by about $4 million annually, he said.
APS could make up some of the gap with funding from the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, Durán said. The school system is projected to receive $20.5 million in funding from the plan, which House Democrats passed last week and sent to the Senate.
The government will likely require the funds be allocated to health and safety and learning loss, he said.
This is the second consecutive year that APS is not proposing step increases for staff. Last year, the approved $670 million budget included a projected gap of $27 million, which led APS not to include these compensation increases.
Responding to a directive from the School Board to provide compensation for staff at all levels, Durán said he is making a 2% cost of living adjustment.
“A step increase would not provide a compensation increase to 35% of our full-time employees or to 100% of our hourly workers and substitutes,” Durán said. “A cost of living adjustment ensures that everyone will receive something.”
But, he added, “while I do believe there are many steps in the right direction, I want to acknowledge and recognize that it is not enough.”
Salary and benefits costs account for nearly 79% of the total budget and 95% of the school operating fund.
In the official 2022 proposed budget, Durán wrote that the primary drivers of the budget are:
- $10 million for student enrollment growth, including staffing, opening the neighborhood school at the Key site and moving three other schools
- $9.5 million to restore funding for one-year reductions used to balance the FY 2021 budget
- $9.2 million for a 2% cost of living adjustment for all staff
- $2.2 million for special education needs such as additional interpreters and Pre-K assistants
- $3.5 million to support network infrastructure and student access to the Internet
The investments in special education and English language services are part of continuing compliance with a settlement with the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
“It seems clear to me that we are putting our emphasis on equity, equity for our students, equity for our staff in terms of the way that the proposed compensation is coming forward, and equity when it comes to our concerns about our students’ social-emotional needs,” School Board Chair Monique O’Grady said during the meeting last Thursday. “Those are major things that have been borne and laid bare because of the pandemic.”
School enrollment in the fall, meanwhile, is expected to rise well above figures from two years prior, after a big pandemic-caused dip this school year. Enrollment now projected to peak and start a slight decline mid-decade, after more than 15 years of growth to date.
(Updated at noon) Metro’s “barebones” Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal threatens to eliminate service on a number of bus lines running through Arlington.
Among the proposed cuts is the Metroway route between Pentagon City and the Braddock Road Metro stations.
Arlington and Alexandria have spent millions building the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway that the Metroway line serves, with more than a dozen stops, primarily in the Crystal City and Potomac Yard area. An $27.7 million expansion of the Transitway to Pentagon City is in the works and set for construction.
The revenue-starved Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority shut Metroway down at the beginning of the pandemic in March, and has since experienced a system-wide 90% decline in ridership. The budget, as proposed, would extend the closure at least to mid-2022.
With Amazon’s choice of National Landing for its HQ2 headquarters in Pentagon City and Virginia Tech’s new Innovation Campus to be situated next door in Alexandria, the budget moves have caused concern for many, including Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, president and executive director of the National Landing Business Improvement District.
“Transit access is at the center of National Landing’s vibrant future and is a critical component of keeping our community competitive, equitable and sustainable,” Gabriel told ARLnow. “Public transit is more essential today than ever before as it enables our region’s frontline workers to access their jobs and continue serving the community during the pandemic. As the backbone of our transportation network and the most efficient means of reaching our commercial centers, our economic recovery will similarly depend on the continued funding, reliability and effectiveness of WMATA.”
Metro, which has sought a second injection of federal relief funding since May, is also proposing to shutter 19 Metrorail stations — including Arlington Cemetery, Clarendon, East Falls Church and Virginia Square — as well as eliminate weekend rail service and reduce weekday hours to 5 a.m.-9 p.m.
Metro is proposing the elimination of the following bus lines in Arlington and Alexandria:
- 4A and 4B from Pershing Avenue to the Pentagon
- 7F and 7Y from Lincolnia to North Fairlington
- 10A from Alexandria to the Pentagon
- 16A, 16E, 16G and 16H on Columbia Pike
- 22A, 22F from Barcroft to South Fairlington
- 25B from Landmark to Ballston
- 38B from Ballston to Farragut Square
- 7M from Mark Center to the Pentagon
Other lines are set for reductions or modifications in service.
In neighboring Alexandria, Mayor Justin Wilson said the changes would harm those who most rely on Metro service.
“My hope is that the federal government enacts new COVID-relief legislation that provides support to transit agencies and local and state governments so that we do not need to inflict these cuts on transit and city services,” Wilson said. “If that doesn’t happen, this will very detrimental to our community. Many of our residents rely on these transit services to get to places of work, healthcare services and essential trips. It has taken generations to develop our transit system and dismantling it will be tragic.”
On Tuesday night, members of Metro’s Rider Advisory Council (RAC) said that the bus cuts were “dramatic” and “draconian.”
“I’m just really sad and scared about this,” RAC Member Rebekah Mason said. “It just seems really highly prejudicial and really not a way to treat riders who have jobs, other than white collar jobs.”
Doris Ray, a member of the WMATA Accessibility Advisory Committee, wants the agency to instead enhance bus service in light of potential rail cuts.
“I am concerned as many in the community about the ability of people who do not drive, particularly essential workers, but for everyone who doesn’t drive and rely on transit to be able to get around,” Ray said.
Photo via Donna Gouse
Day Laborer Site Now Closed — “Although not unexpected, mid-November nonetheless brought something of an end of an era to the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, better known as SEEC. The pavilion area in Shirlington that the organization had used since 2003 to connect day-laborers with contractors and homeowners who sought their services has been fenced off in preparation for changes to Jennie Dean Park, where it is located.” [InsideNova]
Tonight: Outdoor Art in Crystal City — “Walk along Crystal Drive on December 2nd from 6-9PM to see the words of Luisa A. Igloria, Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia projected onto the facade of 2011 Crystal Drive as the opening installation of Arlington Art’s Visual Verse. Their work will be brought to life by noted artist Robin Bell.” [National Landing BID]
Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cuts — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “The proposed WMATA budget cuts would be apocalyptic for Metro service and devastate its workforce. This catastrophe must not be allowed to happen, and Congress can prevent it by passing a new aid package. WMATA is not alone in its massive funding shortfall, which is a direct result of the pandemic. Cuts like this will hit across the country without robust aid for state and local governments and specific targeted funding for transit.” [Press Release]
ABC Store Coming to Pentagon Row — “It’s official: you will be able to buy booze in the former local Bloomberg campaign office in Pentagon City.” [Twitter]
Rosslyn Tree Lighting — “Thanks @ABC7Kidd for starting the countdown at tonight’s neighborhood tree lighting!” [Twitter]
Library Director’s Xmas Playlist — “For the past 13 years, I have published a ‘Too Cool for Yule’ playlist, as my love letter to the County and the people we serve. And while (sadly) Spotify has replaced the cassette tape, making the process easier, like much of 2020, this playlist was more difficult than ever to create.” [Arlington Public Library]
Major Metro Cuts Proposed — “With sharply reduced ridership and lacking fresh federal relief, Metro is proposing a new operating budget with a nearly $500 million deficit. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Monday the proposed 2021 budget includes closing Metro rail at 9 p.m., ending weekend service, closing 19 stations and reducing the number of trains, which would result in longer wait times.” Among the stations that would close under the proposal are the Arlington Cemetery, Clarendon, East Falls Church and Virginia Square stations. [WTOP, Washington Post]
County Working on New Payment System — “Arlington officials continue to work on developing a one-stop online presence so the public can pay for a wide array of local-government services from their computers or smartphones. The initiative, being worked on by the treasurer’s office and Department of Technology Services, would go beyond the current CAPP [Customer Assessment and Payment Portal], which allows local residents to pay certain taxes, utility bills and parking tickets online.” [InsideNova]
Renovations for Mostly Vacant Building — “Wheelock Street Capital is seeking to renovate a long-vacant Arlington office building with the hope of attracting companies to the same corridor as Virginia Tech’s planned innovation campus and Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters… All of 3550 S. Clark St.’s office space thus far remains vacant. Small portions of the building’s retail space are leased to LA Fitness and child care center operator Bright Horizons.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Charitable Giving Portal — “New Looking for a way to add more charitable giving to the season of giving while supporting your neighbors in need? Arlington Community Foundation is launching its first ever Nonprofit Wish Catalog featuring grant ideas of 24 local nonprofits with wishes of up to $5,000 each this Giving Tuesday.” [Arlington Community Foundation]
Art Event Still On This Weekend — “The Arlington Artists Alliance presents its 18th annual Artful Weekend at Fort C.F. Smith Park. The show, featuring 30 top local Arlington-based artists and held in historic Hendry House at Fort C.F. Smith Park in Arlington, will be held December 4 to 6 this year. The show will feature paintings, ceramics, sculpture and cards, in addition to bins of unframed works.” [Event Calendar]
New Top Doc at VHC — “David Lee, MD, a member of the medical staff of Virginia Hospital Center for 30 years, has been tapped as the hospital’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.” [InsideNova]
It’s December — Today is Dec. 1. After today, there are only 30 days left in 2020.