Arlington Public Schools will add 1,300 high school seats across the Education Center and the Career Center after the School Board approved the so-called “hybrid option” at its meeting Thursday.
The option, put forward by Superintendent Patrick Murphy last month, would add 500-600 seats to a renovated Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) by 2022, then add another 700-800 at the Career Center (816 S. Walter Reed Drive), which would get a renovation and an addition. The County Board denied a request to designate the Education Center as a historic district last month.
Murphy’s proposal had not been among the original short list of three finalists for the new high school site, but Board members said it would balance the need for more seats with limited building space, and make use of what already exists.
“We cannot allow this Ed Center site to lie fallow,” said Board member Reid Goldstein. “We go to the County Board every year and we tell them we need more: we need more money; we need more land. I’m a taxpayer too. We cannot have a site that could hold students going unused.”
By December, Murphy must also provide a list of recommendations for the Education Center, including its cost, any boundary changes needed and educational programming. He must make similar recommendations for the Career Center no later than May 2018.
In addition to their vote in favor of the plan, Board members directed Murphy to include options for a fourth comprehensive high school, including programming, cost and location, in APS’ 2019-2028 capital budget. Arlington currently has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Wakefield and Yorktown.
“It’s not a blank slate,” said Board chair Nancy Van Doren. “We have eight points we want answers to, we have a finite amount of money and we have a vision that says we’re going to need to potentially add onto those and make them into something even greater going forward. So we want to leave our options open, and one thing I think we’ve learned to do is not create buildings that aren’t flexible.”
The Board voted 4-1 in favor of the plan, with James Lander the lone dissenting vote. He said the plan was not the best use of the space at the Career Center, had safety concerns around traffic on S. Walter Reed Drive and worries about locating high school students close to Patrick Henry Elementary School.
“If you know someone with 40 acres in Arlington who is willing to sell to the school system, I would be happy to negotiate that,” Lander said. “Until then, we have to utilize the space effectively that we have now, and we have to think about what our needs could be potentially down the road. I think this site could be better used than just 600 seats.”
The perceived lack of consultation with nearby residents on the new option came in for some criticism during public testimony. Maria “Pete” Durgan, president of the Penrose Neighborhood Association, urged the Board to delay their vote to explore the hybrid model further.
“We feel disappointed in the way the solution came about because we don’t feel like we were presented with the various scenarios and had an opportunity on what would affect us greatly,” she said.
Goldstein raised similar concerns with the way the fourth option came forward, and challenged his colleagues to think about how they continue engaging with the community even as new ideas come forward late in the game.
“How do we do idea changes or option changes in a project like this when there isn’t enough time to extend the community engagement process?” he asked.
Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen said APS intends to get “right back out there” in the fall to begin discussing the new schools, and may look at convening something similar to the South Arlington Working Group that helped site a new elementary school.
“After tonight, we’re proceeding with two projects, and I’m excited about both of them, the Ed Center project, the Career Center site, but it’s no longer a hybrid,” Kanninen said. “These are two projects, just like we have several other projects on the books.”
A proposal to build a high school next to Kenmore Middle School appears to have garnered some support among local parents.
The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33 acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new high school.
A petition in support of the Kenmore plan — and against expanding Washington-Lee High School — has garnered more than 100 signatures.
“This would be a smaller high school initially but would have the potential to become a 4th comprehensive high school if a new middle school building can be built elsewhere in the near future,” the petition says. “School start times could be staggered, and officials have recognized the need to improve access to the campus to relieve traffic.”
(Currently, the county has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield.)
Of the other two options remaining, Superintendent Patrick Murphy said a ninth-grade academy would be developed on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created.
That, says petition supporters, would make W-L far too large of a school.
“Students would share common spaces and fields with students already at W-L,” says the petition. “This would place 3,500 to 4,000 high school students in one location.”
The third option is to build at the Arlington Career Center, expanding Arlington Tech and allowing for the repurposing of the Education Center. Supporters of the Kenmore option say the plan to build at the Career Center would force that to be a choice program, something that has come in for criticism online given Arlington Public Schools’ enrollment growth.
“Choice schools were great when the schools were under-enrolled and kids had a decent chance of getting into them,” wrote one commenter on a message board for local moms. “Now getting into a choice school is like a Golden Ticket while everyone else is crammed into high schools that are getting too big and you don’t know the people in your class. We can’t afford to spend $100 million on choice schools like HB [Woodlawn] while the rest of the peasants make do in trailers smuched [sic] together at other high schools.”
“[The] Kenmore option is the only option that establishes a solid pathway to a 4th comprehensive high school, which the APS system desperately needs,” the petition says.
Earlier this week, the Yorktown PTA hosted a town hall with Board members Barbara Kanninen and Reid Goldstein. Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Career Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.
Photo via Google Maps
Windy, Dry Conditions = Fire Danger — The National Weather Service is warning of an elevated fire danger today due to windy conditions, with gusts up to 45 miles per hour, combined with dry vegetation. [Weather Channel]
Tree Fire in South Arlington — In what was likely a wind-fueled fire, several trees caught fire Saturday evening on the 600 block of 29th Street S., near Crystal City. Firefighters from Arlington and Alexandria were able to bring the fire under control within 10-15 minutes. [Twitter, Twitter]
Opinion Piece: Think Bigger Than Bus Parking — An op-ed published in the Washington Post criticizes the possible school bus facility proposed for land that the county is acquiring across from Washington-Lee High School, next to I-66. “This is not a NIMBY issue,” writes the author, a nearby resident. “But before taking the path of least resistance and plopping a bus garage into a residential neighborhood, Arlington should carefully consider its options and ‘think big.'” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Thanksgiving Travel in D.C. Area — More than 1 million D.C. area residents are expected to leave town for Thanksgiving, and 9 out of 10 of them will be traveling by car. The worst day and time for traffic in the region is expected to be next Tuesday afternoon. [Washington Post]
Arlingtonians Spend Big for the Holidays — The average Arlington household is expected to spend $1,741 celebrating the holidays, according to a new survey. That’s the highest expected holiday spending in the region and the 13th highest in the U.S. [InsideNova]
GMU Renames Building in Arlington — George Mason University’s Metropolitan Building in Virginia Square has been renamed for one of the school’s Nobel Prize laureates. The building will be renamed Vernon Smith Hall in a ceremony tomorrow (Friday). The university-owned building, at 3434 Washington Blvd, also houses the new Virginia DMV office. [George Mason University]
Beer Coming to Donut Shop — It’s a combination that would make Homer Simpson drool. Sugar Shack Donuts on Columbia Pike has applied for a Virginia ABC permit to serve beer. The application was filed Nov. 7. No word yet on how soon the store may be offering cold brews to pair with its donuts.
Good Stuff Eatery Opening at DCA — Burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery is opening a new location today in Arlington: specifically, at Terminal B of Reagan National Airport. [Good Stuff Eatery]
Students Win Video Contest — “A team of students from the Arlington Career Center has won the fifth annual student video challenge sponsored by the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), taking home the top prize for the fourth year in a row.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Community Garden Fundraiser Fizzles — Arlington County’s attempt to crowdfund a community garden accessible to those with disabilities has not gone so well. As of Sunday the county has only raised $465 out of the $10,000 it sought, with only five days to go in the fundraiser. The failure raises questions about local government use of crowdfunding, the Post suggests. [Washington Post]
Meeting on Career Center Changes — Some major changes could be coming to the Arlington Career Center. Arlington Public Schools will be discussing that and other South Arlington school projects at a meeting Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Career Center, at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. [Taylor PTA]
More on Notable Tree Planted at Fire House — A Southern Magnolia tree planted outside Fire Station No. 4 in Clarendon was recognized as a “Notable Tree” last week. The tree was planted in 1965 in memory of ACFD Capt. Archie Hughes, who died while responding to a house fire at the age of 33. [NBC Washington]
New Movie’s Arlington Connection — A new indie flick, “Green Room,” follows the travails of a fictional Arlington-based punk band. The film was written and directed by Alexandria-born filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier. [DCist]
Spotluck Launches in Crystal City — Restaurant discovery and discount app Spotluck has launched in Crystal City. Participating restaurants include Crystal City Sports Pub, Kora and Kabob Palace. [Spotluck]
Arlington’s Diversity Highlighted — The world is learning about Arlington’s diversity. The Voice of America notes that Arlington is home to more than 130 ethnic groups, particularly around Columbia Pike. [VOA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington Asks for I-66 Corridor Grants — The Arlington County Board has selected five transportation projects for state potential grant funding. The county is seeking grants from a pool of $5 million allocated by VDOT for initial improvements along the I-66 corridor, ahead of the tolling of the highway. Among the projects Arlington is submitting for consideration: real-time transportation information screens along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, expanding certain bus routes, and a series of initiatives including vanpools and a travel planning app for smartphones. [Arlington County]
APS to Renovate Fenwick Center for High School Program — Arlington Public Schools will renovate the 50-year-old Fenwick Center along Columbia Pike for use by the soon-to-be-renamed Arlington Mill High School program. Moving the program will make room at the Arlington Career Center, next door from the Fenwick Center, for the new Arlington Tech initiative. [InsideNova]
Remembering James Kimsey — James Kimsey, the co-founder of AOL, died on March 1 at the age of 76. Kimsey spent his childhood in South Arlington and most recently lived at the very northern tip of Arlington, in a $30 million “castle” known as “The Falls,” which he built around the turn of the century. The house, one of the largest private residences in Virginia and one of the priciest properties in Arlington, was so big that it prompted Arlington County to build a new sewage line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Photo by Dennis Dimick
ITT Tech Protest Only Included One Student — A protest outside ITT Tech’s shareholder meeting in Rosslyn earlier this week reportedly included only one person who had actually been a student at the for-profit school. The rest were from advocacy groups and a labor union. [Inside Higher Ed]
New Food Delivery Service Comes to Arlington — DoorDash, an online food delivery business that promises to get food to your door in 45 minutes or less, has launched in Arlington. DoorDash joins similar food delivery services like Seamless and Eat24 in entering the Arlington market. [WUSA 9]
Arlington Teacher Recognized at the White House — Arlington Career Center teacher Thomas O’Day was one of 10 educators nationwide to be honored as a 2015 Career and Technical Education Innovator. O’Day, who has been teaching television production at the career center for 27 years, received his recognition at an event hosted by the White House. [Arlington Public Schools]
New Affordable Housing Video — The group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is producing a series of videos in support of affordable housing efforts in Arlington. The first video profiles Marcos Rubio, a janitor at H-B Woodlawn who currently commutes from the Springfield area. [Vimeo]
House Fire in Alcova Heights — A small house fire broke out on the 3800 block of 6th Street S. in the Alcova Heights neighborhood around 7:00 this morning. The fire was extinguished and no one was hurt. [Twitter]
Fairfax County Approves Seven Corners Plan — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved a sweeping redevelopment plan for the Seven Corners area, near Arlington. The plan, which was fought by residents in nearby single family home neighborhoods, calls for several thousand new homes, a revamped street grid and new shops and restaurants. [Washington Post]
The career fair will take place on Wednesday from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the lower level auditorium of the Arlington Employment Center (2100 Washington Blvd).
Representatives from 22 agencies will be on hand to speak with job candidates. Some of the opportunities include law enforcement, administrative assistants, education, finance and IT.
Resumes will not be accepted at the fair, it is for informational purposes only. All of Arlington’s job applications are now accepted online. Representatives at the fair can answer questions about specific jobs and give guidance about applying to the County.
Click here to register in advance for the career fair, although attendees are welcome to just show up without pre-registering.
Just after 3:15 p.m. police received a call for a fight on the 800 block of S. Highland Street, near the Career Center. By the time officers arrived school security already had two suspects in custody, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Security had also removed a handgun from the waistband of one of the suspects involved in the fight. The weapon and five rounds of ammunition were secured by police, Sternbeck said.
The fight started when a former student drove by a group of current Career Center students and recognized one of the individuals as someone he had a previous encounter with, according to police.
“The adult male subject stopped the vehicle he was driving, got out of the car and approached the group of students. He was heard saying he had a gun and was reaching for it when the fight broke out between the two parties,” said Sternbeck. “The subject with the gun, Jimmy Salazar-Alfaro, 24, of Arlington, was charged with Assault. He was also giving a banning notice and barred from school property.”
Salazar-Alfaro had a valid Virginia concealed carry permit, Sternbeck said.
A film made by a group of students from Yorktown High School and the Arlington Career Center was nominated for an award at a local film festival over the weekend.
The film, “Not Yet,” examines an important decision some high school students face: whether to apply to college or stay home and help one’s family.
It was nominated for a Best Student Film award at the 72 Hour Film Festival in Frederick, Md. The festival challenges filmmakers to write, record and edit an original film in only 72 hours.
Directed by students Jeremy Cannon and Charlotte Pence, and starring Maddie Richhart, Steven Duffy, Nick McNulty and Ariel Cadby-Spicer, the film was shot in an Arlington home and at Yorktown High School and Tuckahoe Park.
In the end, “Not Yet” was a runner-up; a film by a group of college students won the award.
Shirlington Oktoberfest Returns — A date has been set for this year’s Oktoberfest event in Shirlington. The annual celebration of all things German and beer-related will take place on Saturday, Oct. 8. Tickets are $25. [Shirlington Village Blog]
Pike Library, Career Center Renovations — A series of improvements is planned for the building on S. Walter Reed Drive that houses the Columbia Pike Branch Library and the Arlington Career Center. Over the next 9 months crews will replace the building’s windows and front doors, roof and drainage system and the entire heating and air conditioning system.
Firefighters Endorse Areizaga-Soto — The Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association has endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto for state Senate. “Jaime understands the needs of Firefighters in Arlington County and across the 31st
District,” said local union president Sean O’Connell. Areizaga-Soto is facing a tough primary battle against Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola.
Don’t Blame Metrobus Drivers — County Board Chairman and former Metro board member Chris Zimmerman says overpaid drivers are not to blame for the transit agency’s troubles. Metrobus drivers make more than their counterparts at suburban bus systems like Arlington’s ART or the Fairfax Connector service. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
Iota to Hold Memorial Day Fundraiser — Iota Club and Cafe (2832 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon will be holding a Memorial Day fundraiser for tornado and flood victims. It will be open for breakfast and brunch starting at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, then the music and the burger/hot dog cookout will begin at 3:00 p.m. Among the 21+ acts scheduled to perform are Alexandria folk-rockers The WeatherVanes, Arlington acoustic rocker Taylor Carson and Arlington singer/songwriter/vocal powerhouse Margot MacDonald.
Civic Federation to Discuss Public Safety — At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 7, the Arlington County Civic Federation will hear presentations from and ask questions of Arlington’s police chief, director of emergency management and a senior fire department official. Also at the meeting, the Federation will hear presentations from ask questions of Arlington housing and planning officials, regarding affordable housing.
Farm Animals in South Arlington — The Arlington Career Center apparently houses chickens, goats and a pony behind its concrete walls. [Pike Wire]
With the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War upon us, events are planned in Arlington to mark that dark time in our nation’s history.
On Thursday, Warren Nelson, chair of the of the Arlington County Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Committee, will speak at the Arlington Career Center on what the county is doing to preserve the history of the civil war.
The lecture will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and will also feature Ron Cogswell, Chief Operating Officer of the Civil War Trust.
Caught in the middle, Arlington was considered the northernmost point in the Confederacy and seen as the southernmost point in the Union territory.
A website depicting Arlington’s role in the Civil War has been created so residents can keep in the know about events during the 150th Celebration.
Virginia Won’t Cut Off Money to Metro — Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton says the $50 million per year the state pledges to Metro will not be cut off, after all. Connaughton had threatened to stop the annual payment unless the state were granted two seats on Metro’s Board of Directors. But after an outcry from local leaders, and a letter from Metro board members Chris Zimmerman (who’s also on the Arlington County board) and Catherine Hudgins, Connaughton and the McDonnell administration apparently had a change of heart. More from the Washington Post.
Career Center Wins State Accolade — The Arlington Career Center’s Automotive Technology Program has won the 2010 Virginia Governor’s Career and Technical Education Exemplary Standards Award. The program will receive $5,000 cash and a banner to display on the school.
Columbia Pike Utility Undergrounding to Begin Monday — If you live near Columbia Pike, enjoy the weekend while it lasts. Monday could bring significant traffic challenges, as crews begin work to relocate a gas line and put overhead utility lines underground, from South Wakefield Street to Four Mile Run. The County warns that delays are expected as a result of the Pike project, which will last well into 2011.