The Glebe Elementary Parent-Teacher Association says it’s managed to recover more than $88,000 raised in its spring auction, after initially fearing that a Crystal City company that collected the funds wouldn’t hand them over.
PTA President Kristen Johnson warned members in late August that the group’s vendor to collect payments for the auction — Student Info Hub, a subsidiary of ConnectUs, LLC — had only transferred over about $11,200 of the more than $98,000 the PTA raised at the April event. Johnson and PTA leadership consulted with law enforcement about the discrepancy, and even considered legal action over the incident.
But it seems the two sides have managed to come to a resolution. In an email to PTA members today (Tuesday) obtained by ARLnow, Johnson wrote that “the contract dispute between Glebe PTA and ConnectUS has been resolved to the satisfaction of Glebe PTA.” She subsequently confirmed the email’s contents to ARLnow, but wouldn’t discuss the issue in more detail.
“We have cashier’s checks in the amounts of $80,000 and the remaining funds in escrow pending any remaining chargebacks which will be accounted for in November,” Johnson wrote her email to the PTA.
The PTA previously feared that losing out on the money would mean the group would have to severely curtail the programs and events it offered this year, but this resolution should alleviate those concerns.
Johnson also would not say whether the PTA was considering additional legal action against ConnectUS in the wake of this outcome. This was the first year the PTA had worked with the company to collect payments for its annual spring auction.
Representatives with the company have not responded to requests for comment on the dispute.
Photo via Glebe ES PTA
The Glebe Elementary Parent-Teacher Association is now in dire financial straits, alleging a local company that collected payments for a PTA fundraiser won’t hand over tens of thousands of dollars to the group.
In an email to members Friday (Aug. 17), obtained by ARLnow, PTA President Kristen Johnson said that as a result of the dispute, the group is out more than $88,350 raised in the PTA’s annual spring auction.
Consequently, she says the PTA is “beginning the school year with significantly less funds than we have had over the last several years” and “will not be able to fund all of the initiatives, programs and activities that the community has come to enjoy.”
“Needless to say, this is an enormous blow to our community,” Johnson wrote.
Reached via email yesterday (Monday), Johnson declined to offer more specifics on the incident, only saying that the “PTA is consulting with legal counsel about taking legal recourse at this time.” Representatives with the group’s vendor — Student Info Hub, a subsidiary of Crystal City-based ConnectUs, LLC — did not respond to a request for comment.
Johnson wrote in the email to parents that this was the PTA’s first year using the new vendor, after opting to switch to the local business last year.
“Last year, on a recommendation, we considered a local small business as a new vendor,” Johnson’s email said. “The Auction Committee vetted the vendor and proposed it to the Executive Board. After thoughtful review, the Executive Board voted to use the new vendor for the April 2018 Glebe PTA Auction.”
While the company did hand over more than $11,200 collected in the April auction, Johnson claims that’s the only money the PTA has received, despite months of back and forth.
“In subsequent exchanges with the vendor, we continued to demand that the money be transferred,” Johnson wrote. “The vendor did affirm that the funds were Glebe PTA’s, as well as the amount, and represented that all funds would be transferred by the end of June. However, the funds were not transferred. Throughout the summer we have continuously pursued the payments directly from the vendor.”
Johnson added that the PTA has contacted a variety of law enforcement entities about the dispute, including the state attorney general’s office and Arlington County Police.
Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed that her department did receive a report on the dispute, and “did attempt to assist by facilitating conversations with each party to help mitigate the issue.”
“Ultimately, this was determined to be a civil issue and police are no longer involved,” Savage wrote in an email. Charlotte Gomer, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mark Herring, added that her office similarly judged that “the situation did not appear to be one that would be subject” to state law, also recommending that the PTA pursue a civil suit instead.
In a second email to parents Monday, also shared with ARLnow.com by a concerned parent, Johnson said the PTA recently hired a lawyer and is contemplating legal action, with next steps yet to be revealed.
“We are doing everything we can to secure our funds,” she wrote.
Johnson also urged parents to try to keep the situation out of the public eye.
“We have had a lot of media requests as I am sure the community as a whole wants to help us,” she wrote. “For now, please refrain from posting on social media and speaking to the media… We don’t want to inadvertently harm our legal position with misinformation.”
Photo via Glebe ES PTA
Maybe girls really do run the world — or at least, perhaps, world finals.
An all-girls group of problems solvers from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind world finals next month after becoming state champions on April 14 in Newport News, Va.
The competition pushes students to work creatively as a team to “create original solutions to… divergent problems,” according to the competition’s website. This year’s theme is “emoji, speak for yourself.”
Seven girls — Buse Arici, Maddie Brown, Audrey Ferguson, Nora Johnson, Zella Mantler, Katie Martin, and Kaitlyn Nowinski — comprise the state championship-winning team.
Getting seven children to work together as a team takes a lot of effort, and the school estimates that the girls have dedicated more than 100 hours toward their competition submission.
The pursuit of problem solving — in their case, finding a way to communicate the story of a forgotten emoji without speaking, by just using emojis — led the seven girls to build “a texting machine that prints a message” and two emoji machines. In the process, they learned to use 3D printers, Adobe Illustrator and power tools to design their prototypes and their own costumes.
The silence stipulation alone will be quite the challenge for the group, a lively and talkative bunch whose excitement bubbled over into constant eruptions of euphoria while meeting with ARLnow at their elementary school on Wednesday (April 25).
The program was first brought to the school in 2015, and the team is the first from Glebe to win at Odyssey’s regional and state competition, according to Arlington Public Schools.
The world finals, hosted at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, will pit the nine- and 10-year-old girls against about 850 teams from 25 countries. According to the competition’s website, tens of thousands of students are anticipated to descend on little Ames, population just over 66,000, from May 23-26.
Getting the team to the competition will also prove challenging, and the girls have set up a fundraising campaign to raise money for their transportation and other expenses. The overall goal is $17,000, the girls said, but the fundraising webpage’s goal is much lower, at $6,000.
The team will be hosting other fundraising efforts, like a bake sale, to raise the remaining funds.
Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Schools
Petition in Support of Affordable Housing Project — The website Greater Greater Washington is helping to promote a petition that intends to counter resident complaints about a proposed affordable housing project on the former Red Cross site along Route 50. Neighbors are concerned that the project might “defile” the Buckingham neighborhood, with increased traffic and school overcrowding and a loss of green space. [GGW, GGW]
‘A Friend’ Writes Thank You Note to ACPD — From the Arlington County Police Department Twitter account: “To the citizen who left this unexpected note on one of our cruisers, thank you. ACPD is grateful for the support we receive from the community and small gestures like this mean a lot to our officers.” [Twitter]
Arlingtonian Places 23rd at Boston — Among other impressive finishes by Arlington residents at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Graham Tribble finished 23rd with a time of 2:30:06, the fastest among the D.C. area contingent at the prestigious race. [RunWashington, Patch]
High Schools Students Learning How to Spot Fake News — “At Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, some high school seniors are bent over their laptops, engaged in a digital course called Checkology that helps them figure out what makes news and information real, misleading or just plain false.” [Voice of America]
Elementary Girls Heading to Int’l Problem Solving Competition — “An all-girls engineering team from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals where they will compete with students from nearly 25 countries… The team of fourth graders from Glebe, who are all ages 9 or 10, became state champions last weekend at the Virginia Odyssey of the Mind competition, which was held April 14 in Newport News.” [Arlington Public Schools]
ACPD Forms ‘Restaurant Liaison Unit’ — The Arlington County Police Department has formed a “Restaurant Liaison Unit” to work with local bars to tamp down on drunken and sometimes violent incidents. One Clarendon bar in particular had police responding to it for a call almost every other day in 2017. [Washington City Paper, Twitter]
Glebe Lane Closure Causes Backups — Commuters heading northbound on Glebe Road today faced major backups due to a lane closure near Ballston. Washington Gas has been performing emergency repairs in the roadway since Wednesday. [Twitter, Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Rex Block
Texas Murder Suspect Arrested in Arlington — A suspected MS-13 gang member, wanted for two Houston-area homicides, was arrested in Arlington on Saturday. Twenty-year-old Douglas Alexander Herrera-Hernandez, also known as “Terror,” was taken into custody while walking near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive. [Fox 5, WTOP]
Family of Murder Victim Donates Reward Funds — The family of an Iraq war vet shot to death in front of the Pentagon Row shopping center in 2006 has donated $5,000 in unclaimed reward money to Arlington Crime Solvers. “Despite an intensive investigation, a suspect and motive have not been identified,” said Arlington County Police. “This case remains an active cold case investigation.” [NBC Washington, WJLA, Twitter]
Some Arlingtonians Pay to Attend D.C. Public Schools — A handful of Arlington residents pay tuition for their children to attend D.C. public schools. Most are paying for enrollment in the renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest Washington. Arlington, which is still facing a school capacity crunch, does not allow nonresident students as does D.C., Fairfax County and Montgomery County. [Washington Post]
APS May Buy Home Next to Glebe Elementary — The Arlington School Board is considering buying a home next to Glebe Elementary School for $525,000 to provide emergency vehicles another point of access to the school. The home was recently sold to an investment firm for just over $400,000 this past January. [InsideNova]
Explanation for Low-Flying Helicopter — If you spotted a helicopter making low passes over Arlington this past weekend, it might have for a survey by the National Nuclear Security Administration “to measure naturally occurring background radiation.” [Twitter, National Nuclear Security Administration]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Glebe Elementary students were bused to Washington-Lee High School this morning after a power outage closed the school.
The school sent the following letter to families.
Dear Glebe Families:
Power went out at Glebe Elementary School this morning due to high winds. There is no estimate as to when power will be restored, so students are being bused to Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford St.) for the remainder of the day. Students will continue instruction at W-L and lunch will be provided.
Students in Extended Day will remain at Washington-Lee until they can be picked up. If possible, families of students in Extended Day are encouraged to pick up their students early. To pick up your child, please go to the main office (Door 1) at Washington-Lee. A staff member will be there to assist you. Students who ride the bus will be transported from Washington-Lee to their normal bus stop.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Forecasters say strong wind gusts will continue through the afternoon, though the worst of the wind is over.
High wind warning downgraded to wind advisory in DC area. Gusts in 40-50 mph still possible thru this afternoon: https://t.co/8kbQyv6tsh
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) February 13, 2017
Under the preferred plan, five schools — Taylor, Glebe, Ashlawn, McKinley and Tuckahoe — would still be between 103.95 and 109.22 percent capacity, while Jamestown would be at 86.1 percent capacity and Nottingham and the new Discovery Elementary would each be around 90 percent.
The changes to the boundary plan the Arlington School Board approved less than two years ago are necessary, APS says, after a greater-than-expected influx of students to the county’s schools this fall. The approved plan, which was set to go into effect in fall 2015 with the opening of Discovery Elementary, is now expected to be revised at the School Board’s Jan. 22 meeting.
The revisions primarily affect McKinley Elementary School. If the Board approves staff’s preferred changes, 252 of the projected 304 students in the planning areas affected in 2016 would move or stay at McKinley by 2016. The remaining 52 students — in planning zone 1609 near Westover — would remain at Glebe Elementary. In the alternative plan, area 1607 would remain assigned to Nottingham, putting the school at 101.36 percent capacity.
APS is also “considering moving some countywide programs” to accommodate more students in overcrowded schools. APS has kept the online survey open on its More Seats website, extending the time for resident submissions from last week until Friday at 4:00 p.m.
The decision to put McKinley at nearly 9 percent above capacity while leaving Arlington’s three northernmost elementary schools at least 9 percent under capacity has drawn some criticism.
“Instead of filling McKinley to capacity, APS is considering filling it and then adding an additional 60 students above capacity,” one anonymous tipster said. “Why aren’t they equally distributing the seats? Something looks wrong with this map!”
Amy Borek, a Nottingham Elementary School parent, also questioned APS’ decision, wondering why the scope of the changes was so limited.
“By concentrating on only these planning units, APS is choosing neither to consider how to fill the empty seats at Jamestown nor convert Tuckahoe’s bused students to walking students at nearby McKinley’s new addition,” Borek told ARLnow.com in an email. “This approach to solving the overcrowding problem in North Arlington elementary schools does not appear to be working.”
Before the School Board votes on Jan. 22, it will hold a work session on Jan. 5, then an information item on Jan. 8, when Superintendent Patrick Murphy presents his recommendation to the Board. On Jan. 15, the Board will hold a public meeting on the issue before its vote. All meetings are at 1426 N. Quincy Street at 7:30 p.m.
(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Just 18 months after Arlington’s School Board approved a new elementary school boundary plan for North Arlington, an influx of more new students is prompting the Board to reconsider those plans.
Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia says 652 additional Pre-K and elementary students came to the district this year, outpacing APS’s growth projections by 52. That, along with variances on a school-by-school basis, has caused APS to explore “possible refinements to the boundaries.”
Following a series of three community meetings, the School Board is scheduled to fast-track a vote on a new boundary map for the 2015-2016 school year in January.
The process for determining the new school boundaries will begin with a community meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 17, at Williamsburg Middle School. There, APS staff will present data showing the need for the boundary change, demonstrate the online tool that parents can use to recommend their boundary maps and “begin work with the community to refine boundary options,” according to an APS press release.
The schools whose boundaries will come under review are the under-construction elementary school next to Williamsburg Middle School, Glebe Elementary, Tuckahoe, Ashlawn, Nottingham, Taylor, Jamestown and McKinley.
The approved boundary change from May of last year reassigned 900 students and resulted in five schools — Taylor, Glebe, Tuckahoe, McKinley and Nottingham — sitting at more than 100 percent capacity, but no school above 105.1 percent capacity. The decision was reached after an eight-month community process, and previous boundary realignments have resulted in tension among parents.
The boundary revision process, from the first School Board information session to its scheduled adoption, will take two and a half months.
“After we received updated enrollment projections based on Sept. 30 enrollment numbers, the Superintendent directed staff to begin looking at refinement of the 2015-16 boundaries,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com in an email. “The projections confirmed that we will have enrollment imbalances within the those schools and there is a need to do boundary refinements for a relatively small number of families.”
At tomorrow night’s School Board meeting, APS staff will present their newest school population projections and outline the need to revising the boundaries. From Nov. 18 to Dec. 5, parents and community members will be able to go online and submit their boundary recommendations for staff to consider. Staff will review those recommendations at another community meeting Tuesday, Dec. 9, in the Williamsburg auditorium.
“The community meetings will provide an opportunity for the families that may potentially be impacted to work with staff to develop recommended adjustments using the Online Boundary Tool originally introduced in the boundary process two years ago,” APS said in a press release. “Individuals will be able to see the possible moves that can help to further balance enrollment for these schools. Information shared at all community meetings will help shape the discussion and prepare individuals to use the Online Boundary Tool.”
In January, the School Board will take up the issue. First, with a work session on Jan. 5, then with an information item on Jan. 8, when Superintendent Patrick Murphy presents his recommendation. On Jan. 15, the Board will hold a public meeting on the issue before voting on a new boundary alignment on Jan. 22. All of the School Board meetings will be at 7:30 p.m. at 1426 N. Quincy Street.
File photo via APS
The NFL Play 60 campaign is giving Glebe Elementary a grant for health and wellness programming or equipment. Washington Redskins players Alfred Morris, Joshua Morgan, Josh Wilson, Darrel Young and Nick Williams will present the school their check Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 9:30 a.m.
Glebe was selected as the D.C. area’s “NFL Play 60 Super School,” after sending the NFL essays “explaining how they planned to show their NFL team pride and incorporate football into their lesson plans,” and essays “on their school’s game plan for teaching students the importance of physical education and nutrition,” according to Arlington Public Schools.
The NFL Play 60 campaign encourages children to play for at least an hour every day to maintain healthy physical fitness. The players will help the students get 60 minutes of exercise on Tuesday, and the NFL will donate all the equipment used during the event to the school for future use.
The check presentation ceremony is not open to the public.
Photo via Facebook
Third graders from Glebe Elementary School in Arlington welcomed a special guest today: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
Students at the school had written letters to the Vermont senator “about conservation and what the students are doing here at Glebe to help in conservation efforts,” according to school principal Jamie Borg. Leahy, the grandfather of a Glebe student, “decided to respond to their letters in person.”
Leahy personally delivered letters to each third grade student, then engaged them in a conversation about the branches of government — a topic they had been studying.
“Senator Leahy was able to talk to the students about it in depth and explain his role in government,” Borg said.
“The children were very impressed!” said Borg.
Leahy’s wife, Marcelle, joined him for the classroom visit this morning. Leahy, 73, was re-elected in 2010 to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
Kaine Meeting With Defense Contractors in Arlington — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) will be in Arlington today meeting with Northern Virginia defense contractors. Kaine will be holding a roundtable discussion at Courthouse-based contractor Dynamis at 3:00 p.m. “The event today in Arlington will discuss the upcoming sequester cuts that are reported to threaten 1 to 1.4 million jobs with a disproportionate effect in Northern Virginia,” a Kaine spokeswoman told ARLnow.com.
Arlington Tax Surcharge Advances — A bill to restore Arlington’s 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge is closer to passing in the Virginia General Assembly. The bill has passed the state Senate and last week passed the House of Delegates Committee on Finance, albeit with a three year sunset provision. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports the tax surcharge, which helps to fund county tourism promotion efforts. [Sun Gazette]
PBS Doc Films at Glebe, H-B Woodlawn — An upcoming PBS documentary called “The Path to Violence” filmed at two Arlington Public Schools on Sunday. The production filmed at Glebe Elementary School and at H-B Woodlawn, according to an email from Arlington County. The Path to Violence, which is expected to air the week of Feb. 18, will tackle the topics of school safety and school violence.
Corps of Engineers to Review Tree Concerns — The Army Corps of Engineers says it will revise its Environmental Assessment of Arlington National Cemetery’s planned expansion in response to concerns from residents about the loss of old-growth trees. [Arlington Mercury]
Flickr pool photo by Jorge Bañales
According to police radio traffic, the young female deer was walking right up to Glebe Elementary School students today before school — a behavior much more reminiscent of a lost puppy than a wild deer. In days past, kids had been spotted feeding the deer in a local park.
Arlington animal control officers are reportedly aware of the deer and are trying to capture it.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Problems at PBS NewsHour — The PBS NewsHour is facing serious challenges. The hour-long news program, which is produced at the WETA facilities in Shirlington, has been shedding staff and viewers. A number of top news and business personnel have left recently, while viewership is down 11 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, a top sponsor is pulling out at the end of the year, leaving a $2 million hole in the NewsHour’s budget. [New York Times]
Elementary School Goes Solar — A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at Glebe Elementary School yesterday to mark the installation of a 1.1 kilowatt solar panel system. The solar panels will not only generate enough clean energy to power one classroom, but will also serve as an educational tool. Students, parents and teachers will be able to monitor the system’s electricity output using any web-enabled device or smartphone. [Arlington Public Schools]
Park Gives Marymount New Athletic Facilities — Long Bridge Park is more than an attractive new green space to Arlington’s only four-year university. Marymount University paid about $2 million toward the cost of one of the three multi-use synthetic-turf fields at the park. In exchange, the school’s Division III soccer and lacrosse teams will utilize the field as their “home base.” When the field is not in use by the school, it will be available for use by the public. [Sun Gazette]
Ballston BID Director Hired — The newly-created Ballston Business Improvement District has a new executive director. Tina Leone is leaving her post as president of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce to run the BID. [Alexandria Times]
Arlington schools were granted 250 tickets by the White House for this year’s festivities on the South Lawn. Each of the five schools were chosen because they had not participated in the Easter Egg Roll in previous years.
The schools were each granted 50 tickets. The tickets were good for a noon admission — after President Obama’s official participation in the festivities, but still in time to see some of the invited celebrities and musical acts.
Glebe Elementary principal Jamie Borg arrived on an Arlington County school bus with dozens of preschoolers, a few fourth grade helpers and a couple of school staffers in tow. Borg said that many students were looking forward to seeing the First Family, but they had other things they wanted to do, in case the president decided to stay inside.
They’re hoping to see President Obama… but I think they’ll just be excited to see anything they can see,” she said. “They’ve been talking a lot about the eggs.”
See more photos from the school’s visit and from the egg roll ceremony itself, after the jump.
Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell was at Glebe Elementary today as school, county and state officials helped to mark the opening of a new “reading garden.”
McDonnell used garden shears to cut a ceremonial ribbon as a crowd of about 50 adults and students applauded.
The reading garden was opened with the help of more than 100 parents, students, teachers and neighbors. It involved 200 planning hours, six dump truck loads of mulch and $22,000 in donations.
Joining McDonnell were state delegate Bob Brink, school board chair Sally Baird, superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy and county board members Barbara Favola and Mary Hughes Hynes.