Arlington Public Schools will look to temporarily add more space to try to cope with its rising enrollment by adding temporary classrooms and making interior adjustments at several schools.
The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on a slew of proposals across eight schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels at its meeting Saturday (July 15). The temporary solutions are all recommended for approval by county staff, as “student enrollment is growing at a faster rate than APS can provide new schools and classrooms.”
Some are looking to add more temporary, trailer classrooms — known in APS parlance as “relocatables” — while others will make interior adjustments to add more space.
The following schools are applying to add relocatables:
- Claremont Elementary School (One relocatable, bringing total capacity up to 767)
- Arlington Traditional School (One relocatable, bringing total capacity up to 538)
- Long Branch Elementary School (Four-classroom relocatable at Fillmore Park to replace two relocatables, bringing total capacity up to 629). APS is also applying to extend the lease for Long Branch’s use of part of the park for classroom space to July 2020
- Oakridge Elementary School (Two relocatables and a relocatable gym building, increasing total capacity to 866)
- Patrick Henry Elementary School (Four-classroom relocatable, increasing total capacity to 703)
The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:
- Kenmore Middle School (Increasing total capacity to 1,060)
- Wakefield High School (Increasing total capacity to 2,203)
- Gunston Middle School (Adding two new classrooms, increasing total capacity to 1,004)
Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps
Kenmore Middle School was one of six sites in Virginia selected to have a solar panel installed on its roof as part of the Solar for Students program, which encourages hands-on learning about clean energy.
A 1.2 kilowatt panel will be installed on the school’s roof to convert sunlight into electricity, with real-time data displays to help classroom learning. It is estimated the panel will generate enough electricity to power 18 desktop computers, or 15 42-inch LED TVs.
In addition to the panel, the program comes with technical support, training for teachers and educational materials that will enable students to monitor, track and learn about solar power production.
In June 2015, Dominion Energy partnered with the nonprofit National Energy Education Development Project to launch the program. The program is for Virginia students, teachers and communities in areas served by Dominion, and gives them hands-on experience with solar power.
Kenmore will share the $150,000 solar panel grant with schools across Virginia and the Children’s Museum in Richmond, having been selected from 35 applicants statewide. Jeff Politzer, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) teacher at Kenmore, helped apply for the grant.
“We started the process months ago and then we had to meet with people form Arlington County,” he said. “We did a site supervise, we did a walk through. We wanted to see what location would be best.”
Around 750 students gathered in the school’s auditorium today to learn about their gift.
Scott Reamy, external affairs manager at Dominion Energy, built up to the announcement by having the students guess what the surprise was.
“I want to see if you all can figure it out,” he said. “It was created in 1958. It’s been to space and back.”
“Solar panels!” shouted a student in the back of the room.
The solar panel has not yet been installed at the school. At the event, officials had no further information on when the school can expect its new panel to be added.
Just days after local parents launched a petition favoring building a high school next to Kenmore Middle School, others have begun a petition of their own against the plan.
The petition against the Kenmore plan raises concerns about the impact on traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, which it says would increase the number of students that attend nearby schools from 2,200 to approximately 3,500.
“Carlin Springs Road is one of the County’s few north/south arterials and a major commuter thoroughfare,” the petition reads. “There is no reasonable alternative to Carlin Springs Road for many people using this route. Adding students would add vehicular traffic in the form of school buses, and cars for students and staff. The increase in traffic and the increase in the number of students crossing Carlin Springs Road will increase the threat of accidents involving students.”
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 1,300-seat high school.
The other two options remaining are to develop a ninth-grade academy on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee High School, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created, or build at the Arlington Career Center site to co-locate with Arlington Tech.
The petition was also critical of the process to determine the site of the new high school.
“The planning process by the County and the School Board to engage in more proactive planning is appreciated,” it reads, “but it appears that the effort to site the 1,300 [seat] high school seats is short circuiting the process.”
Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Education Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.
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
And then there were three. The list of nine possible sites for Arlington County’s new public high school has been whittled down to three finalists.
At a work session last night, the School Board weighed constructing a 1,300-seat high school at the sites of Kenmore Middle School, the Arlington Career Center and the APS Education Center. The new school is expected to open at one of these locations in September 2022.
The options have been narrowed based on staff analyses of the pros and cons each site presents, along with feedback from the Facilities Advisory Council and the community.
The Board still must determine whether the school would be a specialized choice school, like Arlington Tech or H-B Woodlawn, or a community high school like Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The information gathered thus far from surveyed community members indicates that 44 percent favor a neighborhood school and 56 percent favor a specialized school.
Board member Tannia Talento brought up the importance of further examining the impact of traffic, parking and walkability at each site. She said that parking needs and traffic for extracurricular activities and special events come into play in addition to the daily school needs.
“How is it impacting the neighborhood? These things will come into play when we’re adding 1,300 seats at a site like the Ed Center or Kenmore,” she said.
School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen questioned the feasibility of renovating or expanding any of the proposed sites rather than starting from scratch with building. That potentially could accelerate the project for completion before 2022. Regarding school overcrowding, “We really know we hit trouble in 2021,” she said.
Board chairwoman Nancy Van Doren echoed Kanninen’s sentiment about site renovation or expansion, adding that such an option could provide cost savings, perhaps even through a phased plan for adding seats over time.
“I would like to perhaps consider a hybrid option,” Van Doren said. “One of my personal criteria is cost and making sure we have enough money to build all the seats we need going forward. So if there are ways that we can provide additions or renovations at a lower cost than the total amount of money that we have currently allocated, then I’d be very interested in that.”
Site analyses will continue through mid-May, and final recommendations are expected at the Board’s May 15 work session. Final site approval is anticipated for June. Until that time, staff will continue to engage the community about the three high school site options, including through feedback received via the “Engage with APS” website.
“This is about our kids and about our families and it is emotional,” Van Doren said.
Hoax social media posts, often featuring images of sinister-looking clowns, have threatened schools across the country. Thus far the posts have led to numerous arrests of teens suspected of making the threats, but no reported violence.
Last night, two Instagram accounts — @virginiaclowns and @dmv_clowns — posted similar threats, warning of shootings at a number of area schools, including Kenmore, Gunston and Thomas Jefferson middle schools in Arlington.
The threats have prompted a stepped-up police presence at Arlington schools this morning.
“We are aware [of the threats] and were in contact with the Arlington Police Department staff last night when we saw the messages,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow.com. “As a precaution, ACPD has had an increased presence at our schools this morning.”
It’s September — Bid an especially hot and sweaty August adieu, September is here. Get ready for kids going back to school, fall beer tastings, outdoor festivals, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and cooler weather. As a reminder, however: it’s still summer until Sept. 22.
Author Talk at Kenmore — Best-selling author Ann Patchett will be discussing her new book Commonwealth, which is set in part in Arlington, at an event on Thursday, Sept. 15. The event, at the Kenmore Middle School auditorium, is open to the public, with RSVP; it’s sponsored by One More Page Books and Arlington Public Library. [Eventbrite]
CEB CEO Stepping Down — Tom Monahan, the CEO of the publicly traded, Rosslyn-based firm CEB, is stepping down. The search is now on for a new chief executive for the 4,500-employee company, which will be moving to a gleaming new office tower after construction wraps up, likely in 2018. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The police department is scheduled to host a summer block party at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road) on Saturday, Aug. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“This free event provides residents an opportunity to get to know their neighbors and police officers while enjoying interactive stations, safety demonstrations, entertainment, food and much more,” ACPD said in a press release.
Some of the events planned for this year’s block party include a police cruiser expo, K9 demonstration and a “mini academy” where attendees can try their hand at being a cop.
The party will also have a moon bounce and a “kid zone” with badge-making, a “need for speed” police driving experience and an area where kids can try on police gear.
Additionally, the celebration will have “lots of sauce” from Rocklands Barbeque, according to an ACPD promotional video:
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 17, 2016
Image via Arlington County
The planned events are held as part of National Night Out, a “community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie,” according to a flyer distributed by the police department.
National Night Out celebrations are a chance for police and members of the community to come together, usually over free food and activities.
National Night Out events will be held at the following locations:
- Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
- Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
- Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
- Farlington Villages Pool 2 (3045 S. Buchanan Street) from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
- Park Glen Condo Associations: (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7:00-8:00 p.m.
- Whitefield Commons: (106 N. Thomas Street) from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Image via ACPD National Night Out Flyer
Sgt Damon Washington, who first proposed the free event, said it was part of the department’s effort “to be more proactive and reach out to the community.”
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next Saturday, July 18, at Kenmore Middle School (200 S Carlin Springs Road), residents will have access to services such as bike registration and free Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) etching for their cars to help prevent theft.
The schedule includes several games, among them a distracted driving golf cart track where participants attempt to navigate the course with “drunk goggles” to simulate varying levels of intoxication and common distractions such as cell phones.
Additionally, ACPD officers have organized “15 Minutes Behind the Badge,” an interactive simulation in which participants will receive a crash course in police training, be outfitted in faux-gear and be dispatched to a staged call in the area.
There will also be a K-9 demonstration, child safety seat checks and, for the younger set of safety-inclined residents, a moon bounce.
Rocklands and Wegmans are providing free food and drink for attendees.
Washington says that more that 75 officers are expected to be in attendance, including some from other police departments.
Arlington Scores Lidl HQ — Arlington County will be the home of the new $77 million U.S. corporate headquarters of Lidl, a discount German grocery chain that’s seeking to expand in the United States. The headquarters is expected to create 500 new jobs in Arlington and will anchor the National Gateway office development near Potomac Yard. “Lidl chose Arlington for its U.S. corporate headquarters because of our commitment to diversifying our economy, a terrific workforce, regional transit connections and access to a major airport,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. [Arlington County]
Arlington Teen Advances in Singing Competition — Kenmore Middle School student Samantha Rios, who is competing on the Telemundo singing program “La Voz Kids,” has advanced to the semifinals and is now being coached by Reggaeton musician Daddy Yankee. [Washington Post]
Young Republicans Blast Anti-Gun-Store Tactics — Opponents of a gun store that’s trying to open in Cherrydale are urging their supporters to confront the owners of the store and the shopping center in which it’s opening in person. That has Republicans crying foul. “Having exhausted reasonable avenues, the anti-gunners encourage their flock to harass property owner,” said the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans. [Twitter]
Immigration Center to Open in Crystal City — A planned immigration services center in Crystal City, which has been delayed due to legal wrangling over President Obama’s executive action deferring the deportation of certain illegal immigrants, is now reportedly set to open soon. Hundreds of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees will be working out of the office building at 2200 Crystal Drive, processing immigration applications and petitions. [Breitbart]
Praise for ‘Alice’ Production — The Encore Stage and Studio production of “Alice in Wonderland” is garnering critical kudos for its star, Brandi Moore, a Harvard-bound Washington-Lee High School senior. The show wraps up its run this weekend at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre at 125 S. Old Glebe Road. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Samantha Rios is a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, and her incredible voice has earned her onto the Spanish-language version of NBC’s “The Voice” reality show.
Samantha appeared on La Voz Kids in March and earned all three judges’ approval for her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Tomorrow, she is flying to Miami for the next round of performances, according to her chorus teacher, Raifel Faison.
Faison has taught chorus at the school just off Route 50 near Arlington’s western border since 2003, and he said Rios is one of the most talents students he’s ever had. Since she came into his class as a sixth-grader, she has only improved.
“She’s always had the power, always had a powerful voice,” he told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “She’s never been shy or lacked confidence in her voice, but her tone has grown tremendously since sixth grade, her musicianship has grown. She’s learned so much about her voice, how to control it, and her vocal technique is definitely improving.”
Rios did tell the three judges that she was from Washington, D.C., in her blind audition, but her family calls Arlington home. Faison said Rios isn’t just a talented signer, she’s a well-rounded person.
“She’s a very sweet, loving, intelligent caring young lady,” he said. “She’s very supportive of her classmates, a hard worker. Whatever positive adjective you can think of would probably describe her.”
Rios is on Team “Daddy Yankee” the stage name of one of the trio of judges, one of 10 team members. According to her bio on La Voz Kids’ website, she’s already sung for the president multiple times and is a member of a D.C. gospel choir.
La Voz Kids airs Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. on Telemundo.
Photo via La Voz Kids
A pair of Yorktown High School students, and flying projectile enthusiasts, are hosting a two-day, free dodgeball tournament next weekend.
The tournament starts at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 25 and runs all day, both days, at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road). Adults, teenagers and children are welcome, and will be split into divisions based on age. There are divisions for 11 and younger, 14 and under, 17 and under and 18 and over.
The tournament is the brainchild of Yorktown students Patrick Wallace and Hayden Kickbush. While the tournament is free, Wallace and Kickbush are asking for attendees to donate what they can to fund the tournament and raise money for physical education equipment for D.C. area schools in need. They have set up an online fundraising page, and have already raised $1,325 of a stated $9,000 goal.
The boys got the idea for the tournament from a trip to Hawaii, where one of them saw a community dodgeball tournament and was inspired, according to the tournament’s website.
“We experienced a heartwarming community and a tournament based on good morals and having a good time,” the website reads. “We were so moved by the experience that we wanted to replicate the same thing here in the Arlington area. Arlington Dodgeball aims to have a very community friendly tournament while also giving back to the community.”
According to Wallace’s father, Marc, the boys have received nonprofit approval by the IRS, so all donations are tax-deductible. The tournament itself will cost about $7,000 to run, Wallace said. If there is money left over, the boys will determine which school in the area will receive the donated equipment.
Photo via Arlington Dodgeball
A sixth-grader was attacked by two seventh-graders outside Kenmore Middle School last Thursday after school hours, and the incident has raised concerns among parents about how the school handles cases of bullying and violence.
According to Kenmore Principal John Word, a seventh-grader said the sixth-grade victim had called him “a racial slur” over the summer, and the seventh-grader and his friend waited until about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday to retaliate.
In the field between Kenmore and Carlin Springs Elementary School along S. Carlin Springs Road, the two seventh-graders hit the younger boy in the face at least twice, while a crowd of other students watched, school officials confirmed. The victim reportedly received bruises on his face but didn’t need to receive medical treatment.
An administrator quickly broke up the fight, the school said, but police were called and filed a report. The boy’s mother, who will not be named to protect the identity of the minor, said she did not receive any communication from the school until she went herself the following day.
The incident sparked concern among parents of Kenmore students, to the point where the school held a community meeting yesterday afternoon to address the attack.
“This was not random, it was targeted and wrong,” Word told a group of more than a dozen parents in the school’s library yesterday. “After interviewing those culprits, the victims and some witnesses, I was convinced that this incident should result in the most severe consequence I could administer.”
The seventh-graders initially were given two-day suspensions, Word said, but he decided to increase their punishments after the school completed its investigation. Word could not reveal the seventh-graders’ final punishment due to student confidentiality laws, but according to the APS Handbook, the most severe punishment allowed for incidents like “physical altercations, fighting and bullying” is “a maximum of ten (10) consecutive days out-of-school suspension, request for disciplinary hearing for additional suspension time and/or a recommendation for expulsion.”
While Word said he waited to reach out to the community until he had all the facts, that explanation did not ease the concerns of the parents at yesterday’s meeting.
“I’m concerned about my children’s safety at this school,” said a parent, who requested her name not be used due to potential “repercussions upon our children.” “There was no message given to our kids… The bylaws show that you have 48 hours to respond. Now we have all these kids hearing these things [about the attack], and they wonder why no one has talked to them about it in school.”
When the victim’s mother began to introduce herself at the meeting, she couldn’t finish her sentence before she began crying. She clutched a tissue for the majority of the hourlong gathering, while listening to the meeting’s translation by a Spanish interpreter sitting next to her.
The assault — which is how the school classified the incident — took place exactly one week after a separate altercation at Gunston Middle School. ARLnow.com received a tip about a seventh-grader at Gunston who, his parents say, was “sucker-punched” in the hallway during school hours. The victim had received “verbal bullying” during class and “a substitute teacher did not intervene on his behalf,” the parent wrote. (more…)
Despite voters approving $4.5 million in design costs for the school in a 2012 referendum, the Board is looking at diverting that investment to prepare for middle school overcrowding in the coming years, which is projected to be more serious than the capacity issues in elementary schools.
School Board Chair Abby Raphael, in a letter sent to parents and community members who have inquired about the issue, says its updated projections call for elementary schools in Arlington to be 3 percent over capacity in FY 2019, while middle schools are projected to be 16 percent over capacity in the same time period.
Raphael also referenced the objections from Glencarlyn residents from 2012 as a reason to re-evaluate building the school in the neighborhood, saying “the community raised significant concerns about the traffic and transportation issues” surrounding a new, 600-seat school in the area.
APS is revisiting the plan in advance of their next Capital Improvements Program for FY 2015-2024, which will be adopted in June. Raphael wrote that no decisions have been reached on what schools to build, if any, or if the School Board elects to construct additions onto existing schools.
Civic activist Monique O’Grady is trying to organize a campaign against the apparent backpedal. O’Grady said she’s disappointed that APS is considering abandoning its plans.
“The numbers still show that south Arlington will face more than an elementary school’s worth of overcrowding, so I believe the plan should move forward,” she wrote in an email. “I believe middle school should be addressed, but it shouldn’t come at a cost of 770 South Arlington elementary students being in trailers and with yet-to-be-mentioned programs being moved.”
O’Grady said the school should still be built while APS comes up with creative, cost-effective solutions to address anticipated middle school overcrowding.
“I worry that increased development in South Arlington, especially of apartment buildings and condos, will result in more students than currently projected and that South Arlington schools will become even more crowded than anticipated,” she said. “This is not a time to pull back from researched, planned and approved permanent elementary capacity in South Arlington. I think it is important for the South Arlington community to stand up and ask the school board not to turn South Arlington into a trailer park.”
APS acknowledges it does not have the finances to build capacity to accommodate 100 percent of the projected growth. No matter what comes out of the CIP, trailers will still be used as classrooms. The elementary school in Glencarlyn was originally slated to open in 2017.