Arlington school leaders could soon gain the power to start classes before Labor Day, as some long-stymied legislation finally seems set to pass in the General Assembly.
State lawmakers are gearing up to finally repeal a provision widely known as the “King’s Dominion Rule,” which has barred school systems across the state from starting class before Labor Day for the last 30 years in a bid to provide Virginia’s theme parks with a robust pool of potential patrons, and student workers, each summer.
Many schools have already earned “waivers” to disregard the rule (including large school systems like Fairfax and Loudoun counties) and momentum has built in recent years to do away with the law entirely. Arlington officials have been particularly keen on kicking off class early, hoping to better align high school calendars with the slew of standardized tests that dominate the latter half of each school year.
And while it’s not a done deal just yet, Arlington could well get its wish this year. The House of Delegates and state Senate have now both passed a bill from Del. Roxann Robinson (R-27th District) to allow school systems to start classes up to 14 days before Labor Day — so long as they give students the Friday before the holiday off.
Lawmakers will now need to determine the bill’s next steps. General Assembly leaders could opt to send it along to Gov. Ralph Northam as it is, or convene a conference committee for additional negotiations as a competing bill from Sen. Amanda Chase (R-11th District) heads to the House floor for a vote.
Some local Arlington legislators — Sens. Barbara Favola (D-31st District) and Janet Howell (D-32nd District) — were backing narrower bills to give only Northern Virginia localities the power to control their school calendars. But those efforts were quickly rolled into Chase’s legislation instead, as it became clear that the tourism industry and school administrators might be able to strike a compromise on the legislation.
“We think this is a good compromise,” Chase told a House committee yesterday (Monday). “Our desire is really this to give the power back to the school boards, the parents and the PTAs, as opposed to big business determining when our young people go to school.”
Both bills would grandfather in school systems that already have waivers to start more than two weeks before Labor Day, a key demand from school leaders. Those localities also wouldn’t be required to give students the Friday before the holiday off.
Chase, and groups representing the state’s school boards and superintendents, said they would’ve much preferred a full repeal of the law to let school systems set calendars however they’d like.
By contrast, representatives of the state’s theme parks say they’re not thrilled with the prospect of schools starting the full two weeks before the holiday, but insisted on students receiving a four-day weekend as a bit of a compromise.
Tom Lisk, a lobbyist for the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association, told House lawmakers yesterday that the interest group is generally opposed to the legislation, but wouldn’t condemn the effort in its entirety.
“There’s an opportunity to work to find middle ground still,” Lisk said.
As of yet, however, there’s not much sign that lawmakers will bend to pressure from the hospitality industry on the bill.
The House’s education committee altered Chase’s bill to make it identical to Robinson’s on a 16-6 vote yesterday — should the House then pass the legislation, the final decision will rest with Northam. Or, the House could always alter Chase’s bill, setting up the potential for a conference committee, where a small team of negotiators would hash out the differences between the two pieces of legislation.
Regardless of just how lawmakers work out the details, Arlington’s School Board will be watching the proceedings quite closely. As the group set the calendar for the 2019-2020 school year on Feb. 7, Board member Barbara Kanninen told staff that she’d be “very interested” in seeing options for a pre-Labor Day start next year, so long as the legislature follows through.
“Ultimately, I’m a big fan of year-round school, and this gives us a chance to start working in that direction,” Kanninen said.
Going into the Labor Day weekend, Arlingtonians should be aware of several closings coming up on Monday and one big opening the day after: back to school day.
As local students head back to the opening day for schools on Tuesday (Sept. 4), the Arlington Police Department has put out a reminder for motorists to slow down, avoid distractions, and watch for the influx of students walking and biking to school.
Arlington Police also reminded drivers that passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading can result in a $250 fine. Vehicles on both sides of the road must stop on all roads except for divided highways, where drivers are urged to proceed with caution.
Pedestrians are reminded to only cross streets at crosswalks with permitting signals, to walk along sidewalks or paths rather than on the side of the road, and to follow the directions of crossing guards.
For cyclists, helmets are required for anyone 14 or under, but are recommended for everyone. When riding through Arlington, cyclists should keep to the right on the roads and ride in the direction of traffic.
Parents with students starting school should make sure their child knows their home phone number and address. Parents or guardians should roleplay possible situations a child might encounter and discuss personal safety tips with their child.
Before school opens back up, several government facilities will be closed on Monday for Labor Day.
DMV Select & Virginia DMV
Parks & Recreation Facilities & Programs
- Admin Offices – Closed
- Classes/Leagues – Closed
- Parks – Grounds Open
- Centers – Closed
- Spraygrounds – All spraygrounds will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Metered areas not enforced
- ART — ART 41, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will operate on Sunday schedules. All other ART routes will not operate.
- STAR – See the STAR holiday schedule.
- Metrorail – System will open at 8 a.m. and close at 11 p.m.
- Metrobus – Operating on a Sunday schedule
- MetroAccess – all subscription trips cancelled on Monday.
Trash Pickup & Recycling
- Trash & Recycling – Regular schedule
- Special Collection (Brush, Metal, E-waste) & Cart Services – Regular schedule
- Mulch Delivery – No service
- Leaf & Brush collection – Regular schedule
HHM Facility and ECRC
Today Is ‘Terrible Traffic Tuesday’ — Today is the Tuesday after Labor Day, when students in Arlington and around the region go back to school. As a result of the extra school buses, parents and students on the roads, and the end of summer vacations, it is also dubbed “Terrible Traffic Tuesday” by AAA Mid-Atlantic. In reality, however, the day after — which now has a name: “Woeful Wednesday” — is worse in terms of commuting times, and next week should be even more woeful. [Washington Post, WTOP]
Chili’s Dying Out in D.C. Area — The Chili’s in Bailey’s Crossroads has closed. The restaurant chain closed its Crystal City location last year and its Reston location the year before that. The nearest Chili’s to Arlington is now along Route 1, outside the Beltway, in Fairfax County. [Twitter]
Roosevelt Profiled by Conservative Media — GOP candidate Adam Roosevelt is getting some attention from conservative media outlets. Roosevelt “is a moderate Republican running for the Virginia House of Delegates against current Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez, who has never before faced a GOP opponent during his six years in office,” writes the Daily Caller, calling the district he’s running in, which includes part of Arlington, “far left.” The lead sentence in Newsmax’s article about Roosevelt has a different focus: “A conservative Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, who happens to be black, has recently emerged as one of the most spirited advocates of keeping Confederate statues up in the Old Dominion State.” [Daily Caller, Newsmax]
Webb Removed from Civ Fed Debate — School Board candidate Mike Webb has had his invitation to tonight’s Arlington County Civic Federation debate — the unofficial kickoff to campaign season in Arlington — rescinded because he reportedly “failed to return required paperwork in time to allow participation.” Allison Dough, the other candidate to challenge Democratic endorsee Monique O’Grady, has said she has other commitments and will be unable to attend the debate. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Evicted From ‘Big Brother’ House — Arlington resident Matt Clines, 33, has been evicted from the Big Brother house. Clines had advanced about half-way through the CBS reality show before being voted off. [Reality TV World, Parade, Hollywood Reporter]
DeVos to Make Big Announcement in Arlington — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is reportedly planning to make a “major announcement on Title IX, the campus gender equality law,” from George Mason’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington on Thursday. [BuzzFeed]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster
Unsurprisingly, traffic is pretty heavy for this morning’s rush hour.
In the D.C. area, the Tuesday after Labor Day is sometimes called “Terrible Traffic Tuesday.” That refers to the extra cars and buses on the road due to the first day of school and most people being back from their summer vacations.
In reality, the traffic is usually worse the following Wednesday, and even worse still the week after that.
As of 8:45 a.m., there were big delays on I-395 and the southbound GW Parkway in Arlington, as per usual. So far, no major traffic issues have been reported in Arlington.
Image via Google Maps
Arlington County courts, human services, libraries, recreation centers and administrative offices will be closed this coming Monday, Sept. 5, for the Labor Day holiday.
Parking meters will not be enforced on Labor Day and only ART bus routes 41, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will be running. Those routes will operate on a Sunday schedule. Metro will operate on a holiday schedule, with extra delays due to track work.
The Wakefield and Washington-Lee high school pools will be open, but the Yorktown pool will be closed.
Trash and recycling will be collected as normal, and Arlington’s special collection service will also operate as normal. A paper shredding and inert material drop-off event that would have otherwise taken place on Sept. 5 has been rescheduled for Sept. 10.
It’s Labor Day weekend — how did that happen already? If you’re sticking around town this weekend, it could be a time to tour a couple of homes and still have a couple days to yourself to enjoy the last days of summer.
As always, see our real estate section for a full listing of open houses. Here are a few highlights:
30 Old Glebe Road
1 BD / 1 BA Condominium
Agent: Grant Doe, Long & Foster Realty
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
2505 Walter Reed Drive S.
2 BD / 1 BA Condominium
Agent: Peggy Parker, Long and Foster Realty
Open: Saturday from 1-4 p.m., Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
3917 17th Street N.
3 BD / 2 BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Keri Shull, Optime Realty
Open: Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
410 Fenwick Street
3 BD / 2 BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Elizabeth Twigg, Mcenearney Associates
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
1010 20th Street S.
3 BD / 3 Full, 1 Half BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Patricia Hines, American Realty Group
Open: Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
4502 7th Street N.
4 BD / 3 Full, 1 Half BA Single Family Detached
Agent: Noel Harmer, Keller Williams Realty Falls Church
Open: Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
That’s a paltry 0.4 percent increase from last year, with 743,200 residents expected to drive to their vacation destinations, 62,500 expected to fly and the rest expected to take trains and other modes of transportation.
AAA says there would have been more locals traveling this year, had Labor Day not fallen on Sept. 7, the latest possible day it can occur. Historically, that dampens holiday travel.
“While increasing travel volume is great news for the industry and economy, our survey shows a decidedly ‘un-laboring’ take on the Labor Day holiday,” said AAA’s John Townsend II, in a press release. “Many would rather spend the holiday at cookouts, relaxing or simply at home to avoid heavy holiday traffic congestion or additional spending, especially if they have already taken a vacation this summer.”
Are you planning on skipping town for one last summer trip — or staying put and firing up the grill?
Most Arlington County government offices will be closed this coming Monday, Sept. 7, for the Labor Day holiday.
Libraries, courts, nature centers and administrative offices will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday.
Parks will be open, and county pools will operate on a modified schedule. The Washington-Lee pool will be open from noon to 4 p.m., the Wakefield High School pool is open from noon to 6 p.m., and the Yorktown pool will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
ART will run on a holiday schedule, meaning the 41, 51 and 87 buses will operate on Sunday times. All other routes will not run on Labor Day. Metro will run on a Sunday schedule and will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight.
Trash and recycling will be collected as normal.
Today Is Terrible Traffic Tuesday — AAA Mid-Atlantic has again dubbed today Terrible Traffic Tuesday. With vacations over and kids back in school, rush hour trips are expected to increase in length by 26 percent today, on average. Washington, the auto club says, has the worst rush hour traffic in the nation. [AAA Mid-Atlantic]
Fairfax School May Be Model for Arlington — Fairfax County unveiled a new five-story urban-style elementary school, with tech-laden and light-filled classrooms. The school, in the Seven Corners area, may be a model for a future school in Arlington, which is struggling to find enough open space for new schools. [InsideNova]
Shuttleworth Wins Pie-Eating Contest — Bowen Shuttleworth, the son of former Congressional candidate Bruce Shuttleworth and an emerging track champ, emerged victorious in the pie-eating contest (photo, above) at the annual Arlington County Democratic Committee Labor Day chili cookoff on Monday. The cookoff itself was interrupted by thunderstorms.
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
County Offices Closed for Labor Day — Arlington County government offices will be closed Monday for Labor Day. Pools and ART buses will operate on a holiday schedule. Trash collection will proceed as normal, but mulch delivery will be suspended. Parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]
Last Outdoor Films of the Season — Rosslyn will be hosting its last outdoor film of the summer tonight. “Horrible Bosses” is slated to run from 8:00-10:00 p.m. at Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway). The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, meanwhile, gets the honor of hosting Arlington’s last outdoor film of the summer. “Gravity” will be shown at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike) Saturday starting around 7:30 p.m. [Rosslyn BID, CPRO]
Courthouse: ‘A Hot Spot Getting Hotter’ — Courthouse “is on the cusp of being reinvented” says a county planner. Its walkability, abundance of retail and park proximity have all helped to contribute to its increasing desirability among homebuyers. [Washington Post]
Arlington GOP Adopts Local Platform — Billed as its “first local platform,” the Arlington County Republican Committee approved a set of five guiding principles Wednesday. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy Kenneth Edward Piner
That’s 842,100 local residents hitting the local roads, rails and airways. Nine out of ten of those traveling — 735,000 residents — will doing so by automobile, the association predicts. That’s up 0.8 percent from 2013, and AAA says the lowest Labor Day weekend gas prices in four years are helping to drive the increase.
“It remains the preferred and cheapest mode of transportation for a couple traveling with children trying to squeeze in a memorable family getaway before the school year goes into high gear,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, in a press release. “With the wind to their backs, they will also be buoyed along by a positive consumer outlook and improvements in the labor market.”
Air travel, meanwhile, is expected to dip slightly, down 0.3 percent to 64,200 residents who will be flying out of the D.C. area. “Other” modes of transportation, like rail, are predicted to dip 0.5 percent to 43,100 travelers.
Arlington County Democrats were joined by Sen. Mark Warner at their annual Labor Day Chili Cook-off in Lyon Park on Monday.
Between chatting with local Democratic elected officials and activists, Virginia’s senior U.S. senator cheered on contestants during the event’s popular no-hands-allowed pie eating contest. Finishing first in the contest was Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog.
The main attraction, of course, was the chili contest. A dozen and a half entries competed for the votes of a panel of judges — the “electoral college” — and for the votes of all attendees — the “popular vote.”
Del. Patrick Hope captured top honors from the popular vote, with attorney Betsey Wildhack and School Board member Noah Simon in second and third respectively. Rep. Jim Moran’s “Animal Lovers Chili,” meanwhile, won the electoral college vote.
Among other attendees at the cookout were all five Arlington County Board members, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Bob Brink and Del. Alfonso Lopez, whose son won the cupcake decorating contest.
The organization estimates that 811,500 people will travel at least 50 miles this weekend, a 2.6 percent increase from 2012. Of those travelers, 707,000 — or 87 percent — are expected to travel by car. About 8 percent will travel by air and 5 percent will travel by train, bus or boat, AAA projects.
AAA says the average traveler will journey about 600 miles, which is close to the national average. Gas prices are “unlikely to be a major factor for people in determining whether they will travel this Labor Day,” even though most consider the current national average of $3.54 a gallon “too high,” according to AAA.
“Call it summer’s last fling,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After staying put throughout the summer, Washingtonians are yearning for travel, so they are getting the heck out of town for Labor Day. In fact, this is the fourth year of increases in local Labor Day travelers in the Washington metro area.”
“The effect of sequestration is still felt locally,” Townsend continued. “However, local residents can now gauge its full impact on their discretionary budgets with the recent announcement that the number of civilian furlough days has been reduced from 11 to six. That’s enough unanticipated good news to put folks around here in the mood to travel.”
Metro Accident Victim Identified as GMU Student — The person struck and killed on the Metrorail Orange Line tracks between East Falls Church and Ballston early Sunday morning has been identified as 21-year-old George Mason University student Patrick Sibley. Sibley’s brother says he did not have a good sense of direction and may have become lost after leaving a bar in Clarendon and trying to make it home to Vienna. Metro is not commenting on the incident while it is under investigation. [Washington Post]
McDonnell Touts Budget Surplus — Gov. Bob McDonnell says the state ended its fiscal year on June 30 with $585 million more than projected. That’s the largest state surplus since 2005. The cumulative surplus during McDonnell’s nearly four years in office comes in at around $2 billion. [Washington Times]
County Labor Day Closures — Arlington County has posted a list of programs and services that will remain operational while the county offices are closed for Labor Day on Monday, September 2. Libraries, parks, pools, courts and schools will all be closed. [Arlington County]
This year’s event, which was attended by dozens of local Democrats and many of Arlington’s elected officials, included a pie-eating contest.
A number of local Democratic notables participated in a eating contest, which challenged competitors to finish a pie as quickly as possible, without using their hands. Rep. Moran’s son, Patrick, won a decisive victory, followed by Paul Holland in second place and Ben Tribbett in third place.
A panel of judges chose Sheriff Beth Arthur’s “Jailhouse Chili” as the best of the 14 chili entries, but a “popular vote” of attendees resulted in Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy’s “Taxes Chili with a Caribbean Twist” being named the “top of the ticket.” Among the runners-up in the popular vote were Del. Patrick Hope’s “Hope for the Best” chili, the Rep. Jim Moran “Victory 2012” chili, and Arlington School Board candidate Noah Simon’s “School House Rock” chili.
Other attendees at the event included 2013 Virginia lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra, state Senator Barbara Favola, County Board member Chris Zimmerman, School Board Chair Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, and ACDC Chairman Mike Lieberman.