46°Mostly Cloudy

by ARLnow.com — December 5, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Ice skating at Pentagon Row

County to Continue Westover Study — Arlington County’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board has asked county staff to study garden apartments in the Westover neighborhood. The study is expected to take 6-12 months, after which the board will consider whether to recommend a historic designation. Some residents want Westover designated as historic in order to prevent redevelopment. The study limits the historic designation to the garden apartments and not to other parts of Westover. [InsideNovaArlington County]

Donations Needed for ANC Wreaths — The nonprofit Wreaths Across America is seeking donations to help sponsor wreaths for the gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Without additional donations, nearly half of the graves at the cemetery may be bare for the holidays. [Washington Examiner, WTOP]

New Name for New Street — A new street that will be built as part of a planned apartment development along Columbia Pike may be getting a new name. Originally set to be called S. Smythe Street, the short connector road behind the Wellington apartments may instead be named S. Ross Street. [InsideNova]

High School Boundary Change Approved — Despite some resident complaints, the Arlington School Board on Dec. 1 approved a series of high school boundary changes that will move students, starting with high school freshmen next year, from overcrowded Washington-Lee High School to Wakefield and Yorktown. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Arlington Public Schools administration building

(Updated on 11/21/16 at 3:50 p.m.) The Arlington School Board discussed its budget guidance for 2018 at its meeting Tuesday. Included in the discussion: plans to move the Arlington Public Schools administrative offices.

Currently, top APS administrators have offices at the Education Center at 1426 N. Quincy Street. But the school system is considering signing a lease that would move APS offices from the Education Center and elsewhere to the Syphax Education Center at 2110 Washington Blvd.

That would free up classroom space for overcrowded Washington-Lee High School or, potentially, for a countywide high school program.

Arlington Public Schools proposed budget“The Education Center property would become available to develop into more classroom space for high school students once APS offices are relocated after Jan. 1, 2018,” said a press release.

“While the Ed Center property will be considered for additional high school seats, the School Board has not made any decision regarding how this space will be used as secondary seats, but the plan does not automatically add capacity to Washington-Lee,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia. “The Board will have a conversation with the community about whether it will be a countywide high school program, what type of program, and how to use this additional space for secondary seats in the future.”

The overall FY 2018 budget direction calls for pay raises, “whole child” initiatives and cost savings.

“The proposed budget direction prioritizes increased compensation for staff; supports continued investment in initiatives to meet the needs of the whole child and provide 21st century learning opportunities; provides full staffing for growing enrollment; and assumes full funding from the County’s transfer to pay for critical needs of the school division,” said the press release. “Additionally, the Board’s budget direction includes efforts to identify cost savings, options for increased fees, and opportunities to use closeout funding to pay for one-time expenses.”

The School Board, meanwhile, is thanking Arlington voters for approving a $139 million school bond measure that will fund school construction necessary to keep up with increasing school enrollment.

From Arlington Public Schools:

Approximately 79.5 percent of voters supported the bond, which will be dedicated to addressing growing capacity needs throughout Arlington County.

“Thank you to the entire community. We have an incredible community that really supports our schools,” said School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren. “Here in Arlington we are proud to enjoy continued support from the community that is clearly committed to our schools.”

She continued, “One demonstration of this commitment is the strong voter approval of our 2016 School Bond, which passed with just under 80% of the vote. The success of our Bond campaign this year was due in large part to our two Bond Co-Chairs, Monique O’Grady and Peter Fallon. We owe a big thank you to Monique and Peter for their efforts.” The allocation of the $138.8 million will fund the following projects:

  • $26,030,000 will be used as the majority funding to build an addition at the Stratford building to add 339 seats.
  • $78,400,000 will be used as the majority funding for construction of the new school at the Wilson site to add an estimated 775 seats.
  • $12,000,000 will be used to renovate the Career Center/Arlington Tech to add 300 seats.
  • $10,000,000 will be used for planning and design to build an additional 1,300 secondary seats [location(s) TBD].
  • $12,400,000 will be used for HVAC, roofing, and other infrastructure improvement projects at existing APS buildings.

Information on the 2016 school bond and all of the projects planned in the 2017-26 APS Capital Improvement Plan is available online.

by ARLnow.com — November 3, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Tannia TalentoLast week we asked the two candidates for Arlington School Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the November 8 election.

Here is the unedited response from Tannia Talento (D), who along with Nancy Van Doren is running unopposed:

Thank you to ARLnow.com for the chance to engage Arlington voters before the election on Tuesday.

I decided to run for Arlington County School Board because I believe that every student, regardless of their circumstances, should have equitable access to a quality education and I have been advocating for this throughout my life. My focus as a member of our school board will be to expand mental health education and resources for all of our students, eliminate the achievement/opportunity gap, and address our capacity needs with transparent and robust community engagement.

We have strong community involvement in our schools. Many of our stakeholders work very hard to make our school system the best it can be, but there are stakeholders in our community who are underrepresented, who should be involved in the process. I will advocate for these communities and bring everyone to the table. As a first-generation American to immigrant parents, I know how hard it can be to get involved in the school system and have a voice if you are an immigrant, a working parent, a minority, or face a language barrier. I will make sure to bring these perspectives to our Board.

Arlington Public Schools is making slow progress to improve our mental health support systems and as a board member, I will ensure that we make mental health a priority in APS’ Whole Child Initiative. According to a recent NPR Ed Series on mental health, 1 in 5 students has symptoms of a mental health disorder in any given year. We need to work harder to address the mental health needs of our students. I will make sure we continue to focus on this issue and to bring awareness and education to our students, parents, and community on how this silent epidemic is affecting Arlington students.

Arlington’s school challenges are community-wide challenges that can only be faced with the support and input of every stakeholder in the county. Our achievement/opportunity gap can be eliminated, but only if we have every stakeholder at the table working towards the common goal of creating an education system that works for every student, not just most students. One of the ways I will address this is to review our data at a granular level to truly understand the reasons for the gap so that we work together to serve our students as individuals and not as statistical blocks. We have the passion, commitment, and resources in our schools and community to make this happen but we cannot serve our students if we do not understand their needs as an individual.

Finally, I plan to address our capacity needs with transparent and robust community engagement. Again, we will have to work together to come up with creative solutions that support the new Virginia Board of Education’s Profile of a Graduate initiative and the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Both of these new measures will affect how we prepare our students to be 21st-century learners and ensure they are college and career ready students that can enter our colleges and workforce prepared and with choices for life-long success.

Since the Democratic Caucus in May, I have continued the work on advancing these goals and advocating for every student. This summer and fall, my focus has been on meeting with numerous parent and community groups on how to share my goals and vision and to learn about their priorities and concerns. I have also been meeting with our existing School Board members and County Board members to ensure that I am informed, prepared and ready to start working on day one if elected.

I look forward to serving this community and working hard to make Arlington, not one of the best school systems in the country, but rather, the best school system in the country. I humbly ask for your vote on November 8th. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my candidacy and my vision for our schools. For more information about me and my campaign, please visit my website at www.tanniatalento.org.

by ARLnow.com — November 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Nancy Van Doren

Last week we asked the two candidates for Arlington School Board to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the November 8 election.

Here is the unedited response from incumbent Nancy Van Doren (D):

I am seeking re-election to the Arlington School Board and ask for your vote on November 8, 2016. I also ask that you vote for our “Stronger Together” Democratic team, including Tannia Talento, Libby Garvey, Don Beyer, Tim Kaine, and Hillary Clinton. Please vote “Yes” on the School and other County Bond Referenda.

Since joining the Board in 2014, I have brought family and community voices to the table to ensure that APS maintains the highest educational standards while expanding capacity for its growing student population. In recognition of this work, I have been endorsed by A-PAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association.

As a member and now Chair of the School Board, I have maintained my focus on instruction and educational excellence. My primary goal is to prepare every student to be successful in our 21st century economy. To this end, I have ensured an increase in specialized interventions for struggling readers, expanded opportunities for students with disabilities to succeed alongside non-disabled peers, ensured high expectations for English language learners, and supported the expansion of foreign language classes at all elementary schools. I continue to support APS’ digital learning initiative, which provides all students with access to technology to strengthen their learning. I fully support the launch of Arlington Tech, a new STEM-centered high school program that includes hands-on learning, industry credentialing, and dual enrollment classes for college credit.

To meet APS’ growing capacity needs, I supported the internal renovation project at Washington-Lee High School that added 300 seats. I support similar projects at Wakefield and Yorktown High Schools as well as the recent renovation of the Fenwick building, which now houses an additional 300 seats for Arlington Community High School. I voted for additions and renovations at Stratford, Abingdon and McKinley Schools as well as for a new secondary school in Rosslyn and elementary school in South Arlington to be built and opened by fall 2019. I served as the School Board liaison to the APS/County Community Facilities Study and am working to implement its recommendations to better coordinate County and School facility resources. I strongly support funding in APS’ 2016 Capital Improvement Plan to complete needed current and future projects on time and within budget. I will continue to advocate for funds to increase high school and elementary school capacity as soon as possible, so APS can meet the needs of what will be a 30,000-student school system by 2022.

Today, my priorities remain clear:  maintaining a keen focus on educational excellence for all our students while building a strong infrastructure to meet the needs of our expanding school system.

Before joining the School Board, I volunteered on various APS committees covering instruction, transportation, and special education.   I served as Jefferson Middle School PTA president, founded the ArlingtonADHD and ArlingtonReading parent support groups, and co-founded the Arlington Latino Network.

Prior to moving to Arlington, I lived overseas with my husband, Jack Zetkulic, in Serbia, Sweden, and Switzerland. We have lived in Ashton Heights with our four children since 2004.  In addition to my Arlington school system experience, I had previously worked in business and communications. I spent 12 years in the private sector with Connecticut National Bank, The Travelers Companies, and The Hartford Courant in Hartford, CT. and then at Newsday in New York. I am a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and have a Masters in Management from The Hartford Graduate Center/ Rensselaer. I lived in Spain and Nicaragua and am fluent in Spanish.

by ARLnow.com — November 2, 2016 at 10:10 am 0

A set of possible high school boundary changes presented by Arlington Public Schools staff would shift several hundred students from the increasingly overcrowded Washington-Lee High School to Wakefield and Yorktown high schools.

Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is set to present his boundary change recommendations to the School Board tomorrow (Thursday).

The various boundary “refinement” options (as seen above) were presented to the public last week, as part of a process that began in September.

APS says its goal in the boundary change process is to “balance enrollment among the three comprehensive high schools and better utilize available instructional space” while taking into consideration “efficiency, proximity, stability, alignment, demographics, and contiguity.”

As with previous school boundary processes, this latest iteration is not without its detractors. Some residents have emailed ARLnow.com, contending that the process has lacked transparency and has not properly taken parent feedback into account.

“For what it’s worth, this whole process has been an absolutely embarrassing abomination of the ‘Arlington Way’ and the solicitation of feedback has been nothing but a flash-bang to distract residents from the County staff simply doing whatever they want,” said Pete Messman, an Arlington Forest resident.

Next up in the boundary process is School Board work session on Nov. 9, followed by a public hearing on Nov. 15 and a School Board vote on Dec. 1.

The boundary changes would take effect next fall and would apply to rising high school freshmen, not current high school students.

by ARLnow.com — October 28, 2016 at 9:25 am 0

Food trucks near Ballston Mall

County Manager on Buck Property — County staff have “made no recommendations for any specific function” at the to-be-acquired Buck property near Washington-Lee High School, the county said in a press release this morning. Nearby residents have launched a petition against a proposal to use the property for school bus operations. Said Arlington County Manager Mark Schwarz: “Our ability to provide essential services is only as good as the facilities we have to support them. As our population continues to grow, our services will either deteriorate or cost the taxpayer more without adequate support facilities.” [Arlington County]

Fundraiser for Employee Struck By SUV — A fundraiser for a Mad Rose Tavern employee run over by an SUV raised more than $5,000 last night, the restaurant’s manager said on Facebook. Victoria Gonzalez, 34, is still in the hospital, preparing to begin rehabilitation. The next court appearance for the DUI suspect in the case is scheduled for Nov. 17. [WJLA]

Bowl’d to Introduce Breakfast — Healthy fast casual eatery Bowl’d (1028 N. Garfield Street) in Clarendon is introducing weekend breakfast service from 9 a.m. to noon, starting this Saturday. Bowl’d founder Allen Reed says the restaurant will be “giving away breakfast tacos, greek yogurt bowls and hot breakfast bowls to the first 150 people who come through our doors this weekend.”

Talento to Bring New Perspective to School Board — Democrat Tannia Talento, who’s running unopposed for Arlington School Board, says she wants to bring “the perspective of the working parent” to the Board. Another unique perspective: Talento said economic and family issues prevented her from getting a college degree. Talento says her priorities on the Board will be dealing with the growing student population, improving access to mental health services and narrowing the achievement gap. [InsideNova]

Arlington Lauded for LGBTQ Protections — “Arlington has been named one of 37 American ‘All-Star Cities‘ acclaimed for their high standard of inclusiveness toward their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities.” [Arlington County]

Innovative Companies in Crystal City — Business publication Bisnow says the following are “five disruptive companies establishing Crystal City as [a] nexus of innovation:” Lyft, TMSOFT, OrcaVue, Polynox Solutions and FourStay. [Bisnow]

by ARLnow.com — October 25, 2016 at 6:00 pm 0

Arlington County joint facilities presentation

(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) Arlington County is in desperate need of more land for schools and for county government operations. But a plan to acquire an office park across the street from Washington-Lee High School and use it for school bus parking is meeting with community opposition.

The county is planning to spend $30 million acquiring the Quincy Street Technology Center, also known as the Buck property, a 6.1 acre office park zoned primarily for commercial and light industrial uses. Located adjacent to N. Quincy Street and I-66 in the Virginia Square area, the property also partially borders a residential neighborhood.

In a joint County Board-School Board work session earlier this month, Arlington County staff laid out the case for the moving the Arlington Public Schools school bus operations from the Trades Center near Shirlington to the Buck site.

The Buck property is in a central location, near the school administrative building and has the space to accommodate current APS bus parking needs, unlike the increasingly crowded Trades Center, where growth has exceeded capacity. (Thanks to rising enrollment, APS has added 40 new school buses in the past 5 years.)

The Buck property would at first be used for temporary bus parking, then would be considered for a permanent APS bus parking, operations and dispatch center, with a new vehicle wash and fueling station, according to the staff presentation. Other potential uses of the property include temporary overflow parking for Washington-Lee, police and fire reserve vehicle storage, APS office use and a permanent Office of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Center facility.

In response, some nearby residents have created a petition against the bus proposal. The petition, entitled “The Buck Stops Here,” has more than 100 signatures.

Here’s what the petition says:

Again, Arlington County is barreling ahead with a project impacting a neighborhood without consulting nearby residents. This is a disturbing trend that demands a strong voice from Arlington citizens.

The county is proceeding with a plan to purchase the Buck tract on N. Quincy Street for $30 million (more than $6 million over the 2016 tax assessment) and redevelop the property for, no doubt, tens of millions more – all for a bus parking lot and repair facility.

We do not object to the redevelopment of this ideally-located tract but the placement of an industrial site directly adjoining an existing residential neighborhood is unprecedented in Arlington and bodes ominously for other neighborhoods.

They have proceeded without consulting the adjacent neighborhood and have kept Arlington citizens at-large in the dark about their planning. We have repeatedly asked for a seat in their discussions but have been denied at every turn.

It’s time for Arlington citizens to demand a return to the “Arlington Way” and stop the Buck tract before your neighborhood is next.

The petition, we’re told, is also “‘trending’ across nine Arlington neighborhoods” via Nextdoor, an online social network.

“This is sadly reminiscent of the recent instances of Arlington citizens rising up against the planning without consultation with the [H-B Woodlawn] relocation, the TJ parking lot, the Lee Hwy firehouse, and plopping a temporary firehouse on the green grass of Rhodeside Green Park, along with a growing number of other attempts at action without consulting neighborhoods,” Dennis Whitehead, a resident who lives near the Buck site, told ARLnow.com.

Arlington County joint facilities presentationDespite the insistence that the county is “barreling ahead” with the project, the county’s acquisition of the Buck property may not close for another year, and the county says it’s committed to a community process prior to determining its permanent uses for the property.

The proposal may be discussed tonight (Tuesday) at a meeting in Courthouse. The public meeting, intended to review community input regarding a new joint county-schools facilities advisory committee that’s being planned, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).

That committee, which will follow up on the Community Facilities Study that wrapped up around this time last year (but is still the subject of meetings), will also be considering uses for other county-owned or potentially county-owned properties, including:

  • A 11.5 acre Virginia Hospital Center property along S. Carlin Springs Road, which could potentially be used for police and fire vehicle logistics, a new police impound lot, material staging and for the Office of Emergency Management/Emergency Operations Center.
  • County-owned land at the intersection of 26th Street N. and Old Dominion Drive, across from Marymount University, which currently includes a park, a mulch pile and a salt dome. The park will be preserved but the county wants to replace the aging salt dome and use some of the land for snow clearing operations and material storage.
  • Madison Community Center, though no specific additional uses were presented.
  • Clarendon House, a vacant former rehabilitation center at the intersection of N. Irving Street and 10th Street N.

Another joint County Board-School Board meeting, on recommendations from the Community Facilities Study, is planned for Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — October 24, 2016 at 9:10 am 0

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans at Arlington Rooftop Grill (photo courtesy Brent Robson)

Gunston Could Get New Baseball Diamond — Arlington County officials are considering renovating a baseball diamond at Gunston Middle School, replacing it with a lighted artificial turf field. A public meeting about the project, is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 7-9 p.m. at the Gunston community center. [Arlington County]

TJ Elementary Design Approved — The Arlington School Board has unanimously approved schematic designs for the new elementary school planned for the Thomas Jefferson Middle School site. Construction on the $59 million project is expected to begin in July and wrap up in time for the 2019-2020 school year. [InsideNova]

More Details About W-L Fight — A large fight at Friday night’s Washington-Lee High School football game, first reported by ARLnow.com, involved “at least 20 parents and students” and “was the result of a dispute between two families,” unrelated to the game, according to police. Officers used pepper spray to break up the fight. One adult was arrested during the game. [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Brent Robson

by ARLnow.com — July 6, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

Wilson site plan (image via Arlington County)The H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program is gearing up to move to a brand new building in Rosslyn for the 2019-2020 school year, but a new wrinkle in that plan is worrying parents.

On Friday, Arlington County announced that it was collaborating with Arlington Public Schools on a money-saving plan: a temporary fire station will be placed on the school’s field while developer Penzance constructs two new mixed-use buildings next door, on the county-owned site of the current Fire Station No. 10.

The development will provide a new, permanent fire station and 100 underground parking spaces for the school — when it’s completed in 2022. In the meantime, the temporary fire station will be placed on the field at the corner of N. Quinn and 18th streets, and Arlington County will provide off-site fields and parking for the school.

The county says the plan will save it $20 million and will save Arlington Public Schools $5 million — thanks to Penzance paying for the parking, the new fire station and a new Rosslyn Highlands Park, adjacent to the development.

“We realize that opening the school without a field will inconvenience students and staff,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We chose this site because the parking provided to APS for schools will save a considerable amount of money for the school project, and it is the best location by far for the temporary fire station. We believe that when the project is finally completed, this site will not only be a great new home for H-B and the Stratford Program, but will also provide many, many benefits to our community.”

Members of the H-B Woodlawn Parent Advisory Committee, however, were none too pleased with the idea of opening the school without a field and other factors that could have “an adverse impact on our children.”

In an email to members, the committee urges parents to reach out to County Board and School Board members before each considers approving the plan at their July meetings.

Dear Members of the H-B Woodlawn Community:

Our apologies for sending this message out on the Friday before a three-day weekend, but we thought it was important to bring this issue to your attention as soon as possible.

The School Board and County Board announced today that they are in negotiations to build a temporary fire station on the planned athletic fields at the new home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, at the Wilson site.  This plan is being rushed through with very limited public input and without serious consideration of its impact on students, staff, and visitors, in the name of saving money.  A press release regarding this proposal can be found here: Press Release

We strongly urge you to express your opposition to this proposal to members of the County Board ([email protected]) and members of the School Board ([email protected]).  Your emails should be addressed to County Board Chair Libby Garvey and School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren, and will be distributed to all members of each respective board, including H-B Woodlawn’s School Board member liaison Reid Goldstein.  The County Board plans to vote on this issue on July 16th and the School Board on July 21th.

Here are suggested points to make in your communications with Board members:

  • I strongly urge you to oppose the proposed licensing agreement that would allow a temporary fire station to be built on the planned athletic field at the Wilson site.
  • H-B Woodlawn and Stratford students’ instruction would be seriously compromised by the elimination of all outdoor physical education classes for three years or more if this proposal went forward.  The idea of bussing students to parks almost a mile away is unworkable, as the entire class period would be spent loading and unloading busses and driving back and forth.
  • The safety of HB Woodlawn and Stratford students, as well as staff and visitors, would be put at risk as the planned covered drop off and pick up entrance would be obstructed by an active fire station.  There has been no analysis of the transportation impact of this major change that will result in students being dropped off and picked up on Wilson Blvd., an idea the stakeholder representatives serving on the Wilson project design committee and APS already rejected.
  • There has been no public input to this last minute, backroom deal with a private developer.  Indeed, the APS School Board is considering this significant change to the new building without even asking the architects for revised schematics to understand the impact on the building design, without knowing what the temporary fire station would look like or how its colocation could impact instruction, and without a new traffic analysis to determine the safest and most efficient ways for bus, auto, pedestrian, bicycle, and emergency traffic to flow on and/or around the new campus.
  • The County should relocate the temporary fire station to another location that doesn’t have such an adverse impact on our children.

We will keep you informed as we gather more information about this proposal and its potential impact.

by ARLnow.com — July 5, 2016 at 8:00 am 0

Bald eagle spotted on N. Park Drive on July 4, 2016 (photo courtesy Paul Fiorino)

Bald Eagle Spotted on Fourth of July — A bald eagle was spotted in the area of N. Park Drive, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, yesterday on the Fourth of July (see above). The eagle “finally flew away after half an hour of harassment from a bunch of crows,” noted a neighborhood listserv email, but not before delighting adults and children in the neighborhood who gathered to see the patriotic sight.

Vietnam Vet Survives Stroke Thanks to Medics — Quick-acting Arlington County paramedics, a Good Samaritan who helped direct traffic at an intersection to let the ambulance through and skilled emergency room doctors helped to save the life of a Vietnam veteran who suffered a stroke while visiting his son in Arlington. [Fox 5]

School Board Chair Focused on Achievement — The Arlington School Board’s new chairman, Nancy Van Doren, says her focus is on individual student achievement, even in the midst of ongoing school growth and capacity challenges. “Our litmus test must be: Does each and every child receive the support he or she needs?” Van Doren said. [InsideNova]

Faked Fireworks Included Arlington Angle — The internet is abuzz about PBS’ use of “rerun” fireworks footage intermixed with live footage during its Capitol Fourth broadcast last night. One of the camera angles used showed an impossibly clear view of the fireworks and of the Capitol building from Arlington. In actuality, rain and low clouds made for a dreary, hazy view of the fireworks display. [WTOP]

Photo courtesy of Paul Fiorino

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

MorningNotes2

Van Doren, Talento Win Dem Endorsement — Tannia Talento and incumbent Nancy Van Doren convincingly won the Democratic endorsement caucus for School Board last week. Talento and Van Doren were the most-endorsed candidates in the race. They will now move on to the November general election. [InsideNova]

Gate Problem at Clarendon Dog Park — A stuck gate reportedly trapped people and dogs in the Clarendon dog park Friday evening. Firefighters responded to the scene to help open the gate. [Twitter]

Female WW2 Pilots Gain Burial Rights at ANC — Bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama has granted Women Airforce Service Pilots, who served during World War II, formal burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery. Those rights were revoked due to a Dept. of Defense legal finding and policy change last year. [Voice of America]

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm 0

Arlington School Board Vice Chair Nancy Van DorenLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from incumbent candidate Nancy Van Doren:

I am seeking re-election to the Arlington School Board and ask for your vote during the School Board Democratic Caucus May 19, 7-9 pm, at Drew Model School and May 21 at Washington-Lee High School from 11 am-7 pm.

Since joining the Board in 2014, I have brought family and community voices to the table to ensure that APS maintains the highest educational standards while expanding capacity for its growing student population.   In recognition of this work, I have been endorsed by A-PAC, the political action committee of the Arlington Education Association.

Last summer, my Board colleagues elected me to serve as Vice Chair. In this leadership role, I have maintained my focus on instruction and educational excellence. My primary goal is to prepare every student to be successful in our 21st century economy. To this end, I have ensured an increase in specialized interventions for struggling readers, expanded opportunities for students with disabilities to succeed alongside non-disabled peers, ensured high expectations for English language learners, and supported the expansion of foreign language classes at all elementary schools. I continue to support APS’ digital learning initiative, which provides all students with access to technology to strengthen their learning. I fully support the launch of Arlington Tech, a new STEM-centered high school program that includes hands-on learning, industry credentialing, and dual enrollment classes for college credit.

To meet APS’ growing capacity needs, I supported the internal renovation project at Washington-Lee High School that added 300 seats. I will support similar projects at Wakefield and Yorktown High Schools. I voted for additions and renovations at Stratford, Abingdon and McKinley Schools as well as for a new secondary school in Rosslyn and elementary school in South Arlington to be built and opened by fall 2019. I served as the School Board liaison to the APS/County Community Facilities Study, which developed recommendations to better coordinate County and School facility resources. I strongly support funding in APS’ 2016 Capital Improvement Plan to complete needed current and future projects on time and within budget. I will advocate for funds to increase high school and elementary school capacity as soon as possible, so APS can meet the needs of what will be a 30,000 student school system by 2022.

Today, my priorities remain clear:  build a strong infrastructure to meet the needs of our expanding school system while maintaining a keen focus on educational excellence for all our students.

Before joining the School Board, I volunteered on various APS committees covering instruction, transportation, and special education.   I served as Jefferson Middle School PTA president, founded the ArlingtonADHD and ArlingtonReading parent support groups, and co-founded the Arlington Latino Network.

Prior to moving to Arlington, I lived overseas with my husband, Jack Zetkulic, in Serbia, Sweden, and Switzerland. We have lived in Ashton Heights with our four children since 2004.  In addition to my Arlington school system experience, I had previously worked in business and communications. I spent 12 years in the private sector with Connecticut National Bank, The Travelers Companies, and The Hartford Courant in Hartford, CT. and then at Newsday in New York. I am a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and have a Masters in Management from The Hartford Graduate Center/ Rensselaer. I lived in Spain and Nicaragua and am fluent in Spanish.

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board candidate Tannia TalentoLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Tannia Talento:

Thank you to ARLnow.com for the opportunity to engage Arlington voters on the issues facing Arlington’s schools.

I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe I am the candidate best equipped to provide a voice for our students who are underserved and for our students who are looking for options after high school that may not include college. I want to ensure our students are not only college ready but career ready. I believe our school system is in a position to make sure every student is able to access a productive path to their dreams on graduation day, whether it includes college or something else.

I have campaigned all over our county this spring talking about issues that are on the minds of parents, students, community members and teachers: increasing access to mental health resources and education by working closely with existing county resources; closing our achievement gap by looking at our students individually and not in wide-ranging categories, so we can deploy our resources in a targeted and effective manner; and how we address our capacity needs with a growing student population and a tight fiscal environment while continually engaging our community earnestly and sincerely.

These issues are incredibly important to our students, parents, teachers and community. We have a great school system and the challenges we face today are born from the success of our schools and the success of Arlington’s smart growth policies. We should meet these challenges head on with the full engagement of our community; however, this requires a leader who understands the perspective of our underserved communities as well as the greater community and understands how to engage all of our community members including community members who are not traditionally engaged. I am that leader.

As a first generation American, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to advocate in our school system. My parents, who both immigrated from Guatemala, worked hard to provide everything they could, but still did not understand how to advocate for us in school. I faced many challenges and finished high school on an untraditional path. I moved to South Arlington and worked full-time in Crystal City at a law firm and worked my way up in my profession to become a legal secretary, while taking night classes at NOVA Community College and starting a family. While I didn’t finish college, I cultivated a trade and worked hard in my career, ultimately achieving success. I re-married and now have a blended family of 5 kids. I became actively involved in our schools 5 years ago, working on issues on curriculum through ACI, the Math Advisory Committee, and the Superintendent’s Master Planning Working Group; capacity issues through the Facilities Study Committee in 2015; and advocacy issues working on the ESOL/HILT Committee among many others which you can read on my website.

As a leader in our community, I want to make sure we are engaging every stakeholder where they live and work by pushing for open office hours which rotate between schools. In ensuring all corners of our community have a voice, we can arrive at the best solutions for everyone.

I hope to earn your vote tonight or Saturday. You can vote tonight at Drew Model School from 7pm to 9pm and on Saturday at Washington-Lee from 11am to 7pm.

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

Michael SheaLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Michael Shea:

After years of serving on advisory committees to both Arlington Public Schools and the County government, I decided to run for School Board. My intention is to ensure that the high quality education our son has received is available for the students coming after him, as well as to help APS shift in some new directions so we can do even better. I’m an advocate for open data, problem-based learning, and new designs for our school construction.

The “new designs” theme encourages us to plan new schools and facilities in areas such as Rosslyn and Crystal City, even using former office space to convert into classrooms. Arlington has a high office vacancy rate and an urgent need for new school facilities. A continued focus on new construction in the rest of the County will cause us to lose park space and create more traffic.

To advocate for these ideas, I have knocked on thousands of doors all across Arlington. As I expected, I have had many conversations with parents who have had highly positive experiences with Arlington Public Schools. But I have also talked with families who are frustrated that we do not offer a more inclusionary learning environment for students with special needs. I have talked with teachers who are frustrated by excessive testing requirements, poor planning in the program to distribute notebook computers, and decisions where their voice is not heard. I have talked with families who are disappointed by the lack of socioeconomic diversity in many of our schools. And I have talked with parents and teachers who are disappointed that the quality of some facilities has deteriorated while our attention seems to be only on the new construction.

Learning from these frustrations and disappointments has affirmed my view that we can do better. We need to expand the conversations and affirm our commitment to a consistently high quality of facilities all across Arlington, to a more inclusionary learning environment for students with special needs, and to reducing testing time.

I have not been filling up the median strips of Arlington with campaign signs, so my name is not as widely known as some others. But my doorstep conversations with families has filled my life for the past several months. I better understand the problems we face and I thank everyone who took the time to talk with me. I am asking for your vote in the Democratic School Board Caucus to be an advocate for those ways in which we can do better and for protecting the high quality of education so many families have known.

by ARLnow.com — May 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Chaz CrismonLast week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.

Here is the unedited response from Chaz Crismon:

I am currently a stay-at-home dad of a 1st grader with special needs. I volunteer at Hoffman-Boston Elementary where I see my son happily learning. My talents include teaching Social Studies, speaking Spanish and Portuguese, listening and building trust.

As a young parent, I am a natural choice to work with parents as they make educational decisions for their kids. I will effectively collaborate with parent groups seeking stronger relationships with the School Board. I am the only candidate who will be a PTA parent throughout my four-year term. Our leadership team will build trust with a young parent like me on board.

We should have a licensed public school teacher on the board. I share the progressive Democratic values of our revered departing educator. On a full-time and part-time basis, I have taught Social Studies, English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Elementary Spanish Immersion classrooms. I will make sure we support our teachers so they can continue doing great work! Our current board is losing its best teacher liaison. Our leadership team will build trust with a public school teacher like me on board.

As I listen to citizens, I find many who are happy with our schools. Most trust we will do better. These are my priorities:

We need more fairness in our school system.

I want to revamp the lottery system so it gives all parents of entering students an equal chance of enrolling at a choice school available to them. The current system favors in-the-know codebreakers. Access to quality special education, gifted services, arts, language and science programming should be consistent across all our schools.

We need more space for instruction and creative play.

Our classrooms are spilling into alcoves, workrooms, and auditoriums. We have successfully reconfigured and expanded existing school sites, but we must work with the County Board on better solutions now. I have more than a decade of experience as a real estate professional. We will acquire private land and build a new school in a welcoming neighborhood. We must be aggressive and vigilant, so we can take advantage of buying opportunities. My parents in Arizona gave up a farm to a freeway and two business locations to an arts district. Their properties were never for sale, but Arizona got it done. Arlington can get it done too in a way advantageous to all. It takes time to close such deals, but I will make sure our county leaders do not drag their feet. I will enjoy solving our real estate problems.

We need more inclusion opportunities for disabled students.

Creative staffing solutions are necessary to accommodate the unique needs of students. We must provide more support for students with special needs in general education settings.

We need to close the achievement gap.

We must hire and retain the best teachers and support staff. As we respect and cultivate ties to the home culture and languages of students, the achievement gap will narrow.

I will work to address the unique needs of each child by actively engaging with the community and the superintendent’s office on a fulltime basis. I will work to harness the power of volunteerism to benefit all our schools. We should expand the reach of our existing volunteer networks to bring in more help from people less connected to our schools.

I have run the gauntlet of challenging leadership and academic training, as an Eagle Scout/Boy Scout Leader, an LDS missionary in the Dominican Republic, a Stanford grad, a Marriott credit manager in Peru after 9/11, a Thunderbird MBA, and an entrepreneur. After overcoming a bout of cancer, I wound down my real estate company to devote myself to education. My rigorous teacher training program saw almost 2 in 3 people quit. I completed my program on time even as I dealt with cancer treatment. Today, cancer-free, I am as optimistic as ever that I can make a difference. I have had the tremendous support of my wife, church and Arlington Public Schools to pull me through many challenges. I know the difference a good public preschool and bus service can make for a struggling family. I feel blessed to be able to run hard with the talents and time I have to share. The School Board needs my energetic new parent and teacher perspective to serve students.

If you value grit, determination, and experience working with and helping people of all backgrounds and circumstances, then vote Chaz D. Crismon for School Board.

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