Arlington, VA

Arlington Public Schools has a new interim superintendent for the new school year.

Cintia Johnson, who first joined APS in 1986 and is currently Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, will serve as interim superintendent starting Sept. 1. The Arlington School Board unanimously approved her appointment at a special meeting Tuesday evening.

Johnson will serve until a permanent superintendent is selected. The School Board “expects to have a search firm hired by early fall.”

“Johnson earned numerous awards throughout her tenure,” an APS press release noted, “including Principal of the Year while at Patrick Henry Elementary in 1999 and Teacher of the Year while at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in 1992.”

The full press release is below.

The Arlington School Board today appointed Cintia Johnson as the Interim Superintendent for Arlington Public Schools, effective September 1, 2019, at a special meeting held Tuesday, July 30. Johnson is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, a position she has held since 2012. Members of the School Board made the appointment with a unanimous vote of 5-0.

As Interim Superintendent, Johnson will replace Superintendent Dr. Patrick K. Murphy, who will retire from APS on September 1, 2019. Johnson’s contract begins on August 1, 2019 and extends through June 30, 2020, or until a permanent superintendent is hired. This will allow for transition time during the month of August. Johnson’s appointment to Interim Superintendent will be effective on September 1, 2019.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have found a leader who has spent her career serving Arlington Public Schools, who embodies the skills and leadership qualities our community values, who knows our school system, understands our priorities for this year, and has the trust and respect of her colleagues and our staff,” said School Board Chair Tannia Talento. “Ms. Johnson is the right person to lead APS during this important time of change, and I am confident that her skills and experience will allow for a seamless transition as we open new schools, advance the work of our strategic plan, and prepare for a future leader in the months ahead.”

Johnson, a bilingual educator for more than 35 years, has served APS in a variety of instructional, management and leadership roles since 1986, including most recently as assistant superintendent for administrative services. In this role, Johnson works collaboratively with school principals and staff across APS to enhance operations, strengthen schools and promote student success and achievement. She has also served as the Superintendent’s designee throughout his tenure when he has been away from the office.

“I am absolutely honored and humbled to take on this role. Serving our students and supporting their education has been my life’s work, and I look forward to continuing that work in a new capacity,” Johnson said in her remarks during the meeting. “We are successful in Arlington because of the quality and dedication of our incredible staff, and I am confident that together we will continue to do great things for all our students.”

Johnson began her career in APS in 1986 as a 4th grade teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary and then taught 6th grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. She was a teacher for nearly 20 years before starting her administrative career as assistant principal of Randolph Elementary.

In 2002, Johnson, who is fluent in Spanish, helped open and establish Arlington’s second dual-language immersion elementary school, Claremont Immersion, where she was principal for ten years until 2012. She also served as principal of Patrick Henry Elementary for eight years.

Johnson earned numerous awards throughout her tenure, including Principal of the Year while at Patrick Henry Elementary in 1999 and Teacher of the Year while at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in 1992.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education and Spanish from Rutgers University and has a master’s degree in linguistics. She later earned her educational leadership licensure from George Mason University.

The terms of her contract include an annualized $224,796 salary, a $3,000 monthly contribution to a retirement account and a $400 monthly car allowance. The School Board continues to move forward on the hiring process for the new superintendent.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued in August, and the Board expects to have a search firm hired by early fall. Once the firm is in place, the process will include input from staff, families and the community. APS will share a timeline and updates on the search process via a dedicated page on the Engage with APS! webpage by the first of August.

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Morning Notes

Interim APS Superintendent to Be Named — The Arlington School Board is planning to name an interim superintendent at a special meeting tonight, following the departure of long-time APS Superintendent Patrick Murphy. The School Board is expected to select a search firm by early fall to find a new, permanent superintendent. [Twitter, InsideNova]

Plan for New Ballston Metro Entrance Advancing — “Arlington County staff have been given the ‘go-ahead’ to move forward with planning a second entrance at the Ballston Metro station, according to project manager Bee Buergler, but it could be another five years before it actually comes to fruition. The project is over 15 years in the planning, but until recently it’s been held up because the building that would be above it was being redeveloped and ran into delays.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Cross-Crystal City Corporate Clash — Crystal City-based prescription drug IT provider SureScripts is feuding with its future neighbor, Amazon, over the use of patient medical records. [Bloomberg]

Photo courtesy laash/Instagram

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Morning Notes

Incubator Leaving Crystal City — “Startup incubator 1776 plans to open its new D.C. location this year and will ultimately shut down its Crystal City location. 1776 spokesman Lucas McCanna said the company will relocate to ‘the general McPherson Square area,’ but declined to give a specific address.” [Washington Business Journal]

AAA: Worst Times for Independence Day Travel — “Holiday travelers hailing from the area will face absolute gridlock along key freeway segments starting [today], July 3. Topping the list of the worst corridors for those departing Wednesday, July 3, is Interstate 270 northbound.” [Press Release]

Arlington County Holiday Closures — All Arlington County government offices, courts, libraries and facilities will be closed Thursday for the Independence Day holiday, though trash and recycling will still be collected. Also, “metered parking is not enforced but street parking near the US Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Long Bridge Park, and the Air Force Memorial will be restricted. Motorists should look for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs.” [Arlington County]

Memorial Bridge Closed to Pedestrians — In addition to other July 4 road closures around Arlington, Memorial Bridge will be closed to both vehicles and pedestrians throughout the day Thursday. [Twitter, National Park Service]

ART Bus Holiday Schedule — “ART will operate holiday service on Thursday, July 4, 2019, in observance of Independence Day. ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55 and 87 will operate on Sunday schedules. All other ART routes will not operate and the ART customer call center will be closed.” [Arlington Transit]

Superintendent Search May Be Drawn Out — “Arlington’s new School Board chair, who will be focused in coming months on the selection of a new superintendent, asked for patience in the community as the process plays out. ‘Finding the right leader and the best fit for our community will take time,’ Tannia Talento said July 1 as she rotated in as chair of the School Board for the coming year.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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Morning Notes

Talento Selected as School Board Chair — “The Arlington School Board held its annual organizational meeting for the 2019-20 school year and elected Tannia Talento as Chair and Monique O’Grady as Vice Chair. The terms for the new Chair and Vice Chair begin immediately and will continue until June 30, 2020.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Which Amazon Units Are Coming to HQ2 — “We’re still a pretty long way from knowing what the estimated 25,000 workers at Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters will do, but a top company executive has named three units that will be represented in Arlington: Alexa, Amazon Web Services and Amazon’s consumer division.” [Washington Business Journal]

Private Sector Job Growth in Arlington — Arlington County’s private employment grew by nearly 20,000 jobs, or about 17%, between 2010 and 2018, according to the D.C. Policy Center. [Twitter]

Arlington Winners at the RAMMYs — Ambar in Clarendon captured the Service Program of the Year award at the 2019 RAMMYs over the weekend. The distinction of Chef of the Year at the D.C. area restaurant industry award show, meanwhile, went to Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line, which is opening a location in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]

APS Testing New Visitor System — “Summertime will bring a security pilot program to a number of Arlington’s public schools, with a full roll-out of the initiative slated throughout the system in the fall. The new visitor-management system to be tested at five sites during the summer will require visitors, volunteers and contractors to provide specific photo identification, and their identities will then be checked against state and federal sex-offender registries.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Holds ‘Camp Heat’ — “Camp Heat, put on by the Arlington County Fire Department, concluded Friday night. During this week-long immersion into firefighting, campers learned everything from running hoses to breaking down doors to working on water rescue techniques. All the campers are young women, 15 to 18 years old.” [WJLA]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Overturned Vehicle on GW Parkway — “The northbound George Washington Parkway was closed [past Key Bridge] during Tuesday morning’s rush hour after a vehicle overturned, authorities said… The southbound side of the parkway was also affected.” [Washington Post]

Transgender Policy Discussion at School Board Meeting — “Students, parents and advocates packed the [Arlington school] board meeting to loudly back [a transgender non-discrimination] plan, waving miniature LGBT and transgender pride flags to signal agreement with the nearly three dozen speakers who proclaimed support… Supporters on Tuesday vastly outnumbered those who turned out to protest the plans.” [Washington Post]

Good Samaritan Murder Trial — “The Good Samaritan who intervened to try to stop a sexual assault in Arlington last fall was beaten so badly it was impossible to tell what killed him, a medical examiner testified Monday.” [Washington Post]

Feds Giving Grant to DCA — “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International both will see millions in funding from the FAA for improvements. DCA is slated to get $4,921,500 in funding.” [WUSA 9, Press Release]

ACFD Chief Battalion Honored — “Chief Wesley was recognized at the event for being the #first #AfricanAmericanWoman Battalion Chief not only in @ArlingtonVA but also the entire Northern Virginia region.” [Twitter]

Amazon HQ2 Jobs Update — There are currently 63 positions listed on Amazon’s HQ2 jobs page, many of them technical. Recently listed job titles include “Region Build Technical Program Manager,” “Full Stack Software Development Engineer” and “Systems Development Manager, Cloud Computing Operations.” [Amazon]

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(Updated 6/15/19) Dr. Patrick K. Murphy announced today that he would be retiring as superintendent of Arlington Public Schools effective Sept. 3.

Murphy, who has been APS superintendent since July 1, 2009, notified the School Board of his decision in a June 12 letter.

“As I think about the ebb and flow of changes that have occurred over the past 10 years, the progress we have made for children has been the most rewarding,” Murphy wrote. “Each year we offer new opportunities to allow children to flourish, grow and reach for new heights of success. I know great strides will continue to be made because of the dedication of the School Board, community leaders and APS staff and families, who all believe in the importance of excellence in public education.”

In his nine years as superintendent, Murphy has overseen continued growth in student enrollment, the opening of new schools, an increase in the high school graduation rate, and full-accreditation for all Arlington schools by the Virginia Department of Education.

“Dr. Murphy has guided the school division through unprecedented growth and change, and we thank him for his leadership and unwavering commitment to our students and their success,” said School Board Chair Reid Goldstein, in a statement. “During his tenure, APS leadership and staff have expanded opportunities for our students and further strengthened the quality of education in all our schools, solidifying Arlington’s reputation among Virginia’s top school divisions.”

“Now, with our recently adopted Strategic Plan as a roadmap, APS is in a very strong position, and we are poised to continue that success in the future,” Goldstein continued. “The School Board is excited to carry that work forward with new leadership and APS’ exceptional teachers and staff.”

The School Board is starting the process of identifying Murphy’s successor, APS said.

Murphy is the second member of APS leadership recently to announce his departure. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Tara Nattrass announced that will be resigning at the end of this month.

Murphy’s retirement letter to the School Board can be found after the break:

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(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The Arlington School Board has agreed to sign a settlement with the federal government promising to provide more services for English-learning students in county schools.

Board members voted to allow Board Chair Reid Goldstein to sign the document during a meeting last night (Thursday), two weeks after first announcing the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought a settlement with the school district.

Goldstein, who is currently running for re-election, asked Dr. Tara Nattrass, Arlington Public Schools’ assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, how many of the DOJ’s 33 requirements APS will implement “systemwide.” Nattrass said she didn’t have the number “off hand” but stressed the intention is to apply improvements to all schools.

“This is a resolution with the Department of Justice,” Nattrass said, when asked if she had comments to add earlier that evening.

“It’s an issuance that doesn’t have any adverse findings attached to it,” she said, but acknowledged that “there are some things that we need to be doing differently.”

The settlement identified several problems at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. As part of the agreement, the DOJ mandates that the county not use Google Translate in place of interpretation services, begin translating special education and disability plans, and submit annual reports to the federal agency on its progress, among other requirements.

“Many of the solutions outlined in the agreement are in practice in Jefferson” Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said of the middle school.

He added that APS was “committed” to serving students learning English as a second language, and his administration will report to the Board quarterly about APS’ progress on meeting the DOJ’s requirements.

Both Murphy and Nattrass stressed that APS has already adopted some of the recommendations, such as surveying families for the home language.

Board members Monique O’Grady and Vice Chair Tannia Talento were not present for the Thursday night vote.

The vote was part of the evening’s consent agenda, a placement usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

Two parents shared their concerns over APS’ English-language learning resources Thursday night, one saying her adopted daughter had to request any accommodations she needed, like a bilingual dictionary.

“One teacher even told me she was doing her a favor by granting her accommodations,” said the parent, adding that she believed “there are systemic issues across the county” when it comes to services for students learning English.

“I’m sorry about all of this,” said Board Member Nancy Van Doren, who noted that she’d long heard from advisory committees about problems with APS’ English Language Learner programs.

“I wish that we would more assiduously listen to those committees when they tell us there’s a problem, so we can get out ahead of these things,” Van Doren said.

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Morning Notes

County Auditor Probes Police Overtime — “A performance audit conducted by the County Auditor as part of his Fiscal Year 2018 work plan found that the Arlington County Police Department’s overtime costs exceeded budgeted expenses in Fiscal Years 2016, 2017 and 2018. The audit did not identify any evidence of improper overtime.” [Arlington County]

Few Fireworks in School Board Race — “A relatively low-key race for the Democratic endorsement leading into November’s School Board race is headed to three days of caucus voting, with the two candidates focused more on the issues than landing body blows on each other. ‘I would prefer to talk about how we are going to move in a positive direction in the future,’ challenger David Priddy said when asked to lay out the biggest failures of the School Board during the period incumbent Reid Goldstein has served on it.” [InsideNova]

ACPD and Mental Health Awareness Month — “In 2018, the Arlington County Police Department responded to 2,227 calls for service involving individuals in mental health crisis — a figure that has risen each year since 2015. To increase awareness about Department initiatives and resources, we are sharing information about how we interact with the public, and how we are ensuring that our officers have the resources they need to continue to provide professional police services to our community.” [Arlington County]

School Board Member Endorses Tafti — Arlington School Board member Monique O’Grady has endorsed Commonwealth’s Attorney challenge Parisa Dehghani-Tafti in her race against incumbent Theo Stamos. [Facebook]

Launch of ‘Housing Arlington’ — “Go bigger. Be bolder. We’ve heard from Arlingtonians that housing affordability — rental & ownership — demands even more aggressive solutions. So we’re launching ‘Housing Arlington’ tonight to tackle the challenge — together.” [Twitter]

Arlington Firm Acquires Health Insurance Company — “Arlington health system consultancy Evolent Health Inc. has reached a deal to take majority ownership of a Kentucky health insurance provider… Evolent’s stock price dipped more than 28% to $10.15 per share in Wednesday afternoon trading on the news.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Apartment Building Sold — “A Crystal City residential property within blocks of Amazon’s planned HQ2 campus has sold for $228 million, more than double what it last sold for a decade prior, according to Arlington County property records.” [Washington Business Journal]

It’s National Police Week — Law enforcement officers from around the country and the world are in the D.C. area for National Police Week. The annual series of events is held to honor officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. As in years past, Arlington County Police motorcycle officers are assisting with the numerous motorcades associated with Police Week. [Twitter]

Free Cone Day Today — Häagen-Dazs is holding its annual Free Cone Day today (Tuesday) from 4-8 p.m. Among other nearby locations, a locally-owned Häagen-Dazs franchise store is located in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. [Häagen-Dazs]

Crashes During Monday’s Rain — A number of crashes were reported Monday morning, amid persistant rain. Among them were a crash with entrapment at Military Road and Lorcom Lane, and a reported car vs. tree collision at Route 50 and S. Columbus Street. [Twitter]

School Board Member Donating Kidney — “Arlington School Board Vice Chairman Tannia Talento will be out of commission for several weeks, as she is donating a kidney to a sister. Speaking at the May 9 School Board meeting, Talento said preparing for, undergoing and recuperating from surgery will cause her to miss some end-of-school-year events, but ‘I hope it is amazing and wonderful,’ she said of the last weeks of the 2018-19 year.” [InsideNova]

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Arlington County Board will take a final vote this Saturday on a plan to add capacity for 600 additional students at Washington-Lee High School by building classrooms in its nearby office building.

Arlington Public Schools requested a permit change in order to convert the former administrative offices at the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) on the W-L campus into educational space. The 24,600-square-foot space is slated to be converted into classrooms, a science lab, gym, and a “commons” area, with a fall 2021 completion date, according to a staff report submitted to the Board.

If approved, the updated use permit would allow APS to make others changes:

In addition to the conversion of use, the request also includes minor exterior alterations to the building, including replacing ground floor windows. Site modifications include a new pedestrian connection between the main W-L building and the Ed Center, provisions for new off-site bus and parent pick-up and drop-off, additional bicycle parking, and improvements to a pedestrian crossing at North Quincy Street to enhance pedestrian safety.

The request comes as the student population in Arlington continues to grow. School Board members already approved an APS budget that factors in an additional 1,000 students next year. W-L’s expansion into the Education Center is one of the solutions officials have picked to house the additional enrollment growth.

The staff report described the expansion as “a sustainable alternative to building a new school facility to address capacity needs.” The report indicated 55 teachers and staff would be needed at the Education Center if it’s converted to classrooms.

The building previously served as APS administrative headquarters but has been empty since staff relocated to an office building in the Penrose neighborhood.

The Arlington School Board approved the expansion project two years ago and funded it last year with $37 million in the budget. Washington-Lee is set to be officially renamed Washington-Liberty High School this summer.

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The Arlington School Board unanimously passed a $669.5 million budget Thursday night.

The budget includes funding for Arlington’s continually expanding school enrollment, with 1,000 more students expected to attend class in the county next year alone. Members also approved a $10.7 million pay increase for Arlington Public Schools staff and funded a study to evaluate salary structure ideas for the future, such as using cost-of-living adjustments instead of discretionary “step” increases.

Arlington Education Association President Ingrid Gant, whose organization represents APS employees, pushed for the increase during a Board hearing on Tuesday, telling members, “it is embarrassing, it is appalling, it is downright disrespectful that members of the School Board want educators to give their all… yet we only give them crumbs come budget time.”

The School Board had previously marked up their own version of a draft APS budget. On April 12, all members, save Barbara Kanninen who abstained, approved a $669.3 million APS budget. Board members hailed the newly-approved final budget and thanked the County Board for a tax hike that will provide additional revenue for the school system.

“It’s clear that this community cares deeply about education and the future of our schools, and we thank the families, students and employees who participated,” Board Chair Reid Goldstein said of the many budget meetings over the last two months.

Goldstein said the County Board, which unanimously passed a budget that includes a two-cent property tax rate hike, helped APS close $6.7 million budget gap that School Board members originally said they couldn’t close without making unpopular cuts. The gap was smaller than the $43 million gap County Manager Mark Schwartz initially feared APS would face come fiscal year 2020.

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