Dozens of students, teachers and community members spoke at the Feb. 16 Arlington School Board meeting, many voicing concern about incidents of intolerance at Yorktown High School.
The 41-person turnout for public comments “might be a record,” according to School Board Vice Chair Dr. Barbara Kanninen. Many of the speakers addressed the ongoing controversy over signs in classrooms, which some say are politically motivated, and allegations of discrimination at the school.
One by one, students clad in shirts emblazoned with some of the signs’ slogans — such as “We Are Yorktown” and “Facts Are Not Political” — weighed in on reports of bullying and harassment.
“Yorktown has a problem. There is no denying it,” said one student. “Since November, we have seen a dramatic rise in incidents of racism, homophobia and hate.”
Yorktown administrators have done little to combat that rise, instead choosing to “run and hide” instead of facing controversies, he alleged.
“The reason that we’re all here tonight is in many ways the the fault of the Yorktown administration,” he continued. “The first wave of hate was in November, and after those incidents, nothing happened.”
Another student told the room about how school officials made her take down a “Black Lives Matter” sign after parents complained earlier this month. The student alleged that, after taking down the sign, she and some of her friends were subjected to racist remarks from their peers.
“Why are there so many incidents at Yorktown at which kids feel empowered to carry out such actions?” she asked. “How do you think minority children feel every day going to a school in which their culture is disrespected and deemed insignificant?”
One student, a sophomore, complained that students “are not allowed to use gay in posters… which makes it seem that it’s not okay to be gay.”
“Some people still eat lunch in the bathroom and they cry,” the student continued. “You might not agree with them, but you should accept them for who they are.”
The speakers also included some teachers, who voiced concern over recent incidents.
“In the past month, a Sudanese student asked me if he could keep coming to school. A Muslim student told me that her family has decided that they will move to Canada. A Honduran student reported that he’d been asked by another student if his bags were packed because he was going to be deported,” one teacher said. “I posted signs on my walls and in my hallway windows to let my students know I stand by them and for them.”
The public comment period lasted more than an hour and fifteen minutes. After it concluded, APS Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy said that the alleged bullying and discrimination “will not be tolerated” and vowed to put an end to it.
“I’m stepping up. This is not acceptable,” he said, to applause from the crowd. “Our goal continues to be to provide the best learning environment for every child, regardless of their personal belief, race, religion, ethnicity or gender.”
Murphy turned the floor over to Cintia Johnson, an assistant superintendent, to share some of the steps that APS has already taken.
“We have had the opportunity to meet with the administrative team at Yorktown and begin the steps to designing an action plan that is intended to continue to show a commitment to the positive community as well as the climate of both dignity and respect for each and every student,” she said.
Dr. Brenda Wilks, another assistant superintendent at APS, said the school plans to host student-led forums where students’ voices will be heard. The first such meeting was held earlier that day, she said, and had approximately 130 in attendance.
School Board member Reid Goldstein, who attended the forum, said it was “articulate and honest.”
“I’m delighted that students… felt deeply, thought maturely, stood up for their convictions and spoke eloquently,” he said.
James Lander, another School Board member who attended the forum, said the school’s priority to create a safe environment for students was paramount.
“I will reiterate the sense of commitment that this board has to the safety of all students,” he said. “If any student comes to school and doesn’t feel safe, that is our issue to deal with, and we will deal with it accordingly.”
School Board member Tannia Talento applauded the many students who had “the courage to come up here and speak to us today about such challenging conversations.”
“It is so hard to tell your story, to tell your pain, to tell your fears, to tell your stance, especially if it’s an unpopular one,” she said. “I’m proud of you guys having these conversations, and of our teachers. This is what America is.”
Talento continued: “I am a daughter of immigrant parents. I am fearful for our immigrant community here in our country. The one thing I remind myself every day is you guys showed me tonight, that in this country, we have freedom of speech.”
Busy Weekend for ACFD — The Arlington County Fire Department responded to a couple of big fires over the weekend. Two firefighters were injured while battling an apartment fire on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike; a resident tells ARLnow.com that the fire started when a resident fell asleep while cooking. Also on Saturday, Arlington firefighters assisted on a mutual aid call to battle a raging inferno at a McLean mansion owned by the United Arab Emirates. [WUSA 9, Connection Newspapers]
Carpool Bartender Profiled — “In an era where craft cocktails, celebrity chefs and ‘artisanal’ everything dominate the D.C. dining scene, it’s hard to find a watering hole where comfort comes in the form of a bottle of Bud, a basket of onion rings and a bartender who knows your name. But at Carpool in Arlington, Virginia, that is exactly what’s on the menu — at least for a few more weeks.” [WTOP]
County Board Pay Raise Proposed — The Arlington County Board this weekend will consider a proposal to raise its own pay by 3.5 percent. That would bring the salary for the County Board chairman to $56,628 and the salary for County Board members to $51,480. [Arlington County]
School Board Pay Raise Bill — The Virginia General Assembly has approved a bill that would lift the state-imposed $25,000 salary cap on Arlington School Board members. If Gov. Terry McAuliffe signs the legislation, School Board members will be able to raise their pay in 2021. [InsideNova]
Police Impound Lot Changes — The Arlington County Police Department has updated its procedures for people retrieving vehicles from the impound lot in Shirlington. [Arlington County]
Remembering Steve Buttry — Journalist Steve Buttry has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 62. As Director of Community Engagement for TBD.com in 2010, Buttry had an outsized influence on ARLnow.com in its early days. He was a champion of local news and a tireless “advocate for and teacher of digital journalism and media innovation.” [The Buttry Diary]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
New Clarendon Cafe Has ‘Oatmeal Program’ — Baba, the new Balkan-themed cafe in the basement of Ambar in Clarendon, has an “oatmeal program,” says its owner. Baba will serve La Colombe coffee, two types of “fancy oatmeal,” as well as oatmeal packages for takeout. [Washingtonian]
School Board Wants to Lift Pay Cap — It’s unclear why the Virginia General Assembly capped the pay of Arlington School Board members at $25,000, but the School Board is hopeful that a measure making its way through the legislature will pass, allowing members to raise their salaries in 2021. [InsideNova]
Accenture Acquires Part of Endgame — Consulting and professional services firm Accenture has acquired the federal government services business of Arlington-based startup Endgame for an undisclosed sum. [WTOP]
Longtime Arlington Teacher Dies — Margaret (Peggy) Huddleston, a Washington-Lee grad and longtime W-L teacher and guidance counselor, has died at the age of 92. [Falls Church News-Press]
Delays Likely at DCA — Between high winds in the D.C. area, and flight cancellations and delays due to the snowstorm in the Northeast, there may be significant impacts on flights at Reagan National Airport today. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
A plan to build a new educational facility at the Reed School in Westover has some parents worried for the future of a daycare and special needs program there.
Last year, Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy announced a renovation project to create a new 725-seat elementary school at the site of the Reed School building in Westover.
The Reed School building currently houses The Children’s School , a co-op child care center for APS employees, and the Integration Station, a program for Pre-K children with disabilities that allows them to interact with The Children’s School students. Both the daycare and the special needs program have worked together for more than 20 years.
But the longtime collaboration may soon come to an end. Under the proposal, The Children’s Center and the Integration Station could be moved out of the building and separated from one another. Arlington Public Schools hasn’t yet announced a home for either one.
The possibility of separating the daycare and integration program has worried some parents whose kids are enrolled in both. A group of parents and supporters of the programs spoke out against the plan during a School Board meeting Thursday evening.
“As a mother of a student in Integration Station, the culture of Reed is one of safety, love and value to the special needs community, and that is something you just don’t find in a lot of places,” said one parent. “Splitting it up would be devastating, both to the teachers, their children, and the special needs community.”
One parent fought back tears as she urged School Board to keep the two programs under the same roof. She described how her son, who is autistic, benefitted from the Integration Station.
“Had he not received the level of special integration care from the staff, I’m sure he would not be where he is right now, which is attending a typical school surrounded by typical kids,” the parent said.
She continued: “Without TCS, the Integration Station is no longer possible and much of its value is lost… We ask that the board take concrete steps toward ensuring that the children’s school can continue to serve both the staff and the students of the Integration Station.”
— Sara Shaw (@SaraShaw7) February 3, 2017
In a statement given to ARLnow.com, APS said the decision regarding the future of TCS and the Integration Station is a tough one to make.
Everyone in Arlington knows that APS is facing a period of unprecedented enrollment growth that is creating significant demands on school capacity. Providing seats for the growing number of students in APS has stretched the capacity of our schools and our school sites. APS is working closely with the County and The Children’s School to explore viable options for relocation. To date, TCS wants to continue to pursue additional options beyond those that have been identified.
While APS will continue to explore options as we move through this process, we cannot guarantee that we will be successful with any of the available space options. APS is committed, however, to continuing to provide support for students in the Integration Station program either as a partner with The Children’s School, or integrated into existing APS programs.
Arlington Public Schools has hired a consultant to review its high school enrollment projections.
The consultant, Dr. Richard Grip, previously worked on the Arlington Community Facilities study. He will be studying the way APS projected enrollment during its recent high school boundary change process.
“To ensure our methodology follow best practices, we have hired an external statistician who will review the projections and methods used,” said APS Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos. “The November projections will be updated in March, which is our standard practice, to finalize the budget for next year.”
The move comes as parents are questioning a slide from a recent School Board meeting (above) that seemingly shows overcrowding at Yorktown following the controversial boundary changes, which shifted students from overcrowded Washington-Lee to the somewhat less crowded Yorktown and Wakefield.
“The projected attendance numbers used during the redistricting process were wrong,” said an email that has been circulating among parents, which was forwarded to ARLnow.com. “APS staff underestimated the number of students who will be attending Yorktown in 2020/21 and now Yorktown is projected to be over capacity by about 700 students… apparently a new consultant has been hired to re-do the projections.”
Erdos, however, says that is not the case. The slide, she says, shows two different things: enrollment projections bef0re boundary changes and the total number of students in each of the three high school zones. But the latter numbers, shown in the right column, include students who attend magnet/choice schools like H-B Woodlawn and the new Arlington Tech program, and thus do not reflect any sort of net enrollment projection.
“The November projections vs. January analysis is like comparing apples and oranges — they were developed for two totally different reasons,” Erdos said. “The January report was only intended to be an analysis of the ethnicity of the student population in the three neighborhood boundary zones because of earlier questions raised.”
“Staff is not aware of any plan by the School Board to revisit high school boundaries at this time,” Erdos added.
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is expected to address the projections review and timeline during tonight’s School Board meeting.
Webb Running for School Board — Former candidate for Congress Mike Webb says he’s running for Arlington School Board against incumbent James Lander. “Every problem that we face in Arlington’s public schools can find a solution in opening public charter schools,” Webb wrote in a Facebook post. [Blue Virginia]
Handbag Schemer Led Lavish Lifestyle — Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, the Arlington resident who was just sentenced to 30 months in prison for a fake handbag scheme, led a lavish jet-setting lifestyle that she documented on Instagram while perpetrating the $1 million fraud. [The Sun, Daily Mail]
Metro Installing More WiFi — After a six-station pilot program, Metro has announced that it will be installing public WiFi at all of its underground stations. The work is expected to begin this summer and wrap up by the end of 2018. [The Hill]
VHC to Expand Mental Health Facilities — Virginia Hospital Center is being pushed to expand its behavioral and mental health facilities as part of a proposed expansion of the hospital. Currently, the facilities are located in the hospital’s basement and only include 18 beds. There are an estimated 6,000 people with serious mental illness in Arlington County. [InsideNova]
Arlington Suicide Prevention Survey — Arlington is conducting an online survey about the county’s suicide prevention resources and services. [SurveyMonkey]
Photo courtesy Mark T.
Icy Saturday Morning — Several crashes were reported around Arlington Saturday as freezing rain turned roads and sidewalks into sheets of ice. The slippery conditions lasted for most of the morning, before a warm-up started melting the ice around lunchtime. [Storify]
Wreaths Laid at ANC — Despite the icy weather, tens of thousands of volunteers helped to lay 245,000 wreaths on grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery Saturday morning. Arlington County Police assisted with crowd control for the annual Christmastime event. [WTOP, The Blaze, Twitter]
Students, School Board Speak Out on Boundary Changes — At last week’s Arlington School Board meeting, students spoke in opposition to high school boundary changes some see as furthering racial segregation. School Board members, however, defended their recent boundary change vote. [Washington Post, InsideNova, YouTube]
Borderstan Closes, Editor Coming to ARLnow — Borderstan, ARLnow.com’s sister site that covers the mid-city neighborhoods of D.C., is shutting down at the end of the week. One of its co-editors, Tim Regan, will be joining the ARLnow team in January. [Borderstan, Washingtonian]
Photo courtesy Becca Collins
‘Pop-Up Hotel’ Opening in January — “WhyHotel” is the new name of a “pop-up hotel” in the Bartlett apartment building in Pentagon City. Starting in January, the hotel will offer 50 unleased, furnished apartments as hotel rooms. Although most of the building is leased, owner Vornado is experimenting with “WhyHotel” as a way to monetize new apartment buildings during the lease-up period. [Washington Business Journal]
School Board Responds to Student’s Letter — Arlington School Board Chair Nancy Van Doren has responded to an open letter published in the Washington-Lee Crossed Sabres student newspaper. The letter, which was widely shared across social media, took the school board to task for approving high school boundary refinements that were seemingly antithetical to APS’ diversity goals. Without addressing the diversity issue, Van Doren defended the process and encouraged students to participate in future high school boundary decisions. [PDF]
County Board Approves Polling Place Changes — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved a number of precinct and polling place changes, to take effect in time for next year’s elections. [Arlington County]
Memorial Bridge Worries — The deteriorating Memorial Bridge can’t handle heavy support traffic for the presidential inauguration next month, officials said in a briefing yesterday, according to reported Tom Sherwood. Such traffic will use the 14th Street Bridge instead. [Twitter]
Wreaths for Every Grave at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — “Wreaths Across America announced Wednesday it has reached its goal to place about 245,000 wreaths in the cemetery ‘thanks to an outpouring of support.’ Earlier this week, the organization had said it was about 10,000 wreaths short of its goal.” [WTOP]
W-L Student Pens Open Letter on Boundary Changes — The boundary changes approved by the School Board on Dec. 1 will decrease socio-economic diversity at Arlington’s high schools, despite diversity being a stated “core value” at Arlington Public Schools. That’s the argument made by a Washington-Lee student in an open letter to the School Board, published by the Crossed Sabres student newspaper. The article has been widely shared online and, we’re told, has broken traffic records on the newspaper’s website. [Crossed Sabres]
Rollover Crash Last Night — A crash involving an SUV that flipped on its roof was reported near the intersection of Little Falls Road and N. Glebe Road just before 8 p.m. last night. Another crash, involving a person potentially trapped in a vehicle, was reported on Old Dominion Drive just over the border in McLean, around 6 p.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
AFAC Collecting Lots of Donated Food — Holiday-time food collections are bolstering supplies at the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Just yesterday AFAC said it had received around 3,900 lbs of food from property owner Vornado and 1,900 lbs from apartment operator Dittmar. Dittmar says its total holiday food drive goal this year is 5,500 lbs. Other organizations collecting food for AFAC include local real estate agents that have formed a group called Arlington Realtors Care. [Instagram]
More Special Needs Students at APS — The percentage of special needs students at Arlington’s public schools has remained steady, but due to enrollment growth the number of special needs students has increased, presenting budgetary and instructional challenges. [InsideNova]
Cruz and Cornyn’s Queso Comes from Ballston — When Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn needed some authentic Texas-style queso to square off in a taste test against cheese dip from Arkansas, they went to Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant in Ballston. (The restaurant chain is based in Texas.) Unfortunately, the Arkansas cheese won the competition. [Roll Call]
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. [InsideNova, Arlington 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]
(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.
“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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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]