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]
(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.
Despite 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.
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
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.
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
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]
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]
Last 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.
Last 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.
Last 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.
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.
The Arlington County Board, during an hours-long meeting on Saturday, debated whether to include a controversial driveway feature in the design for the forthcoming Stratford Middle School in Cherrydale.
Though the Arlington School Board approved the school’s design in November, the project’s designers, county staff and some neighbors have come to an impasse on whether that design should include a one-way driveway connecting N. Vacation Lane and Old Dominion Drive.
Proponents of the plan with the driveway — including its designers and some locals — argued the one-way avenue is needed to mitigate traffic in the area and would give the new school a much-needed area for pickup and drop-off. But opponents of the plan said building the driveway would negatively impact the environment by removing 166 trees from the site and would send hundreds of vehicles directly onto Old Dominion Drive, among other concerns.
Among those arguing against building the driveway is Dennis Leach, deputy director of transportation for Arlington County.
“The driveway causes adverse environmental impacts to the site and is not essential for transportation access,” he said.
But Vern Torney, a traffic expert hired by a community organization dubbed the Coalition for a Safe Stratford, said the driveway plan would actually help the environment, albeit in a different way.
“With the driveway, you’ll see that the fuel consumptions seven percent less and the noxious emissions range from one to ten percent less than the without driveway scenario,” argued Torney. “It’s my professional opinion that the with driveway scenario offers an advantage over the alternative.”
Members of Arlington Public Schools’ Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) also supported the plan to build the driveway, citing reduced risk of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and better accessibility and emergency access.
After hearing hours of concerns and comments from members of the community and other interested parties, the Board’s members made their opinions known.
“It’s clear to me that reasonable people with good motives can still have profound disagreements about an ultimate proposal that’s before you,” said Board member Christian Dorsey. “I am comfortable with the driveway option as being the most prudent to address all of the concerns that the renovation of stratford has at this point.”
Board members John Vihstad and Katie Cristol also agreed that building the driveway was ultimately the right course of action in a complicated decision.
The lone voice of dissent came from Board member Jay Fisette.
“I think we can accomplish and maximize the benefits in the longer term… by not including the driveway,” Fisette said. “The best way to do that is changing the modal split.” But Fisette acknowledged that, “either way, we’re going to have a much better outcome.”
County Board Chair Libby Garvey had the last word on the matter.
“I do believe in the end that building the road will be helpful to the environment, will improve safety and will encourage more students and their families to be walking instead of driving to school,” Garvey said.
In total, the Board spend about 4.5 hours on the discussion, even though it was just a “Request to Advertise” on the “Consent Agenda” for non-controversial items. Most of the time was spent in an impromptu County Board work session; a vote on the matter is expected to take place at a subsequent Board meeting.
The Stratford school building is slated to be renovated after its current primary occupant, the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, moves to the Wilson School in Rosslyn.
Photo via APS/Quinn Evans Architects
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) The Reed School building in Westover may be tapped as the site of a new elementary school.
Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy has included a $45-63 million renovation of the building, to create a new 725-seat elementary school, in his proposed FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The school would help to alleviate what’s currently projected to be — without further building — a 1,387 elementary seat deficit countywide.
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 integrate with The Children’s School students. The Westover Branch Library is also located in the building but is not expected to be displaced by the new school.
Some Westover residents are organizing on Facebook to speak out against the plan at the School Board’s public CIP hearing, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19. They say APS is planning a choice elementary school for the site — and thus would be busing in students from around the county. While seeming to accept the inevitability of changes to the Reed site, one of the few APS-owned pieces of land suitable for a new school, residents say they would prefer any new facility be a neighborhood school, open to local students.
Some residents have suggested that the newly county-purchased Buck site, across from Washington-Lee High School could instead be a good location for a choice school.
In 2014, more than 1,000 people signed an online petition opposing a proposal to move the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program to the Reed site. At the time, APS staff described Reed as “underutilized.” Ultimately, the Wilson School site in Rosslyn was selected as H-B Woodlawn’s future home.
Dr. Murphy’s CIP identifies Rosslyn-Ballston corridor elementary capacity and countywide high school capacity as APS’ most pressing capacity problems.
The CIP also includes:
- Two 200-seat elementary school additions
- Two minor modification projects to add new 60 seats apiece to Gunston and Kenmore middle schools
- Modifications to add 300 seats apiece to Wakefield and Yorktown high schools
- A 600-seat facility for the Arlington Tech secondary program
If the CIP is approved by the School Board, work on the new Westover elementary school could start as soon as 2017.
Those are some of the highlights from the $582 million Fiscal Year 2017 budget adopted by the Arlington School Board on Thursday night.
- A step increase for all eligible employees ($7.6 million)
- An increase of 1.75% for eligible employees at the top of the salary scale or on a longevity step ($2.4 million)
- An increase in the minimum wage to $14.50 per hour ($150,000)
- An increase in School Board salaries ($14,760)
- Implementation of a parental leave benefit of two weeks of paid leave ($0.5 million)
- An increase in the Live Where You Work program to provide additional grants as well as the implementation of rental assistance grants (similar to the County’s program) at a cost of $68,700
Arlington Public Schools issued the following press release about the budget’s adoption.
The Arlington School Board adopted its FY 2017 final budget at last night’s meeting. The approved budget totals $581,941,859 which includes an additional $2,042,993 in ongoing County funds and an additional $1,336,437 from the Future Budget Years Reserve. The additional County and Future Budget Years Reserve funds closed the funding gap to ensure a balanced budget was adopted.
“We worked closely as a Board with our staff and advocated to our County colleagues to make certain that APS has the funding that is necessary to meet the needs of our growing school division,” stated School Board Chair Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez. “The Board has also invested in additional areas that will meet the instructional needs of our students, support the whole child and provide the necessary staff to ensure all students can succeed.”
The School Board has designated that all of the additional funds be used to invest in instructional support, infrastructure, and staff needed to continue progress toward achieving strategic goals of the school division.
The School Board’s adopted FY17 Budget also included staff compensation increases totaling $10.2 million, including a step increase for all eligible employees, an increase of 1.75% for eligible employees at the top of the salary scale or on longevity steps, and implementation of two weeks of paid parental leave.
“It is critical that APS offers competitive staff compensation and benefits to ensure that we continue to retain and attract the most talented employees to work here,” said Dr. Violand-Sanchez. “We are proud to provide, for the first time, two weeks of paid parental leave, to enhance our “Live Where You Work” assistance for our employees, and to raise the minimum wage to $14.50 an hour. Our APS educators are a crucial factor in our students’ success.”
The FY 2017 budget designates APS operating funds for July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017.
Metro Delays and Traffic This Morning — There are residual delays on the Orange and Silver lines due to a malfunctioning train near the Clarendon Metro station earlier this morning. For drivers, morning rush hour traffic is noticeably heavier than usual around Northern Virginia inside the Beltway. [Twitter]
Firefighters Applaud New Metro Move — WMATA will now staff its Metrorail control center with a uniformed fire officer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Arlington’s firefighter association applauded the move, calling it a “positive step for the safety of firefighters and citizens in the DMV.” [WTOP, Twitter]
CARD to Hold School Board Debate — The Pike Presidents’ Group and the Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for a wider distribution of affordable housing throughout the county, is holding a School Board candidate debate on Wednesday, May 11. CARD also sent a candidate questionaire to all four candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. Of them, only Tannia Talento declined to respond. [CARD, CARD]
Liberty Tavern Named Top Brunch Spot — A new-for-2016 list of the top brunch spots in the country, compiled from diner reviews by the restaurant reservation website OpenTable, includes The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon. [OpenTable, Patch]
Mall Launches Walking Program — Today, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is launching a new program called “Walk-Fit.” Open to all ages, the program is described as “an official way for walkers to meet up, exercise, socialize and even enjoy a morning cup of coffee,” all inside the mall.
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf