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by Chris Teale June 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board and school board agreed Tuesday night to further study three possible scenarios for the Buck and Virginia Hospital Center sites, as recommended by the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission.

Of the options, whittled down from a list of 10, two could allow for a building to be used by Arlington Public Schools. They could also provide space for the Office of Emergency Management and other public safety agencies, while some offer bus parking for both APS and Arlington Transit (ART).

Two scenarios for the VHC property remain under consideration, while just one is now being examined for the Buck site.

JFAC also formally recommended that the county acquire both sites. The Buck property is located near Washington-Lee High School, while the VHC site is at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road, and the county holds options to either buy the land outright or swap for them.

During the further study on the three remaining options, JFAC will explore how best to make the bus parking fit in. But County Manager Mark Schwartz said his preference would be for Arlington to purchase the current ART bus parking area at 2629 Shirlington Road given that bus dispatch is run from that location. Schwartz and staff will assess their options on that site too in a separate process.

JFAC chair Ginger Brown said residents had raised concerns about using one of the two properties for bus parking due to extra noise, traffic impacts and the need for security lights.

“Thank goodness buses don’t have feelings,” joked County Board chair Jay Fisette. Fellow County Board member Christian Dorsey said bus parking is necessary, and it can work within a community.

“These really can fit very well, but I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we’re looking to dump anything in the Nauck or Shirlington area,” Dorsey said. “This is something that can fit in well with a revitalizing area with planned future development…It’s not an evil thing that is going to disrupt how people live their life.”

The possible swap of a swath of industrial land owned by Arcland Property Company in Shirlington remains on the table, and will be studied for possible long-term uses.

“Maybe there’s some negotiations, some things that can make people more comfortable, but we need that land in Shirlington,” said County Board member Libby Garvey.

Members of both boards agreed that the Buck and VHC sites could be used to help ease APS’ capacity needs, with enrollment set to keep growing.

School Board chair Nancy Van Doren asked that staff from the county and APS work together closely to plan for the sites’ futures. But several urged caution as the schools review their enrollment projections. All agreed on the urgent need to manage the enrollment growth and provide a seat for every student.

“We really need to come to grips with how we’re growing as a community, where we’re going and when we’re growing and the criteria we’re growing and what we’re getting in return,” said County Board member John Vihstadt.

JFAC will now evaluate the short list of three remaining options, develop some rough cost estimates and go into finer detail on what can be done there. That next phase is set to begin as early as next month.

by Chris Teale June 15, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

The Arlington School Board will consider a new contract for Superintendent Patrick Murphy, one year before his current deal expires.

According to a memo sent to her colleagues on the School Board by chair Nancy Van Doren, Murphy has requested a new four-year contract, effective July 1.

At tonight’s meeting, the Board will vote on whether to advance a notice of intent to renew Murphy’s contract as part of its consent items. If it passes, the contract would then likely be debated at the Board’s June 29 meeting.

Van Doren’s May 18 memo reads:

The Superintendent has requested that his contract be replaced with a new four-year term, with some modifications, effective as of July 1, 2017. This memorandum provides notice to the Board, pursuant to Va. Code 22.1-60(C), that the Board may act upon this request at its June 29, 2017 meeting or thereafter, and a vote is tentatively planned for that purpose.

An Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman declined to comment further on the new contract and those modifications, except to say that the Board is “considering the renewal.”

“I know that the procedures for contracts of any type (personnel, construction, equipment, contractors, etc.) are private until the contract has been finalized and approved, so terms of this (or any other) contract would not be public until it is finalized and approved by the Board at some point in the future,” the spokeswoman said.

Murphy’s current contract, which expires at the end of the 2018 school year, provides an annual salary of $223,242.50. He has been superintendent since 2009.

by Chris Teale June 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

School Board members clashed Thursday over an attempt to add language encouraging more diversity in Arlington Public Schools.

The Board was discussing the new enrollment and transfer policy around neighborhood and option schools. The policies have been rewritten to help APS keep up with steep growth.

The revised policies are designed so students could have equal access to an option school with a more specialized curriculum, while also guaranteeing students a place in their neighborhood school.

The new policies will go into effect for the 2018/19 school year, with siblings able to attend the same school at the elementary level if one already attends.

But an effort by Board member Reid Goldstein to add new language that says the policy “will include steps to enhance diversity across our option schools and through our neighborhood transfer practices” got the cold shoulder from his colleagues.

Goldstein said steps that could be taken to enhance diversity could include looking at new options around transportation, to enable a better mix of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

He also said that higher-income families could thus be encouraged to attend schools where there are more lower-income students and families.

But Tannia Talento said Goldstein’s efforts represented “microaggressions,” the casual degradation of those less fortunate than others.

“While I support diversity, I think diversity is a great thing, it’s very hard for me to sit here and listen to some of this, because there are some things in here that I feel are microaggressions that I’m offended by,” Talento said.

Later, Talento added that previously, she has been seen as the “token Latino” and “token woman” in various settings. Any conversation about enhancing diversity should include all affected communities and be part of a robust public engagement process, she said.

Goldstein said his efforts were focused on helping the county and APS improve its diversity, given what he said are major disparities across the system.

“This should be a call to action for a community that so vociferously hails its diversity and proudly proclaims how diverse and inclusive it is,” he said. “And yet, outside of our vision state and our core values, APS’ definable steps to achieve diversity are scarce.”

But James Lander rejected that, and the idea that the income of fellow students’ families could be a determining factor for where people want to send their children to school.

“It’s been my experience that families choose instructional programs, not how much money their neighbors make, to determine what is the best instructional journey for their children,” Lander said. “I want to bring this back to instruction, because that’s important.”

The board voted down Goldstein’s plan, 3-2. Chair Nancy van Doren said that not only did she believe it was making an attempt at “forcing” or “incentivizing” diversity, it was too late in the process to introduce such an amendment. The Board then unanimously approved the new transfer policy, despite opposition from some parents.

by ARLnow.com May 30, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

High School Proposals on the Table in June — A pair of proposals for adding high school seats are on the table at Arlington School Board meetings next month. The board is expected to approve a $3.6 million construction contract for adding 300 seats to Wakefield High School, while Superintendent Patrick Murphy will recommend the board approve a “hybrid” option for adding another 1,300 seats, with 600 seats at the Education Center site near Washington-Lee and 700 at the Arlington Career Center. Despite the added capacity, Murphy expects that it will eventually be necessary to build a new 2,200 seat comprehensive high school to keep up with rising enrollment. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Marriott’s Longest-Standing Employee Is in Crystal City — Cecil Exum, a 79-year-old omelette maker at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, is Marriott’s longest-standing employee. He’s been with the company for 61 years, since the Marriott family ran a “Hot Shoppes” root beer stand and opened its first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington. [Washington Post]

POTUS at ANC on Memorial Day — “President Donald Trump honored those who lost their lives serving the nation as he participated in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Monday and told emotional stories of just a few who perished.” [Daily Mail]

Cars Towed During Clarendon Memorial Day Ceremony — Some veterans attending the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the war memorial in Clarendon reportedly had their cars towed from a bank parking lot nearby. Del. Patrick Hope (D) tweeted photos of the cars being towed and called it “disgusting.” He directed the tweet at Del. Tim Hugo (R), the sponsor of the bill (now law) that blocked Arlington County from enforcing a “second signature” requirement for certain trespass tows. [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by ARLnow.com May 27, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Monique O’Grady describes herself as just a “regular Arlington resident.”

But this regular resident just convincingly defeated several candidates, including incumbent James Lander, in the Democratic school board endorsement caucus.

O’Grady, a mother of one current Arlington Public Schools student and two APS graduates (one of whom happens to be a well-known actress), says she wants to make a difference on the school board and help APS navigate its current period of rapid student enrollment growth.

We asked O’Grady about herself, her family and the various issues facing APS in this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast. Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or TuneIn.p

by Chris Teale May 23, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A plan to designate one of the potential sites for a new public high school as a historic district will be discussed by the County Board tonight (Tuesday).

But the proposal has drawn skepticism from county and Arlington Public Schools staff, who want the Board to deny the request and instead help preserve flexibility for APS as it solves its capacity issues.

The Education Center at 1426 N. Quincy Street is one of three remaining options for the county’s next public high school — not counting a new option involving the center, floated by superintendent Patrick Murphy.

Under the plan for historic designation, the Education Center and the adjacent David M. Brown Planetarium would be saved from possible demolition and subject to a strict design review process for any changes to its exterior.

The request for historic designation came from local resident and Planning Commission member Nancy Iacomini, who described both 1960s-era buildings as “physical embodiments of the forward thinking of Arlington and our County’s hope for the future” in her nominating letter.

Preservation Arlington said in a blog post that the buildings are examples of “New Formalism,” which combined classical and more modern design elements. Both were completed in 1969, after being funded through a 1965 bond referendum.

But in their report on the plan, staff said the Education Center could help address school overcrowding and so designating it would prevent “maximum use (and reuse) of the public facilities we have.”

That is a view echoed by School Board chair Nancy Van Doren, who in a brief letter to County Board chair Jay Fisette expressed the School Board’s opposition to the plan.

“School Board members do not support pursuing historic designation of the building at this time as it would limit options to address the school division’s capacity needs at this site,” Van Doren wrote.

In a previous column, Peter Rousselot argued against the historic designation, and noted that APS is moving its administrative staff out of the building to new offices at Sequoia Plaza 2 on Washington Blvd. The School Board approved the move at its meeting last week.

Staff recommended finding that the site meet some of the criteria for historic designation but that further evaluation be shelved. They also proposed denying the request and collaborating in the future to see how the site can be reused.

by ARLnow.com May 19, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

School Board Hears Opposition to Enrollment Proposal — At last night’s School Board meeting, during a public hearing about a proposed update to APS’ enrollment and transfer policy, some spoke out against what they saw as a policy that would disadvantage applicants to choice schools who do not live near the school. Among those speaking in opposition to the proposal was former U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra, who has also created a Medium post explaining his opposition. [Medium]

Spraygrounds to Open Next Week — Arlington’s “spraygrounds” — play areas for children where water shoots up out of the ground — will open for the season starting Friday, May 26. The spraygrounds are located at Drew Park (3500 23rd Street S.), Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes Street), Lyon Village Park (1800 N. Highland Street) and Hayes Park (1516 N. Lincoln Street). [InsideNova]

Startups Galore in Crystal City — More than 300 startups now call Crystal City home, according to the neighborhood’s business improvement district. That’s thanks in large part to coworking spaces like WeWork and 1776, but other startups in Crystal City have grown beyond a small, shared office. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2017 at 9:20 am 0

Field Lighting Recommendation Pushed to September — A long-delayed decision on whether to add lights to the athletic fields next to Williamsburg Middle School is getting delayed again: county staff says it will not have a recommendation for the County Board until September. A community work group that spent three years tackling the subject was unable to come to a consensus in its 89-page report. [InsideNova]

VDOT-Maintained Neighborhood Streets Crumbling — VDOT is trying to catch up on its paving of secondary (neighborhood) streets, but in places like Fairfax County many such roads are crumbling. Arlington County paves its own local roads rather than relying on VDOT, though the agency is still responsible for maintaining highways and some primary routes in the county. [WTOP]

School Board to Give Land to County — Despite the current school capacity crunch, the Arlington School Board is expected to deed 4.75 acres of land next to Taylor Elementary School to the county government, which will use it to expand Zachary Taylor Park. The land has been deemed too steep and unsuitable for building new facilities. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

by Chris Teale May 13, 2017 at 9:50 pm 0

(Updated 10:25 p.m.) Erik Gutshall and Monique O’Grady were victorious at the Arlington County Democratic Committee caucus, winning the County Board nominee and School Board endorsement, respectively.

The final turnout of 5,972 votes is a record for a Democratic caucus held in the county, beating the previous high of 4,951 in the 1993 caucus for County Board. Voters cast ballots across three days at Francis Scott Key Elementary School on Tuesday, Drew Model School on Thursday and Washington-Lee High School Saturday.

Gutshall earned 3,209 votes to finish ahead of Kim Klingler with 1,416, Vivek Patil with 1,189 and Peter Fallon with 945. O’Grady got 3,441 votes, ahead of seven-year incumbent School Board member James Lander’s 2,336 votes and Maura McMahon’s 965.

“I think Arlington is definitely ready to move forward and make sure that we’re focused on the future,” Gutshall said. “That’s what I ran on, and I look forward to fulfilling everything that we’ve talked about in this campaign.”

O’Grady said she wants to repay her supporters’ faith in the November general election and beyond, if she wins a seat on the School Board.

“I want them to know I’m going to work very hard to follow everything that I’ve laid out in this campaign,” she said. “I’ve heard them, I will continue to listen to them and will continue to work so hard for our students. I will listen to them, I will listen to our students, I will listen to our parents as we continue to try to figure out how to handle some of the issues we’re dealing with in Arlington.”

For Gutshall, who came into the three-day caucus with a slew of endorsements from current and former elected officials, it represents a redemption of sorts after he lost the 2016 primary to Libby Garvey.

Gutshall said despite the defeat, he was determined for his vision to be heard at the highest levels of county government.

“It’s knowing that the future of Arlington matters, and that we are this great progressive success story that I want to see continue,” he said. “I have roots here. I’ve got my business here, I’ve got my family here, this is where I’m meant to be and it’s a great place to be and a great community and I want to make sure we keep moving forward into the future.”

Defeated County Board candidates Klingler and Patil congratulated Gutshall on a positive campaign, and said they were positive about the county’s future direction.

“Hopefully some of my messaging and priorities resonated throughout the campaign, because that’s what’s important to me,” Klingler said. “I hope we will carry those messages forward.”

“What I’m really happy about is the amazing campaign we ran,” Patil said. “I’m very proud of the ideas we brought to the race, the stories we told. I’m going to do this. I said on my first day, if I’m going to lose, it doesn’t matter, because I have actually won a lot of faith and support in the community for our ideas and our vision.”

The high turnout, albeit lower than for primary elections in the past, gave Democratic leaders cause for optimism ahead of June’s primary elections and November’s votes for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and the House of Delegates.

“Turnout is high and people are excited, so it’s a win for the Democrats,” said School Board vice chair Barbara Kanninen.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Monique O’Grady:

Arlington Public Schools is at a crossroads. APS is short on seats, short on money, and short on the time to fix these problems before they reach a crisis level.  It’s time to bring new ideas with a fresh perspective built on years of experience.

As a former PTA president, community volunteer, schools advocate, and parent of three children who attended five public schools in Arlington, I will bring my 19 years of experience advocating for our schools to bear on the challenges facing Arlington Public Schools.

I firmly believe our children should not just like school, but develop a lifelong love of learning.  Our kids go through the school system only once; they only get one shot at success.  We owe it to them to fight for our schools–and all too often our School Board hasn’t been up to the task. We can and must do better, by focusing on the ABCs:

Academics

We need a renewed focus on academics, putting as much emphasis on school instruction as we do on school construction, and a real strategic plan that ensures our teachers have the training and resources needed to help all children succeed.

We must balance using technology to foster innovative ways of learning with tried-and-true teacher-student personal interaction.  Finally, we can’t keep “teaching to the test” and expect our students to learn and grow; rather, we must ensure each child receives the comprehensive education she deserves.

Boundaries

School boundary decisions should respect communities while also embracing diversity.  Our students won’t take an SOL in multiculturalism; that test will come in life and those who learn in diverse settings will be best prepared to succeed in a multicultural world.

Our schools must be open and welcoming to all students, and it is imperative that we ensure that every child under our care feels safe and secure.

Capacity & Communication

Arlington is growing fast, and our public schools are facing a capacity crisis.  For too long, the School Board and APS have failed to get in front of this challenge, resulting in overcrowded schools and a series of band-aids when we really need solutions.

The answer is not, however, to create a “mega high school” that crams 4,000+ students into Washington-Lee, as some on the School Board have suggested.

Rather, we need a fourth comprehensive high school, whose students can enjoy the same amenities and opportunities to learn as those enrolled in the other three. We need creative solutions that don’t overburden neighborhoods or existing schools.

But we can’t stop there. We must find innovative ways to make use of our community’s limited resources and space while still maintaining the high educational standards Arlington families expect and deserve.

As a leader on the South Arlington Working Group to site a new elementary school, I did just that: my creative proposal, adopted by APS, leveraged the building of a new elementary school while also addressing several other capacity challenges.  It is just this new, outside-the-box thinking that we need if we are to finally get in front of the capacity crisis.

Lastly, we must rebuild trust between the School Board and parents, students and teachers.  We must communicate better, with data and enrollment projections we can rely on, an open door policy for constructive criticism, and commitments kept when made.

Arlington Public Schools is indeed at a crossroads, but our challenges are not insurmountable.  I will fight every day to meet them head on, and to ensure a love of learning for all Arlington children.  I hope I will earn your vote for Arlington School Board on May 9th, 11th or 13th.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from Maura McMahon:

My husband, Michael, and I chose to live in Arlington largely due to the reputation and quality of Arlington schools. We have a daughter in the 4th grade at Barcroft Elementary and a son in the 6th grade at Jefferson Middle School.

My school and community involvement has grown over the past seven years and has fueled my passion for education in Arlington – particularly for the future of Arlington Public Schools.  We have much to be proud of, from our awarding-winning schools to our innovative instructional programs. But we are also facing considerable challenges.

I have served as PTA Vice President, as Odyssey of the Mind Coordinator and in other volunteer roles, and as representative to the County Council of PTAs – for which I currently serve on the executive board.  I also have had the privilege to be part of both the Thomas Jefferson and South Arlington Working Groups.  These experiences have given me a deep appreciation for the diverse needs of our community, the strength of collaboration, and the need for fresh, innovative solutions and long-range planning.

I am the only candidate or board member with the point of view of a current elementary school parent – a valuable perspective absent from the Board and missing in its decision-making.  I know our problems first-hand. I am focused on the future and how we can maintain the quality of all of our schools as we continue to grow.

I will bring focus to the broader issues challenging our schools today: educational equality and opportunity, ways to foster diversity beyond “choice” and boundaries, and County policies as they impact APS’ needs and ability to serve its students–housing, transportation, development.  My advocacy efforts in our community are evident in the County’s Affordable Housing Master Plan and in a number of policy recommendations currently being considered as the School Board revises APS’ admissions and transfer policies.

I will provide the leadership APS needs to:

  • implement a vision for instruction, but focus on managing the infrastructure, resources, and tools our teachers need to engage students in the joys of learning;
  • solve our capacity crisis cost-effectively through long-range planning, including a 4th comprehensive high school, and thoughtful growth of option programs to maintain students’ access to opportunities;
  • develop a network with County departments, community groups, and businesses to increase available resources and streamline services in ways that mutually benefit APS and the broader community;
  • establish an Academic Partner School program that brings students of different backgrounds and abilities together to understand the benefits of diversity firsthand rather than learn about diversity from books and special presentations;
  • foster PTA collaborations for joint-programming, fundraising, and advocacy efforts.

I will be a strong advocate for our school system by:

  • making sure our County leaders understand how their decisions impact APS;
  • ensuring schools are an integral component of the community’s overall planning;
  • pushing the County to resolve existing traffic and student safety problems along Carlin Springs Road and in other places to enable the most efficient use of APS properties;
  • working with the County now to plan for the additional facilities we expect to need and how we are going to pay for them.

As our school system continues to grow and evolve, our leadership needs to adapt to our changing needs.  Our past ways of thinking and problem-solving no longer fit APS today.  We need a new voice, a fresh perspective, and a different approach.

I have stepped outside my comfort zone as a parent and advocate to run for school board because I feel so passionately about the critical issues our schools face today.

I appreciate the contributions each of my fellow candidates has made to our community over the years.  But I will bring the fresh perspective, proactive thinking, and the voice our schools need today.

Please join me by making me your first-choice candidate in next week’s caucus.  For more information, visit mauramcmahon.org and follow me at facebook.com/mcmahonforarlington.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates who are seeking the Democratic endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the May 9, 11 and 13 caucus.

Here is the unedited response from incumbent James Lander:

I’ve been honored to serve as your Arlington School Board member for the past seven years. I am seeking reelection to ensure that Arlington Public Schools will continue to provide a world-class education that empowers every child to succeed, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, language, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Arlington Public Schools needs an experienced, seasoned leader. I am that leader. It’s no secret that our schools are growing. We have averaged 1000 new students a year during my seven years on the School Board. The challenges in meeting the needs of this rapidly expanding school system are many, including: changing the landscape of instruction to meet the needs of all students; implementing plans to address our enrollment growth; and continued successful collaboration with the County Board on a long-term strategy to ensure every student has a seat to learn while maximizing our limited resources in ways that benefit the whole community.

I am passionate about educating our children; it is the key to everything. My work on the school board has prioritized quality instruction, high expectations for all students, and educating the whole child. Working with you to provide our children with the resources and tools they need to be successful in life will continue to be my sole focus.

As your School Board member, I have successfully completed eight budget cycles to fully fund the school system, implemented the 2011-2017 APS Strategic Plan, and oversaw more than $600M in Capital Improvement Projects, including award winning designs for sustainability. While serving as Chair, I lowered the cost per pupil spending by hundreds of dollars, redesigned the School/County revenue sharing agreement, and provided salary increases for teachers and staff in each of the past seven years. I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the AEA-PAC representing Arlington’s educators, for my work on the school board.

I offer to you my School Board service as evidence that I am best situated to lead continued Arlington Public School progress. Finally, I have been a responsive, engaged, thoughtful voice on the school board. This is the type of leadership that has made Arlington Public Schools an outstanding school system that attracts diverse families and remains a foundational driver of our local economy.

You have honored me with your trust on two previous occasions and I thank you for your support and encouragement along this journey. I ask you now for your support and your vote to continue my elected service to our wonderful community.

Voting begins, Tuesday, May 9th from 7p-9p at Key Elementary School, Thursday, May 11th from 7p-9p at Drew Elementary School, and Saturday, May 13th from 11a-7p at Washington-Lee High School.

by Chris Teale May 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm 0

Just days after local parents launched a petition favoring building a high school next to Kenmore Middle School, others have begun a petition of their own against the plan.

The petition against the Kenmore plan raises concerns about the impact on traffic on S. Carlin Springs Road, which it says would increase the number of students that attend nearby schools from 2,200 to approximately 3,500.

“Carlin Springs Road is one of the County’s few north/south arterials and a major commuter thoroughfare,” the petition reads. “There is no reasonable alternative to Carlin Springs Road for many people using this route. Adding students would add vehicular traffic in the form of school buses, and cars for students and staff. The increase in traffic and the increase in the number of students crossing Carlin Springs Road will increase the threat of accidents involving students.”

The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33-acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new 1,300-seat high school.

The other two options remaining are to develop a ninth-grade academy on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee High School, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created, or build at the Arlington Career Center site to co-locate with Arlington Tech.

The petition was also critical of the process to determine the site of the new high school.

“The planning process by the County and the School Board to engage in more proactive planning is appreciated,” it reads, “but it appears that the effort to site the 1,300 [seat] high school seats is short circuiting the process.”

Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Education Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.

by Chris Teale April 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

A proposal to build a high school next to Kenmore Middle School appears to have garnered some support among local parents.

The School Board recently whittled down a list of nine possible sites for the county’s new public high school to three. Under the Kenmore plan the current middle school would remain on the 33 acre campus, and adjacent property would be used to build a new high school.

A petition in support of the Kenmore plan — and against expanding Washington-Lee High School — has garnered more than 100 signatures.

“This would be a smaller high school initially but would have the potential to become a 4th comprehensive high school if a new middle school building can be built elsewhere in the near future,” the petition says. “School start times could be staggered, and officials have recognized the need to improve access to the campus to relieve traffic.”

(Currently, the county has three comprehensive high schools: Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield.)

Of the other two options remaining, Superintendent Patrick Murphy said a ninth-grade academy would be developed on the site of the Education Center next to Washington-Lee, with the International Baccalaureate program expanded and a World Languages site created.

That, says petition supporters, would make W-L far too large of a school.

“Students would share common spaces and fields with students already at W-L,” says the petition. “This would place 3,500 to 4,000 high school students in one location.”

The third option is to build at the Arlington Career Center, expanding Arlington Tech and allowing for the repurposing of the Education Center. Supporters of the Kenmore option say the plan to build at the Career Center would force that to be a choice program, something that has come in for criticism online given Arlington Public Schools’ enrollment growth.

“Choice schools were great when the schools were under-enrolled and kids had a decent chance of getting into them,” wrote one commenter on a message board for local moms. “Now getting into a choice school is like a Golden Ticket while everyone else is crammed into high schools that are getting too big and you don’t know the people in your class. We can’t afford to spend $100 million on choice schools like HB [Woodlawn] while the rest of the peasants make do in trailers smuched [sic] together at other high schools.”

“[The] Kenmore option is the only option that establishes a solid pathway to a 4th comprehensive high school, which the APS system desperately needs,” the petition says.

Earlier this week, the Yorktown PTA hosted a town hall with Board members Barbara Kanninen and Reid Goldstein. Another School Board work session is scheduled for May 15 at the Career Center, with the Board set to discuss the options and adopt one in June.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com April 24, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

New Elementary School Approved — After a years-long process that included neighborhood opposition and lots of community discussion, the Arlington County Board has approved a use permit and ground lease for a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson middle school and community center site. [Arlington County]

Rosslyn Farmers Market Approved — Also at its Saturday meeting, the County Board gave the go-ahead to a new FreshFarm Markets-operated farmers market that will be held at the new Central Place public plaza in Rosslyn. The market will be open on Wednesday evenings from April to November. [Arlington County]

Bebe Closing at Pentagon City Mall — The Bebe store at the Pentagon City mall will close by the end of May. It’s part of a larger restructuring for the struggling young women’s clothing retailer. [Patch]

County Board to Honor Trees — “Arlington has about 755,400 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will honor 10 of these trees as Notable Trees at the April 25 County Board Meeting.” [Arlington County]

Blue Virginia’s School Board Endorsement — Local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Monique O’Grady in the race for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board. The endorsement cites incumbent James Lander’s recent controversial remarks about a murder victim as a reason for not endorsing him. [Blue Virginia]

Flickr pool photo by Ameschen

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