Arlington Public Schools will host two community meetings this week to present proposals for changes to middle school boundaries.
Entitled, “What We Learned,” APS staff will present a second round of boundary proposals, developed after receiving community feedback on initial plans. The meetings are set for the following dates and locations:
- Wednesday, October 25, 7-9 p.m. at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd)
- Thursday October 26, 7-9 p.m. at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street)
The forums will follow up on meetings earlier this month, entitled “Getting Started,” where staff presented initial ideas to provide a “starting point” for further discussion. APS is redrawing its middle school boundaries as a sixth is set to open at the Stratford school site in 2019.
Staff wrote that this second round of proposals will “shape the Superintendent’s recommendation to the School Board that will create boundaries for the new middle school at Stratford, relieve crowding at some schools, and balance enrollment among all six middle schools.”
Superintendent Patrick Murphy will make a recommendation on the redrawn boundaries on November 14. The Arlington School Board will hold a public hearing on November 30, then vote on the plan on December 14. The new boundaries would take effect in 2019.
Middle School Redistricting on Tap — Following a number of meetings and other processes designed to solicit public feedback, the Arlington School Board is expected to approve new middle school boundaries in December, to take effect for the 2019-2020 school year when a sixth county middle school is set to open. Past school boundary change processes have often proved controversial. [InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Restoration Project Complete — Local elected officials and community activists celebrated the completion of the Four Mile Run Restoration Project on Saturday. The project, which was years in the making, revitalized the shoreline of Four Mile Run from just south of I-395 to the Potomac and included trail improvements and public art. [Arlington County, WTOP]
New Beneficiaries for Turkey Trot — The annual Arlington Turkey Trot 5K has some new nonprofit beneficiaries. Organized by Christ Church of Arlington, the race will no longer benefit Doorways for Women and Families — “in light of Doorways’ projected success to meet its current goal to raise $10 million to strengthen and expand its services” — and will this year benefit Offender Aid and Restoration and Christian group Young Life of South Arlington. That’s in addition to repeat beneficiaries AFAC, A-SPAN, Arlington Thrive and Bridges to Independence. [Arlington Turkey Trot]
More School Boundary Changes Ahead — The always-controversial process of changing school boundaries in Arlington is on the School Board agenda during the next school year. The School Board plans to tackle middle school boundaries in the fall and elementary school boundaries in the spring. [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Energy Lending Program Lauded — “Arlington County’s Energy Lending Library program has received the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 2017 Achievement Award… Through the program, residents can borrow free energy efficiency tools from their local library, along with the information needed to identify and act on energy efficiency opportunities. These tools include: a thermal camera, a sampler kit of 10 different LED lightbulbs, an energy meter to manage home electricity use, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books.” [Arlington County]
Vornado Trying to Offload Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado, which recently spun off most of its Arlington properties to the newly-renamed JBG Smith, retained ownership interests in a number of local properties. Among them is Rosslyn Plaza, which was approved for a massive development last year. Vornado is now trying to sell its share in the 7.65 acre property. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
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.
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
High School Boundary Change Petition — Matthew Herrity, the Washington-Lee student who penned a widely-shared open letter to the School Board regarding its recent high school boundary change decision, has now started an online petition. The petition, which calls for increasing diversity at Arlington’s high schools, has more than 1,000 signatures. [Change.org]
Community Center, Gymnastics Contracts Approved — At its meeting on Saturday the Arlington County Board approved a $3.9 million contract to plan and design a new four-story Lubber Run Community Center, with a gymnasium, playgrounds, offices and underground parking. In response to heavy program demand, the Board also approved a $1.7 million addition of a second gymnastics area at the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center. [Arlington County]
Ebbin on Trump and Other Topics — “Trump is making me nostalgic for Reagan,” said state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) during a wide-ranging interview on the Kojo Nnamdi Show Friday. Ebbin also discussed casino gambling, with the opening of the new MGM casino in National Harbor, and Confederate monuments in Alexandria, among other topics. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]
D.C. Police Misconduct Story Has Arlington Connection — There’s an Arlington connection to one of the misconduct allegations against Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, the head of the D.C. police Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Liaison unit. Hawkins reportedly took two underage summer interns to Freddie’s, the LGBT bar in Crystal City, and laughed about one using a fake ID. She’s now facing possible disciplinary action for that and for allegedly showing the interns a homemade sex tape on her phone. [Fox 5, Fox 5]
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]
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Heads to Playoffs — The Washington-Lee Generals defeated cross-county rival Yorktown Friday night to advance to the football playoffs. W-L was trailing when senior quarterback Ricardo Mestre passed for a touchdown with just seconds remaining to clinch the win. [Washington Post]
Board Advertises Ballston Historic District — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday to advertise hearings on designating a small family graveyard in Ballston a local historic district, ahead of a planned redevelopment by the Central United Methodist Church. “The Board on Saturday received assurances from the church that it will not seek to remove any remains from the graveyard before the County has an opportunity to consider its historic designation,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Students: Adults Should Tone Down Boundary Rhetoric — Some adults have taken their rhetoric over the current Arlington Public Schools high school boundary refinement process too far, according to a pair of high school students who spoke at Thursday’s School Board meeting. “We honestly consider some of the comments made thus far to be an embarrassment,” said a Yorktown student. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Arlington Smartphone App Updated — Arlington County has made a number of new upgrades to its My Arlington App for smartphones. The changes include a new home screen design, transit alerts and, just in time for Election Day, polling locations and a map of voter precincts. [Arlington County]
Library Director: Vote on Nov. 8 — From Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh’s blog: “Every election is important and every vote counts. And it’s a privilege that for people in many parts of the world is not enjoyed. On Tuesday, vote as if your life depends on it; it does.” [Arlington Public Library]
Free Home Buying Seminar Tonight — Sponsored — The Orange Line Living Team is hosting a Free Home Buying Seminar with a local lender and all attendees will receive two guarantees just for attending: 1) Buyer satisfaction — if you don’t love your new home they will buy it back or sell it for free for 12 months, and 2) $1,500 home purchase credit. See website for details and conditions. The event is being at 1600 Wilson Blvd #101 in Arlington, from 6-8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 7. [Orange Line Living]
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.
Board Holds Pike Transit Station Meeting — Updated at 10:45 a.m. — More than three-and-a-half years after it was first revealed by ARLnow.com that a prototype bus stop on Columbia Pike cost more than $1 million, the discussion of less expensive bus stop alternatives continues. The County Board last night held a work session with staff to discuss the current status of Pike transit station planning, ultimately voting to approve the County Manager’s design recommendations. [Arlington County]
APS High School Boundary Refinements — The next step in what promises to be a contentious process of adjusting Arlington’s high school boundaries will take place tomorrow. A community meeting is planned at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. [Arlington Public Schools]
Cemetery Bike Ban Starts Today — Starting today, only loved ones visiting a grave or niche will be allowed to ride a bike in Arlington National Cemetery. That nixes a commuter route through the cemetery that some cyclists used to avoid busy roads elsewhere in the county. [ARLnow]
Clement Attacks Pay Raise Proposal — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s pay raise suggestion is opening her up to attacks from challenger Audrey Clement. “The problem is [the] County Board doesn’t do much work, unless you consider rubber-stamping done deals ‘work,'” Clement told supporters via email. Clement also is criticizing a plan to add an extra high-occupancy lane to I-395 and, in response to local noise complaints, calling on NASA to develop quieter helicopters. [InsideNova, Audrey Clement]
Stalled Cab Company May Retain Permits — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the County Board give All Access Taxi, which specializes in providing wheelchair-accessible transportation, two more years to get its service off the ground. Currently, the company has only one cab — and 49 unused permits. [Washington Post]
Local Ghost Stories — ‘Our Man in Arlington’ columnist Charlie Clark has received recent reports of ghostly encounters from “reliable sources” at several local places: at Arlington Hall, along George Mason Drive; at the Overlee swim club and a nearby home; and at an 18th century home in McLean that was torn down last month. [Falls Church News-Press]
Pamplona May Open in December — Pamplona, a new Spanish restaurant in the former SoBe space in Clarendon, is hoping to open “by the end of the year.” James Martin, a 29-year-old rising culinary star, will be the restaurant’s executive chef. He hopes Pamplona will win the kind of critical acclaim that can “put Clarendon on the map.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
School Boundary ‘Refinements’ Approved, Parents Peeved — The Arlington School Board on Thursday approved a series of small “refinements” to elementary school boundaries in North Arlington by a 3-1 vote. The changes will impact a few dozen current McKinley and Tuckahoe elementary students over the next two school years, transferring those students to other nearby schools. Several parents whose kids are affected have contacted ARLnow.com, calling the process and subsequent decision “short sighted,” “pointless” and “a sham.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Big, Tire-Eating Pothole on Wilson Blvd — An Arlington resident says he got a flat tire after driving over a monster pothole in the left-hand lane of westbound Wilson Blvd at N. Patrick Henry Drive. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services responded to the man’s tweet, saying repair crews have been notified. [Twitter]
ACPD Assists with Bust of Diner Owner — The owner of a popular Baltimore diner has been arrested in a cocaine sting that Arlington County police helped to arrange. Prosecutors say Anthony Vasiliades, owner of the Sip & Bite diner, which was featured on the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” tried to buy $50,000 worth of cocaine from an undercover Arlington detective. [Baltimore Sun]
Casting Call for Arlington Cyclists — More than 50 people have signed up for a casting call for a promotional campaign that will highlight “everyday Arlington citizens who use a bicycle as means of commuting and/or recreation.” The casting call for the county-sponsored campaign, which will feature six short documentary films, ends today. [Modacity, Twitter]
County Planning Effort Launches — The Arlington County and School Boards have jointly appointed a 24-member “Facilities Study Committee” that is tasked with building “a consensus framework regarding the community’s future funding and facility needs.” The launch of the committee comes as Arlington Public Schools faces push back from residents as it tries to find county-owned land on which to build badly-needed new schools. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Brendan
Kids Have iPads, But Teachers Don’t Have Training — Updated at 1:50 p.m. — Some fourth and sixth graders received iPad Air tablets (and ninth graders received MacBook Air laptops) from Arlington Public Schools this year, but many teachers have reportedly still not received formal training on how to use them, according to the Washington Post. (ARLnow.com hears that some students from other grades also received iPads.) While certain parents view the devices as “another screen,” others say the devices, if properly implemented in classrooms, can be used to educate students in an interactive way that they’re especially receptive to. [Washington Post]
Concrete Falling from I-66 Overpass — A local cycling advocate says chunks of concrete have been falling from the I-66 overpass over Lee Highway. [Windy Run]
Superintendent Makes Boundary Refinement Recs — Arlington Public Schools staff presented the superintendent’s recommendations for North Arlington elementary school boundary refinements to the School Board Thursday night. The changes would impact a relatively small number of students. A public hearing on the refinements is set for Jan. 15. [InsideNova]
Aquatics Center Still on Back Burner — Arlington County was hoping that D.C. might win the 2024 Summer Olympics bid so that it could build the stalled Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center with Olympic funds. With hopes of that dashed, the county is now focusing on finding a way to build the aquatics center without using more than the $79.5 million allocated. The county may also start building the next planned phase of Long Bridge Park without the center. [Washington Post]
Under the preferred plan, five schools — Taylor, Glebe, Ashlawn, McKinley and Tuckahoe — would still be between 103.95 and 109.22 percent capacity, while Jamestown would be at 86.1 percent capacity and Nottingham and the new Discovery Elementary would each be around 90 percent.
The changes to the boundary plan the Arlington School Board approved less than two years ago are necessary, APS says, after a greater-than-expected influx of students to the county’s schools this fall. The approved plan, which was set to go into effect in fall 2015 with the opening of Discovery Elementary, is now expected to be revised at the School Board’s Jan. 22 meeting.
The revisions primarily affect McKinley Elementary School. If the Board approves staff’s preferred changes, 252 of the projected 304 students in the planning areas affected in 2016 would move or stay at McKinley by 2016. The remaining 52 students — in planning zone 1609 near Westover — would remain at Glebe Elementary. In the alternative plan, area 1607 would remain assigned to Nottingham, putting the school at 101.36 percent capacity.
APS is also “considering moving some countywide programs” to accommodate more students in overcrowded schools. APS has kept the online survey open on its More Seats website, extending the time for resident submissions from last week until Friday at 4:00 p.m.
The decision to put McKinley at nearly 9 percent above capacity while leaving Arlington’s three northernmost elementary schools at least 9 percent under capacity has drawn some criticism.
“Instead of filling McKinley to capacity, APS is considering filling it and then adding an additional 60 students above capacity,” one anonymous tipster said. “Why aren’t they equally distributing the seats? Something looks wrong with this map!”
Amy Borek, a Nottingham Elementary School parent, also questioned APS’ decision, wondering why the scope of the changes was so limited.
“By concentrating on only these planning units, APS is choosing neither to consider how to fill the empty seats at Jamestown nor convert Tuckahoe’s bused students to walking students at nearby McKinley’s new addition,” Borek told ARLnow.com in an email. “This approach to solving the overcrowding problem in North Arlington elementary schools does not appear to be working.”
Before the School Board votes on Jan. 22, it will hold a work session on Jan. 5, then an information item on Jan. 8, when Superintendent Patrick Murphy presents his recommendation to the Board. On Jan. 15, the Board will hold a public meeting on the issue before its vote. All meetings are at 1426 N. Quincy Street at 7:30 p.m.