Fewer kids will be able to take the bus when in-person classes resume at Arlington Public Schools.
APS says that it is expanding the “walk zones” for 16 of its 24 elementary schools, as buses will only be able to carry 11 students at a time due to social distancing guidelines.
“As we start to plan for returning to school buildings, we want to make you aware of some changes to bus transportation starting this year,” the school system said in an email to families this morning.
The proposed expansion of the walk zones around schools “will allow transportation to focus our bus service on routes that are farthest from school and allow them to move more quickly between stops and school,” said the email.
“APS is developing route maps to help families find their way and will work with the school to ensure families have access to them,” the email continues. “This year, with the many COVID-related challenges, walking and biking to school will provide more flexibility to your arrival/dismissal time from school, and give your students a little extra activity before and after their modified school day.”
According to the APS website, the changes apply to the following elementary schools: Abingdon, Ashlawn, Arlington Traditional School, Barcroft, Barrett, Claremont, Discovery, Drew, Hoffman Boston, Jamestown, Key, Long Branch, McKinley, Science Focus, Taylor, and Tuckahoe.
Barring a deterioration of Arlington’s coronavirus metrics, APS announced last week that it was it tentatively planning to bring students with disabilities back in mid-to-late October; PreK-3, technical education and English learner students back in early-to-mid November; and all other students electing the two-day-per-week, in-person learning model in early December.
As of Tuesday, families of the middle group of students could select, via the online ParentVUE system, whether they want their kids to return to classrooms or stay at home, according to APS.
This fall, a pair of electric school buses will replace two older diesel buses in the Arlington Public Schools fleet, the first trickle of an expected wave that could convert the fleet to 100 percent electric by 2030.
Dominion Energy is helping to supply the two buses, and 48 others, to 16 Virginia localities, including Arlington. Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Prince William County are among the jurisdictions receiving new buses from Dominion.
“We will be getting two buses sometime in the fall,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed to ARLnow this afternoon, following the Dominion announcement. “They will replace two buses that are next in the replacement cycle.”
The new buses will be manufactured by Thomas Built Buses, a traditional school bus manufacturer that is now producing electric models. Dominion is offsetting additional expenses associated with the electric school buses beyond the cost of a standard diesel bus.
The power company is working on a multi-phase plan to move Virginia school divisions to all-electric school bus fleets by 2030. Beyond environmental benefits, Dominion says the buses will be used, essentially, as batteries on the power grid to help supply more electricity during peak times.
More from a press release:
The electric school buses will serve as a grid resource by creating additional energy storage technology to support the company’s integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind. The “vehicle-to-grid” technology leverages the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for transport. The buses also provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60 percent.
“We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II. “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.”
This initial deployment will bring electric school buses to each of the company’s operating regions. Localities were selected based on the benefit the batteries would bring to the electric grid. […]
This is just the first step in a larger initiative to replace diesel-powered buses with electric buses. Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three would set the goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s footprint be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.
Photos via Thomas Built Buses/YouTube
Arlington County Police and medics are on scene of a crash involving an Arlington County school bus and an electric scooter.
The crash happened around 3:45 p.m. at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street in Rosslyn. Initial reports suggest the scooter rider has serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Students were on board at the time but no injuries were reported on the bus, according to scanner traffic. The students were loaded onto another bus to continue their journey home.
N. Oak Street and at least one lane of Wilson Blvd was blocked at the crash scene as of 4:15 p.m., as police investigate the crash.
Vernon Miles contributed to this report
Climate Change Protests in D.C. — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — As expected, demonstrator are blocking a number of key intersections in D.C. this morning to protest against government inaction in tackling climate change. The roadblocks have caused major backups on northbound I-395. [WTOP, Twitter]
APS Implements New Verification System — “Arlington school officials say a new, higher-tech effort to gather requisite start-of-school information from parents is moving forward as expected. The new online-verification process has been completed by 54 percent of families as of Sept. 19, Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members.” [InsideNova]
County Board Approves Pike Redevelopment — “A new six-story apartment building and ground floor retail will replace an aging shopping center and surface parking lot at the northeast corner of South Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, under a plan approved today by the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]
Worker Hurt Friday in Madison Manor — “Scanner: ACFD on scene of a worker who fell out of a tree on the 900 block of N. Potomac Street in Madison Manor. Being transported by ambulance to a local trauma center with potentially serious but non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter]
Post Praises Swell Sausages at Ballston’s Bronson — “The five kinds of housemade sausages emerged from the kitchen tinkerings of Barley Mac chef Chris Harman and co-owner Mike Cordero, Koh says. Both the bratwurst and the wiener, reminiscent of a hot dog that spent a semester abroad, have a pleasantly snappy casing and a peppery pungency. The Bronson is rightly proud of its sausages, which are available to-go from a case at the front.” [Washington Post]
Ballston Harris Teeter Design Event — “Come share your thoughts on the consolidated design for the public space at Harris Teeter on N. Glebe Rd at an open house Mon., Sept. 23 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Arlington Room at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex (accessible from the 8th floor). This design is based on prior community feedback. Don’t forget your sweater! The Arlington Room is next to the rink and you might get a little chilly.” [Arlington County]
APS Trying to Fix Bus Issues — “Arlington school officials continue to work out start-of-school transportation kinks, with a goal of having everything running as expected by the end of the month… ‘We have heard from families who are still experiencing challenges,’ Superintendent Cintia Johnson told School Board members on Sept. 19. ‘We’re working to resolve all the concerns.'” [InsideNova]
New LEED Certification in Ballston — “4201 Wilson Boulevard, a 595,000-square-foot office building at Ballston Exchange in Arlington, VA, has earned LEED Silver certification, making it the first office building in the state of Virginia to certify using the LEED v4 Building Design + Construction green building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The building constitutes one half of the 776,000-square-foot Ballston Exchange development.” [Press Release]
Water Main Break Near Courthouse — Updated at 8:10 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a 3-inch main at 2000 N. Adams St. The area includes high-rise buildings and some 100 customers could be affected. Traffic is detoured around the work site.” [Twitter]
Gun, Drug Arrest at Pentagon City Metro — A man is facing a litany of gun and drug-related charges after being arrested by Metro Transit Police officers for alleged fare evasion at the Pentagon City station this past Thursday. [Twitter]
APS Hits Full Bus Driver Staffing — “The school year began with full staffing of drivers and bus attendants, who serve 18,000 eligible students over 154 routes, using 200 buses.” [InsideNova]
DCA Starbucks Closing Permanently — “Beginning on or about Monday, September 9, Starbucks on the Ticketing level of Terminal B/C will close to make way for construction of a steel-framed glass divider.” [Reagan National Airport]
Nearby: Alexandria Metro Stations Reopening — “Alexandria Metrorail stations will reopen at 5 a.m. on September 9, with full service following Metro’s summer Platform Improvement Project. Metro closed all four Metrorail stations in Alexandria (as well as two in Fairfax County) for safety repairs on May 25.” [City of Alexandria]
Shooting Suspect Served Time for Murder — Updated at 8:40 a.m. — Crystal City shooting suspect Mumeet Ali Muhammad was released from prison two years ago after being convicted of a 1991 murder in Arlington. And he had recently been arrested but then released after allegedly threatening to shoot a man in D.C. and possessing a gun as a felon. [WTOP, NBC 4]
Witness Recounts Hiding in Office During Shooting — “An association employee described the scene to InsideNoVa on Thursday, saying recent active-shooter training helped employees get through the terrifying episode. ‘Everybody did precisely what they should have done,’ said the employee, who asked that his name not be published… ‘I got right up next to door, crouched down and made myself as small as possible,’ he said. ‘I heard screaming, him yelling at her, her pleading with him.'” [InsideNova]
Labor Day Closures in Arlington — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 2, 2019 for Labor Day.” Trash and recycling will be collected as normal, but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]
Amazon Brain Drain Worries — “Amazon is only just starting to post job openings for its second headquarters in northern Virginia — and local startup founders are watching with apprehension. The big picture: Amazon HQ2 has the potential to turn the D.C. region into a tech hotspot, but smaller companies are worried that the short-term impact of Amazon coming to town will be a brain drain.” [Axios]
‘Clarendon Jam Session’ Sunday — “The long weekend is almost here and it’s time to celebrate with a jam session at The Lot in an urban beach party setting! $20 gets you access to CLARENDON JAM SESSION 2019.” [Instagram]
Oktoberfest Ticket Prices Increasing — Early bird $30 ticket pricing for the Crystal City Oktoberfest ends this weekend. General admission tickets will be $45 thereafter. [Eventbrite]
Dominion Funding Electric School Buses — “Schools across Virginia could have all-electric school buses by 2030, under a plan from Dominion Energy. The company said it could be the largest deployment of electric school buses in the nation… The announcement comes the same day as a Virginia State Corporation Commission reported that Dominion’s 2018 profits were higher than regulators approved.” [WAMU, Dominion, Virginia Mercury]
Drivers may soon see an old school bus tooling down Wilson Blvd and delivering books, thanks to funding from an Arlington-based nonprofit.
Read Early and Daily (R.E.A.D.) recently received a $50,000 ‘A Community Thrives’ national grant from the Gannett Foundation. R.E.A.D. secured the grant by pitching a traveling book bus that would bring books to people in Arlington who have trouble accessing them.
R.E.A.D. founder Jennifer Sauter-Price said she was “over the moon” about the grant in a social media message to ARLnow.
“Our hope is the Book Bus will be a bookstore for all families,” she said. “Another component while we sell books is to educate customers about book deserts and the inequities of book ownership and how it affects school readiness.”
Sauter-Price got the idea of a book bus from a popular mobile toy shop she helped run as part of a lending library in Austin, Texas. She now wants to travel around Arlington with books that feature diverse characters and stories about acceptance. In total, she has distributed 1,100 free books to about 250 children in Arlington since starting the nonprofit last year.
“We are proud of the work R.E.A.D. has done to enhance the Arlington, Virginia community,” said Andy Yost, Gannett’s chief marketing officer.
“At Gannett, our mission is to connect and empower our readers to make a difference in the communities they are a part of,” Yost said. “Through A Community Thrives, we are further fueling our mission and purpose.”
A Community Thrives has raised more than $6.5 million since 2017 for projects benefiting communities nationwide.
R.E.A.D. currently distributes free children’s books to gathering places around Arlington, like Mr. Moore’s Barbershop on Lee Highway, where young readers are encouraged to talk about the book they’re reading while they get a haircut.
People also buy books directly from the nonprofit’s website, or sign up for monthly subscription book boxes, which Sauter-Price says help fund the books she gives away for free — a business model she hopes to continue with the bus, too.
Now Sauter-Price is hoping to buy a decommissioned school bus and transform it into a bookmobile.
“The most important thing is to make sure it’s waterproof and temperature controlled for the books,” she said. “Then to create a fun children’s bookstore vibe inside that will be engaging for kids. Then the not-fun stuff: insurance, gas, Wi-Fi, licenses. My hope after all this is we will have funds leftover for more books.”
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Sauter-Price
Housing and the County Budget — A new Greater Greater Washington article explores ways to add new housing at a time when Arlington County is facing a serious budget gap. [GGW]
Trails Treacherous for Cyclists — Despite efforts to plow local trails, many stretches in Arlington were still icy or snow-covered yesterday. [Twitter]
Police Warn About Phone Scam — “The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about a fundraising phone scam targeting County residents. Residents have contacted the police department after receiving unsolicited phone calls from individual(s) claiming to be with the Arlington County Police Department and requesting donations to benefit the disabled and underprivileged children.” [Arlington County]
Fraser Among Those Called By Scammers — Arlington resident and local media personality Sarah Fraser was among those to be called by the scammers posing as ACPD. [Twitter]
A Modest Proposal for Stop Signs — “Close observation of local driving practices confirms the view that stop signs have become irrelevant, since no one obeys them. The closest drivers come is to slow and then slide through the intersection. It would be a cost-saving measure if Arlington County were to remove all its stop signs and replace them with ‘Yield’ signs.” [InsideNova]
Va. 8th District Has Most Federal Workers — “The House member with the most federal workers in his or her district is Democratic Rep. Don Beyer, whose Virginia district includes 86,900 federal workers. (Among districts with no military bases, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly’s neighboring Virginia district has the highest number of federal workers.)” [Pew Research h/t Patricia Sullivan]
Stuck School Bus in Maywood — “#ArlingtonVA school bus stuck this am on N Fillmore St & 23rd St. N 3 days *AFTER* the snow! This hill on Fillmore is NEVER timely plowed or cleared. Do not put children at risk! Can @ArlingtonVA please clear this street.” [Twitter]
Christmas Tree Pickup Underway — For residents eligible for Arlington County’s trash collection service, the special curbside Christmas tree service is currently underway. Trees will be hauled away on the regular trash collection day through Jan. 11 and turned into mulch. [Arlington County]
Shutdown Could Hurt Local Businesses — “In Greater Washington, that could mean about 40 percent of approximately 362,000 federal workers — about 145,000 — would not receive roughly $15 million per day in pay, according to rough estimates… The shutdown is likely to hit industries that depend heavily on the discretionary spending of federal workers and contractors.” [Washington Business Journal]
Would-Be Local Amazon Locations — Among the places Amazon could have gone to in Northern Virginia, if it did not pick the Pentagon City and Crystal City area for its new office campus, were Alexandria near the Eisenhower Metro station and Rosslyn, with a prominent skyline view along the Potomac. [Washington Business Journal]
Ads on Virginia School Buses? — “Advertising on the back end of school buses? It could be coming to the Old Dominion. The state legislature again this session will consider a proposal by Del. Israel O’Quinn (R-Bristol) allowing school districts to place commercial advertising between the rear wheels and the rear of the bus.” [InsideNova]
Metro Touts Fewer Fires — “Metro will end 2018 with the lowest number of insulator-related smoke/fire incidents in years – 66 percent fewer compared to 2016 – despite record rainfall this year. Water infiltration in Metro’s tunnels has historically been the leading cause of such incidents.” [WMATA]
Pre-Boarding Snafu at DCA — “A couple says their holiday trip to Virginia was ruined by a traumatic incident on their flight home. A disabled husband was forced to pre-board alone, while his sick wife had to stay behind at the gate” for a Southwest Airlines flight at Reagan National Airport. [Fox 5]
Flickr pool photo by Maryland Nomadic
Arlington Public Schools could soon free up some space in one of its parking lots by shifting employees to a garage next to Barcroft Park.
The County Board is set to approve a deal with APS this weekend to let school bus drivers park their personal vehicles on the top floor of the Barcroft garage at 4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive.
The school system is looking to make the change because space at the Arlington County Trades Center lot in Shirlington (2770 S. Taylor Street) is rapidly becoming limited, according to a report prepared by county staff. Rising enrollment in APS has led not only to overcrowded classrooms, but a persistent push by the county to add more buses, which has squeezed its transportation facilities.
So long as the Board signs off on the deal, APS employees would be able to park in the 50 spaces on the top floor of the garage from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday starting on July 1, and the arrangement would last for at least the next five years.
APS buses will no be moving from the Trades Center lot, so the school system also plans to run a shuttle out to the Barcroft garage, which sits roughly a mile away from the center.
County staff don’t expect this change will have any impact on demand for spaces in the garage, which also serves the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center, as they believe the space is currently “underutilized by the public for parking for recreational activities” during the day on weekdays. The full garage will still be open to the public past 5 p.m. each day.
The Board will vote on the deal at its meeting Saturday (May 19). The matter is slated for the Board’s consent agenda, so it’s likely to pass without debate.
Photo via Google Maps
Belmont TV Closing — Belmont TV, located at 4723 King Street on the Arlington-Alexandria border, is planning to close its doors at the end of the month, after about 75 years in business. [Washington Business Journal]
APS Having Trouble Hiring Bus Drivers — “The strong local economy is creating some challenges for Arlington Public Schools’ efforts to fill out its bus-driver and bus-assistant ranks. There are still ‘nine routes that don’t have permanent drivers,’ said John Chadwick, the school system’s assistant superintendent for transportation, at the Oct. 19 School Board meeting.” [InsideNova]
Northam, Roem Speak at Freddie’s — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and House of Delegates candidate Danica Roem spoke last night at an LGBT-focused campaign event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Also attending the event were state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Mark Levine and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. [Washington Blade]
History of the Pentagon Cable Crossing — A cable crossing, marked with large signs along the banks of the Potomac River, dates back to the construction of the Pentagon in early 1940s. [Atlas Obscura]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley