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by ARLnow.com — February 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Publicly-traded energy tech firm Opower is staying in Arlington, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced at a press conference this morning, marking some good news for a county beset by the departures of large government agencies.

McAuliffe and County Board Chair Libby Garvey were among those making the announcement at Opower’s current headquarters at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, which President Obama visited in 2010, when the company was still a startup.

Opower will be moving down the street to a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. The building — already approved by the County Board — is set to be constructed over the next two years, replacing a row of restaurants. Developer Carr Properties had been calling the 8-story building the “Clean Technology Center,” which seems consistent with Opower’s sustainability and energy conservation mission.

Virginia and Arlington County had been fighting to keep Opower, which was being courted by the District and by The Wharf, the massive new development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront.

“Keeping Opower in Arlington County has been a high priority of my administration,” McAuliffe said. “This high-profile energy software company is growing rapidly and making a major impact on global challenges, and we are committed to further strengthening this important corporate partnership. The technology industry is booming in Virginia, and wins like this expansion help us continue to build on the momentum in this important sector.”

“Arlington has watched Opower grow from a startup venture to a thriving leader not only in the region, but in the entire clean technology industry,” Garvey said. “Arlington’s highly-educated workforce and easy transportation access were things Opower was looking for as the company continues to grow, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for a long time to come.”

McAuliffe helped arrange a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Arlington keep Opower.

“Arlington County will match the state funding with a performance-based local economic development incentive grant,” the county notes in a press release. “Arlington will provide an additional annual performance grant through the remaining years of the lease term subject to job and occupancy requirements. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”

Opower plans to invest about $10.5 million in its new, 63,000 square foot headquarters and expects to add 70 new employees within three years. The company will also retain 357 jobs that currently pay above the region’s prevailing wage.

“Opower has been with Arlington since the beginning,” said Victor Hoskins, Director of Arlington Economic Development. “The company is a model for the fast-growth technology companies we’re hoping to attract to Arlington, and we simply could not be more pleased that Opower has decided to continue to be a part of Arlington’s business community.”

The building at 2311 Wilson Blvd will have a total of 150,000 square feet of office space plus ground floor retail spaces when it’s completed.

by ARLnow.com — February 1, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

Six-foot high mountains of snow in the Taylor Elementary school zone (file photo)Arlington Public Schools students are off today due to a scheduled teacher grade preparation day. It’s the eighth consecutive weekday off for APS students, who’ve enjoyed one snow day after another since Thursday, Jan. 21.

Care-free snow days, however, could eventually become a thing of the past.

APS is likely, in the near future, to consider the idea of having students “telecommute” from home when school is cancelled. They would do so from their school-issued computers — APS is in the process of outfitting every high school student with a Macbook Air and every second- through eighth-grader with an iPad.

Once every second-grade student and up has a laptop or iPad, teachers could assign homework, reading and online lessons remotely and students could complete it from the comfort of their own homes. Theoretically, at least — some policy changes would be needed, particularly when it comes to expectations for teachers. There’s also the question of whether all APS teachers and families have internet access at home.

“For students, it will be explored in the future once all students have devices,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com. “For teachers, this will require some policy changes which will probably be discussed in the future as well.”

File photo

by Buzz McClain — January 21, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Switch's Toby Russell and Gov. Mcauliffe at Shift

Arlington’s population of engineers and project managers will grow by 100 by 2017 as San Francisco-based disruptive technology firm Shift builds a technology operation in Crystal City.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today that Shift will invest $20 million in its East Coast engineering center in Arlington as part of its national expansion. The announcement was made during a reception at Crystal City business incubator 1776, where the company will have its local headquarters.

Shift executive Toby Russell said the company’s disruptive technology does for the automotive industry what Airbnb does for hotels. “We use technology to make buying and selling cars easy and delightful,” he said. Consumers input information about the car they want to sell into the Shift website, get a quote, have their car picked up by a Shift employee and then receive a check when the car sells. Shift handles paperwork, test drives and price negotiations.

Shift has raised $73.8 million in two public offerings.

Russell, who is originally from Alexandria, said he would like to see the Shift “serve as a bridge between Silicon Valley and Virginia. We believe this kind of bridging is what technology expansion [in the region] needs.”

Russell added that it was McAuliffe’s visit to the firm’s California headquarters that convinced them to build the engineering center in Virginia.

Arlington County Board Chairman Libby Garvey, in presenting a key to the county to Russell, applauded the arrival of a technology company as federal spending in the region winds down.

“Arlington is in the midst of a surreal change,” she said. “Having our buildings filled with federal agencies is a thing of the past.”

by ARLnow.com — January 19, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Clarendon Metro station and 3100 Clarendon Blvd

Arlington Police HQ Evacuated Due to Bomb Threat — The Arlington County Police headquarters in Courthouse was evacuated for several hours Saturday night after police received an “automated phone call” that made a bomb threat. Bomb-sniffing dogs got a “preliminary hit” but a sweep of the building came up empty. [WJLA]

Arlington’s MLK Tribute — Arlington County held its 47th annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday. County Board members were among those in attendance, honoring Dr. King. [WTOP]

Tax Bills Could Be Going Up — Unless the Arlington County Board lowers the property tax rate, the tax bill for the average homeowner will be going up to a record $6,011. The average assessed value of residential properties in Arlington increased 2.8 percent year-over-year. [InsideNova]

Tour of Ballston Tech Office — Ballston-based cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect has grown to more than 100 employees and is continuing to expand. The company’s “hip headquarters… comes complete with some beautiful design work and creative Star Wars-centric accents.” [DC Inno]

by ARLnow.com — January 11, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Arlington Police Car (Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin)

Opower Staying in Arlington — In a “symbolic economic development win” for Arlington, Courthouse-based tech firm Opower will be staying put, at least for a couple of years. The company, which was visited by President Obama in 2010 and went public in 2014, was considering a move and was being courted by property owners in D.C. It has renewed its 42,000 square foot lease in Courthouse Tower (1515 N. Courthouse Road) through May 2018. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Has ‘Scars’ from Former Railroad Lines — Even in places in Arlington that have since been paved over with development, you can still see the “scars” from former rail lines in aerial photos. D.C. also has its fair share of “scarhitecture.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Orange Line Delays This Morning — There were delays on Metro’s Orange Line this morning after trains started single-tracking between West Falls Church and Vienna due to a track problem. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by ARLnow.com — December 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm 0

Fog in Fairlington (photo courtesy Risa Abraham)

ARLnow Suffers Server Issue — ARLnow.com’s web server was down this morning due to a technical problem. It came back up at almost exactly noon. We apologize for any inconvenience. For those seeking an explanation of what went wrong, we’ve compiled some of our tweets from this morning. [Storify]

Big Apartment Development Proposed in Pentagon City — Vornado, which recently put several planned projects in Crystal City on hold, has filed a preliminary site plan application for a huge new apartment tower in Pentagon City. The 22-story, 558-unit residential building would be part of the Metropolitan Park development, next to a currently under-construction, Whole Foods-anchored apartment building, also owned by Vornado. Expect objections from some residents in nearby single-family home neighborhoods, who are already fretting about Vornado’s proposed addition of 1,100 apartments at the RiverHouse complex. [Washington Business Journal]

Lane of Memorial Bridge Reopens, For Now — The eastbound curb lane of the Memorial Bridge has temporarily reopened. It will close again early next year for additional repairs to the aging bridge, a National Park Service spokeswoman said. [Twitter]

DEA Seeking New Headquarters — The Drug Enforcement Administration may be looking to move from its Pentagon City headquarters. The GSA is seeking a new lease for the DEA, which employs some 2,500 people in Pentagon City. Competition among building owners is expected to be fierce. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Affordable for Millennials? — Despite high rents, the website RealtyTrac has ranked Arlington among what it says are the more affordable locales for young adults. Among places that are considered millennial magnets, Arlington has one of the more affordable ratios of average millennial income to average apartment rent. [RealtyTrac]

Positive Review for West Side Story at Signature — Signature Theatre’s production of West Side Story has choreography that’s “near-perfection,” at least according to a review in the University of Maryland Diamondback student newspaper. The production at the acclaimed Shirlington theater has been extended through Jan. 31. [Diamondback Online]

by Jennifer Currier — December 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm 0

Arlington County Mobile WebsiteSince Arlington County updated its website two years ago, officials have seen significant increases in the number of mobile site visitors and e-mail subscribers, making it more critical than ever for the site to stay optimized for its on-the-go users.

According to the county’s Digital Communications Manager Jennifer Smith, 37 percent of site traffic is from mobile devices, up from 25 percent before the upgrade. Mobile phones account for 30 percent of site traffic, with the remaining 7 percent attributed to tablets.

“When we first redesigned the site our goal was to make it mobile-friendly,” Smith said. “Having mobile use increase from about a quarter to more than a third is huge, and the importance of being mobile-friendly is more critical than ever.”

With the upgrade came new features designed to be especially easy for mobile users, including the site’s calendar feature Arlington Today, more forms available online that can be completed on a mobile device, and organizing the site by topic rather than by department.

The County also rolled out a new e-mail subscription services feature over the summer with an easy sign-up option on the site’s homepage. Users can choose from a list of more than 100 topics they would like to be notified about, from police-related news to trash and recycling updates.

Smith said more than 65,000 people now subscribe to the service, and the average user is subscribed to 2.3 different topics.

She added this progress has inspired the County to do make more improvements to its digital offerings in the new year.

This includes plans to “do more in the mobile application space” in 2016. Though the County already has an app for reporting problems, there’s opportunity to expand it and make more services easily accessible on mobile devices.

“Our goal is to continually look for ways to improve the site and make it easier for those people coming to it,” Smith said. “I don’t think any organization in this day and age is moving away from mobile. It was a key part of revamping the site a couple years ago, so we’ll continue to look for ways to improve in that space.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 28, 2015 at 5:00 am 0

Alex ChamandyThe following post is written and sponsored by Alexander G. Chamandy of Envescent, LLC, the IT services provider to ARLnow.com.

New requirements for vendors that process credit cards will cause a significant shift in liability for certain types of fraud. But many small business owners are not ready for this important change in payment processing.
 

What is EMV chip-and-sign and how does it work?

EMV technology embeds a microprocessor chip in the credit card — this provides a more secure authentication mechanism that accomplishes two milestones:

  1. verify the credit card’s physical presence at the point of sale;
  2. transmit unique data for each credit card transaction.An EMV chip (illustration).

EMV chip-and-sign reduces the amount of account information compromised from insecure credit card terminals.  It also prevents a malicious party from easily stealing customers’ card swipe data to create counterfeit copies.

The EMV chip is visible on most newer cards as a small gold-colored square (see the above right graphic).  The primary goal of EMV chip technology is to reduce fraud and improve credit card security.  EMV is an industry acronym that stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa.

How are these new requirements changing liability?

Merchants that fail to adopt EMV chip-and-sign technology may be liable for counterfeit, lost and stolen credit card transactions at their location. Merchants who do adopt the new technology should continue to enjoy the same level of fraud protection as they have previously. The new requirements specifically designate the party without EMV capabilities to be liable for losses related to credit card fraud at their location.

Most credit card companies have already issued EMV-enabled cards, and many merchant processors have enabled their EMV credit card processing systems.  That leaves the changes necessary to avoid potential losses from credit card fraud in the hands of business owners.

When is the deadline to convert to this technology?

October 1, 2015 will be when the credit card payment processing liability shift will occur in the United States for most businesses. Merchants processing credit cards at their location must have EMV chip-and-sign readers setup at all point of sale devices to ensure compliance.

How can I prepare my business for these new requirements?

Contact your credit card payment processing service and ask:

  • how the new requirements effect your account;
  • when the changes will take effect for your account (if not October 1st); and
  • what steps your business needs to take to prepare.

Payment processing hardware may need to be upgraded, in some cases payment processing software may also need to be upgraded.

Online sales and manual entry of credit card account information will not be affected by these new requirements.

About the author

Alexander G. Chamandy is a seasoned IT professional with 20 years of industry experience and a lifelong Arlington resident.  He has deep expertise helping small businesses with a number of IT issues, including cybersecurity, data recovery, networking, deploying and maintaining servers as well as open source software.

If your small business needs IT support or consulting, contact Envescent, LLC.  Envescent has helped over 15,000 clients in the Washington, DC area and beyond since 1999.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Heather Mongilio — June 30, 2015 at 12:30 pm 1,119 0

Arlington School BoardThe Arlington School Board voted this month to provide $640,000 to train teachers in student use of school-issued Apple iPads and Macbooks.

The funding was approved after an amendment to stop it failed one to four.

The professional development will help teachers be able to better incorporate digital tools, such as laptops or iPads, in lesson plans. It is part of the Arlington Public Schools’ digital learning initiative, which has the goal of equipping children in second to eighth grades with an iPad and high school students with Macbook Airs.

Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sánchez submitted the amendment to defund the professional development for digital learning. She argued that while technology is important there were other areas recommended by advisory committees that needed the money more, she said during the School Board meeting on June 16.

“We have forgotten the whole child,” she said. “We have forgotten any of the support systems or professional development we need for that. We have forgotten professional development that could be needed for English language learners. We have forgotten the needs for the middle schools and other areas I feel are needed.”

Emma Violand-Sanchez

But other board members said that the professional development was key to the success of the already-approved digital learning initiative.

“I fundamentally believe that technology is going to be a key component of any future change for our children, our ability to include all students in a general education setting and to provide the differentiating instruction,” member Nancy Van Doren said.

Van Doren agreed with Violand-Sánchez that professional development was needed in other areas but said it was not a question of one or the other. Instead, the School Board should look to providing the financial needs for multiple areas of professional development, she said.

The digital learning initiative also provides for the whole child, member Abby Raphael argued. In order for the digital learning to be successful, teachers need the training, she said.

“I think it is so meaningful. And it affects special education students, it affects [English language learners], it helps accelerate students, and it really, I think, does personalize learning and individualize learning,” Raphael said.

The digital learning also provides low-income children with the opportunity to interact with technology that they would not have otherwise, Chair James Lander said. Low income families often only buy what they need, and laptops and iPads do not always make the list, he said.

“I believe in technology, and I believe this is a way for a school that is majority minority to have an opportunity to get their hands on technology and start to close the digital divide,” he said.

But the program is not without its problems. Members brought up monetary concerns about the costs of the actual devices and the software that each would need as APS increases the number of devices it maintains from 5,000 to 25,000.

Barbara Kanninen also brought up concerns about the lack of planning involved in the rollout of the devices and questioned whether they actually helped to accelerate learning. She attempted to halt the program in the past until budget and educational concerns were addressed.

“I still feel, as I did then, that we need a full evaluation of this program,” she said. “So far we had a work session earlier this year, we’ve heard a lot of anecdotes about successes in our schools system, but we don’t have solid evidence that it’s truly achieving our goals.”

Despite that, Kanninen voted against Violand-Sánchez’s amendment, saying that the training is necessary.

Van Doren said there is also a need to look a security and privacy concerns brought up by parents.

“We must address the parent concerns related to security, privacy and the continuous feedback and improvement related to the devices,” she said. “That is tantamount in allowing parents to be partners in this process.”

Parents need to feel that their children are safe while using these devices, and they need to feel as if they are partners with the school system, she said.

Lander agreed that those areas are important and should be part of the next steps going forward. However, despite the budget, educational and concerns, utilizing technology in school is too important of a priority to stop, he said.

“We can’t hold back the tide of technology,” Lander said. “This is how we do business.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 9, 2015 at 5:00 am 0

Alex ChamandyThe following post is written and sponsored by Alexander G. Chamandy of Envescent, LLC, the IT services provider to ARLnow.com.

In the last few years there has been an increasing hype regarding cloud-based offerings. From outsourcing the office file or mail server to powering entire complex web sites, collaboration and outsourcing of voice over IP as well as CRM.  The cloud is also touted as a solution for off-site backup services. The term cloud has come to mean just about anything not on your local network. The broadening definition combined with the reduction of reliability, security and accountability is a troubling trend, though.

What is a cloud?

Let’s start with the basics. Just what is a cloud? The cloud actually used to be a graphical component of classic network diagrams to show areas of a network that were either very complex or untrusted (such as data traveling over the Internet vs. a local trusted network). More recently the definition has expanded (and changed substantially). A cloud is in essence a cluster of servers whereby the user is given limited access to accomplish a specific function or task. A cloud can be something as simple as a single server off-site or something as complex as a data center full of servers hosting a product like Facebook.

The problem is the term cloud doesn’t really mean anything specific because it has come to encompass so many products and services. As a result of this dilution the definition of what exactly a cloud is cannot be otherwise described, except perhaps as intangible computing technology.

What isn’t a cloud?cloud

That’s a great question. Dedicated servers where the administrators have granular control are not considered part of the cloud. In addition we consider our local network infrastructure (switches, routers, workstations, servers and other equipment on the premises) to not be part of a cloud. These localized components are not part of the ethereal infrastructure that is considered ‘cloud computing,’ as they have key distinguishing features that allow them to be more closely governed. A subject we’ll talk about in more detail later in this article.

In a nutshell the cloud is not anything you can see, touch or gain low level access to (local network components or part of a dedicated hosting system).

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by ARLnow.com — June 8, 2015 at 9:45 am 1,563 0

Escalator construction between the Pentagon City Metro station and the mall

FIFA Movie Shown in Arlington — Arlington is home to one of ten theaters nationwide that showed a biopic about Sepp Blatter, the embattled president of FIFA who last week announced that he would be stepping down from the international soccer organization. The AMC Loews Shirlington 7 grossed $161 from “United Passions” as of Friday. Nationwide the film, which cost FIFA at least $25 million to produce, grossed only $607. [Washington Post]

Crystal City Hosts Car ‘Micro-Factory’ — Crystal City is currently home to the Local Motors Mobifactory, a car factory in a shipping container. The “micro-factory” uses 3D printing technology to produce prototype vehicles. The micro-factory plans to remain at 1900 Crystal Drive for the rest of the summer. A grand opening is planned for Thursday. [Tech.co]

GGW on Tomorrow’s Primary — Greater Greater Washington weighs in on which Democratic Arlington County Board candidates would be best for smart growth, transit, walking and bicycling. The Democratic primary will be held tomorrow. [Greater Greater Washington]

CivFed Backs Affordable Housing Plan — The Arlington County Civic Federation has voted 47-29 to support Arlington County’s draft Affordable Housing Master Plan. The plan sets goals for affordable housing in the county and is several years in the making. The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on setting a public hearing for the plan. [InsideNova]

A Note on InsideNova Links — Normally, ARLnow.com warns readers of auto-play videos in articles that we link to in the Morning Notes. We have observed that InsideNova often hosts autoplay videos, with sound on, within its ad units. Because this doesn’t happen every time we visit, however, we will not include an auto-play video warning for these links. ARLnow.com believes that advertising should be local and relevant and should not purposefully interrupt or annoy readers. We hope that users who might use AdBlock Plus to block annoying ads from other publishers would whitelist our site so that we can continue to bring you interruption-free local news content and relevant messages from local advertisers.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 5, 2015 at 5:00 am 0

Alex ChamandyThe following post is written and sponsored by Envescent, LLC, the IT services provider to ARLnow.com.

Businesses rely on information technology to improve productivity, share information and reduce the time it takes to communicate.

Despite how important information technology is to their success many small businesses tend to manage it poorly. For the most part this has to do with the depth of expertise and investment of time that is necessary to ensure that software, hardware, networks and telephony are maintained to promote maximum stability and security.

These tips are based on my experiences and are intended to provide a basic guide for improving your IT experience.

1. Problems begin with software that’s not maintained

The majority of malware is able to enter computers because they run out of date software. That includes applications like Adobe Acrobat Reader or Java and the operating system itself, such as Windows or Mac OS X. Software publishers release updates that include fixes for security problems. When these updates are released they reveal problems with the software that hackers can focus on and attack. About 80% of malware targets out of date operating systems and applications. By keeping yours up to date you can reduce the probability of malware invading your computer.

2. Update your software regularly

To update your software it’s best to visit the publisher’s website, such as www.adobe.com for Adobe Acrobat Reader or www.java.com for Oracle Java. I strongly recommend opting out of any third party add-ons such as tool bars, free anti-virus or other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that may come along. For Microsoft Windows you can check for updates manually by visiting control panel and searching for Windows Update and then clicking the Windows Update icon. For Apple Mac OS X you can click on the Apple icon and then click on Software Update to check for the latest updates.

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by ARLnow.com — April 30, 2015 at 10:55 am 1,979 0

Jeremy StoppelmanJeremy Stoppelman, the CEO and co-founder of Yelp, might not have made it as a tech titan if it wasn’t for bike rides to Ballston Common Mall as a kid.

Stoppelman grew up in Arlington, near Military Road. He attended Taylor Elementary in the 1980s and swam on the Donaldson Run swim team. Though Stoppelman and his family later moved to Great Falls, where he attended Langley High School, it was those early days in Arlington that set him on the path to Silicon Valley stardom.

“I used to ride my bike to Ballston mall to buy video games… they had one of those little video game stores,” he told ARLnow.com in a phone interview. “I was always interested in technology and computers. It probably started early with my love of video games and fascination with how you build them and the machines they run on.”

After high school Stoppelman attended the University of Illinois, where he graduated with a degree in computer engineering in 1999. He would come back to Northern Virginia to intern at UUNET, an early commercial internet service provider, for two summers. After graduation, however, he left the D.C. area behind for the Bay Area, where he would work for @Home Network and Paypal before attending a year of business school and founding Yelp in 2004.

Now 37, Stoppelman is the head of a publicly-traded company, a member of Vanity Fair magazine’s vaunted “New Establishment,” and at last check worth an estimated $222 million. Despite a demanding schedule on the West Coast, he says he’s able to come back to Washington a couple of times a year, sometimes for work — weighing in on legislative issues on Capitol Hill — and sometimes just to visit his mother, who now lives in Reston. (His father died in 1998, according to a San Francisco Chronicle profile.)

Asked about advice he would give to local students hoping for a career in tech, Stoppelman said getting an early start learning computer programming is key.

Welcome to Yelp Lobby“If your school offers something like a computer science course I would definitely take it,” he said. “Just get going, the more you explore and have fun and just follow your interests, the better.”

Stoppelman himself took a Turbo Pascal programming class in high school. He supports efforts to bring more coding classes to students as early as the elementary school level, including online coding lessons from Code.org and Coursera.

“A deeper understanding of technology is good for everyone,” he said.

With talk of a new tech bubble and an ever-growing list of “unicorns” — startups that have attained the previously-rare valuation of $1 billion — the temptation might be there for young D.C. area entrepreneurs to decamp to Silicon Valley in search of ultra-quick riches. Stoppelman, who guided Yelp’s growth for eight years before taking it public, cautioned against the myth that there’s easy success to be had in tech, particularly in the local space.

“I think in a lot of cases it looks like there’s easy bucks but there’s often an easy story,” he said. “For a lot of companies, the ‘overnight success’ was four or five years in the making, where they struggled with a bunch of different ideas and things that didn’t work and one day they were finally able to get something to click.”

“Doing something in local generally means going deep in a lot of geographies, which takes a freaking long time,” he continued. “So we always had a long-term mentality.”

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by ARLnow.com — April 28, 2015 at 9:05 am 2,090 0

Flower along the W&OD Trail (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

More Details in Aurora Highlands Slaying — Investigators have sent hairs found in the hands of murder victim Bonnie Black to a lab for DNA testing. Police have also thoroughly searched the house of Black’s estranged husband, confiscating items like a Swiss Army knife, computers and a hair brush. [Washington Post]

DCA Terminal Proposal Unveiled — Officials have unveiled a $800 million plan to build a new commuter aircraft terminal at Reagan National Airport. The terminal would be built to the north of the existing terminals, replacing a headquarters building and a hangar. Currently, 5,000 commuter jet passengers a day use a single gate and are bussed to their planes. [InsideNova]

Silver Line Phase 2 Delayed — The second phase of Metro’s Silver Line is delayed by just over a year, officials announced Monday. The Silver Line is now not expected to reach Dulles Airport until late 2019 or 2020. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the Silver Line, blames project changes intended to enhance safety. [NBC Washington]

Ballston Tech Firm Acquired — Ballston-based Applied Predictive Technologies has been bought by MasterCard for $600 million. The company “uses cloud-based analytics to help clients measure marketing, merchandising and operations efforts.” [Bloomberg]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Ethan Rothstein — April 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm 2,425 0

School Board member Barbara KanninenDespite some public backlash against the rollout of Arlington Public Schools’ initiative to equip each student with an iPad or Macbook device by 2017, the Arlington School Board is pushing ahead.

School Board member Barbara Kanninen, serving the first year of her term, proposed pausing what’s called the “1:1 Initiative” during the School Board’s budget deliberations last week. Her motion failed, 2-3, with Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez voting in favor.

The initiative has already provided second- and sixth-graders with iPads and freshmen with MacBook Airs. Next year, devices will again be provided to students in those grades.

“We have conducted a very large pilot project this year in terms of this initiative,” Kanninen said, estimating about 3,000 devices are now in the hands of students. “That is a very large and potentially very informative data set. I made this motion because I believe it is now time to evaluate how it’s working and ask some basic questions. Is it helping students learn? Is it helping teachers teach?”

The Board and Superintendent Patrick Murphy had extensive discussions the week leading up to their meeting about the initiative, and the majority, including Murphy, agreed that an evaluation can be completed while pushing forward with handing out devices.

“I have moved from thinking we needed to pause to believing we can do that evaluation and do that assessment at the same time as we continue forward,” Board member Nancy Van Doren said. “Many people have called me about the problems we’ve been having … When I suggest pausing the program, I was surprised people said ‘don’t pause, just do it better.'”

Many of the complaints around the devices have focused on teachers not being adequately trained to use the devices, preventing an optimal environment for the students. Murphy said many teachers have “emerged as leaders” in using the devices while other teachers are more hesitant.

“I will say, with any new initiative, there have been a variety of issues with the rollout,” Murphy told the School Board. “We need to continue to strengthen our training models. I think we’ll continue to focus on professional development, working with families so they understand and working with safety, so students aren’t spending an excessive amount of time in front of these devices.”

The 1:1 Initiative is budget neutral because it is funded by diverting money away from APS’ annual technology replacement funds. While Murphy and the School Board majority acknowledged hiccups with the rollout, Kanninen pushed for a more detailed look at what went wrong.

“One of the main reasons a pause would be necessary is we also need to ask, “are we implementing this model the right way?'” she said. “There are other models and ways we could be rolling this out. By taking a pause here, we then can work on developing curricula, designing professional development programs, developing our principles for use, clarifying our budget implications.”

School Board member Abby Raphael said many of the concerns expressed in the community have been alleviated by a more thorough explanation of the program.

“It’s all about personalizing learning, it’s not about the devices,” she said. “I agree that we can continue to roll this out and evaluate what we’re doing, because I really do think this is a very valuable tool in eliminating the achievement gap.”

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