Home » Update on More Seats and the Williamsburg Elementary School

Update on More Seats and the Williamsburg Elementary School

Planning for the new elementary school on the Williamsburg campus is underway.  The Jamestown PTA is grateful to have 3 volunteers who are serving as liaisons in this process and who will be providing periodic updates to our community in this e-newsletter and at our PTA meetings.  Please take a moment to review the update below.

PTA Meeting on Tuesday, October 2

Please join us at the next PTA meeting on Tuesday, October 2 at 7:30 pm.  Janine Velasco, the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) ambassador to Jamestown, will be available to share information and answer questions about the boundary process at our next PTA meeting.  We will also discuss and vote on a Resolution Endorsing the $42.6 million school bonds, which will be considered by Arlington voters on Election Day, November 6 and which would enable the construction of an elementary school on Williamsburg campus.  Please note that this bond is critical to providing a long-term solution for alleviating overcrowding without dipping into the operating funds for Arlington Public Schools.  A FAQ on the school bonds is available online.


Transportation Survey

The online survey on children walking and biking to school was closed over the weekend, but we have requested an extension to Friday, October 5 so that more families have an opportunity to participate.  Please take a moment to complete this survey before Friday. 


Update on Boundary Process

APS staff held a public meeting on Wednesday, September 27 on the planning process for choosing the students who will attend the new elementary school to be built at the Williamsburg MS site.  A large number of parents, including our boundary liaison, Tom Jensen, attended and participated in a Q&A session and small group breakouts.  Dr. Allison Denton opened with a brief presentation, which highlighted the following:

  • The APS student population has increased by 20% in the past 5 years, and APS
    projects this trend to continue for the foreseeable future.
  • APS plans to create over 1,800 new seats through building new schools on the Williamsburg and Kenmore campuses and additions to Ashlawn, ATS, and McKinley.
  • APS projects a shortage of 3,500 elementary school seats, which means that means that we will still have relocatables at some schools in spite of the new construction.
  • The goal is to have new boundaries redrawn by the spring of 2013 in order to give families ample notice of changes and to begin building a community for the new school.  By October 18, APS plans to have a boundary process framework in place.  In November APS plans to develop options, which will be analyzed in evaluated in December.  The plan is to make a recommendation in January and for the Board to take action in February.  Dr. Denton noted that there is ample time to lengthen this process, if necessary.

The complete briefing materials used by APS staff in the meeting are here.

APS staff emphasized the importance they are attaching to the information they hope to gather through the online survey regarding the “boundary change” process.  Please take the minute or two to respond to the survey — it’s relatively painless and APS appears eager for your ideas.  The survey is posted here.  All responses to the survey questions will be posted online and made available for public viewing on October 4th.

Staff fielded questions on busing, transportation impacts, diversity, and the potential to use the new school for particular grades, rather than particular neighborhoods.  A number of questions seemed heavily influenced by this fall’s controversy over bus routes.

An APS representative will attend Tuesday’s PTA meeting at Jamestown to discuss the new school planning. It bears repeating that this process is moving quickly, will affect virtually every member of the JES community in some way soon and for years to come, and is at a stage now where your participation can be influential.  Under the current schedule, the APS board will finalize the planning process by mid-October.  If you wish to be involved in defining the planning process, now is the time.  If you would like more information about the More Seats initiative, here is a link to the key APS website.

Questions?  Please contact Tom Jensen, our boundary liaison, at boundary-liaison@jamestownpta.org.  


Update on Building Design Process

Design of the new  Elementary School on the Williamsburg property has commenced.  On September 6th and September 12th,  APS held meetings of the newly formed Building Level Review Committee (BLPC).  The Committee is comprised of representatives of the three feeder Elementary Schools and local neighborhoods.  Carmen Romero and Lara Meadows are serving as the representatives for Jamestown.  For the most part, the first meeting was about introducing the committee to each other, understanding our objectives, presenting the architecture team and conveying any ideas/concerns that we (the committee) had to the architecture team. 

APS has chosen VMDO Architects out of Charlottesville to design the new school.  This firm focuses on building educational institutions with emphasis on designing effective and energy-efficient learning spaces. We were also presented with a timeline outlining construction commencing in January 2014 and delivery of the new school by the Summer of 2015.

APS is going to keep the community informed through a dedicated website: http://www.apsva.us/newES1.  Here anyone interested in specifics can keep informed on meetings, presentations and other key milestones.

At the second BLPC Meeting,  the APS design team focused on addressing issues of traffic flow.  APS has hired an outside firm to assess of current traffic in the Williamsburg area beginning next week (including traffic counts, parent and student surveys of the middle school students as well as all three local elementary schools).  APS is determined to make this a green commuter school and hopes to encourage the majority of the students to walk or bike to this new school.

The design team also talked and displayed three different “design vignettes” about the possible locations of the school on the 25-acre campus.  Each option had a list of Pros/Cons which weighed preservation of open space, expense due to topography, potential for connection to the existing Middle School, and traffic and pedestrian flows.  There was also a discussion of advantages to siting the New ES new near the wooded “Dell” in the area up on Harrison Street.  At future meetings, community and school representatives should voice their opinions on which attributes are most important to our interest groups.  In particular, the number of usable fields and their use on the weekends is something that the APS team will need to hear more about from our Community.

Lastly, we heard APS is also planning for a 300 student addition to the Williamsburg Middle School.  Therefore, between the nearly 1000 students currently enrolled at Williamsburg Middle School, 300 more Williamsburg Middle School students, and 600 elementary students, the WMS campus may have 1,900 kids coming and going each day.  Much of the design team’s time will need to focus on circulation and safety of all buses, cars, bikers and walkers as well how to adequately build parking capacity for vehicles.

The next meeting of the BLPC is scheduled for next Wednesday, Oct 3rd at 7pm at the WMS Library.  Carmen Romero and Lara Meadows will be attending and will continue to report back to the Jamestown community on this process.

Questions?  Please contact Carmen or Lara at BLPC-liaison@jamestownpta.org.