The Arlington County board will vote this Saturday morning (7/19) on the 2014 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The plan, which the board is highly likely to approve and place on the November ballot, includes $105 million for Arlington Public Schools (and $112 million for other items). The CIP includes no middle school construction money. The APS Superintendent had recommended in late May that the 2014 CIP include $43 million for middle school planning and construction in order to provide at least 1300 new seats by 2018. Regrettably, the construction funding was dropped entirely from the final CIP. The CIP includes only $4 million for middle school planning.
The APS board dropped the middle school construction money largely in response to lobbying by opponents of APS’s conceptual plans to build a new middle school near Rosslyn at the Wilson School site and those seeking to block potential changes to the H.B. Woodlawn program and use of the building it now occupies. We respect the concerns of other community members, but regret deeply the unfortunate interruption in movement toward providing Arlington’s children with new middle school capacity.
The next CIP will be developed over the coming two years, and presented to voters in 2016. It takes approximately 4-5 years from the time the bond issue is voted on, until a new facility is available for students. The absence of construction funding in this year’s CIP means substantial (1-2 year minimum) delay in construction of new capacity. Today’s Jamestown kindergarteners are slated to enter Williamsburg Middle School in 2019 when Williamsburg will be at 136.1% of approved capacity. Williamsburg will exceed 120% capacity by 2016 (the school is already pressed for space now, with multiple relocatables). For more info on APS student population growth, see this APS data.
If you are concerned about overcrowding at Williamsburg in the coming years, we encourage you to express your concern to the County Board today. The easiest way to reach the members is through an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copy the School Board at email@example.com. The County Board’s final hearing on the CIP is Saturday morning, and public comment will be heard. Please consider participating.
It’s too late to change the 2014 CIP before it goes to the voters. But you will have a vote later this year, and the fate of middle school construction funding in the 2016 CIP is up in the air. The County and School boards would benefit from learning what you think about this subject. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Jamestown Elementary School PTA on Facebook, or visit www.moreseats.com.