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Author: Jill Curran

Survey on Capital Improvement/Development Plan

Arlington Public Schools (APS) is currently in the process of developing the 2014 Capital Improvement Plan to address enrollment growth in Arlington.  Recognizing that APS may not be able to build enough seats to meet projected enrollment, APS plans to consider “Capital Development” options to help add or better utilize capacity.  Such alternatives include increasing class size, increasing utilization of buildings, year-round schools, adjusting schedules, and virtual class offerings, among others.  The School Board is also considering whether they want to continue with the plan to build a new elementary school on the Kenmore/Carlin Springs site and how they will handle adding physical capacity at the middle and high school levels, whether by additions or a new non-comprehensive school (similar to HB Woodlawn).

Arlington PTAs have been asked to provide some preliminary input on these topics.  We would like to better understand the viewpoints of the Jamestown community in order to respond to this request.  Please click here to complete a brief survey on this topic.  Responses are due by Thursday, January 16.

Take the Jamestown PTA Survey on the APS Budget

The County Board and the School Board met in November 2012 to discuss the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 2013. At that time, the County Manager estimated that revenue growth would slow to approximately 1% for next year. Based on this level of revenue growth, Arlington Public Schools (APS) estimates a shortfall of approximately $23.5 million for continuing services only, including funding for the projected increase in enrollment and a pay step increase for APS employees. Without a pay step increase, the shortfall is expected to be $16.3 million.

The Jamestown PTA would like to know what choices parents would make in closing the budget gap in order to influence the School Board and County Board’s decision making process in a way that best serves our community. Please click here to participate in an online, 6-question survey.

Through Friday, February 1, you may also use an online budgeting tool supplied by APS to develop and recommend a budget plan.  This tool may be found at http://budgetproposal.apsva.us/MyApps/index.htm.

This survey is open only to Jamestown parents.  If you are not a Jamestown parent and would like to read the survey, please click here.

Update on PTA Meeting and Resolution Endorsing the New Elementary School

School Board member, Noah Simon, attended our PTA meeting on Tuesday, January 8 to field questions and listen to feedback from our community.  The PTA also considered whether to adopt a proposed Resolution Endorsing Building of the New Elementary School on the Williamsburg Campus.  The third point was stricken from the proposed resolution, because many parents attending the meeting felt that Arlington Public Schools did not engage “in an extensive community process to plan the most feasible locations for construction of new space based on a range of relevant factors.”  Parents cited a lack of community involvement on the site selection, insufficient evaluation of alternatives (eg, Madison Center, Reed Center, relocating ATS), and late evaluation of traffic and other impacts (eg, not until being deep into the design process for the building).  Still, enough parents felt it was important to express our support of building to alleviate overcrowding that the PTA voted to adopt a modified version of the resolution.

PTA Meeting Tuesday, January 8 and Resolution on New School

Please join us for the next PTA meeting on Tuesday, January 8 at 7:30 pm in the library.  At the meeting we will vote on a proposed resolution to endorse the new elementary school on the Williamsburg campus.  Please click here to read the proposed resolution.  Noah Simon, the newest member of the School Board and our School Board liaison, will also attend the meeting to hear feedback from our community.

New Date for Next PTA Meeting and Meeting on Boundaries at Jamestown

Please come to an upcoming meeting on boundaries for the new school on Williamsburg’s campus on Tuesday, December 11 at 7 pm in the library.  APS is beginning to develop options for the new school, and this is an opportunity to provide feedback on option development.  The meeting will be followed by our monthly PTA meeting.  (Please note the change of date for the PTA meeting from December 4 to December 11.)

Update on November 26 Boundary Meeting

APS held a boundary meeting on Monday, November 26 to kick off the next stage of the process, option development.  The plan is to develop several options for new school boundaries in November and December, analyze and evaluate them in January/February, and then present a recommendation to the Board in March.  The goal is for families to know about the new school boundaries over a year before the new school opens.

The main purpose of the meeting was to unveil an online planning tool that allows anyone to develop boundary options, which is available here.  The tool allows you to move “planning units” (the building blocks on which our school boundaries are built) from one school to another until you achieve an option where all schools are in the right capacity range.  You may then submit the boundary option for APS Staff.  The tool is still in a test stage, and APS staff solicited feedback on the tool.

Joint Community Forum on FY2014 Budget

On Thursday, November 29 the County Manager and School Superintendent held a Joint Community Forum on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.  The County expects a $49.2M budget shortfall for 2014, assuming tax revenue growth of only 1%.  The primary source of the shortfall is slow growth in tax revenues relative to growth in expenditures.  The County Board has provided guidance that the operating costs of new projects (Arlington Mill, ConnectArlington) and school enrollment growth be covered by tax revenue increases.  Half of remaining shortfall should be covered by tax revenue increases while the other half covered by spending cuts.  The guidance also calls for the county and schools to maintain the revenue sharing adopted in the 2013 budget (54.2% by the county, 45.8% by the schools).  Dr. Murphy mentioned several possible sources of cuts in the school budget: one-time employee payments, eliminating/outsourcing employee benefits, deferring maintenance/minor construction, reducing building custodians, reducing “overlay” staffing, increasing class size, and program adjustments or changes in level of service.  Break-out sessions were held for community members to give feedback on sources of revenue and potential spending cuts.  APS will be holding a forum for feedback specifically on the school budget on December 5 at the Education Center.  This is an opportunity to give input on spending cuts that will be considered in February’s budget.  More information about the budget will be posted at www.apsva.us/budget.

Building Level Planning Committee Meeting for New School

The Building Level Planning Committee held a meeting on Wednesday, November 28, which focused on traffic.  The Toole group presented their findings based on data collected in September.  From this data, they recommended that the Williamsburg campus have a total of 274 parking spaces (171 for the middle school and 103 for the elementary school), most of which would be onsite.  The report will be available for public viewing in a week on the new school website. <!–more–>

The architecture firm, VMDO, then presented three vignettes located in the SE, Center and NW quadrants of the campus.  For each of the designs, the discussion was centered around traffic flow.  How and where would buses unload?  Where is parent drop-off?  And how does traffic (car, bus and pedestrian) flow into the school.

At the end of the meeting, some members expressed concerns about the vignette in the NW quadrant.  The school will be placed 580 feet back from the road (1/4mile), which is a long distance for pedestrians.  APS is also going to put in a through road to connect 36th to Harrison, which will require the recreation fields to be moved.  The fields will border this new street, so a fence must be built along the road behind the goal posts.  Lastly, this option draws all traffic up to the NW quadrant from two directions.  Based on the Toole study, this is not recommended.  This forces significant traffic back onto Harrison (around the middle school) or out to the Edison/Old Dominion, which was determined to be an unsafe intersection.