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Jamestown, Arlington, Virginia 2015 Field Day

News and Events

First Week Packets
Tues., Sept. 4- Deadline to Include Content
Fri., Sept. 7, 9:00 am- Volunteers Needed to Assemble
If you have a flyer that should be included in the Back-to-School First Week Packet, it must be emailed to Ms. McCarthy for approval by Tuesday, September 4. Upon approval, 610 copies must be left in the office by end of day Thursday, September 6.

Volunteers Needed: First Week Packets will be sent home in backpack mail on Friday, September 7. We need help assembling the packets on Friday, September 7 at 9:00 am. Sign-up here to volunteer. This typically takes no more than an hour if we have enough help. Contact Shannon Haynes internal-relations@jamestownpta.org with questions.

Kindergarten Popsicle Stay & Play Playdate
Fri., Sept. 7, 3:36pm
Let’s celebrate the first week of school with popsicles for our new Kindergarteners at the Jamestown Playground immediately upon pick- up. If your child is a bus rider, send a note to your teacher that you plan to pick up your child for the stay & play playdate. Please sign-up here or email kplaydates@jamestownpta.org.

Science Olympiad for Grades 3-5
Sat., Sept. 8, Registration Deadline
If you’re child loves learning about the life of a glacier, comets traveling through the solar system, or the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, consider joining the Jamestown’s Science Olympiad Team. An email with more information was sent Aug. 22, but please see quick links for more information.
Event Descriptions
Parent Volunteer Options
Registration Link

Back-to-School Nights
Wed., Sept. 12, 7:00 pm 1st through 5th Grades
Mon., Sept. 17, 7:00 pm Kindergarten, Montessori, MIIPA, and Pre-K
Begin the evening with a short meeting in the Multi-Purpose Room followed by time to get to know your child’s classroom and teachers. If you need childcare options, in Community Events below.

Ice Cream Social
Thurs., Sept. 13, 6:00 – 7:00 pm
If ice cream, sprinkles, and chocolate syrup sound like a great way to end a week, join us for Jamestown’s annual back-to-school Ice Cream Social near the playground. All Jamestown students and their families are welcome. Come to meet up with old friends and make new ones.

Volunteers needed: Sign-up here to volunteer. Contact Karyn Corneretto or Whitney Aaronson at ice-cream-social@jamestownpta.org

Movie Night
Fri., Oct. 12, 6:45 pm
Celebrate the beautiful DC fall weather with Movie Night on the Jamestown front field (between the playground and baseball field). Title to come soon. Any questions or those interested in volunteering can be directed to social@jamestownpta.org.

Grade Level Parent Socials
Various Dates Below
Why should our kids have all the fun? Our first ever Grade Level Socials are for parents only, so schedule that sitter and come mingle with your Jamestown friends. More information announced in the coming weeks.
Kindergarten: September 11, 7:30 at Ireland’s Four Courts
1st Grade: September 27, Time/ Location TBD
2nd Grade: September 25, Time/ Location TBD
3rd Grade: October 2, Time/ Location
4th Grade: September 20, Time/ Location TBD
5th Grade: September 12, 8:00 (after Back to School Night) at Tyson’s Lebanese Taverna

 

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Jamestown Community CIP Survey Results

The PTA conducted a survey of the Jamestown community’s thoughts on the benefits and challenges of two of the options being considered by the School Board to bring more middle school seats online in 2019: the Wilson site and the Stratford site. We had 77 responses. The results can be found here.

In addition, at October’s PTA meeting, the Jamestown PTA voted to endorse the School Bond Referendum on the November ballot. The Bond will include money for studying the sites available for new middle school seats in 2019. The PTA resolution emphasizes the importance of new middle school construction and near-term measures to avoid overcrowding at Williamsburg. For more on the PTA resolution please click here.

APS Capital Improvement Program – Update for Early September

Last Thursday the School Board met to discuss several issues, including the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to address overcrowding in Arlington Public Schools. Jamestown’s PTA and several Jamestown parents delivered comments to the Board regarding the pressing need for new middle school capacity, particularly to relieve current and future overcrowding at Williamsburg Middle School.

Earlier this summer, the Arlington County Board approved the 2014 CIP that provides funding for County projects – including APS facilities – for the next 10 years.  Unfortunately, the 2014 CIP did not include any money for building a new middle school serving North Arlington.  This means that the next time funding will be considered by the School Board and County Board will be in 2016.  Because it takes at least two years (or longer) to build a new school, North Arlington will not have new middle school capacity until at least 2019, several years after the middle schools in North Arlington are expected to be well over-capacity.  By 2018, Williamsburg’s enrollment is expected to be 132.9% over capacity.

The School Board is evaluating three options for more seats in 2019: 1) Build a new middle school on the Wilson site in Rosslyn; 2) Renovate the Stratford site and move the HB Woodlawn Program to the Reed School; and 3) Renovate and/or create new space at 4 or 5 middle schools.  Regardless of the final decision on how or where to add new seats, the School Board indicated on Thursday that there will be boundary changes, and those boundary changes will come sooner rather than later.

While the School Board has tried to assure parents that they have a budget and a deadline (2019) for providing more seats, the only money that has been allocated for more middle school seats at this point is the money in this year’s CIP:  $4 million for planning only.  The CIP anticipates seeking voter approval for construction funding in 2016, and using the 2014-2016 period to complete site selection, program choices and facility design.  The PTA, working with concerned Jamestown parents, has been pressing APS to move forward aggressively to make the siting and other decisions needed to be ready to bring a solid middle school construction funding plan forward in 2016.

How does this issue impact the Jamestown Community?

1)         Jamestown’s students heading to middle school need more seats now: Projections show that Williamsburg will be at 125.5% in 2017, 120.3% in 2016, and 111.6% next year.  The School Board and APS staff have been silent on plans to address current overcrowding.   Because a new school can’t be built before the 2018 school year, several years after middle school crowding is forecast to become a serious problem, we have urged the School Board and APS staff to find and share with the community creative solutions for addressing the seat shortage between now and when new capacity can be provided.   Some of the possibilities that have been mentioned include increasing enrollment at HB next year, creating a 6th Grade Academy at Madison Community Center, or using the Reed School if it is not part of the 2019 solution.  While these ideas have been floated, there is no evidence that any are under serious study.  The PTA does not yet have a position on these proposed options (none has been formally proposed by APS), but we do think that the School Board and APS staff need to start analyzing and socializing these and other possible options now so that parents can prepare for – and influence– what may come.  We encourage parents to let the PTA know what options are preferable so that we can advocate for the right solution for our community. Regardless of the choices that emerge for new capacity in the near- and long-term, the PTA intends to urge APS to reveal and invite discussion on redistricting plans as soon as possible.

2)         We Need 1300 Seats (or more) by 2019 and it will be hard to get them: We need to continue to advocate before the School Board and APS staff to ensure that the drive to build new seats by 2019 stays on schedule.  The School Board is focused on securing 1300 new seats, but the School Board’s own analysis shows that 1300 may not be enough. Williamsburg had to add an unanticipated additional sixth grade team (44 kids) this year and Jamestown added a fifth kindergarten class at the eleventh hour.  We can’t afford to fall short of 1300, but it is a real risk.

Even with the money allocated for planning in this year’s CIP, there is no guarantee that the 2016 CIP will allocate funds for a new middle school. Getting the minimum 1300 seats in place by 2019 is far from a sure thing.  Each new middle school option faces opposition from sectors of the community.  None will be a shoe-in.  The fallback alternative of renovating and expanding four or five existing schools seems even more problematic, as campuses are already crowded, construction on occupied buildings is more complicated and more expensive, and each project is also likely to face community opposition.  Project opponents tend to organize most aggressively and push the hardest.  It would be a serious mistake to allow through inaction APS to hear only from those opposing project to increase middle school seats.  We need to continue to raise our voices so that the School Board and APS staff know how important it is to the Jamestown community that the middle school construction program stays on track and on schedule.

How can you be involved?

Let the PTA know your thoughts on these issues. The PTA has been invited by APS to serve on a committee of neighborhood and school leaders tasked with advising APS on implementation of the CIP, with our first meeting set for September 15.

Get involved in the APS Community Engagement Activities. The School Board is planning a series of Community Engagement activities on these issues throughout to the Fall.  A calendar of events can be found here: http://www.apsva.us/cms/lib2/VA01000586/Centricity/Domain/110/Tentative_Calendar_09-04-2014.pdf. The first open community meeting will be on October 2, 2014 and we urge the Jametown community to turn out to let the School Board know that we need to continue to work on the issues of overcrowding.

If you have thoughts or concerns on the boundary changes, please let your voice be heard.  You can also always contact the School Board at School.Board@apsva.us and moreseats@apsva.us.

Check out www.moreseats.com for additional information and chances to activate.

Come to the PTA meetings! The next PTA meeting will be held at Jamestown at 7:30 p.m. on October 7, 2014.  We welcome everyone.

For further information at any time, please contact the PTA’s CIP Liaison, Courtney Barton, at moreseats@jamestownpta.org or PTA President Tom Jensen at president@jamestownpta.org.

CIP Update: Middle School Capacity – Band-aids or Buildings?

The APS board met Thursday evening and received an update from APS staff on the school system’s Capital Improvement Planning (CIP) process. Jamestown’s PTA and several Jamestown parents addressed the Board regarding the pressing need for middle school capacity, particularly to relieve overcrowding at Williamsburg Middle School.

Why is this important?
Projections show that Williamsburg will be at 111.6% of capacity next year, 120.3% in 2016, 125.5% in 2017, and 132.9% in 2018. Swanson Middle School faces even more acute overcrowding during the same period. Read more

Take Action Today To Ensure We Have Enough Seats for Middle School Students!

Please consider signing a petition (http://www.tinyurl.com/moreseatspetition). The petition does not support a particular construction site or plan. It calls on our county leaders to include funding for construction at the middle school level.

Please consider reaching out to county board and school board members to express your concern. The correct email address for the county board is (countyboard@arlingtonva.us) and the school board can be reached by email at (School.Board@apsva.us). (The county board email address noted in our earlier missive was incorrect, apologies).

Because these concerns extend beyond just our Jamestown community, please check out www.moreseats.com for additional information and chances to activate.

County Board to Act on CIP Saturday – Please Consider Speaking Up!

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 countyboard@apsva.us. Copy the School Board at school.board@apsva.us. 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 president@jamestownpta.org or visit Jamestown Elementary School PTA on Facebook, or visit www.moreseats.com.

Report on School Board’s First Meeting of 2014-2015 School Year

The APS board met on Tuesday, July 1st, conducting its first business meeting of the 2014-15 school year. Your PTA board president and two Jamestown parents spoke during the public comment period on the topic of the 2014 Capital Improvement Plan, all emphasizing the Jamestown community’s concern over the removal of construction funding from the CIP. The PTA board’s statement is here. We will continue to be active on the CIP over the coming months and wish to express our appreciation to the many parents and community members who have stepped up to express their views to the School Board and County Board on the need for new middle school capacity to offset serious overcrowding at Williamsburg and Swanson (and later, at Gunston).

The board took a number of potentially significant steps on a range of other APS matters:
• The new board chair is James Lander. Dr. Violand-Sanchez is Vice Chair.
• The board voted 4-1 to extend Superintendent Murphy’s contract for four years. His contract was not up this year, but the board acted to extend his contract ahead of schedule “in the interest of continuity and stability”, according to outgoing Chair Abby Raphael. Mr. Lander expressed objection to the extension on procedural grounds, and was the lone dissenting vote.
• Board member Noah Simon resigned effective August 1st, citing his responsibilities to his children following the death of his wife last year. The Jamestown PTA issued a statement thanking Mr. Simon for his service.
• It appears that outgoing board member Sally Baird has been assigned to be the board’s liaison to Jamestown (the docketed table of assignments is mislabeled and a bit confusing. It is possible the assignment will be affected in some way by Mr. Simon’s resignation, and certainly will be affected by the end of Ms. Baird’s term at the end of 2014).
• The board received a staff presentation on potential changes to bus service to lessen the distances considered “walkable” for APS students. The presentation is posted here and makes interesting reading for those intrigued by transportation logistics and costs. No immediate changes in bus transportation zones are planned, though changes in bus stops appear to be under active review. This subject will receive greater treatment in a future PTA newsletter.

For additional information, contact Tom Jensen at president@jamestownpta.org

Noah Simon Resigns from School Board

The Jamestown Elementary School PTA issued the following statement today in response to the announced resignation of Arlington Public School Board Member Noah Simon: “Noah Simon has been an exceptional public servant. He has listened and he has led. He has learned and taught. We have been very fortunate to have his time and ideas and tremendous devotion to all our children while he served on the School Board. He has helped make Arlington schools better today, and set good things in motion for the future. We will miss him greatly. We extend Noah and his family our thoughts and full support.”

CIP Update 6/25/2014

We are mobilizing, and we need your help! The PTA has developed an engagement plan for our families during these critical summer months. It is also available on our Facebook page (Jamestown Elementary School PTA) and/or you can follow our efforts on twitter (@JESmoreseats). You may see email communication coming from your room parents.

The next school board meeting is July 1. Please consider attending. We have really seen individuals and communities make a difference at these meetings by having a large presence. Our PTA President, Tom Jensen, is scheduled to speak—and he’s got the #1 slot.

We need to get our middle school funding back on track. Tom has sent a letter to School Board Chair Abby Raphael. It will take participation from our whole community to get this back on track. Please consider joining these efforts. We need to be heard on behalf of our kids.

Year-End Not So Good News: CIP Unresolved on Middle School Capacity

Please pay attention if you plan to send your child to Williamsburg Middle School in the coming years.

The Arlington Public Schools (APS) board approved its 2014 bond funding proposal this week and, regrettably, punted on deciding how and where to build new middle school capacity in north Arlington.
Opposition from some community members to APS’s conceptual plans for use of the Wilson site as a secondary school, and potential changes at the Stratford facility (where the H.B. Woodlawn program now operates) caused the board to drop all north Arlington middle school construction money from the 2014 CIP proposal. The board-approved CIP includes $4 million for planning and community engagement process, but omitted the funds requested by Superintendent Murphy to build new capacity. The APS CIP proposal now goes to the County Board for approval in mid July. If approved, it will be placed on the November ballot for voter approval. The next CIP will be considered two years from now.

Your PTA board is quite concerned that the APS board’s action will delay new construction needed to reduce expected overcrowding at Williamsburg. We will be sending a letter next week to the County Board expressing our concerns. A draft of the letter is posted for your review on the PTA website.

We encourage you to contact the County Board and School Board by email to convey your opinions directly, recognizing that, as on all things Arlington, views are diverse. Key communications points are posted on the PTA website for your consideration. That said, if you expect your child to attend Williamsburg or another middle school in north Arlington, we believe you should be concerned by the board’s decision.

For more information, please contact PTA president Tom Jensen at president@jamestownpta.org.