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APS Expansion Projects and Boundary Changes

Middle school and high school expansion projects, and waves of new school boundaries decisions, might feel like a long way off for some of you. But these changes are coming faster than you think, and these decisions will impact your family.

As you know, Arlington Public Schools (APS) enrollment continues to grow. While it is great to see so many families choosing Arlington as their home community, preparing for larger enrollment means there will be many activities undertaken once again this year to prepare for that growth.

During the 2017-18 school year, APS and the School Board worked on 13 separate projects and decisions to pave the way for future growth. Many of these projects and decisions will directly impact the Glebe community, including:

  • A sixth neighborhood middle school opening at the Stratford site in Fall 2019 and the necessary boundary changes.
  • APS’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for FY 2017-26 includes up to $49 million for the Reed Building Expansion, creating 725+ elementary seats that will open for August 2021. Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) appointments scheduled for September and October.
  • Renovation of the Education Center Building (next to W&L High School)  to provide approximately 500 – 600 high school seats.  Community engagement on instructional focus is planned for October.

In an effort to stay connected with all APS families and keep open a two-way flow of information about all of the projects, APS has identified school ambassadors to share information and communications between the APS central office team and their school’s families and community.

Cindy Scarcella is Glebe’s ambassador for community engagement. She will be sharing information regarding these projects via our PTA’s various modes of communications, including here on our PTA website.

In addition to attending the meetings, you can find more information on these and other projects by:

  • Visiting the web page “Engage with APS” at https://www.apsva.us/engage/ which contains Information about all APS initiatives.
  • Sending an email to [email protected] with questions or concerns.
  • Calling 703-228-6310 with questions or concerns.
  • Contacting former PTA president / APS School Ambassador Cindy Scarcella (email).

Elementary School Boundary Changes – Planning Begins / To be Approved November 2018

The School Board will be reviewing Elementary School Boundaries this year. In 2019, a new elementary school, Alice W. Fleet, will open and the current Patrick Henry school will move to that location. The Montessori Program currently at Drew School will then move to the Henry ES site.

All students currently attending Patrick Henry ES and all students in the Drew ES Montessori will be affected.  Additional ES students may be impacted as result of the boundary changes and to better balance enrollment. Then the boundaries will change again when the new Reed Building in the Westover area will open in fall of 2021.

This community engagement process began in February 2018. The new boundaries will be approved by the School Board in November 2018, and will begin to take effect in September 2019. More updates will follow.

Walk Zone Surveys – YOUR Opinion was Requested

As part of the elementary school boundaries process, APS engaged the Glebe community, and nearby neighborhood associations, to collect perspectives on walkability for all school facilities.

School planners are searching for places where they can work with Arlington County to add crossing guards, traffic signals, and other improvements to make walking to school easier and safer for more elementary students. That could allow the school system to reduce the number of bus routes and save money.

Schools may provide a bus for some of these students now, because there is a busy street nearby. Certain busy streets, under APS policy, require some kind of assistance to allow students to cross safely. These busiest streets are marked in ORANGE on the accompanying maps.

If there were improvements at some points on these most busy streets, such as a crossing guard, the district could plan to have more students walk across them. APS planners are also are looking at less busy streets, within neighborhoods, that might need traffic calming, crossing guards, or other changes. They are open to all feedback, including that residents do not find a particular area to be very walkable.

The areas in pink on these maps are an existing walk zone for each of these schools. The areas in white are places that might be added to each school’s walk zone. The areas within the dotted boundary lines are within a 1/2-mile “walk shed,” where people are highly likely to walk to school, based on surveys. APS is studying areas that reach out to the edge of a 1-mile circle around each school. Beyond that, surveys show that people are not as likely to walk. There is overlap between the different schools, so make sure to look at all the maps that might involve your street.

In addition, APS planners are discussing possible moves and new locations for options programs and choice schools. They are trying to determine if significant numbers of residents would walk to school facilities in certain areas, as part of that process.

Glebe families should provide input about walkability for multiple school zones before March 12th. Glebe’s survey will be closed March 15th.

Please use these online surveys to give your opinion here, and cite your specific planning unit number if it is not listed, to make it easier for them to tabulate the data:

Neighborhood associations may also be holding walking “tours” for residents to look at local streets together and discuss the issues.

Neighbors are encouraged to do their own “self-guided” walks and make note of their observations on the surveys. And please watch for notes from other civic associations in our area, that may host events.

We will also have maps and paper surveys across from the Nurse’s Office in the Glebe Lobby. Please turn in all paper surveys by March 12. There will be a folder in the office to drop off the survey.

To review all of the walk zone resources, materials, and maps, please click here: https://www.apsva.us/elementary-school-boundary-change/walk-zone-resources/

Please also feel free to share your thoughts and questions directly with Glebe’s Walk Zone Task Group representatives: Tara Blankinship (email) or Dawn Hardesty (email)

P.S. There is a SEPARATE survey effort that is happening to determine opinions about the placement of programs and schools, such as ATS, immersion, Montessori, etc.

To participate in that additional survey about the locations of neighborhood and choice or options schools, please click here.

Middle School Boundary Changes for Fall 2019

On Dec. 14, the Arlington County School Board approved new middle school boundary adjustments to create an attendance zone for the new middle school at the Stratford site. The boundary adjustments will become effective for the 2019-20 school year, when the middle school at the Stratford site opens, in order to relieve crowding and better balance enrollment across all middle schools.

If you have specific questions or would like to discuss the plans, please feel free to contact Cindy Scarcella ([email protected]), the Glebe Ambassador to APS on these initiatives.

Under the changes, Glebe students who live west of Glebe Road, who will be attending middle school in fall of 2019, will now all be attending Swanson Middle School together, although School Board members have directed APS staff to develop a plan to allow transfers between all middle schools.

Students and families who are being switched from Williamsburg Middle School to Swanson Middle School, west of Glebe Road, should be able to request transfers to remain at Williamsburg if desired, although the School Board still has to discuss and approve a specific policy. School Board members have formally directed staff to allow transfers to all middle schools, even if it means there will be some relocatable classrooms used to do so. Williamsburg has the most open seats under the new boundaries, prior to a discussion that will take place this year about program moves and new program possibilities to be located at Williamsburg to maximize capacity at the school.

Glebe students who live east of Glebe Road have been zoned for the new middle school at the Stratford site. This includes students formerly zoned for both Swanson and Williamsburg.

After the Superintendent’s recommendation was presented on Nov. 14, the proposal was debated and revised. Families of students affected by the new boundaries will receive notification in the mail by February 2018. Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, all students in sixth through eighth grades will attend their newly-assigned middle schools.

The boundary recommendation aligns with community input that placed priority on having close proximity to the neighborhood school. At Kenmore, Swanson, Williamsburg, and the new middle school at the Stratford site, more than 50% of middle school students will be eligible to walk to school, strengthening efficiency by increasing the number of potential walkers.

In addition, in our nearby neighborhoods, some switches were made to early boundary proposals in order to keep larger groups of students from Glebe, Discovery, and Arlington Science Focus together, as they tracked to Swanson, Williamsburg, and the new Stratford middle school.

In its motion to approve the boundary adjustments, the School Board also directed the Superintendent to include in the Annual Update in the fall of 2018 recommendations or possible program moves, new programs, and boundary refinements as necessary to ensure that all middle school facilities are fully utilized, which may result in some kind of choice program being added to Williamsburg Middle School. The Annual Update will also finalize the plans to enable transfers among all APS middle schools.

The approved boundary adjustments are moving 84 planning units (or approximately 1,545 students), out of a total of 346 units, with about three quarters of those planning units being assigned to the new middle school. As a result of the adjustments, all APS middle schools are projected to be under 111% capacity by the 2022-23 school year.

For additional information, visit https://www.apsva.us/engage/middle-school-boundary-change.

Middle School Boundaries – What’s Up, APS? Podcast

For a summary of the middle school boundary change process, you may want to listen to the latest episode of the What’s Up, APS? podcast, which addresses frequent questions from the community. Find it here: https://soundcloud.com/user-203154489/middle-school-boundaries

Education Center Instructional Focus

On June 29, 2017 the School Board voted to renovate the Education Center Building to provide approximately 500 – 600 high school seats. A working group will propose two to three options for the instructional focus, including:

  • expansion of Washington-Lee by 600 seats
  • open a new high school program with approximately 500 seats (options identified in ACI’s annual report, 2016).

On October 18, the community participated in a presentation and dialogue about the instructional focus options for the Education Center site, where approximately 500-600 high school seats will be added. Information about the four options presented, a timeline, and other background can be found on the Education Center Project web page. The meeting was livestreamed and can be viewed online; a Spanish audio recording will be made available.

An online questionnaire was open through November 1 for community members to share input on the instructional areas of focus and programs identified by the Education Center Working Group. The School Board will consider recommendations this year.

Career Center Site and Reed Building

On June 29, 2017, the School Board voted on 1,300 high school seats and approved adding 700-800+ seats through an addition to the Career Center.

The School Board and County Board held a joint work session on October 17 that included updates on the Career Center process and the Reed Building.

The first Reed meeting—between the Reed Building Level Planning Committee and the Public Facilities Review Committee—was held October 25, and the Career Center Working Group will begin its work in early 2018.

Site design proposals are currently under debate for the Reed Building. APS’ Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for FY 2017-26 includes up to $49 million for the Reed Building Expansion, creating 725+ elementary seats that will open for August 2021.

For more details and a timeline for both projects, visit the Engage webpages for the Career Center and the Reed Building.

Reed School Updates

Planning to open the new Reed School continues. APS’ Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for FY 2017-26 includes up to $49 million for the Reed Building Expansion, creating 725+ elementary seats that will open for August 2021 in the Westover area, with an expansion on the property adjacent to the library.

The draft walk zone map has been released and there are frequent updates being posted about planning for the project.

For more details, please click here.

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