Friday, April 11, 2014

School Board to Massively Borrow for New Schools, Additions

Hello, Yupette,

Arlington School Board held an important 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Program Work Session last night. According to presentations by Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Management Services Deirdre McLaughlin and Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and operations John Chadwick, the Arlington Public School System will be hard pressed to both borrow enough through issuing bonds and find enough sites to build all the new classrooms and other infrastructure the school system will need by FY 2022.

APS will not have enough borrowing capability to build the classrooms and other infrastructure needed by FY 22 when new classrooms are actually needed. The school system will need to borrow at least $450 million by FY 2022 for new and replacement infrastructure.

Regarding capacity, the school system plans significantly expand Abingdon Elementary School and build a new elementary school on County-owned land somewhere in South Arlington. (The school system is apparently not aware that a major infill redevelopment will occur at Park Shirlington, which is adjacent to Abingdon School, at the same time Abingdon School is expanded).

APS is considering repurposing existing school sites for a new middle school (HB Woodlawn and Arlington Traditional School are being considered).

APS thinks it can jam 2000 or more students into Wakefield, Yorktown, and Washington-Lee by repurposing interior space, and building an addition at W-L.

APS considered leasing commercial building space but found that option would be too expensive. The school system has apparently not considered buying and renovating an existing commercial building to be used as a school.

Details are going to be on the Arlington Public Schools Web site in the near future.

2100 too

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

County Board To School Board: Prepare for a Tax Rate Reduction, Cooperate with County Government

Hey Yupette,

County Board, School Board, and County Manager met last night at the School Board offices. Polls had just closed but the County Board was obviously getting reports from Democratic poll workers about the unhappiness of Arlington's Voters.

So, County Board informed the School Board that a real estate tax rate reduction is likely from the advertised rate. County Board also put the School Board on the the defensive about the per-student cost of educating Arlington's K-12 students compared to neighboring jurisdictions.

Because of numerous complaints the County Board hears from neighborhoods, which are not informed about the School System's plans for school expansion until plans are announced by School System planning staff, the County Board told the School Board that the County Board will have to be informed about School System planning decisions before the decisions are announced.

Finally, County Board Chair Fisette told the School Board that, because of the demands placed by New Urbanism, large areas of school open space (like school playgrounds) will have to be 'repurposed' for multiple sports-recreation purposes.

County Board Members Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada put the School Board on the defensive and there were several testy exchanges between County Board and School Board Members regarding County Board vs. School Board priorities.


Monday, April 7, 2014

We Have a Choice on April 8th: Bus Rapid Transit We Can All Live With...Or a Streetcar System to Die For


There are better and less expensive transit options for the Pike than a costly and ineffective streetcar. But the projected $400 million cost of a Pike streetcar system (eight times what a state-of-the-art off-the-shelf bus rapid system would cost) is only one part of the toll streetcars would exact on Arlington residents. It's obvious from what's occurring elsewhere that a shared street streetcar system is too dangerous for the Pike. Streetcar tracks alone would cause hundreds of injuries every year. Streetcar accidents involving vehicles of all types would cause dozens of accidents every year, some serious.

That's why it's important to elect John Vihstadt to the County Board on April 8th We need state-of-the-art bus alternatives on the Pike we can all live with, not a streetcar system to die for.