Frequently Asked Boundary Questions (updated 10/26/16)


Find answers to questions about boundary changes, in the following categories:


Process

  1. What are the goals of this process?
  2. What is the difference between a boundary refinement and a comprehensive boundary process?
  3. What is the refinement process and implementation timeline?
  4. How can I participate in the process?
  5. How will the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) be included in this process?
  6. How many students will be affected?
  7. Will the high school boundaries need to be refined again?
  8. Where will the new high school be built and what is the time frame for doing so?
  9. How will APS avoid repeating the disruption of this process if they have to repeat the redistricting procedure in 4 years?
  10. Why isn’t academic excellence a factor in the refinement process?
  11. Why does the community only have two weeks to comment?
  12. How will the boundary refinement process be affected by the APS bus shortage?
  13. Why is APS changing boundaries before the negotiations for the Educational Center are complete? Wouldn’t that space be able to house any additional students?
  14. Why does APS need to make these changes so soon (fall of 2017)?
  15. Aside from relocating planning units, what other options has APS thought of to deal with Washington-Lee’s overcrowding?
  16. Why has it taken APS so long to address the overcrowding issue since the data has been available for several years?
  17. Can APS help to give some context for what the six requirements for the boundary refinement process really means?
  18. Will there be considerations for siblings of current Washington-Lee students and for transportation?


Q: What are the goals of this process?

A: The boundary refinement process is designed to balance enrollment among the 3 APS comprehensive high schools and better utilize available and planned instructional spaces. According to the latest student enrollment projections, Washington-Lee High School will be 400 students above capacity by the 2020-21 School Year. The objective is to gradually move students to Yorktown and Wakefield, starting with incoming 9th graders in the 2017-18 School Year to balance enrollment in all three schools by the year 2020. APS will accomplish this by soliciting feedback from the community on which planning units should be considered by the School Board to move out of Washington-Lee.

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Q: What is the difference between a refinement and a boundary process?

A: A boundary refinement addresses an immediate need. A comprehensive boundary process would involve a county-wide movement of students.

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Q: What is the refinement process and implementation timeline?

A: Community Process

  • October 12-27

School Board Deliberations

  • Recommendations Presented – November 3
  • Work Session – November 9
  • Public Hearing – November 15
  • Board Action – December 1

Implementation

  • Dec. 12, 2016 – H.S. Info. Night
  • Jan. 30, 2017 – H.S. Transfer Deadline
  • Sept. 2017 – Grade 9 Class
  • Sept. 2018 – Grade 9 Class
  • Sept. 2019 – Grade 9 Class
  • Sept. 2020 – Grade 9 Class

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Q: How can I participate in the process?

A: There are multiple ways to participate:

  • Provide feedback through an Online Boundary Refinement Tool. The tool will be available for the community to share proposals from October 12 to October 24. Community members will also be able to provide feedback through paper options.
    • Attend a community meeting. APS will host a series of “Getting Started” community meetings to help inform families and community members about the process and to explain how to use the tool. The same information will be presented at each “Getting Started” meeting.

The four sessions will be held:

  • Wed, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Washington-Lee High School Cafeteria
  • Sat, Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. in the Jefferson Middle School Library (Spanish presentation)
  • Mon, Oct 17 at 7 p.m. in the Yorktown High School Cafeteria
  • Wed, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Wakefield High School Cafeteria

After the Boundary Tool closes, APS will host a “What We Heard” Community Meeting on Thu, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Washington-Lee cafeteria to discuss the responses received and gain additional input and perspectives from the community to inform recommendations for consideration by the School Board.

  • Provide comments or questions by email at apsboundaries@apsva.us or by telephone (in English and Spanish) at 703-228-6310.

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Q: How will the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) be included in this process?

A: The FAC, which is appointed by the School Board, is tasked in School Board policy 10-6.2 with providing the School Board with recommendations and advice related to Arlington Public School facilities and capital program. The FAC has historically advised the School Board on boundaries. The FAC has created a High School subcommittee as a way of developing their counsel to the School Board. Specifically the FAC members will: provide feedback on the online Boundary Tool, have the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the data analysis methodology to be used, and review data and provide feedback.

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Q: How many students will be affected?

A: The recommendation will apply to approximately 100 current eighth grade students who will be entering high school in the 2017-18 School Year and then 100 students for each freshman class in the subsequent years. The refinements will not affect any current high school students.

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Q: Will the high school boundaries need to be refined again?

A: Based on projections for the 2020-21 School Year, this boundary refinement will balance projected enrollment through the 2020-21 School Year. We will most likely need to revisit and adjust high school boundaries in 2020-21 as we prepare to add 1,300 more high school seats in the fall of 2022 as adopted in the FY2017-26 CIP.

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Q: Where will the new high school be built and what is the time frame for doing so?

A: The creation of 1,300 new high school seats is included in the Capital improvement Plan for 2022 but plans for the new high school, such as its location or whether it will be a neighborhood or county-wide school, have not been finalized.

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Q: How will APS avoid repeating the disruption of this process if they have to repeat the redistricting procedure in 4 years?

A: Arlington’s growing population means that boundary changes and adjustments are expected to occur again in the future. Some disruption is inevitable, however, the processes are designed so that students will not be relocated more than once for each school level.

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Q: Why isn’t academic excellence a factor in the refinement process?

A: All three APS high schools are equally competitive, ranking among the top public school systems in the region for the past 15 years.

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Q: Why does the community only have two weeks to comment?

A: Although the decision to change high school boundaries was included in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) adopted in the summer, the shortened timeframe was to allow the dialogue about these changes and community engagement to begin after the start of the school year to ensure more active family involvement and participation but still allowing time to complete the process so that the results available will be available in time for high school information night.

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Q: How will the boundary refinement process be affected by the APS bus shortage?

A: APS does not have a shortage of buses, but there is a regional challenge to acquire qualified bus drivers in a reasonable time frame. When APS hires drivers, most of the new hires must complete the CDL coursework and training to receive the appropriate CDL license and that takes weeks or months before they are ready for the road

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Q: Why is APS changing boundaries before the negotiations for the Educational Center are complete? Wouldn’t that space be able to house any additional students?

A: As of now, plans for the reuse of Educational Center are not firm. While the final decisions for that facility will be completed in the next 2-3 years, the need to balance high school enrollment cannot wait that long. Additionally there will need to be a community process to determine the future use of the Ed Center to best meet the needs of our students.

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Q: Why does APS need to make these changes so soon (fall of 2017)?

A: With each passing year, the growing student population continues to make the need to rebalance high school enrollment more important. The boundary refinement is necessary now to ensure that Washington-Lee isn’t operating significantly over capacity while other high schools have available seats.

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Q; Aside from relocating planning units, what other options has APS thought of to deal with Washington-Lee’s overcrowding?

A: APS has considered a range of other options. Internal building modifications have been made to add 300 additional seats to Washington-Lee. The option of a “Zero period” has also been tried to allow students to start earlier and end the day earlier, thus accommodating more students. In addition, relocatable classrooms have been added to address overcrowding in the short-term until more permanent solutions can be found. Increased class sizes is another alternative, but APS has not pursued that path.

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Q: Why has it taken APS so long to address the overcrowding issue since the data has been available for several years?

A: APS and the CIP release student growth projections every two years. While the data was released two years ago, APS has been working diligently to address enrollment growth issues at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. APS has also created an additional 300 seats through internal modifications at W-L and will be doing similar modifications to add 300 seats at Wakefield and 300 seats at Yorktown over the next two .

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Q: Can APS help to give some context for what the six requirements for the boundary refinement process really means?

A: All of the terms that are to be considered are defined on the online tool. In addition, the School Board Policy on Boundaries clearly outlines the criteria.

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Q: Will there be considerations for siblings of current Washington-Lee students and for transportation?

A: The recommendations will include provisions for students who have older siblings that will be enrolled concurrently, along with transportation provisions for siblings if needed.

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Community Feedback/Engagement

  1. How can I participate in the process?
  2. Does it actually matter what the community says and how it participates?
  3. How will APS gather input from community members without internet access?
  4. How will feedback be gathered from non-English-speaking parents?
  5. What will Arlington Public Schools do with the community feedback it receives?
  6. How will APS handle multiple inputs for the online tool from the same individual/family?
  7. Why does the community only have two weeks to comment?


Q: How can I participate in the process?

A: There are multiple ways to participate:

  • Provide feedback through an Online Boundary Refinement Tool. The tool will be available for the community to share proposals from October 12 to October 24. Community members will also be able to provide feedback through paper options.
    • Attend a community meeting. APS will host a series of “Getting Started” community meetings to help inform families and community members about the process and to explain how to use the tool. The same information will be presented at each “Getting Started” meeting.

The four sessions will be held:

  • Wed, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Washington-Lee High School Cafeteria
  • Sat, Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. in the Jefferson Middle School Library (Spanish presentation)
  • Mon, Oct 17 at 7 p.m. in the Yorktown High School Cafeteria
  • Wed, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Wakefield High School Cafeteria

After the Boundary Tool closes, APS will host a “What We Heard” Community Meeting on Thu, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Washington-Lee cafeteria to discuss the responses received and gain additional input and perspectives from the community to inform recommendations for consideration by the School Board.

  • Provide comments or questions by email at apsboundaries@apsva.us or by telephone (in English and Spanish) at 703-228-6310.

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Q: Does it actually matter what the community says and how it participates?

A: Yes, the community’s feedback is critical to this boundary refinement process.

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Q: How will APS gather input from community members without internet access?

A: APS is reaching out to various communities across the county to further engage with all demographics within the community. There is a paper version of the online tool (map, comments, etc.) that will be available county-wide.

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Q: How will feedback be gathered from non-English-speaking parents?

A: Cultural and linguistic outreach to various communities will be done with assistance from APS bilingual staff and others, and with contacts with community networks and organizations. Additionally, a “Getting Started” meeting will be conducted in Spanish on Saturday, October 15 at Jefferson Middle School (125 S Old Glebe Rd,). Simultaneous interpretation will be at the other community meetings.

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Q: What will Arlington Public Schools do with the community feedback it receives?

A: Staff will develop recommendations to the School Board in accordance with the process and criteria in the APS School Board Policy on Boundaries and informed by feedback that is gathered from the community.

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Q: How will APS handle multiple inputs for the online tool from the same individual/family?

A: Multiple responses may be submitted if community members have several boundary refinement suggestions. It should be noted that staff will have the ability to note multiple submissions from the same e-mail address and that factor will also be taken into consideration.

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Q: Why does the community only have two weeks to comment?

A: Although the decision to change high school boundaries was included in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) adopted in the summer, the shortened timeframe was to allow the dialogue about these changes and community engagement to begin after the start of the school year to ensure more active family involvement and participation but still allowing time to complete the process so that the results available will be available in time for high school information night.

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Planning Units

  1. What are planning units?
  2. Which planning units are being considered?
  3. How do I find my planning unit?
  4. What is the student density in each planning unit?
  5. Will APS move planning units in their entirety or just partially?
  6. Will students from all of the planning units being considered have to move to another school?
  7. Why have the light pink planning units been excluded from the refinement process?
  8. Will MS cohorts be split as they enter HS (based on their planning unit)?
  9. Is APS trying to make Wakefield and Yorktown more diverse by relocating certain planning units?


Q: What are planning units?

A: Planning units are the building blocks used to define attendance boundaries for neighborhood schools. Planning units are bounded by existing landmarks, large apartment buildings, garden apartment complexes and/or major roads. APS has a total of 216 planning units.

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Q: Which planning units are being considered?

A: The planning units under consideration are those currently within Washington-Lee boundaries that are adjacent or in close proximity to Wakefield and Yorktown boundaries. A total of 51 planning units, which include more than 1,800 students who will be high school freshmen over the next four years, are under consideration at this time. A few units were included at the request of the Facility Advisory Committee. See planning units map.

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Q: How do I find my planning unit?

A: You can locate your planning unit number through the School Attendance Locator.

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Q: What is the student density in each planning unit?

A: This information is available on the Boundary Tool. To see the data, click on a planning unit under consideration for refinement.

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Q: Will APS move planning units in their entirety or just partially?

A: If a planning unit is moved to another attendance zone, the entire student population in that planning unit will be relocated. The plan is to not split planning units.

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Q: Will students from all of the planning units being considered have to move to another school?

A: We will not be moving students from all of the planning units. Approximately, 100 current 8th grade students (freshmen in Sept 2017) will be moved next year and then 100 students from the same planning units for the subsequent years, or a total of approximately 400 students by the 2020-21 school year.

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Q: Why have the light pink planning units been excluded from the refinement process?

A: The light pink planning units are not adjacent to the Yorktown or Wakefield boundaries and therefore not included in the pool of planning units for consideration in this boundary refinement process.

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Q: Will MS cohorts be split as they enter HS (based on their planning unit?)

A: The planning units currently under consideration will not change current middle school feeder patterns. In addition, APS has some breaks among middle school cohorts since five middle school boundaries feed into the three APS comprehensive high schools. This will most likely continue in the near future.

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Q: Is APS trying to make Wakefield and Yorktown more diverse by relocating certain planning units?

A: Demographics is one of six criteria to be considered but the reason for this refinement process is to address overcrowding at Washington-Lee and balance the enrollment among the three comprehensive high schools.

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Boundary Tool

  1. How transparent will the data be from the boundary tool?
  2. Does the boundary tool allow community members to recommend moving planning units that are not “active”?
  3. What will APS do with the data collected by the online tool?


Q: How transparent will the data be from the boundary tool?

A: APS is working with the Facility Advisory Council to determine how to effectively organize and disseminate the aggregated data collected during this process. Feedback from the boundary data will be posted online once all responses are collected, and will also be discussed more fully at the “What We Have Heard” community meeting on October 27. Please remember that the boundary tool is just one source of feedback. Staff are also constantly collecting and answering questions received by email, the boundary hotline and from community meetings. Feedback from the community meetings will be periodically posted online.

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Q: Does the boundary tool allow community members to recommend moving planning units that are not “active”?

A: No. However, community members can add any suggestions in the “comments” section included at the end of the boundary tool exercise.

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Q:What will APS do with the data collected by the online tool?

A: APS and outside consultants will analyze the data and work with members of the Facilities Advisory Council to determine the most effective way to disseminate the information to the community.

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International Baccalaureate (IB)

  1. Will the IB program remain at Washington-Lee?
  2. If a student transfers into Washington-Lee as an IB student but does not complete the requirements needed to receive and IB diploma, is that student sent back to their home school?
  3. Will APS consider denying transfers from other schools into Washington-Lee’s IB program to decrease the need to rezone the planning units?
  4. Has APS considered the potential influx of IB transfer applications? How will it handle qualified students who would’ve been automatically eligible but are now relocated from the Washington-Lee attendance zone?
  5. What is the policy for IB transfers?
  6. How many students took advantage of the IB transfer option?
  7. How many students earn an IB diploma?
  8. Would it be possible to move the current IB program to the Career Center or another high school site?


Q: Will the IB program remain at Washington-Lee?

A:The plan is for IB to remain at Washington-Lee.

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Q: If a student transfers into Washington-Lee as an IB student but does not complete the requirements needed to receive and IB diploma, is that student sent back to their home school?

A; As stated in School Board Policy 25-2.2 (“Enrollment and Transfers for Schools and Programs”), [S]tudents who receive an IB transfer must enroll in the Pre IB/AP Government course in Grade 10 and enroll and complete three or more IB courses in both Grade 11 and in Grade 12 or apply for and receive a Non-IB transfer to remain at Washington-Lee. Students not meeting these requirements will move to their home school for their high school education. See the full policy here.

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Q; Will APS consider denying transfers from other schools into Washington-Lee’s IB program to decrease the need to rezone the planning units?

A: No. Per School Board Policy 25-2.2 (“Enrollment and Transfers for Schools and Programs”), “Qualified International Baccalaureate transfers to Washington-Lee who reside outside of the Washington-Lee attendance area will be eligible for admission.”

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Q: Has APS considered the potential influx of IB transfer applications? How will it handle qualified students who would’ve been automatically eligible but are now relocated from the Washington-Lee attendance zone?

A: There is an IB admissions policy currently in place that allows students to apply to the IB Program from other high schools and no changes have been made to the policy at this time. The number of IB slots available for transfer will be determined by the Superintendent or designee each year based on the previous year’s Grade 9 admissions and Grade 12 completions. If the number of transfer applicants exceeds the number of positions, then a lottery will be conducted. See School Board Policy 25-2.2

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Q: What is the policy for IB Transfers?

A: APS Policy 25-2.2, Enrollment and Transfers for Schools and Programs Washington –Lee International Baccalaureate Program Qualified International Baccalaureate transfers to Washington-Lee who reside outside of the Washington-Lee attendance area will be eligible for admission. Students who receive an IB transfer must enroll in the Pre IB/AP Government course in Grade 10 and enroll and complete three or more IB courses in both Grade 11 and in Grade 12 or apply for and receive a Non-IB transfer to remain at Washington-Lee. Students not meeting these requirements will move to their home school for their high school education. Applicants for the Grade 11 IB Diploma Program must successfully complete the Pre-IB/AP Government course in Grade 10 and the recommended courses outlined in the Program of Studies as well as the application packet meeting the requirements of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). The number of IB slots available for transfer will be determined by the Superintendent or designee each year based on the previous year’s Grade 9 admissions and Grade 12 completions. If the number of transfer applicants exceeds the number of positions, then a lottery will be conducted.

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Q: How many students took advantage of the IB transfer option?

A:

Year IB Transfers to Washington-Lee Includes all students grades 9-12
Total Transfers From Wakefield From Yorktown
2016-17 234 112 122
2015-16 245 115 130
2014-15 223 108 115
2013-14 244 120 124
2012-13 240 122 118
2011-12 226 113 113

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Q: How many students earn an IB diploma?

A:

Year # of On-Time Grads Earning IB Diploma # that were transfers from Wakefield # that were transfers from Yorktown
2016-17 TBD TBD TBD
2015-16 78 7 20
2014-15 61 10 14
2013-14 69 11 26
2012-13 50 12 14
2011-12 59 10 15

Source: VDOE

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Q :Would it be possible to move the current IB program to the Career Center or another high school site?

A: The Career Center does not have the classroom space for the additional classes that would be needed even if only the diploma program (Grades 11 and 12) were to be moved to that location.  The move to another location would also require the authorization of another program site by the International Baccalaureate Organization, which can be a multi-year process.

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Data/Projections

  1. How accurate are the student growth projections?
  2. What data sources is APS using to make its projections?
  3. Isn’t Yorktown the smallest of the high schools?  Wouldn’t that limit the number of students for that location?
  4. What are the high school graduation rates and post-graduation plans?


Q: How accurate are the student growth projects?

A: The projections for the 2016-2017 school year were 99.5% accurate.

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Q: What data sources is APS using to make its projections?

A: Projections are based on last year’s 10-year enrollment projections. For more information on how enrollment projections are calculated, download last year’s projection report.

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Q: Isn’t Yorktown the smallest of the high schools?  Wouldn’t that limit the number of students for that location?

A: The seating capacity for all three comprehensive high schools will all be about the same once we complete the internal space projects to add classroom space in the existing facilities.  The work at Washington-Lee is complete and can now accommodate 2,208 students. Once the capital project is completed in the summer of 2017, Wakefield’s seating capacity will be approximately 2,200; Yorktown will be completed in the summer of 2018 and will also have seating for approximately 2,200 students.

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Q: What are the high school graduation rates and post-graduation plans?

A: Below is the Arlington Graduation Rate by High School.  This is different from VDOE’s On-Time Graduation rate (OGR)   The Arlington data takes out the students from Arlington Mill High School (formerly Arlington Mill High School Continuation School) who attend that school and reside in Wakefield district but have never attended Wakefield.

Grads Dropouts Total minus completers
APS 1234 96.9% 2.4% 99.3%
Wakefield High 342 93.0% 4.7% 97.7%
Washington-Lee High 488 98.2% 1.6% 99.8%
Yorktown High 404 98.8% 1.2% 100.0%

Also attached are the tables that are part of the September OGR press release.  On these tables, students from programs like H-B, Langston, etc. are included in the OGR for their home school, a school they may never have  attended.  https://www.apsva.us/post/number-aps-time-graduates-continues-rise/ At this time, we can only report out on student’s self-reported plans beyond APS based on their response to a senior survey.  Below is the data for the county).

Frequency % 2 or 4 Year
2 year college 237 93%
4 year college 917
Business, trade/technical school 10
Military 18
No plans at this time 11
Work 47
Total 1240

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Miscellaneous

  1. What is the School Board Policy on boundary changes?
  2. Why doesn’t APS allow students to voluntarily relocate to another school?
  3. What does APS say to homeowners who bought a house specifically to be within the Washington-Lee attendance zone?
  4. How does APS ensure that non-residents are not attending our schools?
  5. Has APS considered alternative programming for experiential learning opportunities throughout Arlington County?
  6. What is the cost of adding an additional bus route?


Q: What is the School Board Policy on boundary changes?

A: School Board Policy 30‐2.2 Boundaries states that, “the Superintendent’s recommended boundary changes (and grandfathering provisions, if any) and the School Board’s review of these proposed changes shall include, but not be limited to, consideration of the following criteria:

  • Efficiency – minimizing future capital and operating costs.
  • Proximity – encouraging the relationship between schools and the community by keeping students close to the schools that they attend so that they can walk safely to school or, if they are eligible for bus service, so that bus ride times are minimized.
  • Stability – minimizing the number of times that boundary changes affect an individual student who has continued to reside in a particular attendance area, and minimizing the number of students moved to a different school, while achieving the objective of the boundary change.
  • Alignment – minimizing separation of small groups of students from their classmates when moving between school levels.
  • Demographics – promoting demographic diversity.
  • Contiguity – maintaining attendance zones that are contiguous and contain the school to which students are assigned.”

You can read the full policy here.

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Q: Why doesn’t APS allow students to voluntarily relocate to another school?

A: Voluntary transfers are possible now; however, the number of students requesting to be transferred represents far fewer students than what is required to balance the student population at each high school.

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Q: What does APS say to homeowners who bought a house specifically to be within the Washington-Lee attendance zone.

A:The growing population of Arlington County and the need to balance enrollment means that attendance zones for schools are likely to change over time. Fortunately, the quality of all APS schools is excellent so such changes will not adversely impact the educational experience of our students.

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Q: How does APS ensure that non-residents are not attending our schools?

A: In 2012, APS hired a Residency Verification Specialist. The specialist handles the review of student residency when questions still remain after schools have completed an initial review. Parents/guardians are then contacted and asked to bring all of their residency documents to the specialist for review and verification. In addition, APS has hired a retired Arlington Police Department officer to assist with the investigations if needed. If residency is not founded, the student is withdrawn from APS, sent to their school of residence and a tuition reimbursement process begins. To date, APS has processed several hundred inquiries annually and takes appropriate action whenever it is found that a student does not reside in Arlington County.

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Q: Has APS considered alternative programming for experiential learning opportunities throughout Arlington County?

A: Yes, both the APS School Board and Virginia Board of Education have been focused on developing programs to increase the experiential learning opportunities for APS high school students.

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Q: What is the cost of adding an additional bus route?

A: In general terms a new bus would cost approximately $120,000 and a new driver, including benefits would cost approximately $70,000. This figure does not include gas or maintenance for the bus.

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