MAY 17, 2018 UPDATE: During his announcements at the start of the May 17, 2018 School Board meeting, Dr. Murphy announced that, in consultation with School Board members, he has recommended suspending previously discussed plans to consider moving any of the elementary neighborhood or option school locations in the fall of 2019. Instead, this fall staff will focus on engaging the community to develop recommendations for proposed elementary school boundary adjustments that are needed as APS prepares to open the new Alice W. Fleet Elementary School, the Montessori program at the Henry site, and Drew Model School as a full neighborhood school in the Fall of 2019. The boundary adjustments for 2019 will be based on all elementary schools remaining at their current locations.The Superintendent added that APS may need to revisit the option of adjusting some elementary neighborhood and option school locations in the future when APS begins the community process to adjust boundaries and create a new attendance zone for the new elementary school at Reed that will open in September 2021.
Q. What is the Elementary Planning Initiative?
A. The Elementary Planning Initiative is a review process which is evaluating the walk zones and locations of all the elementary neighborhood and option schools within the county in order to develop new school boundaries which will accommodate new elementary schools, balance the growing student enrollment, and use resources equitably across the county. In the first phase of the Elementary Planning Initiative process this spring, APS staff is developing recommendations for the placement of neighborhood and option schools and is working with the community on the potential safe expansion of walk zones. Staff will present two proposals in April. One proposal will leave elementary schools in their current locations. The second proposal will consider changing the location of some option and neighborhood schools to more strategically serve students where they live. (The number of neighborhood and option schools will remain the same. This process would not identify which option programs should be located at specific sites.) In the second phase of the Elementary Planning Initiative, in the Fall of 2018, staff will finalize elementary school boundaries.
Q. What is the goal of the Elementary Planning Initiative?
A. The goal of the Elementary Planning Initiative is the strategic placement of neighborhood and option elementary schools based on the following: efficiency, proximity, stability, alignment, demographics, and contiguity. Phase I is primarily concerned with efficiency – optimizing resources and balancing enrollment, and proximity – placing neighborhood schools where students live. Creating new boundaries closer to schools will increase the number of walkers, decrease the need for bus transportation, and minimize bus ride times for students. Strategic placement of schools will also allow for the growth of option schools while keeping enrollment consistent across the county.
Q. When will the decisions concerning school sites and attendance zones be made?
A. On April 30 Staff will update the initial draft analysis on neighborhood and option school sites and will continue to update the School Board throughout May and June.In Fall 2018, as part of Phase 2, staff will present draft recommendations on neighborhood and option school locations along with potential boundaries.In November 2018 the School Board will take action on proposals for school location recommendations and boundaries. If the School Board decides that any schools will move to a new location, then the Department of Teaching and Learning will lead a collaborative effort within APS that uses the 2018-24 Strategic Plan, national option school standards, and other considerations to recommend placing specific schools at identified sites. If any elementary schools will move to a new location, these moves will take place during the summers of 2020 and 2021. New elementary boundaries go into effect in September 2019 when Fleet Elementary opens and Drew opens as full neighborhood elementary school. Staff will review enrollment projections for the each year and make any adjustments necessary to elementary boundaries for the 2021-22 school year when a new elementary school opens at the Reed site.
Q. Why is APS changing elementary school boundaries and reviewing the location of all elementary neighborhood and option schools now?
A. Student enrollment in APS has reached its highest level and is expected to continue growing over the next decade. APS monitors student enrollment levels and assesses the need for capacity in our schools on an ongoing basis in order to manage the growing enrollment and continue providing the best education for its students. See the Enrollment Projections and Capacity Utilization Report Enrollment Projections. In response to strong enrollment growth, APS will open the new Alice W. Fleet Elementary School and Drew Elementary School as full neighborhood schools in 2019. Another new elementary school will open at the Reed site in 2021. To prepare for the opening of these schools, APS has started the process of creating new attendance zones and boundaries for elementary schools as required by APS Boundary Policy 30.2-2 which calls for adjustments to boundaries when opening new schools.
Q. What data are being used to make recommendations concerning neighborhood and option school sites? Refer to Initial analysis work session.
A. Staff are using the following considerations to determine neighborhood and option school sites as well as taking into account the community input received through an online questionnaire.
- Impact to teaching and learning: Staff will not recommend changes that will negatively impact teaching and learning.
- Impact on transportation: Reducing the need for additional buses.
- Potential for growth at each school site: Neighborhood and option schools can grow through internal modifications or relocatable classrooms.
- If a planning unit is within the walk zone for two schools, then the planning unit will be considered in the next phase of the boundary process.
- Impact of county approved residential development: Estimate for the number of additional students, based on approved residential development projects in the existing walk zone and planning units that may be added to the walk zone. Student generation factors will be applied by housing type for the number of units approved to estimate student yield.
- Demand for option schools: The data will include the demand based on applications for the 2018-19 school year.
- Proximity: The number of other elementary sites within a one-mile radius of each school will be identified.
- Timeline for any potential changes in the locations of option and neighborhood schools.
Q. If the School Board decides to make changes concerning an option school site, how will the decision be made about where a specific option school will be located?
A. If the School Board designates that any option school(s) will move to a new location, then the Department of Teaching and Learning will lead a collaborative effort within APS that uses the 2018-24 Strategic Plan, national option school standards, and other considerations to recommend placing specific schools at identified sites. These recommendations will be made by June 2019.
Q. How can I participate in the decision-making process?
A. We want to know what you think! The best place to start is our website: https://www.apsva.us/engage/. In addition to having information on current initiatives, like the Elementary Planning Initiative, there is a list of ways to provide feedback and be involved. You can send us an email with your thoughts and ideas, fill out an online questionnaire, or see when the next School Board meeting is scheduled.
Q – Can a planning unit be divided when part of it may be within walk zone and part not?
A – Yes, it is possible to split a planning unit if necessary. A decision to split a planning unit would be made by APS staff.
Q – What data will staff be using to create new elementary school boundaries?
A – Staff will use the considerations in School Board Policy 30.2.2 Boundaries, which include: efficiency, proximity, stability, alignment, demographics, and contiguity. The boundary process will begin in Fall 2018.
Q – Will the entire Henry school community move to Fleet?
A – As the Montessori program will move to the Henry site starting in the 2019-20 school year, the surrounding neighborhood will attend the Alice W. Fleet Elementary School. Henry will be an option school, available to students county-wide via the lottery application process, and Fleet will serve as a neighborhood school. Just like all neighborhood schools, Fleet will have a walk zone and an attendance zone with new boundaries. APS will use the policy considerations in developing the boundaries for Fleet, along with all neighborhood elementary schools.
Q. How does APS project future enrollment?
A. To project future enrollment, APS uses three sets of statistics, which include the number of resident live births in Arlington County (for kindergarten projections only), the three-year history of enrollment change (i.e., cohort transition rate), and the anticipated yield from “future” housing units. For more details, go to the Annual APS Enrollment Projections Report.
Q. What has been the process for determining walk zones?
A. APS created task groups for each elementary school to provide input on the current school walk zones and identify any potential areas of expansion. We recognize that Arlingtonians are committed to walkable communities and APS seeks to meet Whole Child initiatives on the benefits of walking to school, plus help mitigate increasing transportation costs. Task groups were comprised of members from the following groups: school PTA, local civic association, Advisory Committee on Transportation Choices (ACTC), Joint Committee on Transportation Choices (JCTC), Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs (FAC). Each task group was charged with identifying possible safe expansion to walk zones and to suggest any necessary modifications that would improve the safety of those walk zones (e.g., cross walks, make repairs, etc). Additional input was obtained via an online questionnaire. School specific information can be found at walk zone resources. After the final round of task group conversations and work sessions, recommendations for walk zone expansions that could be made at this time were provided as input to the elementary school location review analysis. Because APS does not control decision-making on safety mitigations (e.g., crossing guards, signals, signage, etc) and, therefore, could not promise safety mitigations in certain areas, many planning units that could potentially be added to walk zones were slated for further evaluation with County transportation staff.
Q – Is APS revising the 1-mile bus eligibility policy for elementary schools?
A – No, Policy Implementation Procedure 50-5.1 Pupil Transportation remains in effect. However, the current walk zone for each elementary school may change as a result of this process, and it may be possible that some planning units currently eligible for bus transportation may be designated as part of the walk zone starting in September 2019.
Q – Are there any walk zone regulations that are required by code, policy, state or federal regulations?
A – APS follows School Board policies and Safe Routes to School (SRTS) guidelines.
- Policy 50-5 Transportation states safe transportation to school will be provided at public expense to transport students pre-k through grade 12 living beyond a one mile walking distance from elementary schools and a 1.5 mile walking distance for middle schools and high schools.
- PIP 50-5.1 Pupil Transportation states first grade or younger students will not be dropped off at a bus stop unless the parent or a designated escort is present. Such children will remain on the bus until the driver has completed the route, and will be returned to the school for pick-up by the parent.
Q – Are off-street biking and walking trails considered walkable?
A – Yes, some trails were included in the GIS network analysis.
Q – How many buses does APS have currently?
A – The APS Transportation fleet for the 2017-18 school year consists of 178 total vehicles.
- General education vehicles: 122
- Special education vehicles: 50
- MV-1 vehicles: 3
- Micro buses: 3
Q – What are the legal requirements to provide student transportation?
A – Special needs students are required to receive transportation. The extent to which additional transportation is provided to students is at the discretion of the School Board. For additional information, please reference Virginia Code § 22.1-221 and § 22.1-176.
Q – How many elementary students are eligible to ride the bus and how many actually do ride?
A – The table below shows the number of buses for each elementary school for the 2017-18 school year as well as the number of eligible students and the actual number of AM and PM bus riders. The data in the table is only for regular education students. Extended Day does not have bus service.
|School||Number of Buses||Eligible Students||AM||PM|
|ARLINGTON SCIENCE FOCUS||10||652||372||387|