Elementary Planning Initiative Frequently Asked Questions
Q – Why is APS changing elementary school boundaries, and reviewing the walk zones and locations of neighborhood and option elementary schools now?
A – To prepare for the opening of the new Alice W. Fleet Elementary School and Drew Elementary as a full neighborhood school in 2019, and a new elementary school at the Reed site in 2021, APS is putting in place plans to develop new elementary school boundaries.APS staff has started the process to create new attendance zones and boundaries for elementary schools using a phased approach, which begins by reviewing school locations and walk zones to identify the most efficient use of resources. In the first phase 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 could result in changing the location of some option and neighborhood schools, while maintaining the same number of elementary option and neighborhood schools. This process will not identify which option programs should be located at specific sites.
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 – When will staff provide a recommendation on the location of schools, and when will a decision be made on this?
A – Staff will publish draft recommendations on the location of elementary neighborhood and option schools at www.apsva.us/engage on April 12. The Superintendent will make a recommendation to the School Board on May 17. The School Board will take action on June 21. The decision on June 21 will not specify which option schools will be located at specific sites.
Q – If the School Board decides that an option school site will become a neighborhood school, or a neighborhood school site will become an option school, how and when will the decision be made about where a specific school will be located?
A – 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. This recommendation will be made by June 2019.
Q – Will staff produce a proposal on school siting and then seek community input, or will there be community engagement on school siting prior to the staff proposals?
A – Staff collected community input on siting considerations through an online questionnaire and consulted with the Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Programs (FAC). Multiple departments within APS also provided expertise. Staff will post draft recommendations on school locations on April 12.
Community members can bring their questions to Staff Open Office Hours on:
- Monday, April 16, 7-8:30 p.m. at Wakefield High School
- Friday, April 20, 7:30-9:00 a.m. at the Education Center
- Saturday, April 21, 9:30-11:00 a.m. at Kenmore Middle School.
- Tuesday, May 1, 7 p.m. a community meeting will also be held at Yorktown High School.
The Superintendent will make a recommendation to the School Board on May 17 and the School Board will take action on June 21.
Q – Are decisions being made too early, as data may be outdated by the time new schools open?
A – Staff updates and reviews projected enrollment every year to ensure the most current data is being used. Some boundary changes may be implemented in 2019 when Fleet and Drew open, and some boundary changes may not be implemented until 2021 when Reed opens. Any changes to neighborhood or option sites would likely be implemented in summer 2020 or 2021.
Q – What data are staff using to make recommendations on neighborhood and option school sites?
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 to the number of potential walkers: Increasing the number of potential walkers can make transportation more efficient.
- 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 school 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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|
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.