ASFS/Key School Building Swap Paused

The ASFS/Key School Building Swap is being addressed under Elementary Planning for 2021 – Pre Boundary Planning


Update–January 25, 2019: The plan for the building swap has been paused and the location for elementary immersion will be reevaluated.

Planning for the building swap with ASFS and Key administrators and community members, which was to begin in January 2019, has been paused.

At the January 24 School Board meeting, the Annual Report was presented, which included an update on ten-year projections, a new methodology approach, and adjustments needed for future enrollment. The 2019-28 Fall Enrollment projections indicate that APS enrollment will continue to grow and is expected to increase by 24% by 2028. At the elementary level, enrollment growth is now expected to be higher than previously projected, with an additional 1,000 more K-5 students anticipated over the next 10 years.

Given this projections update and the strong commitment APS has to the dual-language immersion program, the location for elementary immersion will be reevaluated to best meet the needs of our students.

At this point in time, there are several factors to consider which inform next steps:

  • The trends in the Fall 2018 Projections, which are different from previous projections
  • The PreK-Grade 12 Instructional Program Pathways, currently taking shape, which articulates multiple pathways for student success, and defines how schools and programs fit within the pathways and options, including immersion
  • Various program evaluations currently taking place, with data gathering underway for ESOL/HILT, Special Education and World Languages – including data-collection on immersion enrollment, continuation, parent and student feedback, etc.

The APS Dual-Language Immersion instructional pathway has a strong history of student success. APS is committed to sustaining and potentially growing this instructional program, which is based on the 50/50 student balance of native Spanish speakers with speakers of English and other languages. It’s important to consider the best locations for the immersion program at the elementary level to ensure equitable access for all students, and encourage participation by English learners along with native English speakers. This is critical to the integrity of the dual-language model and helps ensure that the academic benefits of the program are fairly distributed within a community.

Decisions on building location for immersion would need to be completed by December 2019, in anticipation of the 2020 elementary school boundary process.

Information on the process, including community engagement, will be available soon.


Arlington Science Focus-Key Immersion Building Swap–Please see information above for current status of this initiative

APS staff is developing a plan for a building swap between Arlington Science Focus Elementary School (ASFS) and Key Immersion Elementary School (Key). This change will take effect in September 2020 or September 2021, and planning with administrators and community members at both schools will begin in January 2019.This plan will locate ASFS within its attendance zone, in accordance with School Board policy, to align with all other neighborhood schools in Arlington. This plan will keep school communities intact, place the neighborhood school closer to where its students live, and minimize bus travel time for more students. 


  • The June 2017 revision of the Options & Transfer Policy (J-5.3.31) removed guaranteed admission preferences for any schools, resulting in ASFS becoming the sole neighborhood elementary school for its boundary previously shared with Key Immersion
  • ASFS is the only neighborhood school in Arlington that is situated outside of its boundaries
  • Students who live within the ASFS boundaries (previously Key boundaries) can attend ASFS as their neighborhood school or can apply via the lottery for admission to Key or any other option school
  • For a large majority of students who attend ASFS, the Key Blvd. building is closer to their homes
  • August 13, 2018 Memo-Building Swap Rationale
  • August 25, 2018 Memo-Answers to SB Questions on Building Swap


In January 2019, APS will publish a draft community engagement timeline for gathering input from ASFS and Key communities on the timing of the building swap.The swap could be implemented in either September 2020 or September 2021. There are several factors to consider in this decision about timing for the building swap, including:

  • The opening of new school facilities, including the Reed and Education Center sites (Sept. 2021)
  • The potential for any ASFS planning units to be moved into another attendance zone when boundaries are adjusted due to the opening of the new elementary school at Reed in 2021 (Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary process)
  • Any School Board decisions on new elementary school boundaries and policies on grandfathering and transfer students that could apply to ASFS

It’s important to note that the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process—to take effect in the 2021-22 school year–will include ASFS and could result in some boundary adjustments for ASFS in the building on Key Blvd.

Rationale for Including ASFS in the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process

This allows opportunities for:

  • Focusing staff resources and community involvement in the Fall 2018 Elementary School Boundary Process on creating boundaries for the new Alice W. Fleet Elementary School, Drew as a new neighborhood school, and balancing enrollment among neighboring areas
  • Monitoring impacts of revised Options and Transfer policy on enrollment, since new admission procedures apply for 2018-19
  • Focusing resources on five new school openings in the 2019-20 school year
  • Permitting staff to develop, and community to engage and respond to, more flexible boundary solutions
  • Providing additional time to evaluate all information regarding capacity utilization and future program growth


Frequently Asked Questions

New! Answers to Key School PTA questions – prepared for October 2018 PTA meeting | Respuestas a las preguntas de padres y maestros de la escuela Key – preparadas para la reunión del PTA de octubre de 2018


La traducción al español de las respuestas que se indican a continuación están disponibles en este enlace. (The Spanish translation to the responses listed below are available on this link.)

1. APS said that further analysis over the summer led to the decision to remove ASFS from the Fall 2018 Elementary School Boundary Process and to instead swap buildings with Key. What was included in this analysis?

The following analysis provided the rationale for this decision:

  • ASFS is the only APS neighborhood school that sits outside of its attendance boundary.
    • The location of the school is inconsistent with School Board Policy B-2.1:  “maintaining attendance zones that are contiguous and contain the school to which students are assigned.”
    • 83% of the students who attend ASFS live within the ASFS boundaries (previously shared with Key boundaries)
    • The June 2017 revision of the Options and Transfers policy, which begins in Fall 2018, impacts families who live in the ASFS boundaries. Students who live in the Key/ASFS attendance zone are assigned to ASFS as their neighborhood school and can only be admitted to Immersion at Key via a lottery.
  • The Key building can accommodate the current and projected enrollment for ASFS
    • The permanent capacity for the Key Blvd. building is 653.
      • The Key Blvd. building can accommodate an additional 96 seats through the preferred number of relocatable classrooms at the site.
      • The swap would provide an additional 100 permanent neighborhood seats for this growing community.
    • The permanent capacity for the ASFS building on Lincoln St. is 553.
      • The Lincoln St. building can accommodate an additional 288 seats through the preferred number of relocatable classrooms at the site.
      • Enrollment for option schools can be controlled annually through the admissions process, as required by J-5.3.31 Options and Transfers Policy.

Source: Facilities Optimization Study SY 2017-18

  • Swapping locations, rather than doing boundary changes, allows staff more flexibility for the 2020 boundary process; more capacity will become available with the opening of Reed, and boundary adjustments can consider including Key’s expanded walk zone (currently in the attendance zone for Taylor).
  • A swap would minimize the number of students needing to be reassigned to different schools. If new boundaries were to have been developed around ASFS, many more families and surrounding schools (Taylor and Ashlawn) would be impacted in the fall 2018 Boundary process.
  • This will reduce transportation operational costs for more students to attend their neighborhood school. If the swap was implemented with current enrolled students, Swapping building locations for Key Immersion and ASFS results in:
    • For ASFS in the Key building, the number of buses would be reduced—currently 116 students who attend ASFS live within the Key existing walk zone.
    • For Key in the Lincoln St. building, the number of buses would remain the same with approximately 12 countywide buses—40 current walkers would become bus riders.

2. Is the building swap “definite” and part of the Superintendent’s final plan?

Yes, the decision to swap the ASFS and Key buildings is the Superintendent’s plan.

3. Does the ASFS/Key Building Swap require School Board action?

No, this action does not constitute a boundary change and, therefore, does not require the same process that is underway for elementary school boundaries. The following offers more information on and detailed


  1. The Code of Virginia includes a statement about the specific responsibilities of a school board that are limited to purchase, take, hold, lease and convey school property
  • 22.1-71. School board constitutes body corporate; corporate powers.

“The duly appointed or elected members shall constitute the school board. Every such school board is declared a body corporate and, in its corporate capacity, is vested with all the powers and charged with all the duties, obligations and responsibilities imposed upon school boards by law and may sue, be sued, contract, be contracted with and, in accordance with the provisions of this title, purchase, take, hold, lease and convey school property, both real and personal. School board members appointed or elected by district or otherwise shall have no organization or duties except such as may be assigned to them by the school board as a whole.”

  1. Since it is not a boundary move and all current students would move with the change, there was not a need for a School Board approved boundary process. In addition, APS School Board Policy K-3, Program Changes states,

“The School Board must approve the institution of new programs, substantial revisions of existing instructional programs, or discontinuation of programs, following a recommendation by the Superintendent, involvement of the community, and presentation to the community for comment.” This plan does not include any of the actions described in this policy and does not require School Board approval.

  1. Please know that each year there is an internal review of enrollment and future needs to determine what steps can be taken before any boundary discussions are initiated. Short-term and long-term adjustment tools are outlined in the APS Annual Report, A Plan for Managing Growing Enrollment in APS, March 2018. This report includes references to program moves as one of the strategies on pp 4 and 6, programs such as Montessori classes, the teen parenting program and the Arlington Community High School have been relocated to different sites to accommodate a range of needs.

For additional background, ASFS has long shared its boundaries with Key Immersion. The recent decision to eliminate the “Team School” concept and have those boundaries serve only ASFS, resulted in ASFS currently being the only neighborhood school in Arlington situated outside of its boundary zone.  To resolve that issue and place more ASFS students in closer proximity to their school, the decision was made to swap the locations of those two schools.  This plan does not constitute a boundary change and does not require School Board action. This plan does result in the placement of ASFS within its boundary, the reduction of transportation needs for ASFS students and the maintenance of Key within the area of Arlington that it serves as an option school.

4. When will the building swap take place?

APS will work with the communities affected to explore the two possibilities for timing for the building swap: September 2020 or September 2021. There are various factors to take into consideration and staff will gather input from both school communities to inform this decision.

For example, in Sept. 2020:

  • There are no new facilities opening, which permits staff to develop, and community to engage and respond to, more flexible boundary solutions.
  • Both communities move together as part of the building swap, however some ASFS planning units may be affected by boundary adjustments as part of fall 2020 boundary process for the 2021- 22 school year.

In Sept. 2021:

  • APS will be opening new facilities including:
    • The new elementary school at the Reed site
    • High School seats at the Ed Center
  • APS will implement new boundaries that align with the opening of Reed and this could affect ASF in the Key building

5. Will any decisions regarding ASF boundaries be announced in Fall 2018?

The Decisions regarding ASFS boundaries were announced at the August 28 work session.  The current boundaries will remain in place.  ASFS at Key will be included in the Fall 2020 boundary process for implementation if Fall 2021.

6. Will ASFS boundaries be changed during the building swap process?

ASFS will be included in the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process, where some students within the ASFS attendance zone may be affected by boundary adjustments, due to the opening of the new elementary school at the Reed site. Beginning in January 2019, APS will publish a timeline for gathering input from the ASFS and Key communities on when the building swap should take place, either in September 2020 or September 2021.

7. Why isn’t APS waiting to make a decision about a building swap until after the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process?

Why Now?

  • ASFS was initially part of the Fall 2018 boundary process. The SB directed staff to address the ASFS boundary responding to concerns from the ASFS community about growing enrollment as a result of changes to the Option and Transfer policy, and the school sits outside its attendance zone.
  • It will minimize the number of students that are affected by boundary changes in the fall 2018 boundary process.

8. How can the community provide input on this swap?

An approach for community input will be shared with the schools in January, after staff completes the fall 2018 boundary process.  Information will be shared with each school community and posted at Questions and comments may also be sent to APS will seek input from ASFS and Key stakeholders to help determine the timing of the building swap.

9. What are the demographics for students living within the Key walk zone, who attend Key?

There are 40 resident students who currently live in the existing Key building walk zone who attend Immersion at Key. Civil Rights statistics (race and ethnicity) are as follows: 1 Asian, 10 Black, 13 Hispanic, 1 Multi‐race, and 15 White.