Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Process – Phase 3 of Elementary Planning for 2021

Objectives | Timeline |Community Engagement | Background | FAQs (coming soon) |  Information Resources

This webpage offers information on the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Adjustment Process and includes a timeline and opportunities for community input throughout this process – please see below for details on virtual information sessions, a community questionnaire, and School Board meetings. This webpage will be updated regularly with additional resources such as maps, data tables, recordings of virtual meetings, frequently asked questions, and more. Information on Elementary Planning phases 1: School Moves and 2: Data Review are available on this webpage under the section entitled Background below. Questions can be sent to engage@apsva.us.


In preparation for the 2021-22 school year, APS will conduct the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Adjustment Process to:

  • Create a new neighborhood school attendance zone for the new neighborhood schools at the current Key site and for the majority of McKinley students at the new building at the Reed site.
  • Develop adjusted neighborhood attendance zones for Arlington Science Focus School and for most, if not all of the remaining neighborhood elementary schools to relieve overcapacity at some schools.

The School Board will adopt new boundaries on December 3, 2020, that will apply to all students at neighborhood elementary schools starting in the 2021-22 school year.


August 27 School Board Work Session on Planning Processes ​
September 23 Community engagement begins
September 24 School Board Monitoring Report on Elementary School Boundary Process
October 29 School Board Work Session on Elementary School Boundary Process
November 5 School Board Information Item on Superintendent’s proposed boundaries
December 1 School Board Public Hearing on proposed Elementary School Boundaries
December 3, 2020​ School Board Action on Elementary School Boundaries

Community Engagement Activities and Opportunities to Learn More

This section will be updated regularly with links to presentations and videos. To view School Board meetings, Public Hearings and Work Sessions, either live or recorded, visit the School Board webpage.

August 27 Preview of the fall process via the School Board Work Session on Planning Processes 
Beginning September 23 The same information will be covered in a variety of formats. Community members will have an opportunity for review and comment.

  • Draft boundary scenario(s) posted
  • Questionnaire opens online and with hardcopies at APS meal sites and downloadable PDFs
  • Virtual meeting with Advisory Group Representatives and Elementary School PTA leaders (to be recorded and posted)
September 25 Facebook Live videos in English and Spanish
September 24 School Board Monitoring Report on Elementary School Boundary Process
September 29, Time TBD Virtual Community Meeting 1 with opportunity for Questions & Answers

  • call-in lines for simultaneous interpretation in Amharic, Arabic, Mongolian and Spanish
October 7,      Time TBD Virtual Community Meeting 2 with opportunity for Questions & Answers

  • call-in lines for simultaneous interpretation in Amharic, Arabic, Mongolian and Spanish
  • (note: this is a repeat of the Sept. 28 meeting for community members new to the process)
October 14,    Time TBD Virtual Staff Open Office Hours Questions & Answers
October 18
  • Closing date of Community Questionnaire
  • Final date to provide input on staff proposed boundary adjustments prior to School Board Work Session
October 29 School Board Work Session on Elementary School Boundary   
November 5       (7 p.m.) School Board Meeting – Staff will present the Superintendent’s proposed boundaries
November 6 Facebook Live videos in English and Spanish
December 1        (8 p.m.) School Board Public Hearing
December 3 School Board Meeting – adoption of Elementary School Boundaries

In addition to the activities listed above, staff will work during this timeframe with community leaders to share information and gather input from elementary school families throughout the county who may be impacted by boundary changes and not able to participate may not typically participate in a boundary process.

Background on Elementary School Planning for 2021 

As APS grows to an estimated 30,000 students in 2021, we are using a countywide approach to the Fall 2020 boundary process that takes the needs of all students into account.

Elementary Planning for 2021 has four phases, with all changes taking effect in August 2021: Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 11.43.40 PM

Phase 1:School Moves,Fall 2019

On Feb. 6, 2020, the Arlington School Board adopted the Superintendent’s recommendation to move three schools, effective for the 2021-22 school year. The adoption includes moving:

  • the majority of McKinley students to the new school at the Reed site,
  • the Arlington Traditional School (ATS) program to the current McKinley building, and
  • the Key Immersion program to the current ATS building.

This recommendation will repurpose the current Key building into a new neighborhood school in a rapidly growing part of the county where APS needs more neighborhood seat capacity for elementary school students.

One objective during the school moves process was to consider where APS had elementary school seats available and where our students live so that it would keep as many students together as possible in each school community during the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Adjustment process.

Phase 2: Data Review,Spring 2020 

In Spring 2020, the community reviewed the initial data for use in the Fall 2020 Elementary School Boundary Adjustment process. This review of data by Planning Unit helps ensure that the final data table reflects what the community knows about their neighborhoods, and is accurate, complete, and ready for use in adjusting boundaries across neighborhood elementary schools in the fall. Community members also expressed their preferences on two methodology approaches that APS could use for the Planning Unit projections methodology.

This new phase was introduced in response to feedback from the CCPTA from the 2018 elementary school boundary process and their recommendation that APS allow more time for data review by the community, separate from a boundary adjustment process.

Elementary Capacity Planning,Spring 2020  Planning and Evaluation has been working with the Departments of Teaching and Learning and Facilities and Operations to review and discuss a draft plan to adjust the locations of some PreK programs and Countywide Special Education programs, in order to:​​

  • Determine capacity for Grades K-5 before the Fall 2020 elementary school boundary process
  • Reevaluate the location of early childhood programs, making them accessible for eligible families throughout the county​​
  • Maximize use of programs by locating them closer to where eligible students live

Each elementary school principal worked with ​​Facilities and Operations to update information on permanent school capacity. For each school, staff identified the following:

  • The total number of classrooms to facilitate a typical class for Grades K-5
  • Four classes that were reserved for Art and Music
  • The number of classrooms reserved for PreK and Special Education classes
  • The remaining classrooms used to determine the K-5 capacity for the boundary process

Discussions with Instructional Leaders,Summer 2020

The Department of Planning and Evaluation, in collaboration with the Departments of Teaching & Learning, Facilities & Operations, the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, and Administrative Services held discussions this summer with elementary school principals to review and discuss initial draft scenarios for the Fall 2020 boundary adjustment process.

These discussions focused on the following:

  • Information about the data review process (phase 2) and how stakeholder input is being used​
  • Considerations and priorities for adjusting school boundaries​
  • Principals’ guidance and approach on boundary processes
  • Their input on initial draft boundary scenarios ​for the upcoming boundary adjustment process
  • Their instructional input to inform the process of adjusting boundaries
  • The timeline for this process leading to School Board adoption on December 3, 2020