New School Options Framework Proposed to Prepare for 40,000 Students
At a School Board work session held on Mar. 15, staff presented the latest revision to the Enrollment and Transfers Policy. The expected outcome of the review and revision process is intended to make it easier for families to understand the school options available and processes to apply; to align the structure of the policy and procedures with best practices; and to allow for flexibility in making adjustments in the future as we continue to address capacity.
The proposed revisions are based upon general direction from the School Board and community feedback from a survey, meetings, and online feedback that has been gathered over the past month. The revised policy is designed to:
- standardize application and selection processes for option schools;
- adjust admission procedures for elementary immersion schools that would hold separate lotteries for English and Spanish-speaking students to ensure language balance;
- remove guaranteed K-12 admission preferences across policy;
- consider modifying the H-B Woodlawn lottery allocation from neighborhood school attendance zones to a dedicated number of slots available to fifth graders attending each APS elementary school (neighborhood and option schools).
A new framework for school options also is being proposed as part of the revised policy to align the K-12 instructional program across the school division. The proposal divides Arlington into two zones, one for the eastern half of the county and one for the western half of the county. Within each zone, neighborhood and option schools would be available at each level.
- All elementary school students would have a neighborhood school with a STEAM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) with literacy embedded as a foundation for STEAM. In addition, options would also provide access to an immersion or IB (International Baccalaureate) school within their zone, as well as the option to apply for admission to the countywide schools, including Arlington Traditional School and a new K-8 Montessori Program.
- Middle School students would have similar pathway options with a neighborhood school option, and three middle school options within their zone that offer either a STEAM, IB, or Immersion choice. Middle school students would also be able to apply to the countywide option at H-B Woodlawn or the K-8 Montessori Program.
- High School students would have the same options: a neighborhood school with an identified focus; countywide options to apply for H-B Woodlawn, the IB program, or Arlington Tech; and the Career Center, Arlington Community High School, and the Langston Program.
The proposal includes clear, direct pathways for a variety of unique programs and educational options within each zone. The full presentation provides a thorough overview that demonstrates alignment of education options and choices available in each zone and throughout the County. View it online here: [Insert Link]Additionally, staff presented three options for adding 1,300 high school seats which were developed through a series of meetings with members of the Advisory Council on Instruction (ACI) and the Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC). The options under consideration include:
- A ninth grade academy or IB program accommodating 1,300 students at the site where the Education Center is currently located (the Ed Center will be vacated when the Central Office staff is consolidated at Sequoia Plaza in January 2018);
- A 1,300 seat high school at the site adjacent to Kenmore Middle School; or
- Expansion of the Career Center to include the Arlington Tech Program and a neighborhood high school, adding 1,300 additional seats at that location.
Community feedback will continue to be solicited over the next few weeks to develop a final version of the policy and to discuss the options being considered to add 1,300 high school seats by 2022.
An online feedback form ends today, Mar. 17. The next community meetings are scheduled to be held at 7 p.m. on Thu, Mar. 30 at Wakefield High School and on Tue, Apr. 4 at Yorktown High School. Content for both meetings will be the same, so community members only need to attend one. In addition, the meeting on Mar. 30 will be live streamed.
Community members can continue to provide input by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling 703-228-6310, or filling out a comment form online. The School Board is expected to approve a final policy in June, and begin implementation for the 2018-19 school year. Comprehensive information, including specific policy revisions that are being proposed, is available online.