Photo: Steve Thurston
A new elementary school planned for the campus of Williamsburg Middle School is only in the design phase and will not open until fall 2015, but Arlington Public Schools staff proposed last night that they begin the process of setting that school’s enrollment boundaries.
In a work session with the APS school board, staff Facilities Planner Alison Denton said staff would take the next month to meet with the community and develop policy that would guide the boundary decisions.
Staff “ambassadors” will meet with residents in the coming month and speak with a wide swath of the community, especially within the boundaries of the Glebe, Ashlawn, Tuckahoe, Jamestown, McKinley, Nottingham and Taylor elementary schools. APS staff will be asking people what a successful procedure would look like.
“I think we have a cross-section of people willing to help out,” one facilities staffer said during the meeting. She said six or seven people would take some of the load off Denton who has spent many, many evenings over the past year going to PTA meetings and other public forums to talk about school capacity issues.
On Sept. 27, staff will hold a public forum at Williamsburg Middle School.
This planning over the next month will not determine enrollment boundaries of the new elementary school--or of any other school. It will create the policy that will guide the staff and board as they determine those boundaries. Denton said their goals are to make the steps transparent, structured and repeatable with other schools.
At their Oct. 18 meeting, the school board will direct staff to determine the boundaries of the new school--fondly called “New School 1”--by spring.
Denton broke the boundary decision down into six pieces. The board has to decide:
- on a boundary,
- on whether or not existing programs such as preschools will move to the school or if new programming will be formed,
- which of the two Spanish immersion schools--Key or Claremont--would be attached to this school,
- whether or not the school is part of the Jamestown "team" of schools or part of the Barrett "cluster,"
- whether or not students who attend other schools when this one opens will be grandfathered into their old schools or be forced to move to the new school,
- and whether or not the students in the school will automatically move up to Williamsburg Middle School when the time comes.
“All these decisions will need to be made,” Denton told the board.