On June 16, APS adopted a $453 million ten year capital budget that allocates $50.25 million for new elementary school classroom space at an unspecified location[s] in South Arlington. The original plan was to build an elementary school on the site of TJ Park near TJ Middle School off Glebe Road near Route 50. But community opposition was so strong that the School Board deferred a final decision about whether to build the school or extensions to other South Arlington schools for another six months.
Meanwhile the bond referendum resolution to be adopted by County Board includes funding for the full amount of the school whose site has yet to be determined. This is a complete travesty. How can Arlington voters approve a $105 million school bond without knowing how half of it is going to be spent? How can TJ neighbors approve an action that may well replace their park with a school? Under the circumstances I urge voters to vote NO to the school bond referendum in November.
I also ask voters to lobby County Board to say NO to the use of County parkland for either schools or housing. The current zoning ordinance allows County Board to do anything it wants with public land. So in May, 2013 it approved a School Board plan to excavate a tree lined hill adjacent to Ashlawn ES overlooking Bluemont Park to put in a parking loop as part of a planned extension of the school.
Since that time, the hill has been demolished; over 100 mature trees cut down; and the whole area surrounded by a chain link fence. This outcome violates the County’s own Natural Resources Management Plan, which mandates as its principal recommendation “the general policy goal of ‘Zero-Loss’ of County-owned natural lands.” Talk about green washing. APS’s policy on parkland is even more lacking than the information missing from the school bond referendum.