PRESS RELEASE: Enrollment Crisis for Arlington Public Schools

I’m Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board, and I’m running to reform County government.

My opponent Libby Garvey touts her qualifications as a twenty year incumbent, having served on the Arlington School Board or County Board since 1996.

The Arlington Public Schools (APS) website shows that student enrollment increased over the last ten years by over 6,800 students. During that time APS constructed one new elementary school, provided additions to several others and is planning to build more schools. But the need for more classroom space has not been met, as 3,000 students are housed in trailers, euphemistically referred to as “relocatables.”

In the last month alone APS installed five large classroom trailers, each about 3,600 square feet, on the campus of Swanson Middle School in Westover. These classrooms will likely house over 100 students, who will be forced to walk to/from the main building in all kinds of weather to go to lunch, the gym or other classes.

Not only does this impose a hardship on the students, but it still won’t meet the need, because APS projects an additional 6,600 students enrolled in the school system by 2025. Furthermore the FY 2017-26 Superintendent’s Proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) projected a 2,000+ seat deficit even after spending $158 million for new classroom capacity by 2025 (p. 22).

If APS and County Board upon which my opponent sat all these years, could not come up with a better solution to Arlington’s enrollment crisis than housing students in trailers, what kind of a future can our school children expect in the next ten years under the same regime?

My opponent cannot justify this deplorable situation by arguing that political gridlock prevented her from taking action, because both APS and Arlington County Board have been controlled by the Arlington County Democratic Party for the past two decades.

If elected, I hope to turn the situation around by convincing APS to build classroom capacity on an accelerated schedule at less cost. The Superintendent’s proposed CIP indicates that at $43.8 million Discovery Elementary School, with a capacity of 630 seats, cost $69,000 per pupil. This is three times the average cost of new school construction statewide.

Arlington can deliver more classroom seats at less cost with less environmental impact by building up not out with modular design instead of up and out with relocatables. Modular design would also cut the delivery time for new classrooms in half, thus reducing the need for classroom trailers.

In addition, if elected I plan to:

  • Promote utilization of school buses to reduce congestion and increase the safety of pedestrians and bikers near schools.
  • Seek tax relief for residents and businesses and stop the exodus of federal agencies from Arlington.
  • Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
  • Promote consolidation of housing programs to improve efficiency.
  • Promote installation of renewable energy in all county owned buildings.
  • Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
  • Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers.

As a 12-year Westover resident and long-time civic activist–with a Ph.D. in political science and service as a Congressional Fellow–I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.

You can make a difference! Boost my campaign for Arlington County Board by:
volunteering for an hour at your polling place on Election Day;

  • donating time or money;
  • planting a yard sign in your yard or window;
  • spreading the word via your PTA, civic association, listserv or blog.

Together we can make the “Arlington Way” more than an empty phrase.

2 thoughts on “PRESS RELEASE: Enrollment Crisis for Arlington Public Schools

  1. Hilary Silvert Newell September 12, 2016 at 11:39 am - Reply

    How do I get a yard sign?

    • Audrey September 29, 2016 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Call 571-830-8889 and I’ll drop one off.

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