Wednesday, January 09, 2008

APS Chair Ed Fendley Speaks to Barrett PTA

After laying out a three-point vision for the Arlington Public Schools, which included expanding foreign language instruction while making sure English is strong, teaching children about the natural environment, and making sure school is a place children want to go every morning, School Board Chairman Ed Fendley took questions from the audience of about 40 K.W. Barrett Elementary School parents yesterday evening.
APS Board Chair Ed Fendley addresses the Barrett PTA. (Click to enlarge image.)

The questions eventually came around to the hot topic of the Elementary Crowding and Capacity Committee, which recently submitted a report to Superintendent Robert Smith. The report included the ECCC’s six recommendations and 11 proposals to ease overcrowding at Tuckahoe Elementary and other North Arlington schools without overcrowding other elementary schools. Superintendent Smith is not required to follow the recommendations, and is expected to submit his own ideas to the school board at a meeting later in January.

The “wonderful surplus of kids” in Arlington is “a good problem to have,” Mr. Fendley said, adding later, “We’ve never figured out a way to have built-in flexibility" about where and how to enroll them when there are too many or too few at any school.

If the current trends do not change, APS will need progromatic or facilities changes, he said.

Considering the overcrowding issue, he said he will be looking first to programs, especially at the county-wide programs at Drew Model School and Arlington Traditional School. Then he will look to how buildings are used, especially the ATS, Reed, and Wilson buildings, as well as the Hoffman-Boston school.

He said also that the school board needs to “make sure what made sense at one point still makes sense.”

He called this a matter of principle and was not trying to impugn any one decision or choice, but the challenges to be faced with overcrowding at some North Arlington schools, and a budget that will be much more restricted than in previous years, means for him: “This is an opportunity to look at everything.”

He said that he cannot speak for the entire board, but that he believes they are committed to seriously addressing over enrollment, using consistent, sustainable policies.

Mr. Fendley stayed for the first 45 minutes of the PTA’s meeting.

Related stories and sites…
  • Barrett Parents Will Bring Voice to School Board
  • APS Enrollment and Capacity of School’s site
  • APS School Board Meetings and Minutes Site.

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