Saturday, March 28, 2009

HeraldTrib Today: March 28, 2009

Schools Budget Change Means Barrett Will Not Get Full-time Positions…

This story was updated Sunday evening, March 29. --ST

You may have already seen the email from Melanie Wilhelm, the K.W. Barrett Elementary School PTA president.

She wrote:

“Specifically, the plan calls for changing a long-established rule that once an elementary school’s enrollment exceeds 500, five key positions are upgraded from part-time to full time positions. The proposed budget raises the threshold for this upgrade from 500 to 550. This change means that Barrett, along with seven other schools, will not get the increased staffing despite exceeding 500 students next year. The five positions are:
1. Assistant Principal
2. Principals’ Assistant
3. Gifted and Talented Specialist
4. Reading Specialist
5. Library Assistant”

Principal Terry Bratt brought this to my attention. She said she has been talking with the public schools, and told the superintendent how much she dislikes this change, given that she knew the school would reach 500 students and would get the additional staff.

Part of her worry is that Barrett is close to the 550 mark, but is projected to stay under that. In the past, programming has not been adjusted after the fact, she said. That is, if the school is projected to be 544, it does not get the additional staffing even if the real number is 550 in September. It is unclear if this would continue to be the case.

One major argument of the Elementary Crowding and Capacity Committee last school year was that the APS estimates were notoriously inaccurate. (The ECCC was a countywide parents group looking at relieving overcrowding in some north Arlington elementary schools). APS has underestimated Barrett’s enrollment over the last three years.

I did make one phone call to APS yesterday, but it was not returned. I'll get back to them next week.

CHANGE TO THE ORIGINAL STORY (Updated Sunday March 29, evening):

At some point on Friday, the superintendent's office posted changes to the proposed budget (find them here).

The memo states that state, federal and local decisions have given APS another $6.8 million to work with, allowing the superintendent to reinstate some programs that had been cut or reduced.

This includes the 500-student enrollment level that triggers additional staff. That and other changes are here:

  • The addition of 4 pre-K classes at Hoffman-Boston under the Virginia Preschool
    Initiative. This will not require any additional local funding in the Operating Fund.
  • The return of the enrollment level for the elementary planning factor for nonclassroom positions to 500 from 550.
  • Replacement of the 0.5 science and 0.5 math specialist positions for ESOL/HILT students.
  • Restoration of the 3.0 HVAC positions as well as additional funding for HVAC contract services.
  • Expansion of FLES to one school.
  • Conversion from Styrofoam trays to paper trays in the school cafeterias.
  • The OPEB contribution is increased $900,000 in anticipation of full funding of the FY2010 ARC if the retiree health benefit is capped at two times the current rate.
  • The TSA match is partially restored, increasing from 0.2% to 0.4%.

    County might cut Amphitheatre programming…

    The county tried earlier this decade to make cuts to the Lubber Run Amphitheatre summer programming, and the county manager’s current proposed budget puts it back on the block, saving the county about $16,000, the budget says.

    Last time, people rallied to get the programming back, but I’ll admit I’ve heard and seen very little about this in the ‘hood. Other similar proposed cuts have generated facebook pages and everything. I have not seen that here, but maybe I’ve missed it.

    I don’t know if this is because people see a need to cut somewhere, or if people just don’t know about it. I doubt that people don’t care, but I’m just not sure. Tell me what you think.

    Proposed reductions also affecting the parks countywide: restroom cleaning, trash collection, grass mowing and “general upkeep of park facilities." The county also is looking at relying on in-house staff and volunteers to manage invasive plant removal.

    Arlington Annex Started This Week…

    I am really happy to announce the start of a new partnership with Buckinghamster Vic Socotra. He has a Web site with daily updates that cover history and a fun, quirky look at his life.

    He has agreed to start supplying the HeraldTrib with a pieces called Arlington Annex on a regular basis, though we haven't figured out exactly what "regular basis" means.

    What I like about him is that he's a Buckinghamster through-and-through with his writing. He knows the neighborhood, and its history, and is no stranger to the Virginia Room at Central Library when he's looking for something more. I can't wait to see what else he'll be writing about, but his piece on Columbia Gardens' spooky residents is a great first entry.

    Scroll down to check it out below, or click here to read his Arlington Annex column.

    Bethel Church’s Game Night…

    Saturday April 4, 5:30p.m. 4347 Arlington Blvd (Northeast corner of Arlington Blvd. and George Mason Drive. ) Limited parking at the Red Cross on N. Trenton Street at Arlington Blvd. All are welcome.

    I am inviting anyone with community announcements to send them to me. I will do my best to post them. --ST

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Kenmore's Castillo Is APS Teacher of Year
  • Board Trying for Stimulus Money to Fix Glebe's Bridge
  • Arlington Annex: Columbia Gardens Has All Kinds of Spooks
  • Police Notes
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