Civic Association Newsletter

March/April 1997 - Volume 20, No. 5


The Arlington Science Focus School to add modular unit and the Arlington Montessori House plans for expansion.

Arlington Science Focus School to Add Modular Unit

In order to accommodate projected enrollment growth for the 1997-98 school year at the Arlington Science Focus School (ASFS), located at 1501 N. Lincoln Street, a modular unit with space for three to five classrooms will be placed on the grounds this summer. Currently, the school has a smaller unit on the grounds which will be removed. Due to safety reasons, the planned location for the additional classroom space is the back grassy/playground area near North Kenmore Street. This location will allow the students to continue to play on the blacktop and playground areas and does not obstruct the view of the supervising adults during recess and physical education periods. Additionally, it does not create any hidden areas near the school as patrol cars drive by on North Lincoln Street and monitor the school at night and weekends.

Betty Hobbs, Principal and Aileen Whitfill, PTA Co- President will discuss the placement of the proposed modular unit and answer questions at our March 12, 1997 meeting.

Ms. Hobbs and Ms. Whitfill are also asking for a representative of the Ballston-Virginia Civic Association to serve on the ASFS Building-Level Project Planning Committee. The school is currently in the process of selecting an architectural firm to renovate the physical plant and design a gym and library addition. Improvements are expected to begin during 1999.

If you have any questions and/or would like to serve on the ASFS Building-Level Planning Committee please contact Aileen Whitfill at 241-5750 or Betty Hobbs at 358-7670. (Contact: Aileen Whitfill, 5117 Williamsburg Blvd., Arlington, Virginia 22207, 241-5750)

Arlington Montessori House Plans for Expansion

Originally founded in 1976 as the Montessori Children's Creative Center, the Arlington Montessori House has been a non-profit parent cooperative preschool since 1991 at 3809 N. Washington Boulevard. We continue to operate as a small school because this old fashioned "one room school house" atmosphere distinguishes our school from other Montessori schools in this area, and provides what we believe is an ideal transitional environment for young children prior to their entry into elementary school. The school's objective is to provide a carefully planned stimulating environment which helps children develop foundational habits, attitudes, skills and ideas that are essential for a lifetime of creative thinking and learning. Approximately 75% of the students attend the half day morning program from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The remaining 25% (children who are 5 to 6 years old) stay at the school till 2:30 p.m. to attend our afternoon class (kindergarten). We are currently unable to provide extended care for our younger children due to our need to allow our older students a focused academic environment.

During the last 5 years the school has taken several steps to strengthen its curriculum and broaden its enrollment pool. However, it has not been able to undergo significant expansion, even though the school's needs and the community needs for preschools have grown tremendously.

Several factors indicate that an expansion of the school at this time is warranted. The Arlington Montessori House needs to accommodate the growing number of potential students who have shown an interest in attending school. Currently 25 students are enrolled for the 1996-1997 school year. In the next three years, at least fifteen siblings of current students will be eligible for enrollment. There is a wait list of sixteen students for the 1996-1997 school year, and 40 new applicants have been submitted for the 1997-1998 year (as of February 20, 1997), additionally 18 students plan to re-enroll.

While the school wants to offer educational opportunities to siblings of current students, it also wants to diversify its enrollment base for future years by making positions available to children from a broad number of families. If forced to stay at its current size, the school would be unable to meet these twin goals and would be compelled to turn away a significant number of children, undermining both its own reputation in the community as well as the stability of its future enrollment pool.

If able to use the property and house next door to our current location (3813 N. Washington Boulevard), the school could easily meet expansion goals, as well as provide a much safer and more efficient traffic pattern for student drop off and pick up than currently exists. By linking the two driveways, potential backups on Washington Boulevard will be avoided and the ability to receive students at the back of the buildings away from the busy street will be safer than the current system.

Use of this building would also allow us to combine our kindergarten class in one classroom building and create a space for us to provide much needed extended care for some of our working families. The parents of our current students frequently have to make very awkward and inconvenient arrangements in order to offer their children a Montessori education and have the necessary care after school.

Arlington Montessori House has applied for an amendment to their use permit, scheduled for consideration and decision at the April County Board meeting [Saturday, April 12, 1997]. Support for this amendment would be appreciated. We look forward to this becoming a reality for use and welcome the interest of neighbors. Please call the Administrator, Maggie Crossgrove, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 524-2511.

The Association has invited representatives from the Arlington Science Focus School and the Arlington Montessori House to make a presentation on their respective school's expansion plans, at the Wednesday, March 12, 1997, Membership Meeting, at the Arlington Hilton Hotel, 2nd Floor Conference Rooms, above the Ballston Metro Station. If you have any questions or comments about public safety in Arlington, we invite you to bring them to our Membership Meeting. This item is scheduled for presentation from 9:00 to 9:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

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