It won’t be official until the end of the month, but Arlington Public Schools is on track for another all-time high in student enrollment.
School officials counted 27,522 students in seats when the school year began Sept. 4. While that is lower than a projection of 28,022 made in the spring, it represents a 2.2-percent increase from the first day of school a year ago.
School districts statewide report official school counts to the Virginia Department of Education based on the number of students in class as of Sept. 30 each year. Arlington’s “official” count for 2017 was 26,927, a figure that surpassed 1963 – the height of the Baby Boom – in total student enrollment.
While the start of the 2018-19 school year brought no new schools online, several – including the new Fleet Elementary adjacent to Thomas Jefferson Middle School and the Wilson site that will house H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program – are in various stages of construction.
The Wilson site “seems to be coming along very nicely,” Superintendent Patrick Murphy told School Board members on Sept. 6, and having a roof in place on the Fleet building will allow work to accelerate in the final year of construction, he said.
The Arlington Career Center over the summer benefited from an internal expansion, and Murphy reported that 4.5 million square feet of school facilities had received cleaning during the summer break.
Excessive heat during the first week of school caused school officials to sweat it out, wondering whether all schools’ HVAC systems would be up to the task.
The biggest concern was at Tuckahoe Elementary, where a new air-conditioning system was on order but had not yet arrived.
“Our teams are constantly nursing those units,” said John Chadwick, the school system’s assistant superintendent for facilities.