They say there will be no public-school football this fall, but on one issue at least, some candidates are doing a lot of punting.
At the Sept. 8 Arlington County Civic Federation School Board forum, candidates were asked if they would oppose the possibility of using existing county parkland for future school sites.
A list of those sites has been forwarded from county leaders to the school system, but the idea of plopping buildings on open space has drawn brushback from some park advocates.
The two Democratic endorsees for School Board gave what could be called, depending on one’s viewpoint, either nuanced answers – or non-answers:
• “We need to investigate everything that is on the table,” said Cristina Diaz-Torres. “I really welcome engaging.”
• We have kids that are coming [into the school system] . . . we have to make sure we have seats,” said David Priddy, offering the caveat that it was a “very complicated” situation that required study.
Only Symone Walker, who is running as an independent in the race, pushed back on the idea that parkland was sacrosanct. She said she would not be willing to take park sites off the table.
“Everybody has to be prepared to give a little and sacrifice some,” she said. “There is no indication that [student growth] is easing up.”
Choices between parks and schools have been among the most contentious local issues in recent years. In one case, open-space boosters fought a vocal battle to preserve the space that eventually became Alice West Fleet Elementary School, saying the land was zoned for parks – even though, for decades, it had been used as a parking lot for Thomas Jefferson Middle School.
Walker, Priddy and Diaz-Torres are competing for two open seats on the five-member School Board. The top two finishers on Nov. 3 will succeed Nancy Van Doren and Tannia Talento, who opted not to seek re-election.
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