Editor: I am the mother of two elementary-school children, yet lately, I get the impression Arlington County prioritizes my two dogs over my human children.
I am baffled by the County Board fighting tooth and nail to save a nearly 3-acre dog park, while at the same time the County Board has been silent – dead silent – on finding land for new schools, especially as the county currently has several great options for school land uses on the table.
The County Board established a Joint Facilities Advisory Committee (JFAC) to consider both county and school land needs. Just last year, the chair of the School Board wrote to the County Board to specifically asked that the Buck, Virginia Hospital Center, Carlin Springs and the Aurora Highlands properties be considered for schools. In its recent recommendations, JFAC did not recommend any land for new schools – NONE. And no County Board member has publicly voiced concern over this perplexing oversight.
JFAC’s recommendations are unfathomable in a county where student population is projected to grow significantly in the foreseeable future. Arlington Public Schools reports it will need at least one new full-sized high school, one or two new middle schools and two to four new elementary schools – in addition to the new elementary, middle and small high school we already have in the works.
Unless we cover every green space in the county – and all dog parks – we cannot fit all the additional students into trailers.
I love my two dogs, but prioritizing education for children is a critical need. Ensuring a solid educational foundation for Arlington youth creates a strong community with children ready to take on the jobs of tomorrow – and who will have the resources to take care of the dogs of tomorrow, too.
The County Board must represent all Arlingtonians. This means representing children, in addition to adults and dogs.
They should immediately task JFAC with reevaluating land uses and considering major school projects at the Carlin Springs and Buck properties – and in all future assessments – to avoid a serious crisis for our schools.
If JFAC doesn’t live up to its mission, we should disband it and stop wasting people’s time with the illusion of inclusion.
Maurine Fanguy, Arlington