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Editor: Many people may be wondering why Arlington Public Schools is seeking a school-bond referendum this year, in particular with the challenging times many have faced in our community and certainly school being a large part of that for some.
I had the same questions when I was asked to co-chair this year’s school-bond campaign. Ultimately, I agreed, because of the specific content of this bond request.
Voting “YES” on the bond will continue the important work to upgrade our existing school infrastructure in some very targeted and very necessary areas:
• School Cafeterias: All school cafeterias must be brought up to the new National School Lunch Program standards. I was not aware, but APS used to have a central kitchen where all meals were prepared and then delivered to each school. With the focus on freshly prepared and more fresh fruits and vegetables, this requires each school to have facilities to store and prepare – not just serve – meals on premise. Voting “YES” will improve APS’ ability to bring nutritious meals to all of our students.
• School Safety: Several schools still require improvements and upgrades to entrance and security vestibules. These upgrades will allow all traffic into the building to be properly screened and checked-in through the office. Voting “YES” will continue to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
• Accessibility and Community Field upgrades at The Heights/Shriver Program: This last component of the bond was a bit puzzling to me at first. Similarly, I have heard from others why the work to ensure ease of access and the needs of Shriver students, families and staff were not completed already. The temporary fire station location did not allow the work APS always knew would be required to be done during the initial construction.
Now that the fire station is in its new location, the work to finally improve the accessibility can be completed – along with adding parking for staff and the community. The community field is also part of this phase of work which will be a great asset to not only APS but the community as a whole (and the cost is shared with the county). Voting “YES” will bring the much needed accessibility to the Shriver Program and create much needed community field space in the Rosslyn area.
I encourage you to vote “YES” on the school-bond referendum on Nov. 2. The Arlington community’s support of our schools has always been a foundation for improvements with APS and how we strive to continually progress to meet the needs of all of our students.
Rebecca Hunter, Arlington
Hunter serves with Alistair Watson as co-chair of the Arlington School Bond Committee.