What is this all about?
Arlington Public Schools (APS) recently published a proposed map of school boundaries to create attendance zones for the new neighborhood school at the Key site and for McKinley in the new facility at the Reed site, both of which will open in Fall 2021, as well as neighborhood boundaries around Arlington Science Focus School (ASFS). You can read details about the full proposal here and view the proposed elementary school boundary map here.
What are the impacts of this proposal to families in Tara-Leeway Heights?
The map below on the left shows the boundary changes proposed by APS. The area in orange represents the boundary proposed for the new elementary school being built at the Reed site in Westover, adjacent to our neighborhood. The five digit numbers represent 'planning units' that are used to geographically assign students to schools. Planning units 16081, 16080, 16090, 14050, 15010, and 15020 are located completely within our civic association, and students in all but one (16090) attend McKinley Elementary School. Click here to confirm your planning unit.
There are three main themes residents and families should keep in mind when evaluating the map:
School Alignment - Planning unit 16090 is currently aligned to Glebe Elementary School. APS proposes maintaining this alignment to keep students currently attending Glebe together. This also means that if this proposal is approved and you are a younger family (PreK or 1st/2nd grade) in this planning unit that your children will likely attend Glebe Elementary for at least the next 2 years (see 'Future Moves' below). All five of the other planning units in Tara-Leeway are proposed to remain part of the cohort of McKinley students that will attend the Reed School in Westover next fall.
Walkability - You'll notice the map has several planning units with black stripes indicating they are in a 'walk zone' for the Reed School. This means that given your location and proximity to the new Reed school, your child is not eligible for a bus and can either walk to school and/or will have transport provided by a family member, etc. Three of the planning units in Tara-Leeway are classified by APS as walk zones, with one (16090) deemed a 'potential' walk zone and two (15010 and 15020) mapped to the Reed school but not classified as walk zones in this map.
Future Moves - Unfortunately, boundary adjustments have become a constant for APS in recent years as it wrestles with growth and capacity challenges. This current boundary adjustment is part of a larger effort likely to occur in the next two years as APS rebalances boundaries for all of its schools. APS staff have indicated that if a planning unit is moved as part of a boundary adjustment, it won't likely be moved again for 5 years. However, this does not apply to planning units mapped for the construction of a new school (e.g. Reed) therefore units assigned to Reed could potentially move again in 2 years when APS adjusts boundaries, especially those that are outside the walk zone and require bus service. This presents some risk to those residents living in planning units15010 and 15020 that they will have a child at McKinley this year, the Reed school next year, then potentially a 3rd school before they leave elementary level.
Elementary School Boundaries
Proposed boundary change map from APS
Tara-Leeway Heights Planning Units
Where can we share our concerns and/or feedback on this proposal?
There are 3 steps you can take to make your voice heard:
Fill out the APS questionnaire by October 20th: APS is seeking feedback on this proposal through this questionnaire on its Engage website, which will remain open until October 20th. APS is also offering virtual 'engagement' sessions for you and your family to provide feedback on the proposal.
Share your preferences on the move with the TLHCA Board: The Tara-Leeway Heights Civic Association is also gathering feedback through this survey on its residents attitudes and preferences around this proposed boundary change. Based on feedback from residents the board may draft a letter to APS and county officials regarding civic association/community preferences on this boundary change.
Engage your PTA: Send your concerns directly to the McKinley PTA at AskMckinley@gmail.com. The school has a dedicated team examining the impacts of this proposal on its community. For Glebe families, send your feedback directly to your PTA leadership.