Newsletter

The City of Alexandria is planning to work with a local non-profit to quantify the demand for after-school activities.

At an upcoming City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28, the Council is docketed to consider a $60,000 transfer to local non-profit ACT for Alexandria.

According to the docket, the funding is part of an effort to “explore how to expand academic, social, and emotional services and physical supports to all youth during the out-of-school time hours.”

The new study would examine the levels of demand for after-school programming around Alexandria, including a look at where programs are or aren’t available or being utilized.

“The scope of work includes a survey to all Alexandria City Public School (ACPS) parents to determine where children are currently going after the school day ends, the frequency of after school support needed, and the type of support needed,” the memo said. “It also includes follow up focus groups in areas of the city with lower utilization rates of after school programs to better understand barriers, including cost and cultural understanding around childcare.”

The study is itself a follow-up on work the group did to survey after-school providers and needs specifically for middle school students. If the funding for the new report goes through, the memo said staff will return with more data on where the city should direct the rest of the $340,000 set aside to support local youth and families.

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Tentative location for Landmark pedestrian bridge (image via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria is looking into building a pedestrian bridge over I-395 to connect the Landmark Mall site to neighborhoods west of the highway.

Last week, the Transportation Commission reviewed a potential grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide funding to study the potential bridge.

The idea is to give West End residents better access to the large new development — including a new hospital and mixed-use district — currently under construction.

“The City is seeking technical assistance funding from the DOT to study the feasibility of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-395 to connect the Landmark Mall site to the neighborhoods west of I-395,” a city memo said. “This will provide safe and direct access to jobs and amenities that will be available once West End Alexandria has been redeveloped.”

At the meeting, staff said without the bridge the only pedestrian access to the Landmark site for residents west of I-395 would be to either go down to Duke Street or cross on the Holmes Run Trail, which is currently still impassable following damage from a storm in 2019.

The bridge is recommended in several planning studies focused around the site, though members of the Transportation Commission said one of the challenges will be finding the right spot for the bridge in an area that’s a patchwork of private development. Transportation Commission member Melissa McMahon noted that the final bridge location could be more dependent on agreements with private land owners than any optimal connection.

The total cost of the study is $300,000, with a $240,000 grant request to the Department of Transportation and $60,000 in local matching funds. The Council is set to review the application at a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 28. City staff said grant recipients are announced in early 2023 and, if approved, the study would start in 2024 and take about a year.

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Alexandria City Public Schools is entering a tricky budget season.

As student enrollment and expenditure increases outpace revenue, ACPS faces a $12 million deficit in the run up to the fiscal year 2024 budget, according to a budget presentation to the School Board on Thursday, September 22.

“Over the previous decade, student enrollment and expenditures have increased at a far quicker pace than the corresponding revenue has grown,” ACPS said in a staff report. “ACPS Staff analysis shows that this trend will continue into the future, requiring a combination of revenue enhancements and expenditure reductions to balance a projected budget gap.”

For FY 2024, the projected budget deficit is $12.05 million. Each year, as expenditures outpace revenues, the estimated budget gap will continue to expand. By FY 2028, the annual funding deficit projection grows to $37.83 million, according to ACPS.

Still, the school system is proposing a 2.64% step increase and 2.5% market rate adjustment for all staff. Healthcare costs are projected to increase 8% and dental care costs will increase 2%.

“We assume that we’ll get the same per-people dollar amount at both the state and city level (as approved the FY 2023 budget),” ACPS Chief Financial Officer Dominic Turner told the School Board.

There are 15,700 students at ACPS at this time, according to interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt. That’s about 100 students more than was forecasted in January, and some parents are concerned that elementary school class sizes are getting too big. Last spring, the school system adjusted the caps on elementary school class sizes by an increase of two seats so that kindergarten classes now have 24 students, first and second grades are capped at 26, and grades three to five have 28 students — still below maximum state standards.

Jenica Patterson, the PTA president at Patrick Henry Elementary School, told the School Board that the school is contending with 950 students — about 65 more than what was projected.

“The discrepancy in teacher-to-student ratios among ACPS elementary schools is a major barrier to learning.,” Patterson said. “Teachers are simply managing the large, crowded classrooms instead of dedicating their time to education and learning.”

Kay-Wyatt said that the community has grown over the years, and that ACPS is experiencing a teacher and bus driver shortage.

“It’s very hard right now,” Kay-Wyatt said. “The HR staff is out recruiting, they continue their recruitment efforts. I also want that to be known that we never stop recruiting, and we still have a shortage.”

Next month there will be several budget-related work sessions and meetings:

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The sequel to one of the highest-grossing films of all time is coming early to Alexandria.

City Councilman John Taylor Chapman’s Manumission Tour Company has once again teamed with other local businesses for a private screening of Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at AMC Hoffman Center 22 (206 Hoffman Street).

The film will be shown on five screens on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $34.99 for general admission and $49.99 for VIP admission. The movie otherwise opens to the general public on Friday, Nov. 11.

The event includes a “Best-Dressed Wakandan” contest, as well as a red carpet experience with cosplayers. General admission moviegoers will get a large popcorn and drink, in addition to a swag bag and open seating. VIPS will get reserved seats and invitation to an after party.

In 2018, Chapman and his partners held a similar event for Black Panther at the Regal Potomac Yard movie theater. The event sold out, and was attended by more than 700 people, prompting Chapman to later host viewing parties for the films Green Book and Harriet.

“Honestly, back in 2018, I just wanted to have a bunch of people watch the first time we were gonna have an African American superhero in the Marvel Universe,” Chapman said. “It was great. I think we want to have that same atmosphere, and there are a lot of people and groups out there that definitely want to do that.”

The event is sponsored by National Capital Bank of Washington, fibre space, Griffin Vision Media, The Rub and Hen Quarter, Black upStart, kweliTV, SpottedMP, Beverly Tatum, Realtor, Virginia Black Lifestyle Magazine and Dyvine BBQ.

Via Google Maps

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We’re just a nebulous amount of time away from the opening of the Potomac Yard Metro station, but the station is already showing up on new Metro maps.

The ongoing shutdown for Alexandria to bring the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system is scheduled to finish on Oct. 22. Metro officials said trains will be passing through but not stopping at the station.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has said the station will open this fall, and Fred Robertson, project manager for the Potomac Yard Metro station, said there’s no more definite date available even as the year slides into fall.

The station was supposed to open in the spring but was pushed back to fall because of a contracting error.

The new map shows the Potomac Yard station as just a white dot lacking the black circle of its completed peers — indicating that the Potomac Yard Metro station is a “future station”. If WMATA keeps to its “fall” timeline, the new map should only be up to date for two months at most.

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Schools Accredited: With Conditions — “Virginia’s annual accreditation of schools is based on academic achievement, achievement gaps, and student engagement and outcome factors.” [Patch]

It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 73 and low of 58. Sunrise at 7:01 am and sunset at 7:01 pm. [Weather.gov]

The Clay Queen Pottery to Close After 22 Years — “Renee Altman, who has run The Clay Queen Pottery for 22 years on Mount Vernon Ave. in Del Ray, announced her retirement.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Alexandria’s Business Professionals Connect Over Coffee — “ALX Chamber of Commerce hosted morning networking event” [Zebra]

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Food at 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood in at 110 S. Pitt Street in Old Town. (Courtesy photo)

It was a busy week in Alexandria, with the City Council back in session and changes on the horizon for local restaurants.

The Polk Avenue sidewalk saga came to its close with the City Council voting unanimously to strike down an appeal, authorizing the city to move forward with plans to build a new sidewalk on the north side of the street.

The School Board also met this week and called into question the validity of a study on safety in the schools — not long after city leaders pushed back against claims from state officials that Alexandria City Public Schools were unsafe.

Top stories

  1. Teller at Alexandria DMV allegedly used stolen gift card to pay for friend’s license renewal
  2. 14-year-old arrested after allegedly pistol-whipping and robbing juvenile in West End
  3. Details emerge after woman shot in foot in Braddock area
  4. Alexandria businesses to start paying rent for on-street dining and shopping
  5. Old Town North affordable housing redevelopment moves forward
  6. 1799 Prime Steak & Seafood in Old Town is fancy without the frills
  7. Samuel Madden redevelopment returning to BAR after earlier misgivings
  8. No injuries after vent shaft catches fire in Fairlington apartment building
  9. System update gives Alexandrians two days of free access to rec centers, pools and more
  10. City Council strikes down Polk Avenue sidewalk appeal
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A new report on student safety should be taken with a grain of salt, according to members of the Alexandria School Board.

The School Board received the report Thursday night (September 22), and it includes details of 194 incidents that occurred between January and June. Not all of the incidents were criminal in nature, which led some School Board members to question the report’s validity.

“It’s really easy to look at these numbers of these data and draw conclusions, some of them often negative,” said School Board Member Ashley Simpson Baird. “It’s also really difficult just because we don’t yet have that longitudinal data yet, this is just a school year. We don’t know if this is better or worse than two years ago, or three years ago or 10 years ago.”

The data shows that 26 Alexandria City Public School students were arrested in the final two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year. There were also 34 students injured, 28 reported fights/assaults and 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct. With the four quarters of the year combined, 46 students were arrested and 68 injured.

Board Member Abdel Elnoubi agreed with Simpson Baird.

“Wait and let’s have a goal that hopefully we start seeing numbers come down,” Elnoubi said. “Don’t look at raw numbers. Don’t look at that in a vacuum, because we It doesn’t mean much unless you put it in context. I just encourage community members to keep that in mind.”

John Contreras, the ACPS director of Safety and Security Services, said that not all incidents were criminal in nature, like when a child needed help getting unstuck in their second grade classroom, or when a golf cart battery caught fire at Alexandria City High School.

“It is important to note that APD (Alexandria Police Department) calls for service are not solely in relation to support for incidents that are criminal in nature,” Contreras said. “It includes a wide variety of things, including missing students, that sort of thing, not an actual criminal act, but we do sometimes someone need assistance or police to help us look for a student that may have not come on time.”

Contreras also said that arrests increased because of large groups of students fighting.

“One assault by mob… resulted in six arrests,” Contreras said. “Another was three — three arrests in one incident.”

Contreras recalled another incident of students smoking marijuana in an ACHS bathroom.

“A teacher goes in there (the bathroom), notices that the aroma in there smelled like marijuana, a controlled substance that’s not supposed to be at the school, but interviews with students or a search of their belongings did not reveal anything. It’s still reported to us as a controlled substance violation of some sort. Law enforcement was collaborated with, but it didn’t really resulting with anything other than administrative response at the school level.”

Alicia Hart, the chief of Facilities and Operations, said that the report is the new baseline for the school system.

“This really is the true baseline for incidents, calls for service and arrests and should be used to note changes in school division safety,” Hart said.

Interim Superintendent Melnie Kay-Wyatt said she wants the numbers in the report to go down.

“I really think it’s just allowing probably another full school year this school year for us to get some more data to really start measuring,” Kay-Wyatt said.

Agenda Alexandria will discuss student safety on Monday, September 26, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) at 6:30 p.m.

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Here’s a look at some of the open houses taking place in Alexandria this weekend:

  • 3608 Orlando Place, Beverley Forest
    6 BR/5.5 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Waterfall kitchen island, hidden walk-in pantry, wood burning fireplace
    Listed: $1,949,000
    Open: Saturday, 12-2 p.m. (Elizabeth Lucchesi – Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.)
  • 306 N Columbus Street, Old Town
    4 BR/2.5 BA Townhouse
    Noteworthy: Brick end unit, walled secret garden, brick patio
    Listed: $1,395,000
    Open: Sunday, 2-4 p.m. (Fouad Talout – Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.)
  • 1216 W Braddock Road, Temple Terrace
    4 BR/2.5 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Brick, breakfast/sunroom, refinished hardwood floors
    Listed: $1,099,000
    Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m. (Erin Johnson – Compass)
  • 5208 Richenbacher Avenue, Brookville Seminary Valley
    5 BR/3 BA Single-family home
    Noteworthy: Four levels, fenced rear yard, concrete driveway
    Listed: $980,000
    Open: Saturday, 2-4 p.m. (Heidi Kabler – Weichert Realtors)
  • 335 Ashby Street, Del Ray
    3 BR/2.5 BA Townhouse
    Noteworthy: End unit, finished lower level, updated full bath
    Listed: $850,000
    Open: Saturday, 12-2 p.m. (Kristin Francis – KW Metro Center)
  • 806 Bashford Lane, Old Town
    2 BR/1.5 BA Townhouse
    Noteworthy: Brick, two fireplaces, private patio
    Listed: $794,900
    Open: Saturday, 1-3 p.m. (Allen Miller – RLAH Properties)

See all Alexandria open house listings here.

Want your open house to appear here? You can now submit sponsored listings.

5208 Richenbacher Avenue

* Denotes sponsored listing

5208 Richenbacher Avenue image via Google Maps

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Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates REALTORS®.

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky, Micki MacNaughton, and Adrianna Vallario, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $175 million in 2021.

The purchaser may be eligible for up to $50,000 in down payment assistance! Beautifully updated 2 bedroom, 1 full bath condo located 2 minutes from I 395. This condominium offers amenities such as an outdoor pool and playgrounds. **** NO INVESTORS****

This is a restricted resale of a unit offered through the Alexandria Flexible Homeownership Assistance Program. The purchase may be eligible for up to $50,000 in 0% purchase assistance available from the City of Alexandria. Purchaser must live or work within the corporate limits of the City of Alexandria, be a first-time homebuyer, and have a gross annual income of maximum $79,760 (1 person), maximum $91,120 (2 person), maximum $102,480 (3 person) and maximum $113,840 (4 person).

Before visiting property, purchaser must be pre-approved with lender from city approved list (in Documents). For more information about the program.

436 N Armistead Street #304,  Alexandria, VA 22312Jen Walker Team

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