MacArthur PTA Survey Finds Most Opposed to Affordable Housing on School Grounds

(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) A proposal to co-locate affordable housing on the grounds of MacArthur Elementary is unpopular with PTA members.

The MacArthur PTA recently conducted a survey asking how current and future MacArthur families felt about co-locating housing or city facilities on the site of the soon-to-be renovated school, an idea encouraged by the city and under consideration by the School Board.

The survey yielded over 450 responses, according to PTA president Kristina Seppala, and revealed mixed feelings about some parts of the proposal and misgivings about housing in particular.

“About half of the respondents are open to non-housing co-location services such as a recreation center or day care services,” Seppala told ALXnow. “However, while open to other co-location options, a full 70% do not support housing on the site under any circumstance.”

Supporters say that Alexandria is experiencing an affordable housing crisis and must consider a variety ways to build more, including on government-owned land. At a joint meeting of city and school officials earlier this week, however, school board members expressed skepticism about adding housing to the MacArthur project at this stage in its planning. The school board is slated to vote on concept plans for MacArthur at its Feb. 6 meeting next week.

The PTA’s board has not yet taken a formal position on the matter and will take feedback from the survey into account when it does.

“I applaud the city and schools collaborating to provide services to the community,” Seppala said. “However, given the timeline for the Douglas MacArthur new build, the absence of a Joint Facilities Master Plan to guide the process of implementation, and a lack of substantial community input, it is not prudent to push housing forward on this project. There are simply too many unanswered, complex questions without the luxury of time to answer them thoroughly.”

The city council is ultimately expected to vote on the final design for MacArthur in September.

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