All arguments aside, Alexandria’s equity standards and economic prospects have been declared sound.
Yesterday, the city announced that S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed Alexandria’s ‘AAA’ bond rating. The city has maintained the designation since 1992, and it equates to a good credit rating for the city to get low-interest rates from bond investors to provide funding for multiple projects.
“This is the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval’ for the city’s fiscal management and the state of our municipal balance sheet,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “This allows the City to borrow at the lowest-possible rates and maximize taxpayer dollars as we invest in critical infrastructure projects, including two new schools.”
This city said that before the end of the year it will issue $258 million of tax-exempt general obligation bonds to pay for capital improvement projects, like the Minnie Howard Redevelopment Project at Alexandria City High School, the newly constructed Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, and to the West End project at the former Landmark Mall property.
Alexandria also announced Thursday that it got a perfect score in The Human Rights Campaign’s 2023 Municipal Equality Index. The city, which got its third annual perfect score, is one of more than 500 municipalities across the country evaluated on the inclusiveness of their laws, policies and services toward LGBTQ+ residents.
Last year, city leaders decried Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s recommendations restricting transgender bathroom and pronoun use in public schools. In July, Alexandria City Public Schools put out a statement refusing to comply with the recommendations.
“(W)e want to reaffirm our commitment to all students, staff and families, including our LGBTQIA+ community, that ACPS will continue to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students,” School Board Chair Michelle Rief and SUperintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt said in their joint statement. “School Board Policy JB: Nondiscrimination in Education protects students from discrimination due to gender expression, gender identity, sexual harassment and transgender status.”
“I’m thrilled to see that paying off, and our efforts being recognized with another perfect score,” he said. “But this recognition is not the mark of a finished job. We have to keep working to ensure that Alexandria is an inclusive environment for everyone.”
After years in development, Alexandria leaders and students cut a blue ribbon and toured the rebuilt Douglas MacArthur Elementary School today.
“It feels like I’m floating through the school and marveling at each and every new feature that has been brought from design to full construction,” Principal Penny Hairston said at the ribbon cutting. “The only thing that’s missing are all of our students, and they will be here soon to enjoy this modern and welcoming school building.”
There remains work to be done, including the installation of a turf field and a courtyard playground for young kids, but the school will open for the first day of classes on August 21.
It took three years to rebuild the 154,000-square-foot school at 1101 Janneys Lane. MacArthur first opened 80 years ago, and during construction its students used the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space. The project was initially planned to wrap in January.
“The 1943 building only had eight classrooms and one common area,” said Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt. “Very different than this new three-story, very innovative space where there’s natural lighting coming into each classroom, there are restrooms accessible to the classrooms that give students more privacy, I think we’ve come a long way.”
MacArthur’s three-level “Forest” plan sets the school back from Janneys Lane, putting classrooms at the rear of the building and providing a view of nearby Forest Park.
“This new school building represents our city’s commitment to educating and empowering all of our students to thrive in this diverse and ever- changing world that we live in,” said School Board Chair Michelle Rief. “I know that this new school building is going to positively impact the lives of children and families in this community for generations to come.”
The new school has an 840-student capacity, and the current student population is at around 650, according to ACPS. Those numbers are expected to change as the School Board will engage in a redistricting process over the next year.
The new school has one set of boys and girls restrooms, and a number of individual restrooms to accommodate gender fluid students — directly going against the recommended policies of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration.
“Amazing things are gonna happen in this building,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “Kids are going to come out of this building prepared to take on the world, and that is through an investment that we all made as a community.”
(Updated 8/11) After years in development, City and Alexandria City Public Schools leaders will cut the ribbon of the refurbished Douglas MacArthur Elementary School next Friday (August 18).
The project took three years of planning and two years of construction, and the 154,000-square-foot school at 1101 Janneys Lane will open for the first day of classes on August 21.
During the last two years, MacArthur students used the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space. The new school has an 840-student capacity and ACPS projects the student population to stay at around 775 students over the course of the next decade.
MacArthur’s three-level “Forest” plan sets the school back from Janneys Lane, putting classrooms at the rear of the building and providing a view of nearby Forest Park. The $75 million project was initially planned to wrap in January, and construction delays elicited criticism from Vice Mayor Amy Jackson.
Jackson has one child who graduated from MacArthur in the swing space and another who will attend the refurbished school.
“I was concerned that construction wasn’t getting off the ground fast enough,” Jackson told ALXnow. “My children wanted to see the school one more time before they started, but I realized that we could still get on the property. So I took a video, as much as it caused angst with the community and school board, but when I’m asking staff several times and can’t get an answer, I took it to the public and sure enough the ball then got rolling the fencing was put up on the perimeter and they got the ball rolling.”
The event includes a brief tour and will be held from 9:30 to 10:15 am. Remarks will be made by Mayor Justin Wilson, School Board Chair Michelle Rief, ACPS Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt, ACPS Chief Operating Officer Alicia Hart and MacArthur Principal Penny Hairston.
ACPS will share the event on Facebook Live.
A water main break has shut down three Alexandria schools today.
“At this time, we do not have an estimated timeframe for restoration,” Alicia Hart, the ACPS chief of facilities and operations, wrote parents in an email this morning. “ACPS is working closely with Virginia American Water and will provide an update to families when more information is available.”
Hart said ACPS will let parents know when normal operations can resume in the three affected schools.
“We will inform families when water service has been restored and normal operations can be resumed in each school,” Hart said.
Hart said that students who arrived by bus to Patrick Henry have been redirected to Francis C. Hammond Middle School (4646 Seminary Road), where they will stay until their families can pick them up.
Notification:: Due to a water main break, the intersection of Taney Avenue and North Pelham Street is temporarily closed to through traffic. This was done as a safety precaution. Please avoid the area if possible. pic.twitter.com/Oa4AFpET4h
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) April 18, 2023
4/18/23, Tues.–Patrick Henry PreK-8 School is closed today due to lack of water service https://t.co/z7m4yAEjLG
— Patrick Henry School ACPS (@PHSchoolACPS) April 18, 2023
4/18/23, Tues.–Douglas MacArthur & Polk Elementary Schools closed today due to lack of water service https://t.co/mrhcc9fGHt
— JamesKPolkElementary (@JKPolkACPS) April 18, 2023
Via Google Maps
Earlier this month, Alexandria City High School senior Abdelraman Aboud Abdelsadig received life-changing news. After submitting all his paperwork and waiting a month, Abdelsadi was awarded the competitive QuestBridge Scholarship to attend Colby College in Maine.
The scholarship is worth about $300,000, and Abdelsadig found out about the award at school on Dec. 1.
The 18-year-old was born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Sudan, and he and his mother and three siblings moved to Alexandria when he was in the first grade, where he attended Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.
“I’ve always been one to keep myself busy,” Abdelsadig told ALXnow. “I always like filling my time up with either an activity or a club or study time, but if I’m bored, like in middle school, I would just stay after school to have conversations with my teachers for like an extra hour. Or even in high school. I started joining a lot of clubs just to fill up my time.”
It was that same restlessness that turned Abdesadig onto QuestBridge. Tired of sticking around at home over the past year, he decided to get a job at Duck Donuts. It was through his coworkers that he found out about the scholarship.
Eglal Salih said she was ecstatic to get the news from her son.
“Oh my god, I was so happy,” she said. “I was so proud of him. He’s always been a good kid.”
Abdelsadig says he’ll be going in the sciences, but hasn’t made up his mind about the specifics. For the time being, he says, he is focused on human anatomy.
In his scholarship essay, he wrote about the digital divide between cultures, and how his background of living in a third world country created a thirst for knowledge.
“Basically, I gave a small insight into my history and how I was not from here, and how I didn’t always have access to large swaths of knowledge, like the internet or Google or anything like that,” he said. “When you don’t have something and you’re curious about certain topics, when those things become available to you, you can’t get enough of it. You just continuously want more and more and more. And that’s exactly how it was with anatomy, just learning in general. I was a giant sponge.”
Abdelsadig plans to first visit Colby College next summer.
Great work in the College and Career Center under Stacy Morris' leadership! Congratulations to Class of '22 Questbridge National Match Scholarship Winner Abdelraman Aboud Abdelsadig! He will be attending Colby College in Maine – this full-ride scholarship is worth over $300,000!! pic.twitter.com/vAEQFG1VHr
— Peter Balas (@PrincipalTitan) December 1, 2021
(Updated 12:10 p.m.) Douglas MacArthur Elementary School has been closed for today at least as crews work to clean water damage in the building.
The school, currently located in the former Patrick Henry facility on 4633 Taney Avenue, has been closed today from water damage and it’s currently unclear when the school will reopen.
“Douglas MacArthur Elementary School must be closed today to allow our facilities and maintenance team to clean up from water damage in the building,” Alexandria City Public Schools said on the school’s webpage. “Teachers will post resources and activities for students on Clever and Canvas by noon. More information will be communicated to families as it becomes available.”
A notification was posted on the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School Twitter page but has since been taken down.
“At this time, we have a contractor that has come in to assess damage and clean the building,” an ACPS official said. “That is all the information we have right now, and we will update families once more details become available.”
— DrainALX (@DrainALX) September 23, 2021
Photo via Google Maps
The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday (June 22) will consider accepting the transfer of ownership of two residential properties that were acquired as part of the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School modernization project.
The two residential parcels on the western portion of the property are located at 1201 and 1203 Janney’s Lane. The parcels, which were approved by the School Board on June 3, include a single family home and an undeveloped parcel that add together to give Alexandria City Public Schools an additional 24,661 square feet of wiggle room.
“This parcel consolidation step is necessary to allow ACPS to complete the Site Plan approval process for the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School modernization project,” City staff said in a report.
The new MacArthur school will be three stories with a synthetic playing field and outdoor play areas. While the project is in development, MacArthur students are using the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space.
Demolition began in April at the school, and the project is scheduled to open in January 2023.
Demolition complete at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School — “It’s official, the Douglas MacArthur Elementary School of old is now fully demolished, and we are on our way to a new building, opening January 2023! Watch the construction on the project website from Skanska: https://bit.ly/3bXgncs” [Facebook]
ACPS in early stages of developing safety plan without school resource officers — “Alexandria is not alone in re-evaluating its relationship between police and schools, but it is the only Northern Virginia jurisdiction to remove SROs from schools so far.” [Alexandria Living]
Alexandria Police Department reopens headquarters for public services — “Starting Tuesday, June 1, 2021, the lobby doors at Alexandria Police Department Headquarters are open for public access to services in the Property Section and Information Services Section (Records), as well as Public Fingerprinting services. At this time, everyone entering the building must wear a mask and check in with security staff at the front desk. The Information Services Section window will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, the window is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Mail-in requests are still available as an alternative. Public Fingerprinting is now available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.” [City of Alexandria]
Council candidate Kevin Harris signs pledge — On May 29, City Council candidate Kevin Harris signed the Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights, joining former Mayor Allison Silberberg and Council candidates James Lewis, Bill Rossello, Florence King, Darryl Nirenberg, and Mark Leo Shiffer. [ALXnow]
Roy Rogers reopens at Belle View Shopping Center — “Located at 1506 Belle View Blvd., the restaurant closed in October 2019 following a devastating multi-alarm fire that spread along the roofline of the shopping center. An investigation by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal’s office determined that fire began in a walk-in cooler at Yido Ramen and Sushi, which had opened just days before.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies (during the day). High 82F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph… Scattered showers and thunderstorms (in the evening). Low 66F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Seasonal marina dock assistant — “The Seasonal Marina Dock Assistant works on the City’s Historic Waterfront at the City Marina. The City Marina provides for recreational and commercial boating operations while receiving more than 2,000,000 visitors annually. The Marina Dock Assistant performs journey-level tasks of more than ordinary difficulty and must be able to perform heavy physical labor safely and efficiently. This position works under the immediate supervision of a lead worker who lays out the details of each specific assignment and constantly checks the work in process and upon completion; or performs routine tasks independently after initial instruction. This position performs duties under the general supervision of the Dock Master and Assistant Dock Master. A candidate selected for this temporary part time position would be expected to work varying hours per week base on the business need, not to exceed 1500 hours per calendar year.” [Indeed]
It was a busy week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.
Governor Ralph Northam and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Alexandria this week. Northam stopped by Pacers Running in Old Town, and afterward met with Cardona, Mayor Justin Wilson, National Education Association of the United States President Becky Pringle and Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School. Cardona was at the school as part of his “Help is Here” school reopening tour.
On Monday, demolition started at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, and Alexandria City Public Schools says that the completion date is still on schedule for the new school to reopen the school in Jan. 2023. In the meantime, MacArthur students will continue to use the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space.
There was big news for Alexandria nonprofits this week, as the Spring2ACTion fundraiser raised $2.5 million and broke last year’s online giving record.
There were also 682 votes in this week’s poll on outdoor dining and takeout. We asked whether the city should keep its expanded restaurant offerings after in a post-COVID environment. An overwhelming majority of 84% of votes cast (576 votes) want businesses to enjoy the same level of latitude; 13% (89 votes) said some modifications should be made and just 2% (17 votes) want businesses to go back to pre-pandemic operations.
- Incumbent delegate and Alexandria vice mayor square off in unique 45th District race
- Bryan Porter running unopposed for third term as Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney
- Police investigate string of commercial burglaries in the West End
- NEW: Alexandria shifts to open scheduling for COVID-19 vaccine
- Scholarship Fund of Alexandria raises $450K in annual gala
- Man robbed at gunpoint in West End
- NEW: Alexandria Courthouse reopening to public on May 3
- New rooftop restaurant could be coming to the waterfront
- Alexandria man arrested for firing gun at 7-Eleven door near Braddock Road Metro station
- D.C. man arrested after 130 mph chase leads to crash on Interstate 495
- Parking issues plague Potomac Yard, city looks to create residential parking district
- Update: Four arrested, suspect’s mother among wounded in West End shootout
- NOW: Alexandria preparing new face mask ordinance as CDC says fully vaccinated folks don’t need them
- Alexandria celebrates Earth Day virtually
- COVID-19 Update: City says anyone who registered by April 10 for COVID-19 vaccine should have an appointment
- Police: Falling death of man in Landmark does not appear to be suspicious
- Del Ray restaurant The Garden to bloom into new outdoor area
- Parents and students protest for expanded in-person instruction outside ACPS Central Office
- JUST IN: ‘Open ACPS!’ group to rally in front of Central Office on Monday
- Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
- EXCLUSIVE: Here’s what the inside of the Halal slaughterhouse looks like on Colvin Street
- School Resource Officers at ACPS on chopping block as Police chief proposes alternative program
Have a safe weekend!
The day has finally come for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.
On Monday, members of the community and Alexandria City Public Schools leadership watched as a demolition crew started tearing down the World War II-era building.
Lisa Porter lives across the street from MacArthur, and watched the demolition from her front yard with a group of neighbors. Porter’s two children went through MacArthur, and she has been involved with the school for 15 years.
“We are thrilled to finally see this happen,” Porter said. “We started hearing about this when my son was in kindergarten, and now he’s in college.”
School Board Chair Meagan Alderton said she would never forget making the “emotional” decision on MacArthur’s fate.
“Man, oh man, was it worth it,” Alderton said. “Because we are moving forward, we are excited. And I can’t wait to have this brand new building and have our teachers and our staff and our families be allowed to have what they deserve. It’ll be amazing when this place is a memory and we have new building up here.”
ACPS Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., said construction is on schedule to reopen the school in Jan. 2023. In the meantime, MacArthur students are using the old Patrick Henry Elementary School as swing space.
“I’m sorry that our students and our families were not able to be here because of the COVID restrictions,” Hutchings said. “But this was a wonderful occasion. It was a long time coming and we’re so excited for the next chapter of Douglas MacArthur.”
Design-wise, MacArthur’s three-level “Forest” plan was chosen last year. It is currently set back from Janneys Lane, putting classrooms at the rear of the building and providing a view of nearby Forest Park.
City Councilwoman Amy Jackson was also there. Last month, Jackson made an impassioned plea for movement on construction.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “The community engagement has been amazing. It’s going to be an exciting time for an exciting school.”
MacArthur Principal Penny Hairston said that the demolition was a long time coming.
“There is a rich legacy here, and this is very exciting,” Hairston said. “It’s a very emotional thing to see this happen.”