PAC Meeting Minutes – Mar. 15, 2016

Attendees: Casey Robinson,  Laura Saul Edwards, Celia Boddington, Karen Gerry, Sue Di Filippo, Jeanne Radday, Meryl Corshen, Sheila McGlynn, and Maddie Boyle

The meeting convened at 7:30 pm, and kicked off with introductions.  Jeanne Radday mentioned she is our Box Top Coordinator, and that if you have any box tops you want to turn in, Vanessa is collecting them in the office.

Principal’s Report: Casey Robinson

HB is just wrapping up a successful visiting season following the 6th and 9th grade lotteries.  Approximately 75 rising 6th grade and 25 rising high school students have spent a day shadowing, and the list of new students who plan on attending in the fall is being compiled.

Parent question: How many students applied to the lotteries?

Casey: 549 rising 6th graders applied for 75 6th grade slots, and 191 rising 9th graders applied for 16 9th grade slots.

Last Thursday was an Early Release, after which teachers and administrators reviewed the recently submitted student course requests.  They combed through these to start determining demand for various classes for the fall.  On April 28th, there will be another Early Release and HB’s annual Allocation Meeting, to determine the number of full and part-time teachers allocated to each department for the fall, will be held that afternoon.

APS’s 2016-2017 School Board budget will be adopted next week.

HB middle schoolers held student-led conferences on February 25th to showcase their work.

Three HB students were recent art award recipients.  Congratulations!

The Capi Black Box will be hosting multiple student-directed plays this spring.  Come out to support them.

HB will be holding its annual Physics Festival on April 1st during which physics students will demonstrate how to use their innovative creations.

APS has an early spring break this year (March 21 – 25), followed by three solid months of school.  About three weeks after spring break (April 19th), fourth quarter will begin.

PAC Business 

In response to a request from Arlington Central Library, a Motion was made to approve a $125 PAC contribution to help fund drinks and food during an upcoming High School Study night hosted by the Central Library.   Pizza, soda and snacks will be provided for those who attend.  Motion approved. 

Each year, APS’s school board recognizes those special volunteers who have made extraordinary contributions to Arlington Public Schools with its Honored Citizen Award. These dedicated individuals participate in a wide variety of school activities, and have demonstrated a sustained commitment to APS of at least five years.  The county is accepting nominations until 25 March this year.  PAC co-chair Laura Saul Edwards noted that her PAC co-chair predecessor and current HB BLPC Chair Melissa McCracken had not yet been a recipient, and made a Motion to nominate Melissa.  Motion approved. 

Celia Boddington, one of HB’s High School ACI volunteers, mentioned she had not been able to attend recent ACI meetings, but would be attending one on March 16th.  It’s her first year volunteering in this capacity, and she is very impressed with the incredible caliber of people on the ACI. 

Laura Saul Edwards: Update on the Stratford (i.e. Vacation Lane future Middle School) and Wilson (future HB and Stratford program location) projects 

In the fall of 2019, the HB and Stratford programs are scheduled to move to their new Rosslyn building, at the same time HB’s current home reverts to a 1,000 seat neighborhood middle school.   The Building Level Planning Committee (BLPC) for the Vacation Lane (future MS site) recently finished its work.  The schematic design will go before the School Board this Thursday.  The SB will vote on this design in early April.  The Construction bid came in under $40M.   In accordance with the current plan, the Stratford Program will temporarily move during the summer of 2017 to accommodate construction of a 300 seat addition to our current Vacation Lane building to bring it to its maximum 1,000 seat MS capacity.  They will link back up with HB in 2019 in our new building.  This plan also includes a road connecting Vacation Lane to Old Dominion.

One item not addressed by this current plan is a change in the Vacation Lane construction timeline that the SB is considering.  The current plan has construction beginning in 2017.  Under the alternate timeline, renovations would not begin until summer 2019.  Under this proposed plan, the neighborhood MS would still open in fall 2019, but at a reduced capacity, with maximum capacity realized by fall 2020.  The SB will vote on this piece separately at a future point, not as part of their April vote.

The BLPC for the new HB/Stratford building in Rosslyn has also recently wrapped up its work.  In May, the SB will look at the schematic design for this project, with some project modifications likely, including additional universal design modifications.  There will be a black box theatre in the school, and discussions about rooftop terrace designs continue.  It also includes a 92 slot underground parking structure.  Efforts to allow for some amount of APS/Arlington County joint use of the facility are ongoing.   Hopefully the SB will approve the design with little or no pushback.   Laura noted that you can view an Xfinity interview with the building’s architect, Bjarke Ingels, if interested.  He will also be designing the new Red Skins stadium.

Guest Speakers: Our main presentation was by the principal of the Stratford program, Dr. Karen Gerry, and HB senior Maddie Boyle, who participates in the Stratford Friends program.   The process of designing a new building to jointly serve the HB and Stratford programs has brought the relationship between these programs to the forefront.  This presentation provided an opportunity to learn more about the Stratford program, how HB and Stratford support each other, and hear from current HB students on their relationship with Stratford students. 

Sue Di Filippo, who advises students interested in pursuing a gap year, gave a brief presentation as well.   If interested, you can obtain information about her company, Gap Year Explorer, through her website:

Following both presentations, Casey asked if parents and PAC officers found the monthly PAC format and frequency to be appropriate, and if perhaps a survey should be conducted to get feedback about these questions (i.e: might attendance increase if they were held less often or formatted differently)?  Several parents commented that they considered monthly meetings to be appropriate, and that periodically tying in guest speakers was a good way to increase attendance and provide relevant information to the community.  Another parent suggested using name tags, or perhaps having ice breakers.   Laura felt regular meetings were necessary to address action items, and suggested perhaps we could experiment, holding a few meetings at atypical times such as during the school day or on weekends, to see if new blood came out.  She also felt a survey would be a good idea.

The meeting adjourned around 8:30 pm.