This year two candidates, James Lander and Barbara Kanninen, are running in a special Democratic Party primary for a position on the Arlington Public School Board. I asked both to tell me their thinking on preservation and use of the Wilson School and Playfield.
I received the following response from Barbara Kanninen:
It was nice talking to you last week about my School Board candidacy and your interest in the Wilson School. As promised, I have expanded my discussion of capacity issues on my website. The discussion focuses on my core principles, which is that we need to put all options on the table, think creatively, and work seamlessly with the County, in order to address our growing school capacity needs. As part of that discussion, I mention several buildings that we should be considering, including the Wilson School. Here's the link. The discussion is under "More on Capacity." Thanks so much for your consideration. I hope I can count on your support at the Caucus on May 9 and May 11! Best, Barbara Kanninen See our site: www.barbarakanninenforschoolboard.com
This communication has been approved by Barbara Kanninen for School Board. 4016 25th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207
I've not yet received a response from James Lander.
For over a decade, Democratic Party endorsement has been tantamount to election to the Arlington County School Board. The special primary is scheduled for:
-this Thursday at Drew Model School 7-9 PM AND
-this Saturday at Washington Lee HS from 11AM-7PM.
Predictions are for a close, low-turnout, election so even a few votes will be significant.
The Democratic Caucus to endorse a candidate for the Arlington Public School Board is scheduled for:
-Today (Thursday May 9) at Drew Model School 7-9 PM
-This Saturday at Washington Lee HS from 11AM-7PM.
This will be a close election with a low voter turnout. Turnout from our neighborhood will convey a message to the School Board of how seriously we take preservation of the Wilson School and its playfield.
Today Stan Karson of RAFOM forwarded position statements on Wilson School from both of the school board candidates seeking Democratic Party endorsement. I include Stan’s introduction, and the candidate statements below.
The following messages by Barbara Kanninen and James Lander, the two School Board candidates competing in the caucus this week, are in response to a request for their positions on the preservation of Wilson School and its open space.
FROM Barbara Kanninen
This is Ian, Barbara's campaign manager. Sorry for the delayed response. With the Election coming up tomorrow, we've been fully booked with Get Out the Vote Activities.
Barbara's statement on APS capacity issues and the Wilson Building is on her website.
It's clear that within the next five years, we will need more capacity at middle school and high school. New buildings are terrific, when we have the space and we can afford them, but with our current economic climate -- combined with the importance of preserving green space and sports fields -- it's not clear that new buildings are our best option. Instead, we may need to think creatively about how to cycle more students through our existing buildings. What about late-afternoon or evening classes (for high school students that choose them)? Or rotating students through a year-round schedule? Why not run the Career Center from 7am to 9pm so that more students can cycle through for their vo-tech and STEM classes? What if we work with the County to turn the Artisphere into a dual-use facility, one that operates during the day as an Arts center for students, similar to the Career Center model? Can we find new uses for older school and county buildings, such as the Wilson School, Reed School, and Madison Center? The bottom line is that we will need to put a lot of options on the table -- as many as we can think of -- and then work tirelessly and creatively to come up with the best plan possible. To do this, we need leaders on our School Board who are careful, thoughtful, and will engage the full Arlington community in the process. The decisions we make in the next few years will affect the face of Arlington for the next 50.
She also mentioned the Wilson Building as a point of community interest in the debate last Wednesday. There might be video of the debate online. I think Blue Virginia had video of the debate.
FROM James Lander
My position is clear; I support the Wilson School site. My position has not changed since I was a candidate in as far back as 2008. I value the property and preservation of green space at the site. I was just recently made aware of the illegal parking that was taking place on the field next to the school; I immediately contacted the superintendent to ensure that a fence was put up to prevent further violations. Moving forward, I’m sure you and the group of citizens which to you are connected are well aware of our rapidly growing student population and the challenges that that presents. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for maximizing the effectiveness of the Wilson school and integrating that site as part of our long term planning for our projected growth in student population. Furthermore, I will continue to be accessible, available, and connected with your civic associations to better ensure communication between the school system and the residents in Rosslyn are partners in the conversations BEFORE decisions are made.
Thank you again for your question and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me moving forward. It is a privilege to serve as your school board member and I want to earn your support to continue the challenging work ahead of us. I have to experience, relationships, and a countywide focus with regard to the impact our decisions have on communities and families.\
All the Best,