Arlington remapping vote draws emotional response

- Hundreds of students in Arlington will be attending new schools next year after the school board cast a contentious vote on Thursday night to adopt new maps for the district.

The move has been met with controversy and emotion from parents and students alike.

The unanimous vote on Thursday night was the result of a grueling process to generate support.

The plan involves eight elementary schools and more than 500 students – and many of those parents claim the board is segregating their community.

Shawna Dix implored the board to hold off.

“I ask you all, delay this vote. Dig deep. Listen to the constituents, parents, needs of the community that you have pledged to serve,” she said.

Many people who talked to FOX 5 on Thursday night said the remapping divides children in affluent neighborhoods from those with lower incomes.

They say the vote funnels low-income families to Drew Model Elementary – creating an impoverished, segregated school with the highest free and reduced lunch rate in the county.

With Fort Myer so close, military families are among those who feel the impact.

Some who attend Patrick Henry Elementary say their community is being torn apart.

Students at Henry will split into two different schools – some are heading to the brand new Alice West Fleet Elementary school, others are going to Drew, and some will be attending Hoffman Boston.

Casting their vote tonight, the Board said this type of decision is never easy, but these changes are necessary to alleviate overcrowding, and for future growth.

“This is part of our plan to expand enrollment across Arlington public schools. It’s not the most fun part – but it is an important part,” said board member Barbara Kanninen.

The board also voted that some students will be grandfathered in – to remain at their current schools for an additional year.

They’re also frustrated by their sense that the board rushed the rezoning. And in a couple of years, the process will happen all over again and on an even larger scale.

Another remapping project involving 15 schools is slated for 2020.

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