How Much Have We Lost?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weekly Column: Annual School Accreditation Reports a Mixed Bag

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of October 2, 2014.
Annual School Accreditation Reports a Mixed Bag

The Virginia Department of Education has issued accreditation reports on our public schools. For our area, the results are mixed.

First, it is important to understand that the state instituted new math tests this year. Statewide, 32% of schools were not fully accredited, largely because of new math tests. In Fairfax County, 171 of 191 schools (11%) were not fully accredited - 7 of the 20 Fairfax County schools with accreditation challenges were in the U.S. 1 Corridor.

Hybla Valley ES returned to full accreditation this year notwithstanding having the highest free and reduced lunch (90.3%) and limited- English proficient populations (66.96%) in Fairfax County. Hybla Valley shows that committed teachers, principals, students and families can meet accreditation’s steepest challenges.  They deserve a round of applause. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Weekly Column: U.S. 1 Transit Study: It’s Time to Speak Up

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of October 15, 2014.
U.S. 1 Transit Study: It’s Time to Speak Up
Last week, Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transit held the last public hearing on the U.S. 1 Multimodal Transit Study. This study will determine the most appropriate road configuration, mode of transit and accompanying land uses for the U.S. 1 corridor for the next 30 years. As the study ends, public input is absolutely critical.

In 2012, Senator Toddy Puller and I won approval of $2 million to fund the study.  After sixteen months taking input and considering various alternatives, the consultant team is recommending the “Hybrid Option” – (1) a six-lane U.S. 1, (2) a bike-pedestrian path the entire length, (3) a median-dedicated bus rapid transit system from Huntington Metro station to Woodbridge, and (4) a two-stop Yellow Line Metro extension with stops at Beacon Hill and Hybla Valley. The total cost in 2014 dollars would be about $2.4 billion.
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