Board Matters: Swing Space, MacArthur Modernization, and Future Capital Priorities

This was a week where capital projects were high on the list for discussion. The School Board and City Council met to discuss capital project priorities for the next ten years, while the School Board dug into updates on the swing space project and the modernization of Douglas MacArthur Elementary School.

Watch the October 23 Work Session, October 24 Board Meeting or October 24 Work Session meetings online and view the presentations and memos below.

Don’t forget that you can also watch all Board meetings live on ACPS-TV, local cable channel 71 and ACPS-TV online. You can also watch all meetings recorded online.

students smiling in front of accreditation banner

We are kicking off Douglas MacArthur’s Modernization!

Douglas MacArthur’s modernization will kick off with a community meeting at Douglas MacArthur on Tuesday, October 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. The community will get to meet the architects and the MacArthur Advisory Group they have helped select. 

Swing Space Updates for the former Patrick Henry Facility/MacArthur at Taney Avenue

At their work session on Thursday, the Board had a discussion about updates on the swing space for the Douglas MacArthur modernization project.

Start and Dismissal Times have been adjusted so that the two schools can work together to ensure the safety of staff, students and parents, while also minimizing neighborhood traffic. There will be no change to either start or dismissal times for Patrick Henry K-8 School. Douglas MacArthur Elementary School will start and dismiss 30 minutes later than their current schedule, starting September 2020. Parent drop-off and pick-up for the students at both schools will follow a similar pattern, with no change for Patrick Henry K-8 School and 30 minutes later for MacArthur. The access road for the two schools will operate in one direction for Patrick Henry and the opposite direction for MacArthur. 

These changes are to help ensure student safety. Due to the amount of students on the single campus, access to the site, and the circulation of traffic on the site, the two schools will need to start at different times to ensure the safe entry and exit of all students.

The split start/dismissal times and the two-way traffic circulation are expected to be a condition of the City Council’s approval of the use of the of Patrick Henry building as swing space during MacArthur’s modernization. The swing space will come before the City Council on Saturday, November 16. 

Read the full update on the swing space.

View the presentation to the Board (PDF).

Watch video of the discussion.

Questions? Stop by the Swing Space Community Meeting this week: Monday, October 28 at 6 p.m. at Patrick Henry

You can also always send questions to 

Joint City Council Work Session on the FY 2021-30 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget

On Wednesday, the School Board and the City Council met to discuss the Capital Improvement Program Budget for FY 2021-30.

Watch video of the Joint City Schools Work Session.

In the past this meeting has typically happened after the School Board has approved the Capital Improvement Program in the winter. However, the City and ACPS are now working to align their budget processes and so this presentation took place earlier than in past years. Because of this, the CIP budget represented in this presentation is not the final superintendent’s proposed CIP or the School Board adopted CIP. The superintendent will present his proposed CIP in December.

Learn more about the budget process.

Highlights of the School Board chair’s presentation to the City Council:

  1. There are changes being proposed to the ten-year CIP. These changes include changes to the Douglas MacArthur Modernization Project, the High School Project and upgrades highlighted through the recent targeted Facilities Assessments, including George Mason, Cora Kelly and the Transportation Facility.
  2. The CIP is based on the School Board’s budget priorities that were adopted in September. These will inform the superintendent’s proposed CIP that will be presented in December.
  3. In the past couple years, ACPS has moved away from considering the CIP as a facilities-only budget. This year, our technology, curriculum and security assets that require modernization are also included.
  4. 78% of the CIP budget is dedicated to capacity projects — in general, our big projects — such as school replacements and modernization. 22% goes to the non-capacity which includes everything else. For example, the recent roof replacements and playground upgrade work belongs here.
  5. Matthew Maury now shows up with design money in FY 2030.
  6. The Swing Space for MacArthur — which will be known as Douglas MacArthur Elementary School on Taney Avenue — will go before City Council on November 16.
  7. Targeted Facilities Assessments were completed on six ACPS facilities: Cora Kelly, George Mason, Matthew Maury, Francis C. Hammond, George Washington, and the Transportation Center. The assessment created a priority ranking system that staff will use to prioritize and re-evaluate all non-capacity facilities projects in the CIP.
  8. City Council can expect a large request in FY 2021. This was always anticipated due to the High School Project but has grown as a result of the change in the schedule for the Douglas MacArthur modernization project and the need to address some of the urgent projects highlighted through the Targeted Facilities Assessments.
  9. Due to the advancement of the Douglas MacArthur modernization project and the advancement of non-capacity needs related to life-safety, ACPS will be asking the City Council for approximately $70 million in additional funds in FY 2021.

High School Project

The Board reviewed the timeline and did an activity to indicate their preferences around educational programming. The Board’s preferences will inform the work of the Educational Design Team.

View the full presentation to the School Board (PDF).

ACPS, Alexandria City High School, Board Matters, Brooks, Budget, Cora Kelly, George Mason, George Washington, Hammond, High School Project, MacArthur, Minnie Howard, Patrick Henry, School Board