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Three years of boundary adjustments on horizon in Arlington

Action on middle-school boundaries first up, with vote set for end of year

It’s a part of the job description that leads one to question the sanity of those who seek to serve on local school boards.

Arlington school leaders are planning three consecutive years of boundary adjustments to accommodate significant shifts in student populations across the county.

Unless things change in the interim, the timeline is:

• Middle-school boundaries will be studied this fall, with a final vote set for December and changes going into effect for the 2025-26 school year.

• High-school boundaries will be addressed in 2024, with any changes going into effect during the 2026-27 school year.

• Elementary-school boundaries will be dealt with in 2025, with changes also going into effect with the 2026-27 school year.

The studies will address disparities that have cropped up since the last boundary-adjustment processes occurred.

Without changes, school officials predict that, at the start of the 2027-28 school year, Gunston Middle School will be at 112 percent of capacity, with Thomas Jefferson at 98 percent, Swanson at 97 percent, Dorothy Hamm at 92 percent, Kenmore at 82 percent and Williamsburg at 65 percent.

(Empty halls at Williamsburg prove how school enrollment can change in relatively short periods of time; a decade ago, the school was ringed with temporary classrooms to accommodate student needs in the northwestern part of the county.)

As part of the proposal, school-system staff are seeking to relocate the Spanish-immersion program currently at Gunston Middle north to Kenmore, a proposal likely to lead to some discord that will play out during the public-comment period in the fall.

Another hot-button proposal: Closing Nottingham Elementary as a neighborhood school and instead using it in future years as “swing space” to accommodate students displaced from renovation efforts at other schools across the county.

There also will be smoothing out required at the high-school level; by 2027-28 without any changes, school officials predict Wakefield High School will be at 107 percent of capacity, with both Yorktown (94%) and Washington-Liberty (87%) below capacity.

Details of the plan, with associated data, can be found at