Arlington school superintendent Larry Cuban has recommended that the new merged Hoffman-Boston/Woodlawn school be located in the Stratford Junior High School building next year and that a community center for the county performing arts program be located in the Gunston building.
The county school board is scheduled to make a decision on Gunston and Stratford tonight when it approves a new facility use plan for 10 school system buildings.
Both Stratford and Gunston are currently being used for junior high schools, but the school board decided last year to close both at the end of this school year.
The H-B/Woodlawn school merges an alternative junior high program at Hoffman-Boston School and an alternative senior high program at Woodlawn. The school board plans to consolidate the merged programs in a single building next year.
The location of the newly-merged school has caused a controversy in Arlington because both Gunston and Stratford area residents want the school located in their respective areas. The committee of H-B/Woodlawn parents and faculty set up to recommend a location for the school asked to have their program housed at Stratford. A county-wide facility use study commission also suggested that the merged program be moved to Stratford.
Cuban suggested that the Stratford building also be used for a limited adult education program, some selected special education classes and some county recreation activities in addition to the new H-B/Woodlawn school. He recommended using Gunstan's facility for the performing arts center, the administrative center for the adult education program and adult education classes from Marshall and Marshall Annex schools.
At a meeting with board members this week, Gunston area residents voiced concern about the suggestions. John H. Quinn, co-chairman of a task force set up to explore uses for Gunston and Stratford, said he feared that the adult education programs at Gunston would cause a parking problem. He also asked for assurances from the board that the county performing arts program would be able to pay its share of Gunston's operating costs. Board members said they had received no assurances from the county board, but most members expressed a belief that the county would come through with funding for the arts center.
Quinn said he favors moving the merged school to Gunston because it was the larger of the two buildings. He said it is important that any program at Gunston not require major revamping of the facilities because the schoolage population is growing in that area and the building may be needed as a junior high again.
"Gunston property is undeniably a key part of the South Arlington community," he said.
The other co-chairman of the task force, Hale Montgomery, a Stratford area resident, recommended that the merged school be located at Stratford, 4100 N. Vacation Lane, because it is more centrally located than Gunston, 2700 S. Lang St.
"The educational fit here is over-riding," Montgomery said.
Although the task force, which presented its report to the board last week, did not make any final recommendations on the use of the two schools, members agreed on several recommendations to the board:
Both school buildings should be used primarily for educational purposes.
Use of the buildings and surrounding grounds should cause little adverse effect on the communities.
The recreational facilities of both schools, including playing fields, should be retained.
Parking should be restricted at Gunston to no more than 143 spaces and at Stratford to no more than 60 spaces.
No structural changes should be made in the buildings.
Cuban also recommended to the board that the traditional alternative elementary school, approved by the board last month, be located in Page school, 1501 N. Lincoln St. The current Hoffman-Boston building could be used for selected adult education daytime classes, special education, some county recreation programs, the kindergarten and the county-run Montessori pre-school program, he suggested.
William L. Hughes, director of the Arlington department of community affairs, told the board that the county staff favors the use of Gunston for the performing arts activities. He said that Gunston would provide enough space to move the programs currently housed in the Stewart school together with costume and prop storage and shop space, which are housed in several locations in Arlington now.