The Arlington School Board has decided that, despite declining enrollments, no elementary schools will be closed in the 1981-82 school year.
It is expected, however, that if the current trend toward smaller enrollments continues, 16 elementary schools could be candidates for consolidations in 1984, under guidelines set by the board.
After declaring a moratorium on grade school closings next year, the board at its meeting last week asked its administrative staff to prepare a list of ways to deal with the increasing number of "very small" grade schools.
A report on declining enrollments and the potential need for reorganization of secondary schools is due in January.
Arlington's total school enrollment has fallen from a high of 26,775 in 1964 to 15,761 last year and 15,152 this year. Superintendent Larry Cuban told the board projections show a 4 to 5 percent annual decrease in enrollment until 1984 -- a trend that is consistent with the declining enrollments of the past 10 years.
Like other school systems, Arlington enrollment has been shrinking because of the declining birthrate and housing trends that show an increase in the elderly population and in the number of single-person households, coupled with an increase of housing costs out of the range of young families.
The elementary school enrollment for grades 1 through 6 alone fell from 8,682 in 1975 to 6,472 this year.
The birthrate in Arlington dropped from 3,355 in 1969 to 1,808 in 1978, the latest available figures, Cuban said. Further analysis showed that only 51 percent of the children born in 1969 had enrolled in Arlington kindergartens by 1974.
When the school board began reviewing enrollment figures in 1974, it decided that any elementary school where enrollment fell below 1 1/2 classes per grade level was a candidate for closing. That yardstick represents approximately 224 students in the elementary grades.
Several schools in that bracket were not closed, however, because other factors also were considered. Since 1975, six elementary schools have been closed. They are Madison, Page, Custis, Fairlington, Fort Meyer and Jackson.
Page has since been reopened as a "back-to-basics" school for grades K through 7, and Jackson has a special education program for grades K though 12.
Two years ago, the county closed Stratford and Gunston junior highs in a reorganization that moved all ninth grades to county high schools. Stratford has since been reopened as the home of the H-B Woodlawn alternative program for grades 7 through 12.
Under the 224-student yardstick, 16 grade schools could be candidates for consolidations by 1984 if enrollment continues to decline at 5 percent annually, according to school staff projections.
Any school with fewer than 250 pupils is considered "very small," and 11 elementary schools are expected to be at that level by 1984. Three other schools are expected to have 150 to 199 pupils and three others, 100 to 149.
The board did not discuss closing any particular schools, nor did the administrative staff single out any schools that might be on the endangered species list.
But, according to September figures for grades 1 through 6, the schools with the lowest enrollment are: Woodmont (209), Barcroft (248), Reed (256), Tuckahoe (262), Barrett (275), Abingdon (287) and Nottingham (288).
Some schools have shown enrollment increases in the past year and school officials want to continue to monitor the fluctuations before any consolidation decisions are made.