In a move that has angered and surprised several Arlington County School Board members, School Superintendent Charles E. Nunley has released an interim report that targets certain schools for potential closing or relocation in 1984.
The report was released this week in response to a previous board request that Nunley prepare at least five plans the board may want to implement when it begins closing schools because of declining student enrollment.
Offered at a school board meeting Thursday night, the report presented several school closing options including closing either Swanson or Thomas Jefferson intermediate schools, turning Washington-Lee High School into a "secondary continuation school" that would house programs such as adult education and community college classes, and housing H-B Woodlawn Alternative School in the Washington-Lee facility along with other programs.
"The naming of specific schools at this time can only create serious concern and negative morale factors," said board chairman Evelyn Reid Syphax, who said she was disappointed that Swanson and Thomas Jefferson were specifically named for possible closing.
During the meeting the board voted to strike the names of the two intermediate schools from the report but left the possibility that one of the county's four intermediate schools will be closed. The board also stressed its commitment to keep alternative school programs in self-contained buildings.
Nunley told the board he submitted the report only to see "whether I am on the right track" and stressed that the proposals in the report were not offered as recommendations but as options.
The decision to target the two intermediate schools named in the report for possible closing was based on the geography of the schools, Nunley said. "What the heck is the difference?" Nunley said yesterday. He said schools would have to be named eventually, and that even if he hadn't named Swanson and Jefferson, he would have proposed closing the two intermediate schools in the center of the county. Because Swanson and Jefferson are the only ones there, everyone would have known which schools he was talking about, he said.
Swanson, one of the oldest, and Thomas Jefferson, one of the newest school facilities in the county, are located in the center of Arlington. Nunley said the schools could be used for community programs if they were closed.
The board did not act to delete from the report the possible use of Washington-Lee High School as a continuing school but added a phrase allowing the possibility that it could become an intermediate school.
Earlier this month, the school board narrowed to two its choices of how grades should be grouped in schools. The first follows the current system, known as 6-2-4, in which students in kindergarten through sixth grade are grouped in elementary schools, students in grades seven and eight in intermediate schools and students in grades nine through 12 in high schools.
The second, known as K-7 and 8-12, would place youngsters in kindergarten through seventh grade in elementary or intermediate schools, while placing those in grades eight through 12 in high schools.
The report, however, included options that would place students in a K-7, 8-12 grouping but place students in grades K-3 and grades 4-7 in separate schools. That option, and another placing students in grades K-4 and grades 5-7 in separate schools, was immediately rejected by the board.