Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Last November (2014), I contacted APS Facilities about the horrible conditions in the Claremont Schoolyard. It didn't go anywhere because it would "cost too much" to solve the problem.

 As you can see, much of Claremont's school yard is covered in small sharp rocks. Students often fall and get cut on these rocks. As a result, teachers and staff have to direct students to play in the field between the trailer and playground equipment. The over use of this field has caused the grass to vanish.

 If APS is going to continue increasing the student population of Claremont, they need to increase the amount of usable SAFE outdoor space!

 If you would like to express your concern over the rocky schoolyard, please see the list below to contact APS and the School Board!


John Chadwick, Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations:

Steven Bernheisel, Assistant Director of Maintenance:

Patrick Murphy, Superintendent:

School Board:

  Small sharp rocks make it easy to slip while running.  Students often end up in the school clinic with cuts and scraps from falling on these rocks! 

Concrete and metal pole near the playground structure:

View of rocks outside the 2nd grade hallway:

View of rocky area outside the Kindergarten classrooms. 

Overworked field next to the trailers has turned to dirt:

This is the only grassy playable area in the Claremont Schoolyard. It was seeded the Summer of 2014 but with heavy use, the grass is unable to grow:



  1. Did you mean November 2015 or are these pictures and your contact with APS from 17 months ago?

    1. Th pictures are from yesterday. My first contact with APS was 17 months ago. The school has been requesting this issue to be address for longer than 17 months!

  2. You may be encouraged to know that the proposed superintendent's budget includes a new position -- either a horticulturalist or landscaper, I forget. But really, do the math, a small area and 750 pairs of feet. What would work? I'm no expert, but I can't think of a good solution.

    It won't change overnight, but as new schools are opened, we need to not only redistrict, but review admissions policies that have allowed our school to be overrun. Do we need another school so Abingdon and Oakridge don't need us so badly to offload capacity? Do we need another immersion school? Start looking at the horizon and keep the fundamentals in mind. It's numbers, of students, of dollars etc.

  3. I don't know what the solution would be, but I do know one thing. If more parents were aware of the current state of the school yard and that it has been more than 17 months that APS has not responded, they would be as shocked as I am!

  4. Thanks for raising up this issue and helping everyone get the picture. I spoke with APS staff prior to the magnolia bog work being conducted and said that this was what would probably happen. They didn't disagree and even joked that we had "brown space" instead of "green space" but they said APS has scant funding for grounds maintenance and that the wait to get some gardening TLC can last for years. Clearly, APS needs to adjust its priorities. Maintaining a green schoolyard is easier and cheaper than trying to revive a rocky and barren landscape.

  5. APS spent thousands of dollars to put in sod after the work to protect the Magnolia bog. Ruining that grass and having to fix it is a double waster of money. I suggest we raise concerns about the man-made bog next to the portable classrooms as a public health hazard. There is just enough water there year-round to be a perfect mosquito breeding ground - exactly what we don't want our kids exposed to given that West Nile virus is in Arlington now (and others may follow, e.g. Zika). APS really needs to fix that water issue (as well as the rocky barren landscape!).

  6. Why not have a big group go to the field on a saturday and all clean the rocks out? Would be much improved very quickly.

    1. Unfortunately, this is a larger issue than just a few parents with shovels.

      The rocky "fill dirt" needs to be hauled away (with a dump truck) and new dirt needs to added. Also, there are MAJOR drainage issues for APS to correct.

  7. This is more or less the same field conditions as every Arlington elementary school with which I'm familiar. At these other schools, the PTA has a committee of volunteers who help with the field and yard maintenance at the schools. Overuse and natural grass don't mix, so I'm not sure what you want the County to do short of putting down $1M turf fields at every school (which has its own problems besides cost).