Local Commentary

Editorial: Wrong Time to Chisel Schools

In part because interest rates have remained low and in part because of the buoyancy of the regional economy, given a shot in the arm by the new vitality that the November election has created in Washington, D.C., some see the decline in the housing market already bottoming out, and maybe taking initial baby steps toward a rebound.

That would be fantastic news for Northern Virginia, and for the residential real estate-dependent City of Falls Church in particular. The City would have barely felt a hiccup from the temporary lag in the residential market. Unfortunately, it will still be felt in municipal budget terms, this year and maybe next. But if a new day is just over the horizon, this would hardly be the time to toss anything important overboard in a temporary belt tightening frenzy.

Least of all is it a time to short change the City’s school system.

Should real estate, especially the condo market, rebound sooner than expected, then Falls Church will benefit not only because it is so dominated by its current residential character, but because its location will make it increasingly attractive for new residential development. On one end, Tysons Corner pushes ahead with its mega-development plans and, on the other, the District remains the heart of one of the most promising regions in the U.S. Falls Church is equa-distant between two major airports, and by virtue of being on the Beltway, accessible to a third. It is on the Beltway, it is on an Interstate. It is crossed by two major secondary traffic arteries into the District. It is on the Metro line, with two stations within walking distance and bearing its name.

What’s not to love about the economic future of Falls Church? It’s near, but not overwhelmed, by some of the largest retail shopping centers in the world. It’s near, but not overwhelmed, by the dynamic urban center that is, and is becoming, the nation’s capital. With plans for two significant new hotel developments in its downtown, Falls Church will also become a major tourist destination, tapping one of the region’s most important economic drivers. People will vacation with their families in Falls Church as a calm oasis that is also a short ride to all the attractions of Washington, D.C., and environs.

Moreover, the City is sufficiently undeveloped, currently, to permit its concerned citizens to work with government and developers to make sure it retains a special look and feel, truly a place apart.

All this is most surely coming, it would be extremely shortsighted of our civic leaders now to deal body blows to the needs of its school system. It’s such a competitive environment regarding education that the one biggest error the City could make to undercut its bright future would be its failure to maintain through brief hard times its commitment to the best educational system possible.