News Briefs

May 24 – 30, 2007

10 Area High Schools Ranked Among Best in U.S.

Ten high schools from Northern Virginia were named among the top 99 out of a total of 1,200 schools ranked the top 5% in the U.S. this week by Newsweek magazine according to the “Challenge Index” developed by Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews. HB Woodlawn of Arlington was ranked 12th, Clarke County in Berryville 30th, Washington-Lee of Arlington 31st, Yorktown of Arlington 56th, George Mason of Falls Church 60th, W.T. Woodson of Fairfax 62nd, Langley of McLean 69th, McLean of McLean 73rd, Lake Braddock of Burke 96th, Oakton of Vienna 99th. In addition, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology was included in a separate list of 19 “public elite” schools because so many of their students scored well above the average on SAT and ACT exams. Falls Church’s George Mason slipped from ranking as high as 2nd in the nation in 2002 and 6th in 2003. For the first five years of the Mathews’ “Challenge Index,” from 1998 through 2002, the school was ranked first in the region each time. The “Challenge Index” uses each school’s rate of participation in college-level tests like Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge to indicate which schools are the most demanding and supportive of all students.


‘HOT Lane’ Work on Beltway & I-95 Set to Begin Next Spring

An innovative plan designed to alleviate traffic congestion on a 14-mile section of the Beltway in Northern Virginia and a 56-mile section of I-95 South that combines tolls for individual drivers and HOV lanes for multiple-passenger cars and buses will begin construction next spring, Dennis Morrison of the Virginia Department of Transportation told a forum sponsored by Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth at George Marshall High School Tuesday. The “HOT (High Occupancy/Toll) Lane” plan will create two lanes in each direction separated off from regular traffic lanes by pylons. Surveillance and the use of “E-Z Pass” electronic payments will be used to facilitate ease and non-congestion. Cars with three or more occupants will be able to use the lanes for free, and those with less will pay a so-called “flex-toll” that will vary based on the density of the traffic flow. VDOT officials are still mulling ways to best identify the passenger loads. On the Beltway, the “HOT Lanes” will run 14 miles from the Springfield Interchange to the Dulles Toll Road, and new on-and-off access points will also be constructed. Building will get underway in the spring of 2008 and the project is slated for completion by 2014. The first major improvements in 30 years will also be made on 42 bridges and overpasses along the stretch. The project is expedited by a unique “public-private partnership” between VDOT and the Fluor and Transurban firms.


F.C. ‘Deliberation Day’ Results Listed in Report

Organizers of the March 17 “Deliberation Day” for the City of Falls Church hosted by the Citizens for a Better City, the F.C. League of Women Voters and Village Preservation and Improvement Society issued a final report last week, noting that 135 City residents who attended, in the organizers’ words, “described three trade-offs in City policy-making that need more attention from residents and the government: balancing the City’s village legacy with a more urban future; matching a need for flexibility in attracting development with the City’s master plan goals; and, understanding how much commercial development is needed to meet the City’s fiscal demands.” The goal of the meeting, modeled on New England town hall meetings, was “to encourage deliberation…(the process) does not provide answers or solutions, but rather highlights the trade-offs and common ground” that emerge from community dialogue.