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Week in Alexandria

School Crunch

This week marked the first day of school at Mount Vernon Community School, which has about 100 more students than last year. It was also the first day of school at Tucker Elementary School, which has about 100 more students than last year. When the rest of the city’s schools open after Labor Day, Alexandria is preparing for a massive crunch.

“It’s a good problem to have,” said Superintendent Morton Sherman. “It means we have a city that’s young and vibrant and full of families sending their children to public schools.”

In the last four years, John Adams Elementary School and Mount Vernon Community School have increased more than 200 percent. Ramsay Elementary School, James K. Polk Elementary School and Maury Elementary School have all increased more than 100 percent in the last four years.

“This year, we are looking at record Kindergarten classes in Alexandria,” said City Councilman Rob Krupicka, who is also a member of the Virginia Board of Education. “We’re also seeing a rise in sixth graders, and I think part of that is that we’re seeing the first piece of population boom that started about six or seven years ago because those Kindergartners that started the boom are now in sixth grade.”

The City Council has already approved funding for three new schools. But Sherman says two new additional schools are needed on top of that, potentially adding as much as $90 million to the city’s capital-improvement plan.

“I will be talking very publicly about the need for another elementary school on the east side near Potomac Yard and on the west side near Landmark,” said Sherman. “We need these new schools, and we’re going to need them soon.”

Special Anger

In politics, as in life, timing is everything.

That’s why Democrats are hopping mad with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. On Monday, the governor issued a writ of election to fill the seat of Del. David Englin (D-45), who announced his resignation back in June after acknowledging being unfaithful in his marriage. Many Democrats expected the governor to call for a special election to coincide with the November general election, when historic numbers of Democrats will head to the polls in Northern Virginia to support the reelection of President Barack Obama.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, the governor’s action this week sets up a schedule forcing both parties to determine their candidates by Saturday. And the special election has been scheduled for Sept. 4, a date many Democrats say will live in infamy.

“What we have now is an election on the day after Labor Day on the first day of school that is going to cost the combined jurisdictions of Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria around $50,000 to run a separate election,” said Alexandria Democratic Committee chairman Dak Hardwick. “That just boggles the mind.”

A spokesman for the governor disagrees.

“If we didn’t hold them quickly enough, they’d be putting out press releases saying Bob McDonnell is dragging his heels and if we do hold it quickly they’d be putting out press releases saying he’s moving too quickly,” said Tucker Martin, the governor’s press secretary. “The reason they say these things is because these are Democrats in an election year trying to get a couple of little points.”

Strange Bedfellows

What do the ACLU and the Libertarian Party have in common? They both believe that Virginia’s law forcing people who collect ballot petitions to be Virginia residents is unconstitutional. And, according to U.S, District Court Judge John Gibney, they’re both right. This week, he struck down the law, which created problems for several Republican presidential candidates this year.

“This ruling affirms that people from out of state may greatly contribute to the political discourse in Virginia,” said Rebecca Glenberg, legal affairs director for the Virginia ACLU.