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Arlington Copes With Rising Enrollment

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Arlington's Wakefield High School is one of the schools that has suffered overcrowding in recent years. The Arlington Public Schools district broke ground on a new, larger Wakefield that can house a growing student population last week.
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Arlington's Wakefield High School is one of the schools that has suffered overcrowding in recent years. The Arlington Public Schools district broke ground on a new, larger Wakefield that can house a growing student population last week.

The Arlington County public school system reached its peak in the early 1960s, a time when the tail end of the baby boom generation filled classrooms to maximum capacity. Enrollment trends have fluctuated since then, rising and falling with the decades -- mostly falling, until now.

For the past few years, enrollment trends have increased so much, the county's schools have been flooded with trailers.

"That's not sustainable," says Miriam Gennari, parent of two public school students in Arlington. "We can't afford to continue to make investments in things that aren't going to last long term."

Twelve portable classrooms were added last year, and 28 more have been added this year.

School Board Chairwoman Libby Garvey says adding portable classrooms was a responsible reaction.

"One of the major things you do not want to do on a school board is to overbuild," says Garvey.

He says the school system needs one new school and several new additions, although the details won't be hashed out until the fall.

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