Francis Scott Key Elementary School / Escuela Key (Key or Key Elementary) is one of the country’s first dual-language Spanish/English immersion elementary school programs. Dr. Marjorie Myers pioneered the program, which has become a nationwide model in bilingual education, and served as its principal up until her retirement in summer 2018. On the occasion of her retirement, the Key Parent Teacher Association (PTA) dedicated the school library in her name.
Key is conveniently located at 2300 Key Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, one block from Courthouse Metro station and several bus stops. According to Arlington Public Schools (APS), the permanent capacity of the Key building is 653. Relocatables can accommodate an additional 96 seats, bringing the total number of seats to 749. Current enrollment at Key is 718.
Arlington Science Focus Elementary School (ASFS or Science Focus) is located at 1501 North Lincoln Street in Arlington. The neighborhood in which it sits is residential, and the nearest metro station, Virginia Square, is 0.7 miles away, about a 15-minute walk. Current enrollment at ASFS is 687. The capacity of the ASFS building is 553. APS claims that the building can accommodate an additional 288 seats through relocatable classrooms, bringing the total number of seats to 841. Such an increase in relocatables would essentially eliminate the limited outdoor space at the ASFS location.
Families living in the surrounding neighborhood of Key could choose to send their children to Key or ASFS. In 2016, Arlington Public Schools (APS) declared ASFS a neighborhood school outside its boundary zone. This meant that parents in the Key neighborhood could rely on ASFS as their neighborhood school, even though they lived outside the boundary zone of ASFS. A year later in 2017, APS designated Key an option school, whereby students from throughout the county could apply to attend via lottery and thus grow the program. To attend Key, students living in the surrounding neighborhood accordingly had to apply through the lottery.
APS rationalized their decision to turn Key into an option school by declaring that Key did not provide equal access to all North Arlington residents, because as a neighborhood school it was required to first take all neighborhood kids who wanted to attend. However, that rationale is flawed. For the past 5 school years before Key became an option program, Key was comprised of students from 20 of the 22 Arlington schools. Additionally, this move to an option program now locks out a traditional source of students who are not able to apply to the lottery, namely the children of military and State Department families.