The Craziness Chronicles: Missing Students, Missing News Articles, and ABC Licenses for Teetotalers

Where are the students? Enrollments in many Virginia school districts declined in the 2020-21 school year as parents yanked their children out of schools beset by COVID shutdowns. Now that anyone who wants to can get vaccinated can get a shot and the epidemic has receded somewhat, will enrollment bounce back? The first whiff of evidence I’ve seem comes from a letter distributed by an Arlington County middle-school principal that starts out this way:

Yesterday I, along with my other middle school principal colleagues, was notified that due to a decrease in student enrollment for the 2021-22 school year, our Middle School Instruction staffing at Swanson was being reduced by 2.8 positions.

Arlington County school enrollment had declined 4.0% in the 2021-21 school year from the previous year. No bounce-back here. My correspondent asks: “Are public schools shrinking due to homeschooling and people shifting to Catholic schools?”

Your electric-bill dollars at work. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has gone into effect in Virginia, and it is expected to generate an estimated $100 million in annual carbon auction proceeds, according to Energy News Network. About half of that sum is directed to weatherization programs for low-income households. Now Virginians are being treated to a heart-warming story about how weatherization nonprofits “finally have the funding for necessary house repairs after years of chronic shortages.” I’m still waiting to see an article (other than in Bacon’s Rebellion) explaining where all that money money is coming from.

Don’t feel bad, Muslims, you aren’t the only ones. Every so often we read stories about a congregation of Muslims being thwarted by land use laws in their effort to build a mosque. If it’s any consolation to the Muslims, local authorities hassle Christian churches, too. The Virginia Star highlights an American Center for Law and Justice lawsuit on behalf of the Alive Church of the Nazarene against Prince William County. It seems the county is requiring the church to obtain a liquor license to use its property — in direct contravention of its religious beliefs.

Due to COVID restrictions, the Alive Church was unable to continue to use the public school it had been renting. So it purchased an 18-acre parcel, which happened to have an agricultural zoning. To erect a new church building, Alive Church had to abide by numerous land-use requirements including construction of a 30-foot landscape buffer, water retention areas, stormwater management facilities, and a 200-foot turn lane on Kettle Run Road. The improvements would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which the congregation did not have. Yet a nearby farm winery/brewery was allowed to hold public gatherings and build buildings without the need for a building permit, the lawsuit notes. The church could qualify for the same treatment, the zoning commissioner confirmed, if it also conducted “agritourism” activities such as making beverages and obtained a license to operate as a farm winery. What about non-alcoholic cider? Read the gory details in the lawsuit.