FY25 Budget and 25-29 CIP Updates

School Board Member at Large (Kyle McDaniel) 3 weeks 3 days ago

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FY25 Budget and 25-29 CIP Updates

Two key issues were discussed at last night’s School Board meeting: The FY2025 Budget and the 2025-2029 Capital Improvement Plan. 

Budget: Last night kicked off the annual budget development process with the Superintendent releasing her proposed budget. 

Capital Improvement Plan: The 2025-2029 Capital Improvement Plan was adopted with several amendments to address long and short term needs. 

Below, I share more details and my thoughts on these two items.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office to share your thoughts.

Respectfully,

Kyle

FY 2025 Budget

As Vice-Chairman of the Board’s Budget Committee, I wanted to give you more details on the Superintendent's proposed budget, and share my preliminary thoughts on it. 

The proposal increases expenditures by $302 million, primarily funded by a $254 million requested increase from the Board of Supervisors. Included items are:

  • $170 million for a 6% pay raise for all employees
  • $55 million to match state funding for a previous 2% pay raise
  • $47 million to compensate for increases in higher-need student populations (ESOL, special education, and free or reduced-price meals)  
  • $24 million for employee benefit rate changes driven by healthcare and retirement
  • Some other items: stipends for teachers who work overtime in our theater programs; additional athletic trainers in high schools; turf field replacements; school security enhancements; and boys volleyball and girls wrestling 

98% of the requested increase goes to employee pay raises, benefits, and increased student enrollment. Given that 90% of FCPS operating budget is salary and benefits, this is not surprising.

The Superintendent has also proposed some savings:

  • $38 million in recognition of employee turnover
  • A net decrease of 31.5 employee positions whose salaries were covered through one-time COVID relief funds

I am happy to report that Special Education teachers will receive an extension on a 30-minute contract bump. This increase was approved as a response to COVID challenges, and was previously funded through one-time federal relief. This extension will be paid for with projected year-end surplus funds later this year.

The rising pressure on local funding is approaching unhealthy and unsustainable levels. However, we are also seeing significant increases in higher-need student enrollment relative to non-higher need students. See below: 

Funding Increases from the Board of Supervisors:

FY2021: 0.3%

FY2022: 1.4%

FY2023: 4.7%

FY2024: 6.3%

FY2025*: 10.5% 

*Requested

Student Enrollment Changes by Budget Category

 

These two sets of data paint a stark picture: the structural imbalance in funding education in Virginia is unsustainable. The General Assembly’s research arm, the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission, recently reported that Virginia underfunds public education to the tune of $3.5 billion in comparison to our surrounding states. If the state were to bring funding up to the regional average, Fairfax County Public Schools would receive an additional $1,900 per student. This figure grows when adjustments to the outdated state funding formulas (the SOQs) are also made. Estimates indicate that Fairfax County could receive up to an additional $500m should the state make these changes.

In the meantime, we are forced to live with a funding structure that places the vast majority of the burden on local taxpayers, instead of a healthy and sustainable blend of local and state funding.

In the coming weeks, I am looking forward to working with FCPS staff, the Superintendent, my Board colleagues, the Board of Supervisors, and the community to methodically listen, learn, and craft a budget that meets the needs of our kids, and is based on sustainable funding sources. 

You can find the budget documents here.

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) 2025-2029

The 2025-2029 Capital Improvement Program was adopted with a few amendments. One set of changes were to address long term planning for capital management and costs. Two other amendments addressed overcapacity problems at two elementary schools: Parklawn ES (Mason District) and Coates ES (Dranesville District).

These two one-off boundary adjustments were necessary and supported by facilities staff. However, these two cases highlight the dire need for a long term solution to our flawed boundary policies. On February 13th, the School Board will hold a work session to discuss a path forward that addresses significant gaps in existing policies, and creates a roadmap for a division wide boundary adjustment. In my comments last night, I stated that I will not support anymore one-off boundary changes until we overhaul these flawed policies, and implement a County-wide boundary study to fix the overcrowding that has plagued our schools for decades. 

Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Learn more about the heritage months, celebrations, and traditions celebrated in FCPS. Learn more about Black History month

February Is Career and Technical Education Month

As I start my term on the School Board, I am pleased to serve as the CTE Advisory Committee Liaison. By enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) course or program, students learn the technical applications of many occupations while preparing for higher education or entry-level employment. A core program of CTE courses is offered in every middle and high school including Business and Information Technology, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health and Medical Sciences, Marketing, Technology and Engineering Education, and Trade and Industrial Education. Since this is an elective, course offerings may vary by school. Learn more on the CTE website

CTE also offers summer programs for students to explore their programs. Enroll now!

Learn About Science, Technology, and Arts Magnet Schools

Three FCPS elementary magnet schools provide programs that enhance learning in science, technology, and performing arts. 

If you are interested in sending your student to an elementary magnet school program, consider attending a school-based information night at Hunters Woods Elementary School, Bailey’s Primary Elementary School, or Bailey’s Upper Elementary School

Information nights will provide an opportunity to learn about individual school programs, student eligibility, the lottery process, and transportation.

Registration for the 2024-25 elementary magnet lottery is open Tuesday, March 5, through Friday, April 12. Get more information about the schools, their programs, and locations.

Sign Up for FCPS Summer Camps and Learning Programs

Registration is now open for several summer camps and learning opportunities offered by Fairfax County Public Schools for all students.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) camps and Institute for the Arts (IFTA) camps will be held in July at Lake Braddock Secondary School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bus transportation will be available from select FCPS middle and high schools. 

CTE programs are available for students currently in grades K-5 to explore STEAM, culinary, health, trades, and business and marketing areas; and for students currently in grades 6-11 to explore CTE program areas, develop skills, and begin career exploration.

E-IFTA and IFTA are weekly arts camps for students in grades 2-11. E-IFTA is for elementary students who love to sing, dance, act, perform, make, and create. IFTA allows older students to select from nearly 90 classes in art, dance, health and physical education 9, music, and theater. Visit the IFTA webpage or E-IFTA webpage to register.

Summer Learning

Programs are also available for high school students to fulfill the Economics and Personal Finance course requirement, earn a high school course credit via this summer’s online campus program, or recover one high school course credit through the Credit Recovery Academy

FCPS’ free online class for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provides FCPS middle and high school English Learners the opportunity to continue developing their academic, reading, and writing skills in online discussions with an ESOL teacher. 

Find session dates, registration links, and registration deadlines on FCPS summer programs.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Work Sessions on the FY 2025 Proposed Budget:

Tuesday, February 13th 1:45 - 4:30 pm 

Tuesday February 20th 1:45 - 4:30 pm

Budget Public Hearing(s):

Tuesday, February 13th and Tuesday, February 20th (if needed) at 6 pm at Luther Jackson Middle School 

Regular Meeting:

February 22nd, 7:30 pm at Luther Jackson Middle School 

Watch live on FCPS Cable TV Channel 99 (Verizon Channel 11), on the FCPS website, or on FCPS YouTube. If you need language interpretation or American Sign Language support for any School Board meeting, please contact the Board clerk.

If you would like to sign up to speak at the Budget Public Hearing or the Regular Meeting, you can find information here.

The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia

Web | Phone: 571-423-1090
Julie Shepard, Staff Aide, 571-423-1078

Happy New Year!

School Board Member at Large (Kyle McDaniel) 1 month 3 weeks ago

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.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى

Dear FCPS Community,  Happy New Year! 

I hope you and your family had a restful break. I am excited to start my term as your at-large representative to the Fairfax County School Board. We have a busy schedule as we start our FY 25 Budget Process and our Capital Improvement Plan. I've shared below the upcoming school board meetings and how to follow along with our work. 

I want to share the items I'm focusing on as I start my term. Our country is experiencing an epidemic right now in relation to fentanyl overdoses. This poses unique challenges to our school system and community. Opioids are unforgiving and as we grapple with this, we must recognize the complexities and use an "all hands on deck" approach to protecting our students. I attended the Justice High School PTSA Town Hall on Monday and the Community Conversation to Raise Awareness of Fentanyl and Other Drugs conversation on Wednesday at Edison High School. FCPS’ website has resources to help you start the conversation with your students and additional support for families struggling with substance misuse. I am working with our staff to ensure parents and school staff have access to the resources they need to address this problem. Please do not hesitate to contact my office for further assistance.

The second item I'm focused on is addressing our school meal debt. Due to the high cost of living in Fairfax County, many families struggle to pay for their children to have a meal during the school day despite various Federal Free and Reduced Meal programs. FCPS currently reports around $1 million in outstanding meal debt division wide. I've submitted a forum topic to our board for review and for the Superintendent to assess the debt with ways to reduce it, expand the number of students receiving free meals, and consider plans for providing more kids with access to free meals. 

Finally, as a new board member, I wanted to let you know that you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram at @McDanielAtLarge. I'm looking forward to connecting with you in our community. Please reach out to my staff aide to set up a meeting for me to come to your community, PTA, and PTO. You can contact me here for any issues and concerns. 

I've also shared that I have several openings to citizen advisory committees, which can be found at the end of this newsletter. 

I look forward to connecting with you soon. ~ Kyle 

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Our new board started our term of office on January 1, 2024.  I want to share how you can watch our meetings and follow our work. 

  • Thursday, January 11, 7:30 pm- Regular Meeting
  • Thursday, January 18, 6 pm- Capital Improvement Program Public Hearing
  • Thursday, January 25, 7:30 pm- Regular Meeting
  • Tuesday, January 30, 10 am- Work Session

Please note that times and topics are subject to change.

The work sessions and regular meetings are broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and the FCPS website. Both are recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube channel.

For Spanish speakers, to watch recorded School Board meetings, or live during regular meetings, visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel.

Visit the community participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting. Visit BoardDocs for more meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts.

Academy Open Houses 

FCPS high school academies will hold open houses for interested students beginning in mid-January.

A high school academy is a center within a high school that offers advanced technical and specialized courses to prepare students for postsecondary education and/or career fields. Students enrolling in academy elective courses will be provided with opportunities to participate in a variety of career experiences including shadowing, mentoring, or internships with local businesses.

View the calendar of Academy Open Houses.

JLARC Study on Virginia’s K-12 Funding

The General Assembly directed Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to study the cost of education in Virginia and assess the costs of the Standards of Quality. Virginia school divisions receive less K-12 funding per student than the 50-state average, the regional average and three of Virginia’s five bordering states, which equates to approximately $1,900 per student in state underfunding. You can read the article published by Fairfax County Government about the study here.

Open Citizen Advisory Committee Appointments

Part of the job of a school board member is appointing citizens to serve on advisory committees. I have three openings and I encourage you to apply via this google form for the open position I have on the Career and Technical Education Committee and the Facilities Planning Advisory Council. The process for the Facilities Planning Advisory Council is different, so please read below to apply for that position. 

The Fairfax County School Board invites applications from community members interested in serving on the Facilities Planning Advisory Council (FPAC) for an At-Large member, Providence District member, and a Sully District member. FPAC advises and informs FCPS staff and the School Board in the development of comprehensive, long-term plans for facilities.

The Facilities Planning Advisory Council consists of 13 members, one from each Fairfax County magisterial district, three At-Large representatives, and one representative from the City of Fairfax, each appointed for three-year terms. 

FCPS encourages individuals with experience in construction, engineering, architecture, land use planning, development, demographics, government operations, and financing to apply. The deadline to submit an application is January 22nd. Applicants must reside within the boundaries of Fairfax County or Fairfax City, or in the Providence magisterial district if seeking the Providence representative seat, or in the Sully magisterial district if seeking the Sully representative seat. Please use this online application to apply.

Contacting Me

When you contact me, please know that I may also be reaching out to your magisterial district school board member. If you are unsure of your county magisterial district, you can look that information up here.

To contact me, it is most helpful to please use the official school board contact form, found on my website. This form helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response. 

Best Regards,

Kyle McDaniel

 

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The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia

Web | Phone: 571-423-1090
Julie Shepard, Staff Aide, 571-423-1078

We're Hiring

School Board Member at Large (Kyle McDaniel) 2 months 2 weeks ago

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.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى

Hello all! 

I hope you are having a wonderful and restful winter break. My office is hiring a Staff Aide, effective January 16, 2024. This position is my "right-hand person" performing a variety of "professional and administrative duties required to support activities, projects, and initiatives related to the School Board; serves as a liaison on behalf of individual Board members in communications between constituents, community organizations, Division leadership and staff, and varied elected officials."

Click below for the full job description and requirements. While I am currently serving as an At-Large member of the Fairfax County School Board, starting January 1, I will be the Braddock District member. 

School Board Staff Aide (Subject to Yearly Renewal) (Sizemore Heizer)

Please feel free to share with anyone you know who may be qualified and interested. 

Thank you!

Rachna

The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© 2023 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia

E-mail: Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Chair and At Large Member
Phone: 571-423-1090
Prabha Rollins, Staff Aide
571-423-1078, [email protected]

December Newsletter - Happy Winter Break

School Board Member at Large (Kyle McDaniel) 2 months 3 weeks ago

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.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى

Dear Fairfax Students, Staff and Families,

I hope you are staying warm and are excited for winter break! This is my last newsletter as an At-Large School Board member representing the entire county. Beginning January 1, 2024, I will be serving as the magisterial School Board member for the Braddock District. It has been an honor to serve as an At-Large member of the Fairfax County School Board. I have appreciated getting to know people and schools around the county and being able to take a whole-county perspective to my work.  

My commitment to all of the county’s students, families, and staff remains as strong as ever, and I’m thrilled to return to the board to represent Braddock District, my home for over two decades. Please know I am here to represent all my constituents, regardless of who they voted for, so don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of service or to share thoughts. I am honored to continue the work of strengthening our public schools so students can learn all the skills they need to become the leaders, creators, and innovators of tomorrow.

I am grateful to Megan McLaughlin, currently serving as the Braddock District School Board Member, for her 12 years of service. She deserves our deep gratitude for her incredible hard work and her dedication to the students and staff of Fairfax County Public Schools and to the residents of Braddock District. I wish her well in retirement and am glad to know she’s just a phone call away.

Beginning in January, my newsletter will only be sent to Braddock District residents. If you live outside the Braddock District and are interested in continuing to receive my newsletter, please add it to your subscriber preferences.

As a reminder, winter break will be held Monday, December 18 - Monday, January 1. I wish you the best for a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year! I thank all our teachers, staff, students, and families for their hard work this fall and I hope everyone has a joyful and restful winter break.

Warmest regards,

Rachna

Below you will find:

School Board Updates McLean Area Elementary School Boundary Adjustment

At the December 4 Regular Meeting, the School Board approved a boundary adjustment for five elementary schools and two Advanced Academic Program Level IV Centers. The adjustment was made to provide capacity relief to Kent Gardens ES. This will reassign students from Kent Gardens ES to Franklin Sherman ES and Haycock ES; from Franklin Sherman ES to Chesterbrook ES; and from Franklin Sherman ES to Churchill Road ES. The AAP boundaries for Churchill Road ES and Haycock ES will also be adjusted to remain consistent with the feeder school boundaries. The boundary change will affect an estimated 380 students at the elementary school level. The approved boundary adjustment will not change the middle or high school boundaries. The adjustment includes a phasing plan. Learn more about the boundary adjustment.

2024 Fairfax County School Board State and Federal Legislative Program

The School Board annually adopts a legislative program and legislative priorities to inform local, state, and federal public officials and others of its positions on legislative policy and budget issues of potential importance to Fairfax County Public Schools students, teachers, staff, parents, and the broader Fairfax community. The program contains the School Board’s positions on state and federal issues of both current and ongoing significance and facilitates Board input to policymakers as they debate various policy options, sharing the possible programmatic and financial impacts of legislative and policy actions. At the December 4 Regular Meeting, the School Board voted to adopt the 2024 Fairfax County School Board State and Federal Legislative Program.

Reports on Employee Separation

The School Board voted to approve a direction to the Superintendent to revise the Monthly Report on Employee Separation and the associated attachment to present disaggregated data in context to include subgroup percentages. Additionally, on a quarterly basis, the Superintendent will provide operational impacts; impacts by FCPS schools and regions; trends and analyses; and potential strategies to address findings, if applicable.

Strategic Plan Goal 3 Report: Academic Growth and Excellence

The School Board held a Work Session on November 14 to review and discuss baseline data for Strategic Plan Goal 3 - Academic Growth and Excellence. At the December 4 Regular Meeting, the School Board voted to approve the Goal 3 Baseline Report as the division's baseline data that will serve as a starting point for the work toward achieving the goals in our Strategic Plan 2023-30. See the presentation and the report.

Results of the 2022-23 Fairfax County Youth Survey

At the December 4 School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid presented findings of the Fairfax County Youth Survey during Academic Matters. The survey provides insight into the behaviors and attitudes that affect the health and well-being of Fairfax County youth. 

The percentage of students who reported considering or attempting suicide were at their lowest rates since 2015, as were the reported rates of alcohol and substance use.

Dr. Reid stressed how the Youth Survey isn't just a snapshot of how students are doing, it also serves as a barometer for the efficacy of our programs and how well FCPS and the community are serving our youth. 

Read more about the report’s findings, and view the full report on the county’s website.

Upcoming School Board Meetings
  • Thursday, December 14, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting: FY24 Midyear Budget Review; Strategic Plan Goal 1 Report Vote; Proclamations for Departing School Board Members
  • Tuesday, January 9, 10:30 am - Work Session
  • Thursday, January 11, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting
  • Thursday, January 18, 6 pm - Capital Improvement Program Public Hearing
  • Thursday, January 25, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting
  • Tuesday, January 30, 10 am - Work Session

Please note that times and topics are subject to change.

The work sessions and regular meetings are broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and the FCPS website. Both are recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube channel.

For Spanish speakers, to watch recorded School Board meetings, or live during regular meetings, visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel.

Visit the community participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting. Visit BoardDocs for more meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts.

FCPS News 2024 Gap Year Fair

FCPS School Counseling Services and Go Overseas will co-host the annual FCPS Gap Year Fair on Tuesday, January 30, 6-8:30 p.m., at Marshall High School. This event is for high school students and their families, who are interested in learning about increasing opportunities for the year following high school graduation. Students should register at USA Gap Year Fairs

Twilight Program

FCPS’ Twilight Program provides instruction outside of traditional school hours for students in need of rapid credit recovery and accrual in order to meet requirements for high school graduation or promotion. During the initial pilot program across six schools and centers in the 2022-23 school year, 78% of the 94 enrolled students met the requirements for graduation/promotion. Read more about the success of the Twilight Program.

Snow Days This Winter

For the current school year, FCPS will be returning to its previous procedure for snow days — there will be no virtual learning days when school is closed due to bad weather. 

During snow days, students may still access Tutor.com, complete any supplemental learning opportunities recommended by their teachers, and view educational programming (available virtually and on public access television channels):

Eleven snow days are built into the existing FCPS calendar. Eliminating virtual learning days will allow us to maximize students’ in-person learning and provide equitable access to instruction and student services.

Keep Learning Over Winter Break with Tutor.com

Does your child need help getting up to speed in high school math, science, or English? Tutor.com offers diagnostic quizzes to help students test their knowledge and find areas where they may need help. Quizzes can be taken anytime, and students can connect immediately to a tutor. 

Test prep is also available for students preparing for the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. 

FCPS students have unlimited access, 24/7, to online tutoring support services through Tutor.com at no cost to families. Students can connect online any time, any place, and in most K-12 subjects for however long they need.

No-Cost Mental Health Teletherapy for All High School Students

Is your high schooler experiencing anxiety, behavior changes, or challenges with peer and family relationships? If so, parents/caregivers can refer their children for weekly therapy with a licensed therapist through Hazel Health. Visit the Teletherapy webpage for information on how to opt your child in to this service.

Community Resources Cozy Up With Books Over Break

Fairfax County Public Library’s (FCPL) winter reading adventure has begun and will continue through Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Visit your local FCPL library branch or visit their website to register and get a sneak peek at the prizes being offered.

Check out their Winter Reading Events webpage to learn about laser tag, movie nights, crafting sessions, book discussions, and more.

Get Outdoors for Winter Fun!

The Fairfax County Park Authority has rounded up their seasonal fun into a handy list of events happening across the county

Learn more about the Winter Wonderland and the Holiday Train at Burke Lake Park, Holiday on the Farm at Frying Pan Farm Park, Candy Cane Lane at Oak Marr Mini Golf, and many more fun events.

Food Insecurity Resources for Families

Food insecurity impacts more than 60,000 Fairfax County residents. There are many resources available to support those who need food assistance. Find out how to receive or offer support on the Fairfax County website or view their Human Services Resource Guide to find organizations that offer help.

Good News - Student and Staff Successes Librarian of the Year

Congratulations to Rachel Grover, librarian at Rocky Run Middle School for being named Librarian of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL). Read more about the great work she has done. Three other FCPS librarians were also honored at the VAASL conference: Katie Bruechert, Thoreau Middle School, Rutherford Memorial Award; Heather Baucum, Crossfield Elementary School, Ignite Award; and Maura Madigan, North Springfield Elementary School, AASL Presentation Award.

McLean HS Supports Student and Family

After the McLean HS PTA highlighted a family in need that was threatened with eviction from their home, McLean HS families donated enough funds to allow the family to stay in their home through June and allow the student to stop working two jobs in addition to attending school. See the story.

Congratulations to Our 2023 Fall Sports Champions

Congratulations to all the FCPS student-athletes who participated in the 2023 fall sports season! This year, three teams and four individuals won the Virginia High School League Class 6 championship in their respective sports, and three teams and one individual were the state runners-up. Read the full list of winners.

Quick Links

The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© 2023 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia

E-mail: Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Chair and At Large Member
Phone: 571-423-1090
Prabha Rollins, Staff Aide
571-423-1078, [email protected]

Happy Thanksgiving - November News

School Board Member at Large (Kyle McDaniel) 3 months 2 weeks ago

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.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى

Dear Fairfax Students, Staff and Families,

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s one of my favorite holidays - one that most everyone celebrates together, has a chance to focus on gratitude for our lives, and enjoys tasty food! I hope you have a chance to rest and connect with your family and friends over the long weekend. I enjoyed spending time with new and current school board colleagues at the Virginia School Board Association conference in Williamsburg, learning about AI in education, strategies to address chronic absenteeism, and more. And November means football playoffs and fall plays and musicals! I’ve loved attending games cheering our athletes and listening to pep bands and watching our amazing thespians. The talent amongst our students is off the charts and these productions rival many professional productions. I hope you have the chance to enjoy some of the winter concerts in December.

In the spirit of gratitude, I want to extend a deep and sincere thank you to Fairfax voters who supported the 2023 Bond Referendum! I appreciate the support of our schools. You can stay informed on construction and capital improvements by visiting our Capital Improvement Project webpage. Passing the bond helps us maintain our schools and facilities so thank you! I am also grateful and humbled for the opportunity to return to the School Board for four more years. I am here to represent each and every one of you so please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of service. 

The School Board has been focused on our student’s academic achievement and innovating to offer new class offerings for FCPS students. Last week, at our Work Session, we discussed the Goal Three report of our new strategic plan. Goal Three is focused on academic growth and excellence. This first year, the primary focus is on metrics demonstrating all students reading by third grade, successfully completing Algebra I by 8th grade, and advanced coursework in high school. The first two metrics are key indicators for long term success. Third grade is the point where students transition from learning to read to reading to learn, where reading ability starts to significantly impact learning across subjects. Students who read at or above grade level in third grade graduate and attend college at high rates and are four times less likely to drop out of high school. Similarly, students who successfully complete Algebra I by 8th grade are better able to access higher level mathematics in high school and are better able to access STEM careers. 

In addition, at our Regular Meeting, we voted on new course offerings to introduce students to additional career paths, such as aircraft and remote piloting, healthcare, AI, and welding, adding Cybersecurity Fundamentals as a standard offering at all high schools, and increasing GPA weighting for some more rigorous courses. 

I’ve also heard many concerns regarding staff retention, especially given the national teacher shortage that also impacts FCPS. We have made some recent changes that demonstrate appreciation for our employees. First, the Board voted to revise the FY 2024 budget to fund a 2% compensation increase for all employees effective January 2, 2024. This is on top of the 3% increase that was already part of the FY 2024 budget. This increase comes later because the state adopted a budget that amends the FY 2024 budget and provides FCPS with some additional revenue that can be used towards this increase. 

While I am grateful for the opportunity to provide a much-deserved increase for our employees, I urge our state legislators to address the deficiencies in school funding recently highlighted by a report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission

Second, in response to employee feedback, FCPS has announced the addition of a sick leave donation to current leave policy. This leave-sharing program will allow eligible FCPS employees to donate up to a maximum of 160 hours of their accrued sick leave to other FCPS employees for medical necessities. 

Read below about FCPS’ annual pass rates, efforts to address chronic absenteeism and build student health habits, and special education resources, among other items. I hope you find this information informative and helpful.  

As always, please feel free to reach out to me to share your questions and feedback.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Warmest regards,

Rachna

Below you will find:

School Board Updates School Board Approves New Name for W.T. Woodson High School

The School Board unanimously voted to rename W.T. Woodson High School at the November 9 Regular Meeting. Starting in school year 2024-25, the school will be known as Carter G. Woodson High School. The vote comes after two months of public engagement. Read more about the name change.

School Board Seeking FPAC Applicants

The Fairfax County School Board invites applications from community members interested in serving on the Facilities Planning Advisory Council (FPAC) for an At-Large member and a Sully District member. FPAC advises and informs FCPS staff and the School Board in the development of comprehensive, long-term plans for facilities. The Facilities Planning Advisory Council consists of 13 members, one from each Fairfax County magisterial district, three At-Large representatives, and one representative from the City of Fairfax. 

FCPS encourages individuals with experience in construction, engineering, architecture, land use planning, development, demographics, government operations, and financing to apply. The deadline to submit an application is November 28. Read more and apply.

Strategic Plan Updates

The School Board held a Work Session on November 14 to discuss the baseline report for Goal 3 - Academic Growth and Excellence. The baseline report provides a tremendous amount of data on the selected measures of the current achievement of our students, explores underlying reasons for the data and explores strategies to address growth for our students. It is an important foundation for achieving the goals described in our Strategic Plan. You can see the materials here

FCPS Pass Rates and Accreditation Outcomes

During the October 26 Academic Matters segment, Dr. Reid discussed FCPS’ annual pass rates and accreditation outcomes, stating that we’re seeing a return to baseline levels in pass rates at FCPS. Post-pandemic assessment growth has leveled off. Reading, mathematics, and science pass rates for FCPS are up by an average of almost 9% since the 2021-22 school year. FCPS’ annual pass rates on state assessments continue to be higher than the state average by an average of 5%. 

The Virginia Board of Education’s accreditation ratings are based on six-to-nine school quality indicators. These include state assessment results and achievement gaps; graduation and dropout rates; and participation in college/career readiness programs. 

For the 2023 accreditation ratings, 99.5% of Fairfax County public schools are accredited (compared to the state average of 89%). The remaining 0.5% are accredited with conditions.

Watch Dr. Reid's presentation on YouTube or view the slides.

Chronic Absenteeism

During the Academic Matters segment of the November 9 School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid discussed student attendance and engagement. Attendance and absenteeism rates are one measure of Goal 2 of our Strategic Plan

Chronic absenteeism — which is defined as a student missing 10% or more of school for any reason — is a concern across Virginia school districts. Although FCPS continues to outperform the state average in attendance rates, we are tracking chronic absenteeism closely and stressing the importance of attendance to students and parents while providing a multi-tiered system of intervention.

Attendance is critical for academic success. Data shows that:

  • Missing just 10% of school — just two days a month — negatively affects a student’s academic performance. 
  • Only 17% of students who were chronically absent in both kindergarten and first grade were reading proficiently in third grade, compared to 64% of those with good attendance.
  • Students who fail to read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than students who achieve proficiency to drop out of high school.
  • By sixth grade, chronic absenteeism becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

Attendance is critical for academic success!

Changes to Secondary Course Offerings

At the November 9 Regular Meeting, the School Board approved secondary course changes recommended by the FCPS Course Review Committee. These changes include new courses intended to introduce students to explore possible career paths, such as aircraft and remote piloting, healthcare, AI, and welding. The changes also include increased GPA weight for certain courses that have rigorous curriculum. In addition, Cybersecurity Fundamentals will become a standard offering that will be available at all high schools. See the full list of changes and the rationale.

Upcoming School Board Meetings
  • Tuesday, November 28, 10:30 am - Forum: Artificial Intelligence; Work Session: Facilities Engagement Plan
  • Thursday, November 30, 6 pm - Public Hearing: McLean Elementary Schools Capacity Challenges 
  • Monday, December 4, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting: McLean Elementary Schools Boundary Adjustments
  • Tuesday, December 12, 10:30 am - Work Session: Strategic Plan Goal 1 Report; SR&R
  • Thursday, December 14, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting: FY24 Midyear Budget Review; Strategic Plan Goal 1 Report Vote

Please note that times and topics are subject to change.

The work sessions and regular meetings are broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and the FCPS website. Both are recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube channel.

For Spanish speakers, to watch recorded School Board meetings, or live during regular meetings, visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel.

Visit the community participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting. Visit BoardDocs for more meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts.

FCPS News Successfully Completing Algebra 1 by Eighth Grade

Helping students to complete Algebra 1 by eighth grade is part of our Strategic Plan (Goal 3: Academic Growth and Excellence). Algebra Access Network Improvement Community (AANIC) is working to increase the diverse representation of students who take advanced math classes and succeed in them. This video shares more about the AANIC cohorts at Kilmer and Key middle schools and lets students explain why Algebra matters to them.

Passing Algebra 1 earlier allows for students to take more advanced classes like Dual Enrollment courses, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These advanced courses help students succeed in college. A recent study from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) found that completing Algebra 1 by grade eight led to 30% more ninth graders and 16% more 11th graders taking advanced courses. 

Community Review of Elementary Language Arts Basal Instructional Resources

Fairfax County Public Schools will adopt new Elementary School Language Arts Basal Instructional Resources for the 2024-2025 school year. A review committee composed of community members, administrators, and teachers met in August to review the initial list of state-approved materials for grades K-3. The committee will reconvene in January to review a second list of state-approved materials for K-5. 

Public review of the recommended materials is an important part of the resource selection process. The Elementary English Language Arts basal instructional resources may be accessed in person and online from November 15, 2023 until noon on December 15, 2023

Materials may be viewed at the Pimmit Hills Center - Room 207 at 7510 Lisle Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22043.  Materials will be available to review Mon-Thur, 9 am to 9 pm.  

Digital Materials can be accessed via the Elementary Language Arts Basal Resource Review website during the public review period.

All community feedback will be shared with the review committee and with the School Board before the vote at a School Board Regular meeting.

Results of the 2022-23 Fairfax County Youth Survey

The Fairfax County Youth Survey provides insights into the behaviors and attitudes that affect the health and well-being of Fairfax County youth. 

Most Fairfax County students reported they feel safe at their school. Overall, the percentage of students who reported risky behaviors continued to decrease in many areas including substance use, sexual activity, and aggressive and delinquent behavior. 

Mental health indicators including feelings of sadness/hopelessness, suicidal ideations, and suicide attempts also improved noticeably compared to 2021. Students who reported the recommended amount of physical activity increased compared to the prior year as well. 

Read more about the report’s findings, and find the full report on the county’s website.

Protective Factors Support Healthy Habits and Positive Choices

Results from the Fairfax County Youth Survey highlight the importance of students having three or more “protective factors.” Protective factors are individual, family-based, school-based, and community-based assets (such as participating in extracurricular activities, having parents available for help, or having teachers recognize good work) that support healthy habits and positive choices. Learn more about promoting positive outcomes

Survey data shows that students with at least three protective factors have a lower likelihood of reporting mental health challenges and engaging in a variety of risky behaviors, including substance and opioid abuse. These findings led to the development of the Three to Succeed program, which is being implemented divisionwide to educate FCPS students, families, and staff on the importance of protective factors and increasing the number of high school students with three or more of them.

Special Education Resources for Families

Fairfax County Public Schools has the following resources available to assist families of students with special needs. 

  • The Office of Special Education Procedural Support helps staff, families, and students with the implementation of and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended. 
  • Kathy Murphy, the assistant ombuds for special education, provides information and support to caregivers and students regarding special education and Section 504 services. Contact the Ombuds Office by submitting a question, calling 571-423-4014, or emailing [email protected]

Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education has updated the Virginia Family's Guide to Special Education. This state guide was developed to help those involved in special education including families, teachers, school administrators, advocates, and  students.

Eighteen Fairfax County Public Schools Recognized for Supporting Military-Connected Families

Eighteen Fairfax County public schools have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children as 2023 Purple Star Schools. The Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families. Read more about Purple Star Schools.

Observance Graphics Created by Students in Design Challenge

In May, the FCPS Office of Communications called for entries for new graphics to help acknowledge the religious and cultural observances identified on the 2023-24 School Year Calendar. Eleven winning designs will be featured on FCPS and school social media platforms, and in newsletters leading up to the holidays. See the full list of winners.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Opening in December

The FAFSA is needed to determine a student's eligibility for financial aid. Families of current seniors should be thinking about completing financial aid applications in order for students to be eligible to receive financial help to cover the costs of post-secondary education. With the late opening of the FAFSA, there are some things families can do now (English only). 

A funding opportunity is available for students who are unable to complete the FAFSA — the Virginia Alternative State Aid (VASA) program. Find out which aid option is right for your family on the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia website.

Good News - Student and Staff Successes Youth Athletes, Coaches and Parents Honored

Youth sports athletes, coaches and parents were honored on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 at the annual Stephen A. McLaughlin Champions of Character Awards at the Fairfax County Government Center.

The annual awards, founded in 2001, honor county youth, coaches and parents in each magisterial district for extraordinary service in pursuing victory with honor on and off the field of competition. Instituted by the Fairfax County Athletic Council, this program aims to support the tradition of amateur athletics in cultivating teamwork, leadership, good sportsmanship and community service. See the list of winners.

628 Students Named National Merit Commended Scholars

Six hundred twenty-eight FCPS students have been named National Merit Commended Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

In recognition of their outstanding ability and potential for academic success in college, NMSC will honor these students by sending Letters of Commendation to them through their high schools. See the full list of commended scholars.

FCPS Students Selected for Music Honors

Forty-six students representing 16 Fairfax County high schools have been selected for the 2023 All-Virginia Jazz Band and the 2023 VMEA Senior Honors Choir. Students throughout Virginia went through a rigorous audition process for positions within these ensembles. Student-musicians will rehearse with nationally recognized conductors. In addition, seven students representing two Fairfax County elementary schools have been selected for the 2023 All-Virginia Elementary Orff Ensemble. See the full list of students selected for these ensembles and a list of concerts that are open to the public.

Herndon HS Teacher Recognized in Congressional Record

Herndon HS teacher Gabe Segal was recognized by Representative Gerald Connolly for his efforts to raise funds to reduce school meal debt. The commemoration is included in the Congressional Record  https://twitter.com/FCPSRegion1/status/1716833591848747300.

Reston Teen Helps Remove Arts Barriers 

August Gabriel Rivers, a South Lakes HS senior, was named a finalist in WTOP’s Top Kids program for his work to raise money to support students who wish to participate in arts programs but were not financially able. Rivers worked with others to create “Reston Stars” which gives scholarships to students to participate in fine arts programs. He plans to use the $500 he received for the award to support additional scholarships. Read more.

Chantilly Academy Student Club Supports STEM Education

Future STEM Leaders Alliance (FSLA) is a student-led club with a mission to “spread STEM in our community and beyond, regardless of ethnicity or gender.”  Members of the club have been planning and facilitating a 5-week workshop with students at Brookfield Elementary.  Students describe the workshops as an interactive program that allows students to use LEGO Education kits to learn fundamental STEM concepts. 

Annandale Students Win Engineering First Place at Innovation Contest

Annandale HS students Carolina Valenzuela Rodriguez, Ava Sweall, Fatmata Musa, and An Pham presented their work for the Audi of America DRIVE: Like a Girl engineering innovation contest. The Audi of America DRIVE: Like a Girl program is an annual STEM competition in which high school girls identify, design, and present a project focused on the automotive industry. The Annandale team was judged by a panel of engineers and employees from Audi and the Stem for Her organization.

November is … Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native Americans. It is also a time to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges they have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

Military Family Appreciation Month

Military Family Appreciation Month is celebrated all of November.  If you are a military family, thank you for your service! The Office of Family and School Partnerships provides resources and support for military families transitioning to or exiting FCPS. Contact Meredith Ayala, family partnerships specialist and military liaison, for more information. 

Newsletter for Military-Connected Families

Did you know that the Office of Family and School Partnerships sends a monthly newsletter for military-connected families? Subscribe today.

Upcoming Performances

Here are just a few FCPS productions. Be sure to check out the Fine and Performing Arts Calendar on the FCPS website. Individual listings for many middle and high school theater events are featured. Users can subscribe to the calendar to be notified of upcoming performances, and each event can be added to a calendar or shared on social media.

Edison HS, The Diary of Anne Frank, November 29-December 2, https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/15633/

 

Holmes MS, Matilda, Jr., December 1-2, https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/15718/

 

West Potomac HS,  The Nutcracker, November 29-December 2, https://www.fcps.edu/event/nutcracker-4

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The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© 2023 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia

E-mail: Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Chair and At Large Member
Phone: 571-423-1090
Prabha Rollins, Staff Aide
571-423-1078, [email protected]

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