Pat's Winter 2019 Newsletter

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Hunter Mill District Newsletter

Contact Pat:

Phone: 571-423-1082

Melanie Turpin
Executive Admin Assistant

Pat Hynes' Winter 2019 Newsletter


Happy New Year! When I talk to students, parents, and educators around Hunter Mill, I’m filled with hope for 2019.


As you may know, my current term as your school board member expires at the end of 2019. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the welcoming, resilient, creative people of Hunter Mill for the last seven years. But I’ve decided not to seek reelection after this term. My first calling is the classroom and I’ve been teaching full time in Arlington these last two years. (The law does not allow me to serve on the board and teach in FCPS at the same time.) I was hopeful that I might be able to balance the time commitments of both jobs, but it really is not reasonable and I find myself stretched too thin too often. I look forward to the next year of work and progress on your behalf, but I also think it’s time for someone else to step up. I’m sure we will all be engaged in the November election and I have no doubt Hunter Mill will choose an excellent new school board member.


In other news, several capital improvement projects are planned or underway in our neighborhood schools. Over the winter break, Langston Hughes MS began a major 3-year renovation, the first one since the school was built in 1979. McNair ES is undergoing a major expansion project, with a separate addition to be built behind the existing building. Herndon HS is currently undergoing its first major renovation and addition since opening in 1967. Madison HS, Louise Archer ES, Crossfield ES, and Armstrong ES are also in the queue for additions and/or renovations over the next 5-10 years. For more information, see the 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Program, which the school board will discuss at our January 14 work session. This new addition of the CIP also includes, for the first time, a report on environmental sustainability in FCPS facilities. I encourage you to take a look!


The annual FCPS budget conversation begins again in earnest in January. Thanks to the support of the County Board of Supervisors, and the generosity of Fairfax County taxpayers, last year’s FCPS budget request was fully funded, allowing us to recover significant ground in competitive teacher pay. This year also looks promising, thanks to an improving local economy and stirrings of support in Richmond. We hope to be able to complete our teacher salary scale adjustments and once again be competitive in the regional market for the best educators. We also hope to find resources to begin lowering class sizes, which were raised three times during the lean budget years between 2007 and 2017. I encourage you to contact your state delegate and senator, as they head to Richmond this week for the 2019 General Assembly session. Fairfax County taxpayers pick up almost 75% of the FCPS operating budget, while Virginia continues to rank in the bottom ten states nationally in spending for K-12. We can and should do better. For more information about the FCPS budget process, click here.  


Speaking of the General Assembly, we are fortunate here in Hunter Mill to have state representatives who fight for public education and other critical needs of families and communities. The FCPS school board has a legislative program that outlines our state advocacy priorities. I’m pleased that the school board this year added to those priorities advocacy for action on climate change. With a physical footprint four times the size of the Pentagon, FCPS has the opportunity, and the fiscal and moral responsibility, to shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources of energy. Unfortunately, there are significant barriers in Virginia law that make such a shift slower and more expensive than it needs to be. Proposed legislation in Richmond this year would lower those barriers. If you’re so inclined, please let your state representatives know you support that flexibility for local governments and school districts.


Equity continues to be a driving force in the school board’s oversight of the school system. We are committed to closing opportunity and achievement gaps for students from different economic circumstances, racial and ethnic backgrounds, home languages, and learning profiles. FCPS educators are finding success, through programs that target English-language learners with limited formal education in their home countries and intensive, collaborative support for educators in high-poverty schools. Closing gaps is hard, stubborn work and FCPS has made noted progress and been asked to share our successes in Richmond. In addition to that hopeful work, the school board has also directed staff to conduct a comprehensive, independent review of the FCPS "advanced academic" elementary program, to ensure that every child, every day, in every classroom has access to our most engaging and challenging curriculum. We expect that work to be completed, with recommendations for reforms, by year’s end.


Finally, I want to thank all the incredibly generous partners our schools have in Hunter Mill. RestON (Reston Opportunity Neighborhood) is in its second year of operation, supported by Cornerstones, the business community, local churches, Fairfax County, FCPS, and most importantly, Neighborhood Ambassadors who advocate for the children and families in their own housing communities. For more information about RestON, please see the county's Opportunity Neighborhoods  2018-19 Winter Highlights bulletin. Kudos to the PTAs and community members behind the South Lakes and Madison HS food pantries! Thanks to one of our great community partners, Restoration Church, already a supporter of Forest Edge ES, for its pledge to recruit 100 volunteer tutors for South Lakes HS! Let them know if you can help. There are so many more community partners to thank – I will have to do a newsletter just for that!


All the best in 2019! Thank you for all your support. Please keep in touch.


Pat Hynes