Back To School Newsletter from Pat Hynes

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Hunter Mill District Newsletter

Contact Pat:

Phone: 571-423-1082

Melanie Turpin
Executive Admin Assistant

Back-to-School Newsletter

Welcome back to another school year! I hope the summer break gave everyone some time to rest, play and, of course, read. For all of our brand new students, welcome to Fairfax County Public Schools! We look forward to getting to know you.


Getting to know each other was an important theme of Superintendent Brabrand’s keynote address at the FCPS Leadership Conference on July 31. We all want to learn and work in a place where we are known and appreciated. Students need to have trusted adults at school and parents need to feel welcome and respected as partners in their children’s education.


Family Engagement Survey Results

FCPS recently completed a family engagement survey to measure how well our schools are doing at communicating and building strong relationships with families. The results are mostly promising, but as always, there are opportunities for improvement. School board members are discussing the results with school leaders in our districts, to celebrate what’s working and find out what improvements are planned. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about the survey results.



The fiscal year 2020 budget, as approved by the school board in May, has a lot of good news for our schools. Thanks to a second straight year of full funding, we are able to continue bringing teacher and support staff salaries up to a competitive market rate. We also raised the pay for long-term substitutes who are FCPS retirees significantly above the market average – they are our best substitutes, so please spread the word and encourage them to sign up.


The FY 2020 budget also funds: an improved staffing formula that protects smaller class sizes in elementary schools; new positions to support sustainable energy and environmental education across FCPS; and the first steps of FCPSOn, a program that will provide individual computer devices to every student.


Budget-building will begin this fall for the next fiscal year, so please let board members know about your priorities.


Important Information About Transportation

  • If bus routes are changed due to weather emergencies, a KIT message will go to those affected parents.
  • If there is a delay in bus arrival for students, parents can access a page with up-to-date information:
  • The new Here Comes the Bus parent app is planned to go out to all parents enrolled in the FCPS Parent View Account. For more information, or to sign up and start using Here Comes the Bus, please use the following link:

Boundary Policy Update (No changes coming to Hunter Mill schools)

You may have heard that the school board is updating the FCPS boundary setting policy (Policy 8130), which has not had a comprehensive review in over 30 years. The most recent documents are posted as part of the agenda for the board’s July 22 work session. We began this review back in October 2018 in response to the Facilities Planning Advisory Council’s long-standing advocacy that FCPS have a transparent and efficient boundary policy as part of its facilities toolbox, to address significant capacity imbalances in certain spots around the county.


An example of a capacity imbalance that needs the board’s attention is McLean HS, where there are currently 18 trailers being used as classrooms, while Langley HS, just three miles away, has over 400 empty seats and is projected to continue losing population. The board cannot continue to advocate with our county funders for more facilities dollars to reduce the nearly 800 trailers now in use county-wide when we are not addressing obvious situations like McLean HS.


FCPS staff has researched best practices in boundary policies around the country and recommended policy updates to the board. Once the board completes and adopts those updates, the plan is that individual boundary change studies may begin. A boundary study is a months-long process of community engagement, in which potentially affected parents participate in studying the need for a boundary change and, if needed, the best approach to take regarding which neighborhoods would be affected and how many students would be “grandfathered” in their current school.


The good news for schools in Hunter Mill is that there are no capacity challenges that would trigger a boundary study at this time. Several Hunter Mill schools requiring additional space have received additions or renovations-plus-additions in the past six years. Langston Hughes is undergoing a beautiful renovation that will add extra space. McNair Elementary will open its new “upper school” in 2020 to replace its numerous trailers, and Louise Archer is in the queue for an addition to replace the ten-room modular building. The concerns about overcrowding at Vienna Elementary have abated for now, with no current plan to reopen a boundary discussion there.


Joint Environmental Taskforce

Recognizing the responsibility public entities have to address climate change in our decisions about facilities, transportation, land use, public health, and education, the school board and the county board of supervisors created a Joint Environmental Taskforce to coordinate that effort. The task force—called JET for short—was jointly created in April and is currently composed of two members from each board, residents and students.


The JET’s mission is to join the political and administrative capabilities of the county and the school system to proactively address climate change and environmental sustainability. It will include community partners from higher education, industry, community and student advocacy groups to set and meet aggressive goals in areas of common influence, such as workforce development, infrastructure and sustainability of public facilities and transportation, land use planning, communication and community engagement, and other challenges and opportunities as they arise.


The task force will provide a forum for collaborating and addressing county wide issues and aligning institutional policies and practices pertaining to climate change and environmental sustainability. The first meeting of the JET will be on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, at 4:30 pm, at the Mason District Government Center. All JET meetings are open to the public, and we welcome your attendance and input.



The school board’s Office of the Auditor General continues to provide excellent support to the board in its oversight role of FCPS standards and practices. Thank you to the community members on the board’s Audit Committee, whose experienced advice is critically helpful to the board as well. For those interested, the Auditor General presented her FY 2019 annual report to the school board in late June. The FY 2020 Risk Assessment and Audit Plan was adopted by the board in July.


“One Fairfax”

You may be aware that in November 2017, the school board adopted the “One Fairfax” policy. That policy was developed in coordination with the county board of supervisors and county and schools staff. The goal of the policy is to embed considerations of equity in all decisions we make. Equity, in the context of public schools, means ensuring that all FCPS employees are trained, supported, and held accountable for meeting every child’s needs every day in every school. That equity lens informs goals and measures in the FCPS strategic plan and in the county government’s planning as well. FCPS staff have developed an Equity Profile to provide transparency and accountability for the community.


School board members and FCPS leadership staff work hard to keep the focus on equity alive in every conversation. We believe that focus is what’s best for kids and reflects the values of our Fairfax County community.


Needed: FPAC Hunter Mill representative

Howard Perlstein has represented the Hunter Mill District on the school board’s Facilities Planning Advisory Council (FPAC) since its beginning over a decade ago. I can’t thank Howard enough for his dedicated service to this community. All things must come to an end, they say, and Howard has decided to move on to other pursuits. He will be hard to replace, but we must try.


FPAC serves as a liaison to the community on the Capital Improvement Program and provides critical advice to the board. If you think you might be interested in serving, please email me at You can find more information here. Let me know if you have any questions.


Vote November 5!

Many people are focused on the federal election in 2020, but we have very important state and local elections in Virginia this November. If you are not registered to vote at your current address, the deadline is October 15. Please take some time to find out more about the school board candidates this year. Your vote for excellent public schools is so important!


Have a great school year!

Please check your school’s web site for important back-to-school dates and announcements. I may not make it to your back-to-school night – they tend to be stacked up on the same nights – so I’ve put together a quick welcome video. Have a wonderful start to the school year and please keep in touch!


Pat Hynes