February 2020 Newsletter from Rachna Sizemore Heizer

Rachna Sizemore Heizer's Newsletter

A Note from Rachna:

It’s been quite a month! In our first 40 days, this newly constituted FCPS School Board adopted its advertised budget and our Capital Improvement Program. Our budget process continues through May, so there is plenty of time for comments.

As an at-large member, I’ve also been busy visiting schools and centers across our county, talking to constituents, and learning about our wonderful communities and families – look for me at a school near you soon!

Waples Mill

Students at Waples Mill ES make valentine cards for former foster children.

Fostering civic engagement and service learning for our students is a particular passion of mine. It was very meaningful to me to participate in two events designed to give back - Waples Mill Elementary School’s “Valentines for Foster Care to Success” and the Langley Pyramid “Rise Against Hunger” events.

Waples Mill students and their families made 894 valentines for care packages and sent them to former foster care kids who are now in college and may not get care packages like their fellow college classmates. Read more here

Approximately 450 FCPS Langley pyramid families, students, and community members teamed up with Rise Against Hunger to package 93,000 meals to feed people worldwide. Read more here.

Chantilly HS

Students from the Jungdaehyun School sharing experiences at Chantilly High School.

I also attended a cultural event at Chantilly High school where I listened to students, who had escaped from North Korea, share their experiences with students at Chantilly High School. My favorite part, outside of “Joe’s” amazing magic tricks, were these words of advice from one of the Korean students to our FCPS students:

”Freedom is a gift. I hope you pursue your dreams, never taking for granted the freedom you have that allows you to pursue your dreams.”

It was a sobering and powerful reminder of how blessed we are here in Fairfax County.

I’ve enjoyed hearing from many of you regarding concerns and ideas for continual improvement. I promise to work to listen, represent you, and help you find resources and support.

Let me know how I can help you!

Yours in Service,


Please follow me on Social Media:


Twitter: @RachnaHeizer


What's In Here

My goal is to provide information and resources to help you engage with our schools, as well as highlight upcoming events of interest.

You will see my newsletter will contain:

  1. Office Hours - I plan to hold one weekday and one weekend or evening office hours monthly.
  2. Resources - Each month I will share resources that may be of value to you and instructions on how to receive information from FCPS.
  3. Around FCPS - Each month I will share some interesting or new information.
  4. Student or Staff Spotlight - Each month I will spotlight the amazing work of our students or staff.
  5. What’s Going On - Current School Board work, upcoming School Board meetings and events from FCPS, as well as from all five of our regions around the county. Each month, I will try to highlight an event from a different school or center in each region.
  6. Information Links - I will share links to sign up for more information.
  7. Food For Thought - I end with an interesting article or thought on a topic and I welcome your thoughts in response.

I hope this will help you find ways to have your concerns addressed, questions answered, and ways to engage with our school system!

Office Hours

Thank you to everyone who came out to my January office hours! I appreciated that so many of you took time from your busy lives to speak to me – each of my January office hours started early and ran over an hour late! I love the civic engagement of our community.

Tuesday, February 25, 6:15 - 8:15 pm

Woodrow Wilson Library, Meeting Room 1, 6101 Knollwood Dr, Falls Church, VA

Format: Community conversation - I will meet with everyone as a round table. 

Wednesday, February 26, 9:15 - 11:15 am

Caboose Commons, 2918 Eskridge Rd, Fairfax, VA (downstairs)

Format: One-on-one. Please sign in when you arrive.Those in attendance will be seen in the order of arrival.


Each month I will share some resources to help you and your students.

Student Mental Health and Resiliency

Many students struggle with emotional and behavioral issues that can affect their learning and overall wellness. If you have any concerns about anxiety, peer relationship problems, depression, or other social and emotional issues your child may be experiencing, please contact your school psychologist, school social worker, or school counselor. They are available for consultation and support.

Visit the Mental Health and Resiliency and Student Wellness:Tips and Strategies web pages to learn about mental health resources and fostering resiliency in your child. 


Registration Open for Select Summer Programs

Registration is available for the following FCPS summer programs: CTE Summer Academy, Elementary Institute for the Arts, Institute for the Arts, Tech Adventure Camp, and CTE Summer Career Academy. Students should register for programs based on the grade they are in during the current 2019-20 school year.

Details including program dates, tuition, and registration information will be posted as they become available on the FCPS Summer Learning webpage.  

Here is a video with more information about IFTA, FCPS Summer Institute for the Arts.


New Technology to find your child's bus - the Here Comes the Bus Mobile App

To help you know when your child’s bus is approaching your stop, FCPS is now using the Here Comes the Bus mobile app. Here Comes the Bus is a free school bus tracking app that can simplify morning and afternoon routines for parents and students by giving real-time bus location and text or email notification alerts, helping everybody get to the bus stop on time.

FCPS Ombudsman

Need help navigating our school system? Reach out to our ombudsman!

Armando L. Peri, Jr., Family and Student Ombudsman

Dawn Clements, Assistant Ombudsman for Special Education



Around FCPS

Each month I will share some information about FCPS programs, data, or departments to help you better know all of what goes on in FCPS.

Equity Profile

Want to know how our schools are doing? Check out the FCPS Equity Profile!

The FCPS Equity Profile is a part of the work outlined in the One Fairfax Policy which states, "Fairfax County Public Schools will incorporate data and publish performance measures that can be analyzed, quantified, and disaggregated to evaluate the extent to which our systems are achieving goals."

The Equity Profile data was updated on January 31. The student demographics data provides information about all students, various demographic groups, and specific student populations. A page for each of the four goals of the Strategic Plan outlines the work around division-wide desired outcomes and metrics.


The Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools

Check out our Foundation! It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to supporting our schools, teachers, and students through building connections in our community to invest in our students. The Foundation has provided teacher grants, employee recognition programs, and the Kids In Need Fund. Visit their website for more information.

Recently, the Foundation provided support for students at Mosby Woods to learn how to farm vertically. Also, students from Glen Forest Elementary School recently went to the Thinkabit Lab on the Falls Church campus of Virginia Tech to explore engineering careers, coding, and robo-craft.

The Foundation helps fund supplies for students in need, a vital service for our growing population of students living in, or close to, poverty. In the 2018-19 school year, close to 1 in every 3 FCPS students (29%) received free or reduced priced meals, an indicator that they, and their families, are living in poverty.

Check out more about the foundation and please consider a donation to support their great work! Donate Here

Spotlight On...

Each month I will spotlight an achievement by a student or students, staff, or a school.

Centreville HS graduate Justin Skule plays in the Super Bowl

I have to add a personal note – as a native Californian from the San Francisco Bay Area, I have been a 49ers fan my entire life! So I was very excited to learn one of our FCPS alumni was a member of our Niners Superbowl team!

Justin Skule is a member of the San Francisco 49ers (offensive lineman) and a graduate of Centreville HS (Class of 2015).

Read more about his story here.


Fairfax Villa ES staff members and students showed their team allegiance for Super Bowl LIV.

Braddock Elementary School Wins Computer Science in Your Neighborhood Competition

Braddock Elementary School is one of two winners in the Computer Science in Your Neighborhood competition, a joint project of the Virginia Department of Education, the Science Museum of Virginia, and CodeVA. Braddock was named a winner in Virginia’s Region 4 and students were recognized for creating a digital product about their interest in computer science and the role it plays in their lives, families, and communities. As a class winner, Braddock will receive a set of robots, courtesy of CodeVA.

Read more about the competition here.

What's Going On?

Each month I will aim to share what’s going on with our School Board, around our five regions, and in our county. Want more info regarding what’s going on? Check out important upcoming FCPS events and engagement opportunities; they’re posted online here.

What's Going On - School Board

Capital Improvement Program

The School Board voted to approve the Fairfax County Public Schools FY 2021-25 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at its business meeting on February 6.

The FY 2021-25 CIP identifies construction of a new high school in the western area of the county. It also identifies new school construction of four elementary schools. The 2019 School Bond Referendum provided funding for the construction of one new elementary school, the relocation of one modular addition, construction of three high school additions, and renovations of five elementary schools and two middle schools. The bond also included funding for the planning of one new elementary school and the renovations of five elementary schools.

Get more information about the FY 2021-25 Capital Improvement Program.

FY 2021 Budget

The School Board recently adopted the FY 2021 Advertised Budget of $3.2 billion, representing an increase of 5.8% with a focus on employee compensation.

Among other highlights, the FY 2021 Advertised Budget allocates $601.6 million for special education programs, an increase of 7.5 percent over the FY 2020 Approved Budget, to support nearly 1,000 additional special education students by funding teachers, assistants, and attendants.

The School Board will present its Advertised Budget to the County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, April 14; hold a work session on Thursday, April 30; and hold a public hearing on Monday, May 12 (and May 13, if needed), followed by a budget work session on Thursday, May 14. Adoption of the FY 2021 Approved Budget by the School Board is scheduled for May 21.

More information is available on the FCPS Budget website.

Black History Month

The School Board passed a resolution recognizing February as Black History Month at its February 6 business meeting. Read the full resolution here.

Fort Belvoir

Fort Belvoir Primary art teacher Symone Simmons discusses famous and influential black artists on the announcements during February, Black History Month.

School Board Meetings

We welcome you to attend our meetings and share your thoughts!

Can't attend? Many of our meetings are recorded and available on our YouTube channel here.

  • February 20, McNair Naming Public Hearing, 5:30 pm, LJMS
  • February 20, Business Meeting, 7:00 pm, LJMS
  • February 21, Strategic Plan Retreat, 12:00 pm, GAC
  • February 24, Work Session, 6:00 pm, GAC
  • February 28, Joint Budget Meeting with Board of Supervisors, 2:30 pm, Fairfax County Government Center
  • March 5, Business Meeting, 7:00 pm, LJMS
  • March 9, All-Day Work Session, 11:00 am, GAC
  • March 18, Lee HS Renaming Public Hearing, 6:00 pm, LJMS
  • March 19, Business Meeting, 7:00 pm, LJMS

LJMS is Luther Jackson Middle School and GAC is Gatehouse Administrative Center. Both are in Falls Church.

School Board

From Left to Right: Karen Corbett Sanders, Melanie Meren, Megan McLaughlin, Tammy Derenak Kaufax, Ricardy Anderson, Karl Frisch, Laura Jane Cohen, Karen Keys-Gamarra, Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Abrar Omeish, Stella Pekarsky, Elaine Tholen

What's Going On - Our Regions


Students, families, community members and staff package food as part of the Rise Against Hunger project.

Region Event and Highlights: Each month I will share an upcoming event or interesting news from a different school in each of our five regions.

Region 1: Crossfield ES, Oakton Pyramid Digital Citizenship Expo

Tuesday, February 25, 6:30 pm

Parents are invited to learn how families and children can develop a healthy relationship with technology.

Region 2: Justice HS' 2nd Annual Black History Month Celebration

Friday, February 28, 9:45 - 11 am

Dr. Janice Underwood, the first director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the State of Virginia, will be the guest speaker. Justice students will entertain attendees with several musical performances.

Region 3: Rose Hill ES Spring Musical Oz, at Edison High School

Friday, March 6, 7 pm & Saturday, March 7, 1 pm and 6 pm

Performances will be held at Edison High School (5801 Franconia Rd, Alexandria). Tickets will be available at the door ($7 for adults, $4 for children, $1 for children at matinee). Concessions will be available for sale at all performances.

Region 4: Centreville HS Choral Cabaret

Saturday, Februray 29, 6:30 - 10 pm, Cafeteria

Showcasing Centreville HS' Choral Department talent. Doors open at 5:30 pm and tickets are $10. Come enjoy a nice evening of marvelous music, silent auctions, and delectable desserts!

Region 5: Woodson HS Special Olympics FanQuest

Saturday, March 7, 5:30 pm Carnival, 7 pm Games

FanQuest is a Special Olympics and Unified Basketball Tournament. Athletes with special needs rarely get the chance to shine center court, and this is their chance. Come watch and cheer!

What's Going On - Countywide

2/17 - 2/21 Custodian Appreciation Week

Please consider showing your school custodian some appreciation – they work hard to ensure a clean and welcoming environment for our students and staff.


Recognizing our hard working custodians

2/22 Super Transition Saturday

Jackson MS

Career and Transition Services (CTS), the FCPS Parent Resource Center, and several Fairfax County adult service providers will host Super Transition Saturday on Saturday, February 22, from 9 am - 12:15 pm, at Luther Jackson MS. This event is for parents/guardians and educators of students of all ages with IEPs. Breakout sessions will cover postsecondary education support, the importance of student self-determination beginning in the elementary years, employment support programs, future planning considerations, and CTS support services. There will also be a parent/guardian and student panel. View the event schedule.

Fairfax Academy

2/23 Dance Students Host Benefit Concert for Multiple Sclerosis Society

Dance students from Fairfax Academy will hold a dance concert to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society on Sunday, February 23, at 6 pm. Dances from the academy classes, as well as groups from the community, will be featured. Participating organizations include Glen Echo Improvisation Movement Theatre, enVISIon from Georgetown Visitation, Nrityanjali, Manassas Youth Ballet, and Sundays on TAP. The dance concert will be held in the Fairfax High auditorium.  Tickets are not required, but a suggested donation to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society is $20. The Fairfax Academy Dance program is in its 19th year. The academy serves students of all levels, from beginner through advanced, and encourages creativity, collaboration, and communication through dance.

Fairfax County Teen Job Fairs and Career-Building Workshops

This event is open to all Fairfax County teens who are looking for employment, or tips on career-building skills such as networking, building a resume, and interviewing.

Event schedule:

  • Saturday, March 7, 10 am - noon, at Woodson HS
  • Saturday, March 7, 2-4 pm, at South County HS
  • Saturday, March 14, 2-4 pm at Chantilly HS
  • Saturday, March 21, 10 am - noon, at Mount Vernon HS
  • Saturday, March 28, 10 am - noon, at West Springfield HS

Get more information.

Sign up for more information

FCPS News You Choose

To sign up for updates and select your subscriber preferences, enter your email address here to update your profile.

FCPS Calendars

Access numerous FCPS Calendars and subscribe here on our website.

Citizen Advisory Committees

Our Citizen Advisory Committees advise the School Board on a variety of issues. These meetings are open to the public and welcome public comment or just visitors who want to listen and learn.

Adult and Community Education (ACE) Advisory Committee

  • February 26, GAC Room 5050, 6:00 pm
  • March 25, GAC Room 5050, 6:00 pm

Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) Advisory Committee

  • March 10, Leis Center Room 109, 7:00 pm

Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee

  • March 12, GAC Rooms 4050/51, 8:30 am

Human Resources Advisory Committee

  • March 9, GAC Room 5055, 6:00 pm

Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee

  • March 11, GAC Room 5055, 6:30 pm

School Health Advisory Committee

  • February 19, GAC Room 1600, 7:00 pm
  • March 18, GAC Room 1600, 7:00 pm

Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities

  • March 11, Dunn Loring Center Room 108, 7:00 pm

Title I Parent Advisory Committee

  • February 18, GAC Room 2050, 7:00 pm
  • March 31, GAC Room 2050, 7:00 pm

Facilities Planning Advisory Council, 

  • February 18, GAC Room 5050, 6:00 pm
  • March 3, GAC Room 5050, 7:00 pm
  • March 17, GAC Room 5050, 6:00 pm

GAC is Gatehouse Administrative Center, 8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church. Please park in the parking garage on the side of the building and take the elevator to the appropriate floor (5050 is on the 5th floor, 4050/51 is on the 4th floor, and 1600 is on the 1st floor).

Food For Thought

Each month I will share an interesting article about education policy, practices, current trends, or more. The topics in these articles do not necessarily reflect my views or priorities, but aim to share interesting tidbits related to education. 

This month, I am sharing an article about lockdown drills. Lockdown drills have become commonplace around the country, but there are growing concerns that these may lead to greater stress and anxiety for our students. Virginia law requires school districts to conduct four lockdown drills each year. Two large teachers’ unions are calling for rethinking student involvement in lockdown drills. Read more 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.

© 2020 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia