Update from School Board Member Melanie Meren

Update from School Board Member Melanie Meren


Hello Residents and Friends,

I hope you are as well as can be at this time. Daily, I continue to adjust my own expectations for learning and working in my household. It is difficult to face the present and evolving challenges and limits on what can be achieved during this state of the world. I find that in addition to focusing on staying physically healthy, it helps to try to maintain happiness and gratitude within my family. I hope you are adjusting your own expectations as needed each day to be healthy and successful in this scenario.

Frequently-Used FCPS Websites

School Board Update on the Budget

This is critical time for developing the FCPS budget for next year, Fiscal Year (FY) 21, which will fund School Year (SY) 20-21. The budget preparation work the School Board had been doing prior to the COVID closure must be completely revisited at this time to account for expected decreases in revenue and funding at federal, state, and local levels. FCPS funding will be impacted by the amount that the County Board of Supervisors makes available as a transfer from the County’s general fund. Decisions about funding amounts are under consideration throughout April.

I have been committed to reducing teacher overwhelm in our classrooms and particularly want to ensure educators have resources to meet the social/emotional and behavioral health needs of our children. Prior to the COVID closure, this was a priority I heard echoed by dozens of principals.

In thinking ahead to the student body who will return to school in SY20-21, it is vital to provide such supports to educators. Our students will need to overcome COVID-related experiences – which will include trauma – that they have endured. I will continue to advocate for these resources in the upcoming budget, as well as expect the division to supplement funding from programs that are no longer as critical as this need.

Budget Work Session

Thursday, April 9 beginning at 10:00 a.m.

For the agenda, click here.

The Work Session will be live streamed on Channel 99 and at fcps.edu/tv.

Public Hearings on the Budget

On April 28-30, the Board of Supervisors will host public hearings on the FY 2021 budget - video and written testimony is encouraged and an online form will also be available. More information is forthcoming on how to provide input in these formats. You can also send comments by email to huntermill@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The School Board will hold public hearings on May 11-13. Details on how to participate are forthcoming. Budget work will continue through May, with a vote expected to occur on May 21 at this point.  The new budget goes into effect July 1. 

Distance Learning Packets Update

If you didn't receive your learning packet last week or want the packets to be fillable online - here is the info from FCPS about what happened and what to expect going forward:

“The team creating and arranging for the distribution of the learning packets intended to have all students receive the learning packets on Monday, March 30. While the content and printing were completed according to plan, the packets were delayed during the mailing process. This delay created a situation where some students did not receive the learning packets during the week. Based on the advice from the US Postal Service and our mailing vendors, adjustments to the distribution process have been made which should ensure students have the learning packets by Monday of each week for the remainder of the school year.”

We will also be working to change the downloadable packets to fillable PDFs for kids who would prefer to complete them electronically (and save some papers!).”

Also, if you have a student with an Individualized Education Plan or 504 plan for learning accommodations, you should receive an additional packet that addresses supports you can provide at home for your student.

Available: STEM Mentoring by Students

BranchOut! Mentoring is a program that connects students in communities of need in Fairfax, DC, and Montgomery County, MD, to student mentors who provide Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) mentoring services.

Students can sign up to be tutored here.

Mentored students will be served online through services such as Zoom and Google Hangouts, all of which will be individually arranged once pairs are made. Through this, we hope that student mentors will be able to help other students of different age groups and backgrounds with their academic pursuits and preparation for future exams. There are many tutors offering a variety of subjects to tutor, so tutees would have opportunities in whatever they'd like tutored and with flexible times--at no cost.

Further information can be found on the website: https://www.velbranchout.org and applications will be open until May 20.

Available: Fairfax County Council of PTAs Scholarships & Board Seats

The Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA) is awarding five $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors! Here are the details:

Hey Seniors! Can you use an extra $1,000 toward college tuition? Has your volunteer work helped shape who you are today? Share your experience with us for a chance for a $1,000 scholarship from FCCPTA! Submission deadline is April 15. Winners will be notified before, and awarded at, the May 6 FCCPTA meeting. For more information and to apply, visit: http://www.fccpta.org/programs-2/scholarship/

FCCPTA is also holding elections to serve on its Board. FCCPTA is an effective advocacy and support organization in Fairfax County. Serving on the Board will ensure that parents continue to receive the robust offerings that only PTA can provide, including information, special deals, trainings, and financial assistance. Please consider stepping up! For questions and to express interest, please contact FCCPTA President Jane Miscavage at president@fccpta.org, or Vice President of Outreach Kara Jenkins at vp.outreach@fccpta.org.

Resources During COVID Closure

30-Minute Phone Consults for Parents and Middle or High School Students

Any FCPS parent may schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with a school psychologist or school social worker, for either themselves or their middle or high school student. More information is here.

Wi-Fi Access

  • All Fairfax County library locations have exterior wireless internet access. Access is in parking lots from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., seven days a week.

  • FCPS Schools also have Wi-Fi Access in the parking lots for those who need it.

Please be mindful of social distancing requirements - Be sure to stand a minimum of 6 feet apart from others. Ideally, if you have a car, please remain in your car while accessing the Wi-Fi. Thank you for keeping us all safe.

Discounted Internet Service Costs

With distance learning gearing up, we know that some families may need access to Internet. Listed below are some companies offering assistance.

Comcast: https://www.internetessentials.com/covid19

Cox: https://www.cox.com/residential/internet/connect2compete/covid-19-response.html

Verizon: https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-helps-eliminate-worry

Complete List: https://www.highspeedinternet.com/resources/are-there-government-programs-to-help-me-get-internet-service

Food and Meal Support

Here is the latest for resources for food for families in need:

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency continues to evolve, we understand that individuals and families in our communities may have food assistance needs. Fairfax County and Fairfax County Public Schools have worked together to develop a searchable map that includes community food distribution sites, including FCPS grab and go locations, community meal distribution sites, food pantries, and other related services.

All FCPS students (regardless of age) are eligible for free grab and go breakfast and lunch, as well as other county children under the age of 18. Adults picking up meals for children should let staff know how many children meals they need. Adults may pay $2 for the meals as well.

As a reminder, it is important to follow social distancing guidelines.

Help People In Our Community through FCPS Foundation

FCPS has a Foundation that provides support to our schools and has continued to be a resource for community members who want to help. Please consider making a donation to our Foundation to help our children and families in need.

During this time of closure, the Foundation has:

  • Provided $40,000 to help order 30,000 school supply kits for students at Title I schools. The kits have 8 items in them, including crayons, paper, pencils, pencil sharpeners and scissors and will be mailed directly to the students’ homes
  • Committed funds to support the IT department in its purchase of MiFi devices so that students who do not have internet at home can access course content.
  • Given $17,000 to local food banks that assist our students
  • Provided $2,500 in grocery gift cards for distribution to homeless students.

All the best to you,


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.

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