January Community Update

Dear Community Members,

This new year brings much hope for better and safer days ahead for all of us. Yet, difficult decisions await for the School Board and school division. Please know that I am doing all that I can to make informed-decisions that reflect the collective wishes of Hunter Mill residents.

I’m continuing my work from the last several months to advocate for more supports for our students in the time of COVID and virtual learning. This includes having mental health supports available for students, families, and staff – including that staff is remaining closely connected with students who are struggling. Not only are FCPS supports vital, but Fairfax County mental health supports are also needed in a collaborative effort with our schools. Relatedly, I continue to press the Superintendent about student workload to minimize pressure on our children while maintaining meaningful learning experiences.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

January is focused on developing the FCPS budget for the next fiscal year (FY), FY22, which begins on July 1, 2021.

As the Board’s Budget Committee Chair, I have a central role in this work.

In the upcoming public meetings, budget work is scheduled frequently – leading up to a first major decision-point on February 18, when the School Board adopts the proposed budget, which then goes to the County Board of Supervisors for deliberation. Work continues until the School Board adopts the final FCPS budget in May. All public budget materials will be available on Board Docs for meetings where budget work is scheduled. For more background, you can view the presentation slides with info from November about both the County and FCPS fiscal context and forecast. 

  • Tuesday, January 5, 11am-6pm: public Work Session.
    • Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) (11:00-1:00pm)
    • Office of the Auditor General’s FY 20 Annual Report (1:30-3:00pm)
    • Return to School update from the Superintendent (3:00-6:00pm)
  • Thursday, January 7, 7pm-10:30pm: public Regular Meeting and public Hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). 
    • To reserve a space on the speakers list, you can sign up online or call the School Board Office at 571-423-1075 during normal business hours of 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 
    • View the CIP materials here (scroll to the bottom of the page to open the attachments)
    • The Superintendent’s proposed FY22 budget is presented at the Regular Meeting.
    • During the CIP Hearing, the Board hears community input from registered speakers – no Board action is taken.
  • Tuesday, January 12, 4:00-7:00pm: public Work Session: FY22 budget development.
  • Tuesday, January 19, 11:00am-4:00pm: public Work Session: Program Budget Review of the Instructional Services Department.
  • Tuesday, January 21, 7:00pm-10:30pm: public Regular Meeting.
  • Tuesday, January 26, 6pm: public Hearing on the FY22 budget.
    • To reserve a space on the speakers list (opening at 6 a.m. on Monday, January 11), you can sign up online or call the School Board Office at 571-423-1075 during normal business hours of 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 
    • If need be, a second day for the Budget Hearing for public input will continue on Wednesday, January 27 at 6pm. 
  • Wednesday, January 27: public Work Session: FY22 budget development.

Accessing Board Meetings

View this link for a comprehensive list of upcoming meetings and associated information.

Click here for meeting logistics, agendas and handouts (to view the slides and materials, scroll down to the bottom of the page). Meetings are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

Other upcoming work:

FCPS Legislative Advocacy in the Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia General Assembly convenes for a short session on January 13, through February 27. I am eager to advocate to state elected officials for support that the Board has previously presented to our Fairfax delegation in this FCPS Legislative Program.

Madison High School Addition 

James Madison High School

Plans to increase and modernize space at Madison HS are moving into place at the start of 2021! The public voted in 2017 and 2019 to approve bonds to fund capital improvements at Madison, to ease overcrowding and update spaces. The school division plans to advertise the request for bid for construction services in late January or early February, and make the award soon after with public Board action. Construction is slated to begin in the Spring. Thank you Fairfax County taxpayers for investing in our learning facilities!

Hunter Mill Happenings 

COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall, Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7pm.

Do you have questions regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines? Or the local testing strategy? Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a virtual town hall with Fairfax County Health Department Director Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. Dr. Gloria will present updates on the pandemic and local vaccine distribution plans. You can send questions prior to the town hall to huntermill@fairfaxcounty.gov; please put Jan. 6 Town Hall in the subject line. Learn more.

Connecting Pyramid PTAs

I continue to meet virtually with Hunter Mill PTA/PTO/PTSA/PTSO executive board members and booster club representatives to share challenges, successes, and helpful resources. In December, I convened a conversation with

  • South Lakes Pyramid Elementary School PTAs/PTOs
  • Madison Pyramid Elementary School PTAs/PTOs
  • Madison & South Lakes High School PTAs/PTOs/PTSAs/Boosters 

I am scheduling similar first meetings for middle schools in the coming new year. If you want your school organization to participate, please contact my assistant, Emma Heisey, at eheisey@fcps.edu!

Information on Numerous Topics

Free Meals for ALL Fairfax Children!

Melanie Meren

Did you know that any child in Fairfax up to age 18 can receive free meals, every day? FCPS receives Federal funding for school nutrition programs and the more children who pick up these free meals, the more funding FCPS actually retains!

Click here to watch my video update!

Pick-up locations are listed here.

FCPS Names New Executive Director of Office of Communication and Community Relations

FCPS Superintendent Brabrand has named Helen Lloyd, who currently serves as the Executive Director of Communications for Alexandria City Public Schools, as the district’s new executive director of the Office of Communication and Community Relations (OCCR), effective February 1, 2021.

Read more about Ms. Lloyd's expertise and experience here. I look forward to working with her in the very near future! 

Stop the Spread - FCPS Student Voice  

FCPS Student Voice, a platform for student expression, is launching a new information campaign called "Stop the Spread" to remind students of the steps they can take to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

FCPS Student Voice

You can choose any or all of the topics below to share a video, photos, graphics, drawings, or anything creative that helps us all to remember how important it is to follow these steps so students can return to school. 

Please visit the FCPS Student Voice webpage for submission details. Email questions or comments to studentvoice@fcpsschools.net

Steps include:

  • Wearing a mask.
  • Staying 6’ (two arm lengths) apart.
  • Washing your hands (with soap and water for 20 seconds) or using hand sanitizer.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes.
  • Staying home if you don’t feel well.   

Sports-related steps include:

  • Bringing your own equipment.
  • Wearing a mask.
  • Washing your hands.
  • Staying home if you don't feel well.

Resources available during this time:

Food Resources: 


Mental Health and Community Resources: 


Fairfax County Resources (Assistance from a Distance): 


Ways to Support Local Organizations: 


Academics and Continuity of Learning Plan: 


If you're feeling overwhelmed or in crisis, please text NEEDHELP to 85511, 24/7

Virginia Survey of Families with Young Children

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID) has had a profound impact on Virginians and has posed unique challenges for parents of young children.

Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, and UVA are conducting this survey to learn about Virginia families’ experiences with the care and education for their young children (birth through kindergarten) this year.

This survey will take about 10-15 minutes and is available in both English and Spanish. You may skip any questions you do not wish to answer, and you may end the survey at any time. 

The Virginia Survey of Families with Young Children

Contacting Me

I prioritize responses to Hunter Mill constituents, so please be sure to identify yourself as such if you contact me. 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. This form prioritizes emails to me from constituents, and helps me track communication so I can be sure you receive a response. Thank you for your cooperation.


Please take good care,

Melanie Meren


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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.

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