Town Hall Announcement and Mid-April Update

Dear Community,

This school year continues to be filled with changes and innovation – some of which is welcome, and some that makes for challenges when adjusting to. 

Updated CDC guidance grapic

In the Hunter Mill district, there continues to be a wide variance in families’ choices about their students’ enrollment: in some schools I represent, 80% of families continue choosing for their students to receive online instruction. Many schools are closer to a 50/50 split of online and in-person enrollment. What’s clear is that there is still a great deal of caution by families in our community. Please know that the school division wants to earn your trust as a safe place to be, so that more of our students will be with us in the Fall when the expectation is 5-days a week for in-person learning. The work that we are doing now, as hard as it is, will help our community return in-person with confidence in the fall. Thank you to our principals, educators, instructional assistants, parent liaisons and so many staff members for continuing to rise to this challenge.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

The Board’s April 20 Work Session* will cover two topics: an update on the Return to School progress, and a report from the Board’s Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC). Materials and a time specific agenda will be posted on this page soon.

The annual review and update to the FCPS Student Rights & Responsibilities regulation will begin early next month. This is a critical piece for ensuring our students experience a safe and respectful environment in which they can learn and thrive. I expect to be very involved with the review again this year, as I did last year, and have already spoken with my Board colleagues and FCPS Leadership Team members about constituent input to strengthen this regulation. This includes clarity on the consequences and follow up that would happen when hate speech is used and experienced. Addressing racism and bias through the SR&R regulation is one of the multi-pronged strategies the school division must employ to extinguish hate speech in our schools.

*The Board continues to meet online for its Committees and Work Sessions, all of which are public and viewable online, though do not allow for public comment. Meeting virtually reduces the burden on many staff members to prepare the logistics for the meeting, as well solves challenges with capacity in available space for a large group meeting due to social distancing. The Board continues to prefer that limited resources of time and funding to bring people together for in-person activities be focused on students in classrooms, rather than all Board meetings. However, the Board’s Regular Meetings, usually on Thursday evenings, are in-person with a limited number of FCPS staff attending. Board Members may choose to participate in those meetings virtually. I’ve been attending these meetings in person.

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.

Recent and Upcoming Work

Please take a few moments to hear my Board Matters remarks at the 4/8 Regular Meeting, where among other topics, I speak about the need to address instances of hate speech and racism in our schools, including on our athletic fields. (On a related note – please also see the information further down below about my upcoming Town Hall about bias in curriculum – I want to hear from you!)

The Board focused its 4/6 Work Session on two matters: budget work and public engagement in the Board’s work. As Budget Chair, I led the portion about budget work, which was a review of the fairly new Office of School Improvement and Supports. With a department budget of just $4.8 Million – representing 0.2% of the total FCPS Operating Budget – this office is home to some of the most intensive and innovative work in our school system. This includes the Office of Assessment and Reporting; Offices of School Support; Office of Nontraditional School Programs; and the Office of Student Activities and Athletics. See the meeting materials here.

The Board’s Public Engagement Committee put forth recommendations for improving the process for public comments during the Board’s public Regular Meetings (usually on Thursday evenings). There was consensus among several suggestions, including setting a 2 minute limit for each speaker’s comments instead of the current 3 minutes, to allow more people to participate; following the lead of the Board of Supervisors in setting a rule about frequency of participating; and adjusting sign up procedures to increase accessibility. The Board will finalize these and other changes at a future Regular Meeting vote, which will be advertised in advance.

FCPS special ed budget

The Board also heard the Superintendent’s proposal for the annual Local Special Education Annual Plan and Report for School Year 2021-22, as required by federal law. The Board is scheduled to vote on this plan during the April 22 Regular Meeting, as a part of the consent agenda. In the FY 2021-22 budget now being developed, FCPS has earmarked $594.8 million for special education, representing 18.8% of the total budget. It is important to note that 85% of the FCPS special education budget is contributed locally via home owner’s Fairfax County real estate taxes, with just 8.2% coming from the state and 6.4% from the federal government! Our school division does not get a fair share of support for these services compared to other Virginia jurisdictions, and federal funding has been appallingly low for too long. I continue advocating for a better way to fund public education. Nonetheless, two recent major funding goals in FCPS for students with disabilities include:

  • Providing appropriate identification, evaluation, therapeutic and instructional services.
  • Providing Child Find, screening, and evaluation services for students ages 2-5.

Our School Board Chair, Dr. Ricardy Anderson (Mason District), provided this statement about the FCPS budget request to the County’s Board of Supervisors, for the Supervisors’ 4/14 budget meeting. Listen to why the budget request is a needed investment for our students, communities, and the Fairfax and Virginia economies.

School Board Chair Ricardy Anderson

Apply to Serve On the Audit Committee

The Fairfax County School Board invites applications from community members interested in serving on the School Board Audit Committee.  Applications will be accepted from April 19 to 30.  Applicants must reside within the boundaries of Fairfax County or Fairfax City.  The Board will be appointing one committee member for a term ending June 30, 2023. 

Click here to get more information and submit an application.

Hunter Mill Happenings

Anti-Bias Curriculum Virtual Town Hall

I am hosting a Hunter Mill Anti-Bias Curriculum Virtual Town Hall on Sunday, April 25, from 3:00-5:00pm.

Parents, students, and community members are invited to share their input and discuss suggestions for how to update particular Virginia standards of learning to be anti-biased and antiracist.

Feedback will be collected to inform the work of the School Board, FCPS, and delivered to the Virginia Department of Education.

Town Hall Flier

Reston Founder's Day 2021

Melanie in front of Hunters Woods birdhouses

To honor Reston Founder's Day 2021, I toured the public art at Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts & Sciences! Check out this short video I made about the art, via Reston Museum.

Also, this YouTube playlist, includes additional videos with public art talks, performances, and more.

Thank you to the Reston Museum, among others involved, for amplifying all the wonderful attributes of this community!

McNair 1st Grader Wins Statewide Art Contest

Student drawing

A big congrats to Sarah Saravanan, a 1st grader at McNair ES, for being one of three winners of the Virginia Lottery's Thank a Teacher Art Contest!

You can send digital thank-you notes featuring the winning artwork to educators from April 1 through National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3 – 7).

Each note contains a unique code that the teacher can enter for a chance to win a Virginia vacation and supplies for their school, courtesy of The Supply Room.

A Student-Athlete Success Story 

We love to see great news about FCPS’ amazing student athletes! Congratulations to WJLA's Athlete of the Week, South Lakes' Brianna Scott. Brianna is heading to Georgetown University to study law in the fall. See her story.

Student Athlete

Wiehle Avenue Pedestrian Crossing Study Group Meeting

Wiehle Pedestrian Crossing Study Group virtual meeting is Thursday, April 29, 7 to 9 p.m. The meeting is hosted on the Webex platform – use this link to attend and participate in the meeting. To submit feedback, questions or comments, email

Learn more.

Fairfax Environment News 

Courtesy of Hunter Mill District Supervisor Alcorn:

Ban on Plastic Bags for Yard Waste

Plastic bags have been eliminated for yard waste disposal, per an ordinance amendment approved by the Board of Supervisors and effective March 1. When plastic bags are shredded during the composting process, pieces of the bags often end up mixed in with the compost, which is then applied to gardens, yards and other projects, adding a large amount of plastic pollution to our environment. Paper bags or reusable containers can be used by residents and businesses. You can also leave grass clippings on your lawn by grasscycling, and/or backyard composting yard waste. Learn more

Electric school bus

Moving Toward Electric Buses

The county is moving toward replacing the Fairfax Connector and school bus fleets with electric vehicles. Diesel bus emissions release climate-changing carbon pollution into the atmosphere and cause respiratory diseases while also making existing problems like asthma even worse. Around the globe, electric buses are one of the fastest-growing portions of the electric vehicle market. In October, the Joint Environmental Task Force (JET) recommended that the Connector bus fleet should be transitioned to electric (or other non-carbon emitting) alternatives by 2030, and the school bus fleet by 2035. All non-bus fleet vehicles that have electric alternatives should be transitioned by 2035. The Board of Supervisors discussed these recommendations at our Environmental Committee meetings last month and yesterdayLearn more in the JET final report (page 10).

Solar Roofs at County Facilities

Fairfax County is moving forward with placing solar panels on more than 110 county, school, park and housing authority buildings and sites, potentially avoiding the emission of more than 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. And even better news is that there is no net cost to the county. Approved facilities in Hunter Mill District include the North County Governmental Center and Reston Community Center. However, we're just at the beginning of a long process for installation so it may be several months before you see the solar panels installed. Learn more.

Get To Know The Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan

The Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan, or CECAP, is Fairfax County’s first-ever greenhouse gas emission reduction plan. The plan will include goals to define the path forward for residents, businesses, organizations, and other stakeholders, to reduce our collective carbon emissions. The plan will also include strategies and actions individuals and organizations can take to help achieve the goals.

Unlike most other jurisdictions around the country, the county is working to create a community-driven plan to address greenhouse gas emissions. We know that more than 95% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Fairfax County come from sources other than government and school operations, like energy used in homes and businesses and cars and trucks on our roads. In order to make a real dent in our emissions, we need everyone to participate and get involved.

The CECAP is being developed by a working group composed of approximately 70 members of our county community. These individuals were nominated or chosen to participate based on their experience and interest in climate planning, and many of them represent area businesses, organizations, nonprofits and associations. Development of CECAP began in January 2020 and is anticipated to conclude in late summer/fall of 2021. Learn more.

Fairfax County Launches Development of a Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan

Earth in hand graphic

Climate change is already having a significant impact on Fairfax County. Over the past several years, the county has seen rising average annual temperatures and more frequent heat waves, precipitation events and extreme storms. Responding to each of these events as they occur can cost millions of dollars. By developing and implementing a proactive Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan, or CARP, the county can avoid economic, social, and environmental risks associated with climate change.

Currently in development, the CARP will incorporate community and expert input to identify climate risks and vulnerabilities and to develop adaptation and resilience strategies. The plan will be developed by the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination with support from a Community Advisory Group and an Infrastructure Advisory Group. Learn more.

Other Information of Interest

FCCPTA Senior Scholarships Available Now


The Fairfax County Council PTA (FCCPTA) is awarding scholarships to graduating FCPS high school students planning to attend an accredited vocational school or college for the 2021/22 academic year.

The FCCPTA Scholarships will be awarded to students who, among other traits, demonstrate responsibility, character, and leadership during their high school career. Five (5) $500 scholarships will be awarded. 

Read more information and view the application.

Application deadline: April 25.

April Is Month of the Military Child 

Did you know that more than 14,000 military-connected youth call FCPS home? Join FCPS in celebrating them during Month of the Military Child. Wednesday, April 21, is Purple Up! Day, when all are encouraged to wear purple in recognition of the strength and sacrifices of military-connected youth. Why purple? It is the color that symbolizes all branches of the military, as it is the combination of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine red, and Navy blue.

Autism Acceptance Month:

"Being Au-some" Virtual Mini-Conference on April 20

Autism mini conference poster

In recognition of Autism Acceptance Month, share this invitation with parents and members of the community to participate in the Autism Society of Northern Virginia’s free "Being Au-some" Virtual Mini-Conference. The conference will be held virtually on Tuesday, April 20, from 7-9 p.m. Participants will celebrate the #autism journey together with short and engaging sessions. Featured speakers include self-advocates, family members, and educators. Register in advance for this virtual event.

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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