May 21 Community Update

Dear Community,

This has been a full month, with planning for a successful return to full time in-person learning in the fall. Much of my time has been spent as Budget Chair in preparing the Board to vote on the school division’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022, which begins on July 1, and will fund the next school year. The Board conducted a smooth vote approving the budget on May 20. More detail is below! I’m also eager to attend graduations this month and into June and congratulate our students for completing this epic school year.

This month has also seen heightened tensions in Fairfax that have impacted our students, families, and staff. Please view this statement from the School Board read by Chair Anderson on May 20, and my own remarks later that evening.

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

ESSER Funds Public Hearing - June 7

A next critical funding-related item that is before the School Board is to present opportunities for community input on the forthcoming federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund.

The purpose of ESSER III is to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. This includes through academic instruction, safe facilities, access to technology, and more.

This grant, in the amount of $188.7 Million provides schools with funding to address the impact COVID-19 has had on services to students during school building closures. It also provides funding to develop and implement plans for the return to normal school operations.

FCPS must make available a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. FCPS is communicating this plan in emails to staff, parents and families, and the wider community in e-newsletters and on the Return to School webpages. The direct website for information about this funding and how to advocate for its use, is

In developing the ARP ESSER III Plan, the division must conduct consultation with the public at large and with specifically identified stakeholder groups.

FCPS offers the following opportunities for the public to provide input:

  • Via a public hearing of the board on June 7 at 6pm, for which registration is now open to sign up. Speaker registration will close on June 6.
  • By filling out an Online Feedback form, which will be open from May 25 through June 11.  

Again, check for more and updated information this month and in June.

Return to School Update - June 15

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has stated support of FCPS’ model of providing five days of in-person instruction for all children this fall. This endorsement by a highly respected group of pediatricians validates FCPS' belief that in-person learning is best for children. The AAP also believes that virtual instruction should be utilized only when necessary and in consultation with a child’s physician or medical team. This is incredible news for FCPS in support of the division's efforts to encourage all students to return!

The next Return to School Update is scheduled to be presented to the Board during the June 15 Work Session. Materials will be posted in advance on Board Docs.

Come back to school playground picture

Updates to Family Life Education Curriculum

Community input graphic

I support the recommended Family Life Education materials (media and lesson objectives) that are currently available for community review through June 7. Recommendations are for grades K, 1, 7, 8, 10, modified 1-6, and modified 7-12.

You can provide input on these recommendations by sending comments to All comments received during the comment period will be shared with School Board Members prior to the vote on the recommendations scheduled to take place at the Board’s Regular Meeting on Thursday, June 17.

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.

FCPS School Board Members

Recent Work

School Board Approves FY22 Budget 

Working on and approving the budget is one of the most important responsibilities of a School Board. A budget is a statement of values about the investments we as a school system want to make in our children, our community, and our economy in Fairfax. There are constant crossroads where seemingly impossible decisions need to be made about how to spend finite public resources in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Work on this budget began during the pandemic last summer, and continued on through this Spring as this School Board and school division were also grappling with providing instruction and support to students during this epic time. The result could have been very bleak for our students, with an unknown economic situation at the time of how our county would pull through this public health crisis. However, it is very momentous to be able to say today, that this is a good news budget.

This budget reflects investments from our County Board of Supervisors, particularly to increase compensation for our staff who have done so much this year, in addition to what they do every year to bring a world class experience to our children. With the County’s investment, the school division is able to obtain the required matching funds from the State General Assembly to provide a 2% compensation increase for staff. This compensation increase is vital to remain a competitive employer in the Washington, DC metro area.

This budget also includes many Board priorities that reflect community needs. This includes funding

  • instructional support for advanced academic programming
  • instructional support for students who are learning English as a second language
  • a first step towards gaining pay parity among our elementary school principals and our secondary school principals
  • and for initiating specialist positions to meet the needs of our many neurodiverse students and to help bring trauma informed learning approaches so that students can achieve their academic success.

More information about the budget can be found here.

Budget fact sheet

2021 Eco-Schools Resolution

Melanie Meren in front of Eco-Schools plaque

At the Thursday May 20 School Board Regular Meeting we presented the 2021 Eco-Schools Resolution to recognize the amazing work that has come out of the partnership between FCPS' Get2Green program and the National Wildlife Federation.

Eco-Schools USA is a program run by the National Wildlife Federation that uses school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators, and community volunteers to drive environmental stewardship and education in schools. Currently there are 139 Eco-Schools in Fairfax County.

Memo Submitted to VDOE on Social Studies Standards

After collecting constituent input, I sent this memo to the state regarding recommendations for the VDOE History and Social Science Standards of Learning Review. It is posted in the Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee's public dropbox.

Virginia is for learners VDOE graphic

Grading Option Deadline Extended for Middle and High School Students

Earlier this school year, FCPS adopted a series of secondary grading policy changes to help students with a strong finish to the school year. One of the key changes for middle and high school students is to allow students to request a mark of “P” (pass) instead of a letter grade in select courses. The deadline was extended to allow students more time to gain information about fourth quarter progress before making the final decision to submit a request form.

Teachers, school counselors, and administrators are communicating with families regarding the updated timeline specific to each school.

  • For seniors, the new deadline will be on or after May 17.
  • For students in grades 9-11, the new deadline will be on or after June 1.
  • For middle school students, the new deadline will be on or after June 1.

More information is available online

Meeting with Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton

Thank you to Congresswoman Wexton for making the time to talk about our public schools!

twitter screenshot of meeting with Congresswoman Wexton

Hunter Mill Happenings

Thoreau PTA President Wins Communications Award 

NOVA PTA award winners congratulations graphic

Congratulations to Thoreau PTA President Andrea Kramer for receiving an Excellence in Communications Award from the Northern Virginia District PTA! Thank you for all that you do, this is well deserved!

View the full list of winners.

Reston Comprehensive Plan Study Task Force Meeting

The next (and 20th!) Reston Comprehensive Plan Study Task Force meeting is May 24 at 7 p.m. To learn more about the Reston Comprehensive Plan Study and the task force, visit the Reston Comprehensive Plan Study webpage. Details and the agenda for the meeting will be found here. Use this link to attend and participate in the meeting. You will be prompted to register with your email address and ZIP code before logging into meeting.

Information of Interest

All Students to Be Virtual on June 8 Due to Primary Election

Tuesday, June 8, is the Democratic Primary Election. Because the Fairfax County Electoral Board and City of Fairfax Electoral Board will be using 165 school facilities as polling locations, June 8 will be a virtual synchronous learning day (no in-person classes) for students. 

Get more information about the primary elections.

Reminder sticky note graphic

Ask Me Why - Teen Vaccinations

Student image

In a new campaign, "Ask Me Why," teens at FCPS high schools share why they got vaccinated or wanted to be vaccinated. Annie (pictured on left) says, "to start a normal life again, and be able to be around people, especially this summer--and to have a normal senior year next year."


Hear more stories and view the latest information about scheduling an appointment.

Remake Learning Days Festival 

Choose from over 40 free, hands-on activities where kids, families, and educators can make, play, code, design, tinker, and explore at the Remake Learning Days Festival held May 8-22. Events include in-person and virtual options. Experience this national celebration of innovation and creativity in education right here in our region

Across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, a wide range of organizations—such as schools, libraries, nonprofits, businesses, and other community centers—are coming together to provide our youth and families with high-quality learning experiences. These events are designed to be hands-on, relevant, and engaging educational experiences for youth and their families and caregivers. Most events are free and open to learners of all ages. More information on the events in seven learning themes is available online

Remake learning program ad graphic

2021 Summer Camps for Students with Special Needs

Parent resources graphic

Check out this helpful resource for finding summer activities for students with special needs from the FCPS Parent Resource Center.  Please contact the camps directly for fees and availability.

High School Voter Registration

QR code for Madison high school voter registration

As of May 8, League of Women Voters - Fairfax Area has given 90 virtual presentations regarding voter registration to FCPS high schools this year!

If you are born on or before November 2, 2003, and are a US citizen, you most likely can register now.

Learn more and find your high school at their website. If you attend Madison HS you can scan the QR code on the right..

This helpful document lists FAQ and current registration deadlines for upcoming elections.

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


Was this email not addressed to you? Sign up for my newsletters 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.

© 2021 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia