Advisory Committee Openings and More!

Dear Community, 

In these first weeks of school, I have spent time advocating for improved protocols around COVID mitigation, including:

  • Directing, not just guiding, school principals to use outdoor space for lunch and learning activities as much as possible – whether that is in FCPS-provided tents, or on open available space on school grounds
  • Determining flexibility for decreasing the 14-day quarantine and pause time to a lesser amount (such as 10 days), which is within acceptable public health practices, to allow COVID-free students – especially our youngest – to return to school rather than miss critical instructional days
  • Seeking help from Members of the U.S. Congress in an expedited availability of children’s vaccines
  • Working with local pediatricians and the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to understand how families are seeking medical services related to COVID, and what FCPS and Fairfax County can do to best prepare for the distribution of the children’s vaccine, for when that time arrives in the future
  • Advocating for implementation of COVID testing for students and staff, to the Superintendent and County Health Department – something the Board requested in summer 2020
  • Engaging with County Board of Supervisor Walter Alcorn to resolve constituent challenges with the lag time in contact tracing by the Health Department

As you hopefully already know, FCPS does have a streamlined process for helping vaccinated students return to school – see below. However, the amount of public health work that our public schools are required to do is ever-increasing, including:

  • Collecting data for contact tracing by the County Health Department;
  • Running the system by which student vaccine records are relayed to the County Health Department;
  • Establishing a COVID testing program for students and staff.

It’s a lot on our public school system. If you would like to advocate regarding public health and the work of the County Health Department, my counterparts in the County government are:

(This information is also found at, where you can insert your address and see your representatives listed on the left side of the screen.)

I’ve also heard advocacy for a virtual learning option. I have been in continued communication with the Superintendent and have voiced that I have constituents who are seeking a virtual option. However, please also know that FCPS does not have plans to offer a virtual learning option at this time. FCPS, like all school divisions in Virginia, must under law (Virginia Senate Bill 1303) provide five days a week of in-person instruction, as directed by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. One aspect that is in development, however, is the ability to provide some synchronous (live) learning to students who are on a pause or quarantine due to COVID. More information is forthcoming from the school division.

Finally, I want to share that in addition to COVID protocols that are central to safe schools, I am focusing on mission-critical work to prepare students for success in life, including:

  • Scientifically based reading instruction for all grades
  • Career and technical education
  • Sustainability and environmental education

However, the school division has many priorities and interests. Indeed, you may have seen that public meetings are being hosted to discuss FCPS school boundary policy, generally. While this is a critical topic for our school division, I think that a future time will be better to engage the community and staff in this work. Being able to prioritize the limits of time and resources in FCPS is an essential part of the Board’s role.

New Process to Speed Up the Return of Fully Vaccinated Students to Classrooms

Masked students in hallway with thumbs up

FCPS collaborated with the Fairfax County Health Department on a new process to speed up the return to the classroom for fully vaccinated, asymptomatic students. The process benefits all students, including those of elementary school age who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

More information is available online

School Board Committees 

The School Board appoints members to numerous Advisory Committees to increase community input on specific issues. Public Advisory Committees include individuals from the magisterial districts and one appointed Board member liaison. The Advisory Committees meet throughout the year and submit an annual report to the Board. Every July, the Board will develop charges for each Committee. Advisory Committees' requirements are detailed in Policy 1710

The Board also has 5 Standing Committees, comprised of School Board Members and FCPS staff, to perform delegated functions:

  • Audit Committee
  • Budget Committee
  • Comprehensive Planning Development Committee
  • Governance Committee
  • Public Engagement Committee 

Seeking Public Advisory Committee Members 

The Hunter Mill District has openings on 3 Public Advisory Committees:

As well as the following other opportunities:

If interested in any of the above openings, please APPLY HERE

My New Committee Assignments 

In August, new Board assignments to committees were established as happens annually. Until then, I had been the Board’s Budget Committee Chair, Board liaison for the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), and the Fairfax County Athletic Council. My duties for this coming year are:

  • Comprehensive Planning Development Committee (CPDC)
    • Standing Board Committee that designs and recommends a comprehensive planning process, monitors that process, and suggests improvements to the Board.
  • Board liaison to the Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee (CTEAC)
    • Provides recommendations to the Board on current job needs and the relevancy of career and technical education programs.
    • Monthly meetings are held at Willow Oaks Administrative Center in room 1002 A/B.
  • Liaison to the Community Criminal Justice Board (CCJB)
    • Enhances the ability of Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax to develop pretrial court services, community-based corrections programs, juvenile accountability and other criminal justice programs. 
    • Regular public meetings of the CCJB are scheduled for the fourth Thursday of each month and are held in the fifth floor Circuit Court jury assembly area of the Fairfax County Courthouse.

I was excited to attend the first meeting of the school year for CTEAC - their charge this year is to "ensure equitable awareness, access, and participation in all CTE programs, and to ensure greater awareness of career-readiness options provided by CTE programs with a new emphasis on exposure to working in a virtual or hybrid workplace, workforce trends, and growing leadership skills.” Presentation materials, including the below overview of CTE, will be available on the committee's website.

CTEAC one pager

Recent Work

Recognizing the 20th Anniversary of September 11

9/11 graphic

September 11, 2021 marked the 20-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, and United Airlines Flight 93 that went down in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Read the School Board's resolution recognizing the 20th anniversary of September 11 and listen to the comments I made regarding this vote.

May we never forget the brave lives lost that day.

School Board Approves $188 Million ESSER III Spending Plan

The Fairfax County School Board approved a $188.6 million spending plan for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) grant funds at its Board meeting on August 26. 

The funds will be used to address expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the safe reopening of schools and to sustain the safe operation of schools. The spending plan also outlines how the division will address the impact of COVID on students by addressing their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs.

ESSER graphic

Staff Bonus Added to FY21 Budget as Part of Final Review

The School Board also voted to approve revenue and expenditure adjustments to the FY21 budget, to include a one-time bonus for FCPS employees to recognize the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices that all FCPS employees made during the pandemic.

Due to complexities in job classifications and a desire to be equitable in bonus allocations, the proposed one-time bonuses will be provided to all employees who are currently employed by FCPS at the following rates:

  • $1,000 for all employees (both full-time employees (FTEs) and hourly contracted, to include bus drivers and food service employees)
  • $500 for temporary hourly employees

The total cost of the one-time bonus is $32.7 million and will be paid at the end of November.

FCPS Expanding Outdoor Learning Capacity 

FCPS students planting seeds in Centreville Elementary garden

To date, 136 tents have been installed in FCPS schools to support additional outdoor learning and eating spaces for students and an additional 57 tent installations are planned. 

The Centreville Elementary campus, which has 17 outdoor learning spaces, was recently featured in Education Week! Sharon Danks, CEO of Green Schoolyards America, and a longtime colleague of mine, shares just how helpful the federal pandemic relief money is when it comes to equitably expanding outdoor classrooms and spaces for students. 

Upcoming Meetings and Topics to be Covered

  • September 21 at 11 am - Work Session: Special Education Audit, ERFC Report, and a Return to School Update.
  • September 23 at 7 pm - Regular Meeting: Opening of Schools Annual Report, Fairfax County Purchase Resolution, George Mason Elementary School (Professional Development School Network) PDS Contract, Challenged Materials Interdepartmental Review, etc.

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).

Regular Meetings are live-streamed on the FCPS website and televised on FCPS Cable Channel 99. Work Sessions are live-streamed on FCPS YouTube. For more information about signing up to speak at a regular meeting, click here.

FCPS School Board Members

Hunter Mill Happenings

Marshall Road Elementary School held a community picnic for families, and had a huge turn out! Families and staff gathered on the schoolyard field, with School of Rock students playing music and food trucks serving meals. I met Sasha, the school’s therapy dog, who belongs to MRES teacher KT Jutcovich. Having therapy dogs in schools is a topic I’ve heard interest in from students – including my own daughter!

Over the weekend, I opened the front door of my home to find two Madison Marching Band students, fundraising for their activities this year. I am happy to support them – as a School Board Member and former Drum Major of my own high school’s marching band!  

My family accompanied me to the South Lakes High School Block Party and home football game. I joined South Lakes parents and staff on the field to thank outgoing Booster President, Sharon Barr, for her service to students and the school!

Three photo collage of Melanie Meren at school events

Other Information of Interest 

Vaccine Requirements for Teachers and Staff

FCPS student ad to vaccinate

FCPS will require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit routine negative COVID-19 tests by the end of October. To keep our students safe and our schools running smoothly, it is critical that everyone in our community who is eligible gets vaccinated — not only our educators and school employees. The vaccine and testing requirements reinforce existing layered prevention strategies and the school division’s commitment to the safety of students and staff. For more information please visit here.

Vaccine Requirements for VHSL Athletes starting November 8th

Fairfax County Public Schools requires student athletes be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus for the winter and spring sports seasons as an additional safety measure to support the division's layered prevention strategies.

Thanks for your patience while FCPS worked out the operational aspects of this new requirement. Read the FAQs to learn more about the timeline, how vaccination status will be verified, exceptions, safety, and more.

FCPS Director of Facilities Management Featured in Magazine

Justin Moss, FCPS Facilities Director

Justin Moss, Director of Facilities for FCPS, is featured in Blueprint Magazine! Learn about his background and the dedicated work he and his team have been up to.

We're lucky to have you, Justin!

Student Civic Engagement Activity Option 

Fairfax County flag

FCPS students in grades 7-12 are allowed one partial school day absence each school year to participate in civic engagement activities. Students and parents must complete the appropriate prearranged absence form and include documented evidence of participation in an organized event or activity. To learn more, please contact your school's administration. 

Early Voting Begins Sept. 17 for Nov. 2 General Election

Your vote counts graphic

In-person early voting for the Nov. 2 General Election begins at three locations in the county starting Friday, Sept. 17, including the North County Governmental Center, Reston; Fairfax County Government Center in Fairfax, and the Mount Vernon Governmental Center, Alexandria. Additional early voting locations will open Oct. 21. Learn more.

View this helpful page with facts for 2021 voters.

School Bond Referendum on November 2 Ballot

A school bond referendum will be on the general election ballot Tuesday, November 2. 

Bond sales, a form of long-term borrowing, are used to finance the building and renovation of schools and must be approved by voters since they are a future obligation for taxpayers. The building and renovation of schools are not financed through the school system’s operating funds, but through bonds. 

Get more information about the school bond referendum.

"Making a Living and a Life" September 30 Watch Party 

On September 30 at 7pm join a watch party for the video “Making a Living and a Life; Empowering young people with an ALL careers approach.”

Martin Ogle of Entrepreneurial Earth will provide opening remarks. After watching the video, participants will take part in a Zoom chat discussion on how to build a green economy and the importance of empowering *all* young people about the connections between living and human systems. Anyone interested in creating a green economy are welcome to join this event!

This free event is co-sponsored by EarlySpace, EcoAction Arlington, Leaders in Energy, the Loudoun Environmental Education Alliance, Nature Club Kids, the Sierra Club Potomac River Group, and NoVA Outside and is aligned with a statewide watch party in Colorado. More information and registration can be found here.

Flier for a movie watch party

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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