January 2022 Newsletter

Dear Mason District Community,

Earlier this week, you heard the news that along with six other divisions in Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools has filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Executive Order 2 issued by the Governor on January 15, 2022. As your School Board representative, my goal has always been to support the division in providing a safe learning environment for our students and staff. Partnering with health officials and adhering to expert guidance have served the students in Mason District and Fairfax County well. Since the reopening of schools, none of our schools have had to close due to transmission. This is the result of the efforts of students, staff and parents in following mitigating protocols, including universal masking.  

We will continue to keep you apprised of the developments of the filing.

I also want to alert you of the numerous bills being proposed in the General Assembly this session. There are many proposals that are inconsistent with the values of our constituency here in Mason District. I have listed some of the legislation below for your review. 

I value the input I receive from the Mason Community and am happy to address questions or concerns via email or phone. I will also be resuming in-person office hours in February. For those preferring a virtual platform, I have scheduled a block of time for virtual office hours. Please find details below.


February Office Hours

This time is reserved for Mason District residents, teachers and staff to share their ideas, questions or concerns. I’ve provided evening, daytime, and virtual opportunities. Please note the two different locations for the in-person options.


Evening option: Tuesday, February 15th, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Columbia Elementary School, Library
6720 Alpine Drive, Annandale  22003

Daytime option: Thursday, February 17th, 10:00 am. - 12:00 p.m.
Mason District Governmental Center, Main Community Room
6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale 22003

Virtual (Zoom):

15-minute blocks will be allocated for virtual office hours. For a reservation and link, please contact my assistant, Ms. Coffey, at cmcoffey@fcps.edu.

Monday, February 28th; 6:30 - 8:00 pm


FY 2022-2023 Proposed Budget

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand shared his proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23  with the Board on January 13, 2022. This budget maintains an investment in teacher pay increases, broadens opportunity and access for students, and shores up critical education gaps that widened during the pandemic. 

In Mason District, where the majority of our schools maintain Free Reduced Meal (FRM) levels well over 50%, needs-based allocations of funding is imperative. For example, this year’s budget includes consideration for administrative staffing which I brought forward to help mitigate the heavy burden for our administrative teams in addressing the numerous challenges their schools face due to the needs of our community. Another proposal in the budget is the establishment of Special Education Lead Teachers in elementary schools to support special education students and special education related administrative duties. Typically, these tasks are an additional burden to case managers with a full caseload of students which becomes extremely difficult to manage. 

There are many important changes in the Superintendent’s proposal and I urge you to review the documents provided. More information on the FY23 Proposed Budget is available online.

Next steps in the budget process:

  • February 8 Work Session
  • February 24 Adoption of FY23 Advertised Budget
  • May 26 Adoption of FY23 Approved Budget

Education Funding

Supervisor Chairman McKay recently posted a newsletter detailing important information related to the Board of Supervisors’ legislative package. Below, I have included some details from his newsletter regarding how Fairfax County education is funded.

Educating a student in FCPS requires an investment of about $16,500 each year. $12,000 comes from the Fairfax County budget and property tax payers, while only $2,700 comes from the state. Unfortunately, the state's funding is insufficient to provide the quality of education our community has come to expect. In comparison, in our neighboring Prince William County, the per pupil cost is about $12,300. Locally PWC invests $5,500, while the state contributes $5,000.  

Because of this imbalance and Fairfax County's limited taxing authority, Fairfax County is overly reliant on collecting revenue through property taxes.

  • In order to fund the state proposed 10% increase in teacher raises, Fairfax County would have to provide over $200 million over two years, compared to the state share of $47 million. This amounts to a 7-cent increase on the real estate tax rate. Such an increase would be unsustainable for our residents.

For example, last year, Governor Northam announced funds would be made available to provide teachers with a 5% raise. The following chart represents the breakdown of what would have been the total state and local contributions had Fairfax provided the full 5% salary increase adopted during the 2021 General Assembly Session.



Superintendent Search Update

Fairfax County Public Schools continues the nationwide search for a new superintendent to lead the school district when Superintendent Brabrand's contract expires at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. The search firm, GR Recruiting, has conducted numerous townhall meetings with staff and community members in order to inform the Superintendent profile. Parents and community members were also provided with a survey in which to provide input earlier this month. Thank you to those of you who participated in those opportunities as your input is an important part of the search process. The Superintendent Search Town Hall meetings are available to watch online under Community Engagement Opportunities and Information. 

Visit FCPS’ Superintendent Search webpage for more information.

Mask Update

The FCPS mask policy remains in place with no changes. FCPS requires everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask inside our buildings and on our school buses, except when alone in a room. This includes staff, students, and visitors.

Adhering to FCPS’s layered prevention strategies keeps our schools open and safe places for students to learn and for staff to work. Universal masking is a critical piece of this strategy and is recommended by national, state, and local health officials.

As you may be aware, FCPS, along with six other school divisions, filed a legal challenge reaffirming local authority to make decisions regarding student safety and learning. This action allows a swift resolution, so we can return our focus to providing safe, in-person education to all children of Fairfax County.

Calendar Development Update

The School Board discussed the 2022-2023 calendar at the January 18th Work Session. The Superintendent’s presentation included a draft calendar that identified various factors which informed his recommendations.  

As regulation requires, school calendars must retain a secular reason to establish a holiday, such as excessive absenteeism. Legal counsel has been clear that under applicable case law, the only two reasons that would make an otherwise religious holiday appropriate for a school holiday are:

 1) excessive absenteeism on the holiday or

 2) the holiday operates as a secular holiday as well as a religious holiday 

In determining which days to recognize as student holidays based on reason one, FCPS must anticipate absenteeism using historical data. The data below, pulled from the Absence Summary 6-Year History of Religious Observances and Holiday Dates, reflect the percentage of students who were absent during each of the given dates.  


Given that legal analysis which stated that chronically high absenteeism should be the only reason for consideration in determining a religious holiday an official school holiday, and that our community observes 16 different Religious Observances and Holidays, I have several unanswered questions about the current recommendations ranging from the weight given to each of the eight factors, to the threshold used to determine the impact of the absenteeism data and the metrics used to determine that a holiday would be a holiday for all rather than a teacher or professional work day.  

Revisions to Regulation 2234 are also recommended to allow new instruction to take place on days denoted as religious and cultural observances (“O” calendar days). Tests, quizzes, tryouts that cannot be rescheduled, and sporting events will still be prohibited.

The Board is scheduled to vote on the final calendar at the January 27th regular meeting. 

Please see the calendar webpage for more information.

FY 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program

The Board discussed the 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) during a work session on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. The materials from that meeting, including the staff presentation, are available on BoardDocs. A public hearing is scheduled for January 27, and the Board is scheduled to vote on the CIP at the business meeting on Thursday, February 10, 2022. 

Learn more about the 2023-2027 CIP.


Falls Church High School Renovation Update

A renovation update will be provided to the Falls Church High School community at a virtual community meeting:

February 3rd at 6 p.m. 

Join the Zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 915 5411 3408

Passcode: FCHS

Call in number +1-301-715-8592 US


Facilities Update

The following items involving Mason District schools were approved by the Board at the January 13, 2022 School Board meeting:

  • Contract Award for the Rooftop Unit Replacements at Annandale HS
  • Contract Award for the Rooftop Unit Replacements at Poe MS

Limited In-person Attendance at Athletic Events

Due to the continued high rate of COVID-19 transmission, FCPS will continue to limit in-person attendance at athletic events to coaches, athletes, and the parents of both the home and visiting teams through Friday, January 28th. However, FCPS high school sporting events can be viewed online. Here’s how:

  1. Go to www.NFHSnetwork.com.
  2. Search for (school name) and go to its page.
  3. Subscribe and follow.

This service is free for the rest of this school year. There is no purchase necessary for FCPS hosted events.

Virtual Learning on Inclement Weather Days – Reminder

For future inclement weather days, virtual learning will be synchronous or live, teacher-led instruction. However, teachers may prepare emergency asynchronous lessons that can be used if connectivity difficulties arise due to loss of power or other unforeseen circumstances.

The Inclement Weather Virtual Learning Day Schedule will be utilized. Elementary Schools will begin at 10:30 am and middle and high schools will begin on a two-hour delay. Your school and child’s teacher will share more specific information when preparing for inclement weather virtual learning day. Please be reminded that teachers will take attendance in SIS as they would on an in-person day. Students who are unable to connect will be marked absent, but will be given an opportunity to make up work.

Summer Learning

Fairfax County Public Schools summer learning opportunities include a Credit Recovery Academy that offers credit recovery courses, intervention classes, and test remediation classes; programs and institutes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology that provide credit accrual and enrichment opportunities; and Online Campus courses and classes. Career and Technical Education will offer Self-Directed Economics and Personal Finance. Elementary and secondary Fine Arts and Career and Technical Education enrichment camps, institutes and academies will also be offered.

Details about 2022 enrichment camps and institutes, Online Campus, and Self-Directed Economics and Personal Finance are now available on the Summer Learning webpage. Information about other programs will be posted as it becomes available.


Free Home COVID-19 Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four at-home COVID-19 tests, completely free. Visit covidtests.gov to order your free at-home tests and find free testing locations in your area.


Community COVID-19 Testing

A Virginia Department of Health Community Testing Center (CTC) opened at the Fairfax County Government Center on Saturday, Jan. 15. The CTC provides FREE Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing by appointment for COVID-19. The CTC operates Saturdays through Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. by appointment only. To find an appointment, visit the VDH website. Appointments typically become available 24 hours in advance. If you do not see openings, check back frequently as appointments are added regularly. More information is available on the County webpage (available in seven languages).

Transition Planning Webinars

Career and Transition Services (CTS) presents a month of webinars for families of elementary and middle school students with disabilities. The webinars focus on planning for life in and after high school. Each week, webinar sessions will cover a range of topics: CTS programming and services for students with disabilities, short and long-term postsecondary supports, employment and postsecondary education considerations, Supported Decision Making, and student self-determination as an evidence-based predictor of post-school success. 

This event also includes two evenings of student/parent panels where members describe their firsthand experiences as they navigated Fairfax County Public Schools and planning for their child’s future.

Wednesday evenings in February - register today! 

Job Openings in FCPS

Make a difference in a child’s life—find your next job with FCPS! There are  openings for bus drivers and substitute teachers.  More information and applications are available online:

If you want to earn money while making a difference in your community, say yes to FCPS!

Proposed Legislation

HB 514 (March) would prohibit the Board of Health, Commissioner of Health, and Governor from issuing any rule, regulation, or order that requires (i) individuals to wear masks or other face coverings or (ii) businesses to require customers to wear masks or other face coverings while on the premises of such business and prohibits any local school board from requiring any student enrolled at a public elementary or secondary school in the local school division to wear a mask, face covering, or other covering of the student's nose and mouth at school, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity. 

HB 1036 (LaRock) would prohibit any local school board from requiring any student enrolled at a public elementary or secondary school in the local school division to wear a mask, face covering, or other covering of the student's nose and mouth at school, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity unless the local school board substantiates such requirement.

HB 458 (Chase) would prohibit any locality, institution of higher education, employer, school board, division superintendent, school principal, or private school from adopting, implementing, or enforcing any policy, rule, or order related to COVID-19 that requires individuals to wear a face covering.

HB 127 (Davis) would prohibit any academic year Governor's School or governing board member, director, administrator, or employee thereof from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin; engaging in proxy discrimination, as defined in the bill, in student admissions; or seeking information on students' race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin during the application process for admission to such school unless expressly required by federal law, and to the extent it is required by federal law.

HB 486 (Subramanyam) would require the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology academic year Governor's School in Fairfax County to annually admit for first-time enrollment as freshmen at least 100 students who reside in the Loudoun County school division.

HB 344 (Davis) and SB 608 (Suetterlein) would permit the Board of Education (the Board) to receive, review, and rule upon applications for public charter schools and enter into agreements for the establishment of public charter schools. 

HB 356 (Tata) and SB 125 (Obenshain) would authorize the Board of Education (the Board) to establish regional charter school divisions consisting of at least two but not more than three existing school divisions in regions in which each underlying school division has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students and one or more schools that have accreditation denied status for two out of the past three years. 

HB 346 (Davis) and SB 598 (Pillion) would permit any public institution of higher education, private institution of higher education, or private business to apply to the Board of Education (the Board) to establish a college partnership laboratory school as a new school or through the conversion of all or part of an existing school. Under current law, only public and private institutions of higher education that operate approved teacher education programs are permitted to apply to the Board to establish such a school and no explicit provision is made for the conversion of an existing school. 

HB 873 (Greenhaigh) and SB 415 (DeSteph) would require each school board to enter into a collaborative agreement with the local law-enforcement agency to employ at least one school resource officer in each public elementary, middle and high school in the local school division and that any school division that did not fully comply with the requirement would be ineligible for any funding from the Commonwealth.

HB 37 (Anderson) would similarly require a school resource officer in each middle and high school, and at least one resource officer per five public elementary schools, who would be required to serve in each such elementary school on a rotating basis.

HB 533 (Batten) would require each school board to enter into an agreement, upon request, with a public elementary or secondary school teacher or a group of such teachers in a local school division who represents more than 20 students to establish an opportunity classroom, which the bill defines as a classroom in which a curriculum in English, mathematics, science, history and social science, and any other subject area, as set forth in such agreement, is offered that is different than any curriculum that is otherwise offered in such subject areas in the local school division. 

HB 201 (Webert) would require, in the event that any school board does not provide the option of in-person instruction as the sole method of instruction for any enrolled student, the parent of any such student who withdraws his child from attendance to receive, upon request, an education voucher in an amount equal to a prorated share of the applicable Standards of Quality per-pupil state funds appropriated for public school purposes and apportioned to the school division, including the per-pupil share of state sales tax funding in basic aid and any state per-pupil share of special education funding for which the child is eligible, to cover the expenses of providing in-person instruction in an alternative setting.


SEPTA Listening Sessions

En Español

Fairfax County Special Education PTA (SEPTA) is hosting virtual focus groups to discuss National PTA's Standards for Family-School Partnerships. Share your experiences and your perspectives on family-school partnerships.

  • How do you want to engage with your child’s school?
  • What are the most important parts of a parent-educator relationship?

Your feedback will be used to make family-school partnerships more inclusive and impactful in FCPS. National PTA will also use your feedback to inform a set of National Standards for family-school partnerships nationwide.

Sessions last 1 hour and 15 minutes, are interactive, discussion-based, and open to all FCPS families. You do not need to be a PTA member to participate.


Click date below to register:

Wednesday, January 26th @ 8:00pm

Wednesday, February 2nd @ 8:00pm

Educators Only: Thursday, February 3rd @ 4:30pm

En Español: Friday, February 4th @ 7:00pm

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Regular School Board Meetings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • February 10, 2022 at 7 p.m.
  • February 24, 2022 at 7 p.m.

Work Sessions (Gatehouse Administration Center)

  • January 31, 2022 at 6 p.m.
  • February 8, 2022 at 11 a.m.

Public Hearings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • January 28, 2022 at 6 p.m. (CIP)
  • February 24, 2022 at 6 p.m. (ESSER)

All meetings will be broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and on the FCPS website. The meetings are recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube page.

Visit the citizen participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting or public hearing.

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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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