March Community Update

Hello Community Members!

The School Board is focused on many central pieces of work, including the annual budget process and conducting the search for a new Superintendent to begin after Dr Brabrand retires in June.

Additionally, I’ve been focused on advocating for improvements to literacy instruction, to the Superintendent and to state elected officials in the General Assembly. In FCPS, the effort is underway to align with the science of reading strategies that provide a deep understanding of literacy, reading, and writing – it is very exciting to see progress happening!

I’ve also been spending time following up on students’ requests for better school food! While FCPS had been making progress on improved food – including adding salad bars over a 3-year period – COVID set back that progress for myriad reasons, most recently including availability of foods. Nonetheless, this is an opportunity to reactivate energy on the budgetary and operational work needed to bring better food – with fresh options appealing to diverse appetites – into our public schools. Most recently, the Board approved my motion directing the Superintendent to report this November on what it would take to install kitchens in schools so meals can be freshly made. I’ll be sharing more on this front, but please reach out if you’d like to help raise awareness and action! This work ties with my on-going commitment to building healthier learning experiences for students – especially with outdoor learning and environmental education!

Speaking of health, I’m thrilled that FCPS has hired a new Special Projects Administrator to help manage public health related work! This is a direct result of the action I led in October. This new Administrator holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s in Public Health, and has worked on student wellness efforts as well as in an office of community health in the hospital setting.

Lastly, as more events are being offered in-person in schools and the community, please invite me to attend! Click "Submit a Question" on my website to notify me of student performances, competitions, showcases, etc. I try to keep up with schools’ News You Choose, but I appreciate your help in identifying opportunities for me to see first-hand students’ work and achievements!

Upcoming Events

Outdoor Learning Conversation - March 15

Join me on March 15 to share and hear how outdoor learning is already happening in our schools, and envision together what more it could be! This conversation is a follow up to the February 17 discussion, but new participants are welcome.

Information shared will include current FCPS environmental programs and highlight the journey of a few schools to create outdoor spaces. Participants are encouraged to share examples of initiatives that they have been able to put in motion to contribute to their school(s) outdoor learning programs.

Register today!

When: Tuesday, March 15, 7-8pm
Where: Zoom

The zoom link will be sent to registered participants on the day of the event.

Students learning outside

Pediatric Immunization Clinic - March 12

Student handprints on wall; Health is in our Hands

The State of Virginia requires immunizations for entry into kindergarten, 7th grade, 12th grade, and when transferring into FCPS. The Fairfax County Health Department will be offering a special immunization clinic for Fairfax County students to complete their school vaccine requirements (the COVID-19 vaccine is not a required vaccine). 

The clinic will be held on Saturday, March 12, 8 a.m. to noon, at the Annandale District Office, 7611 Little River Turnpike, #400-E, Annandale, VA 22003. Appointments are required.

To make an appointment, call 703-246-7100.

Kilmer MS Presents Matilda Jr. March 17 - 26

Beginning March 17, the Kilmer MS Drama Department presents their production of Matilda Jr.! View show times and buy tickets at this link. Directed by Nikisha Kozik, Matilda Jr. is the story of an extraordinary little girl with extraordinary powers. The daughter of abusive parents, Matilda finds refuge in library books, which she reads quickly and in creating her own stories.

Matilda Jr. Kilmer MS flyer

FCPS Special Education Conference - March 26

Special Education Conference graphic

FCPS’s 17th Annual Special Education Conference will be held virtually on Saturday, March 26, with a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) sessions supporting the conference's theme: Bringing our Inclusive Community Together: Affirming, Assessing, Advancing. Welcoming ceremonies, guest speakers, FCPS presentations, and an exhibit hall are included. Registration for this free conference is now open online.

  • Parents and community members will be able to register online.
  • FCPS educators, administrators, and preservice teachers will be able to register online and earn recertification points for attending the conference.
  • Individuals needing foreign language interpretation (Spanish, Ahmaric, Arabic, and Korean), American Sign Language (ASL), or Cued Language Transliterator (CLT) interpreters for the live sessions may request this on the registration form. 

For questions please contact

Visit the Special Education Conference webpage for more information and to register.

Reston Elementary Students' Art on Display This Month

Six Reston elementary schools have teamed up to create an exhibit featuring student art to celebrate National Youth Art Month. See the flyer below for the event and exhibit details. While the open house took place on March 6, the exhibits are up through March and early April.

Melanie at Reston art exhibit
Youth Art exhibit flyer

Recent Work 

See How COVID-19 Recovering Funding Helps Students

ESSER video screenshot

Last fall, FCPS received $188.8 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools, and address the impacts of COVID-19 on students. Take a look at the impact ESSER III funds are having in our schools.

School Board Adopts Advertised FY23 Budget

Good news budget for Fairfax County Public Schools

The School Board has adopted the FY 2023 (2022-23 school year) Advertised Budget focused on student achievement and recognition of world-class educators and operational staff. 

This budget prioritizes investments that ensure all students receive the rigorous instruction and comprehensive support they need to thrive. 86% of the $3.3 billion budget goes directly to instruction. The budget includes three main areas of focus — Compensation, Opportunity and Access, and Critical Operational Needs. Watch this video for a quick look at the budget highlights

Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill recommended fully funding FCPS’ budget request and FCPS will continue to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and County Executive during the budget process. 

The School Board presents the Advertised FY 23 Budget to the County Board of Supervisors on April 12.

Learn more about the FY 2023 Advertised Budget.

School Food Improvement Sought Through Capital Improvement Work 

Healthy foods graphic

During the February 10 School Board Meeting, the Board approved the FY 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program (CIP), a planning and fiscal management tool used to coordinate the location, timing, and funding of capital projects over five years. The CIP includes an annual review of the current student membership and facilities data to determine future capital requirements for new construction, capacity enhancements, and facility renovations. 

My motion to take action to improve school food is included in the approved CIP:

"I move to direct the Superintendent to conduct an assessment and report to the Board by November 1, 2022, regarding: FCPS facilities’ capabilities to support meeting best practices for school nutrition services, which includes, in part, preparing fresh meals on-site; providing meals that are inclusive of diverse student and staff needs; the status of the addition of daily salad bars in schools; and a recommendation on whether the school division’s Ed Specs will need to be updated to meet school nutrition best practices."

Update on Substitute Recruitment and Hiring

Substitute teacher application graphic

FCPS continues to welcome substitute teachers as swiftly as possible, with the following improvements to the application and onboarding process for new subs:

  • Increased the frequency of substitute orientation sessions to twice weekly
  • Redesigned the substitute orientation content to better prepare substitute candidates for assignments  
  • Redesigned the optional information session available for prospective candidates (offered once a week) placing greater emphasis on navigating the application and hiring process 
  • Created and implemented an electronic reference form to eliminate the need for letters of references (improved processing time)
  • Created an expedited hiring process for instances where schools identify a specific substitute candidate to fill an immediate need
  • Updated our Substitute webpage to highlight information related to substitute applicant requirements (changing from 60 credit hours to 30 credit hours).
  • Close monitoring of applicant hiring timelines with our online application system  

Apply to be a substitute today!

Career Pathways Study

FCPS has partnered with FourPoint Education Partners, a national consultancy based in Maryland, to assess current pathway elective courses and career pathway programs. In the upcoming months, FourPoint will be conducting one or more of the following virtual or in-person research activities:

  • Surveys (Feb): All middle and high school students and staff members will be given an opportunity to complete a brief survey (10-15 minutes) that will be emailed to them.
  • Student/ Teacher Feedback (March/April): A member of the research team at FourPoint will host focus groups, during the regular school day, to learn more about the perspectives of teachers around FCPS pathway elective programs. This same process will be implemented for students as well.
  • School Visits (Feb-April): If possible, a member of the research team at FourPoint may visit some of our schools in person.

FCPS to Be Solar Powered

Solar panels in parking lot

FCPS is expanding its solar generating capacity to include both canopy and rooftop solar at schools.  Canopy solar – also known as a solar carports or solar parking lots - is being included as part of a revised Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Fairfax County Public Schools, Government, Housing and Community Development, and Park Authority.  It provides many new benefits to FCPS, such as:

  • Using existing parking lots for solar generation
  • Improved staff and student parking by offering shade from the sun and protection from the rain
  • Paving the way for electric vehicle charging infrastructure at schools
  • Provides an alternative to installing on the rooftop, which might not be possible due to structural or design issues
  • And is a visual reminder of FCPS’ commitment to sustainability

Community Schools

At the February 22 Work Session, the Board was provided with an overview and information on the Fairfax County Successful Children and Youth Policy Team (SCYPT) partnership between the Fairfax County government and Fairfax County Public Schools. The presentation will provide an in-depth review of the Community Schools Framework, highlight existing Community Schools in FCPS, and obtain School Board input on the Community Schools site selection process. View the presentation.

Security Technology Grant to Include Terraset ES Surveillance 

Keep schools safe street sign

Recently the Office of Safety and Security (OSS) applied for SY 2021-22 security technology grants that were announced by the Virginia Department of Education and the Department of Justice. Terraset ES will receive exterior video surveillance cameras as part of the Stop School Violence Act. Read the full details in the January 7 Brabrand Briefing.

Fairfax County Public Schools was the only Virginia school district to receive this award.

Facilities Improvements to Hunter Mill Schools 

On February 10, the School Board approved facilities contracts to improve air quality and thermal comfort for three Hunter Mill schools:

Upcoming Public Meetings & Topics to be Covered 

Please note, times and topics are subject to change.

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

School Board Members sitting at dais

Hunter Mill Happenings 

I have been so thrilled to recently visit many Hunter Mill schools - with more on the schedule! In February, I spent time at Armstrong ES, observing professional development and visiting with students in the Comprehensive Services Site (CSS) program. Later that week, Dogwood ES 4th graders hosted me to share what it's like going to an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) school. I met with staff at the Transition Support Resource Center Vienna site, located on Cedar Lane School property. At Terraset ES, I viewed funding planning to support academic, social and emotional learning (SEL), and spoke with literacy and SpEd educators about their work in the school's classrooms and the uniquely designed literacy lab. To think those are only *some* of the visits I've had in the past few weeks - we are all hands on deck here in FCPS to make sure our students succeed. 

Collage of Melanie at schools

In the bottom left picture I am with Rebound fitness instructor, Loraine Goodenough. She teaches classes at Gatehouse for FCPS employees on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 4:30-5:30pm. I had a blast trying out the class with my Staff Aide - the rebound boots allow for 80% less impact on your joints!

Hunter Mill Basketball Teams Slam Dunk the Competition

South Lakes HS Boys Basketball team member

Congratulations to our Hunter Mill basketball teams! Following a 49-27 win over Robinson, the Madison HS Girls Basketball Team is advancing to the State Finals on Friday, March 11, at VCU!

The South Lakes Boys Basketball team ended a hard fought season at the State Semi-Finals against Hayfield on March 7.

Madison HS Girls Basketball Team

Flint Hill Recognized as a Common Sense School

Common Sense School graphic

Common Sense, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology, has recognized Flint Hill Elementary as a Common Sense School!

Flint Hill Elementary has demonstrated its commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing its students to think critically and use technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate while preparing them for the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyberbullying. With the right support, kids can take ownership of their digital lives, engage with real issues, and change their communities for the better. The recognition acknowledges Flint Hill's commitment to creating a culture of digital citizenship. 

To learn more about the criteria Flint Hill Elementary met to become recognized as a Common Sense School, visit this link.

Madison Students Recipients of Student Peace Awards

Congratulations to Madison Junior Civitan Club members Olivia Bell, Laura Guertin, Anika Gupta, Layla Ibrahim, Kate Laing, Bella Mack, Clare Shannon, and Kieran Warner for being named recipients of the 2022 Student Peace Awards of Fairfax County. 

The Student Peace Awards began in 2006 to encourage people to think more about peace as both a means and an end, and to recognize young people who work as peacemakers. Every year, the high schools in Fairfax County are asked to select one junior or senior, or a group of students, whose work has promoted peace.

Student Peace Awards logo

Madison HS Student Advocates for Therapy Dogs 

"With the pandemic adding to concerns about students’ mental health, Jones is working to turn therapy dog visits into a regular occurrence and possibly have one pet make its second home in Madison’s counseling office."

I have been so thrilled to engage with Aidan about his goals for therapy dogs in FCPS. Read this Tysons Reporter article to learn more!

Students with therapy dog

South Lakes Students Named to National Honor Ensembles 

National Honor Ensembles logo

Cady Yu and Heidi Yu of South Lakes High School were selected for the National Association for Music Education's 2021 All-National Honor Ensembles.

Students engaged in virtual sessions with composers and conductors January 22-24, and each ensemble created a final, recorded performance that will premiere online during the 37th Music in Our Schools Month in March 2022. Read more.

Hunter Mill Students Recognized in Scholastic Art Awards

Scholastic Art Award submission

Congratulations to the many Hunter Mill District students who received recognition in the 2022 Regional Scholastic Art Awards.

FCPS students in grades 7-12 won a total of 497 awards for outstanding artwork, including 160 Gold Key awards, 160 Silver Key awards, and 177 Honorable Mention awards. Four works by FCPS students were nominated for the best-in-show American Visions Award.

South Lakes Principal Named Region 1 Principal of the Year

Kim Retzer and Douglas Tyson

Congratulations to Kim Retzer for being named Outstanding Region 1 Principal of the Year! This is well deserved, the South Lakes community is lucky to have Principal Retzer, and I am grateful for her committed work.

Herndon HS Band Director named Outstanding Teacher 

Kathleen Jacoby, director of the Herndon High School Band, was named an FCPS’ Area 1 2021-22 Outstanding Secondary Teacher. Mrs Jacobi was presented the award by Area 1 Assistant Superintendent Douglas Tyson along with HHS Principal Dr Liz Noto.

Read more.

Herndon HS Band Director Kathleen Jacoby with Region 1 Assistant Superintendent Douglas Tyson

Know someone in Hunter Mill who deserves to be featured?

Email Staff Aide Emma Heisey at 

Other Information of Interest 

Student Representative to the School Board Application Open

Apply today to be the 2022 Student Representative to the School Board! Applications are due Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Each year, FCPS students can apply for the position of the student representative to the School Board. The student representative is not a member of the School Board but serves in a nonvoting, advisory capacity, representing the interests of the students of Fairfax County Public Schools.

Students who are currently in grades 9, 10, and 11 are eligible to apply, and they do not need to be current members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SAC).

Student Representative graphic


FCPS Discontinues Virtual Program

FCPS will discontinue the Virtual Program after this school year. The program was intended to be one year only to support students until the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available for school-age children. Community health professionals have advised FCPS that exemptions to in-person instruction should return to pre-pandemic criteria, now that children ages 5 and up are eligible for vaccination. 

The innovation and perseverance of our employees made this program successful. This decision is not a reflection of the quality or success of the Virtual Program. It is the next step in our transition to the next phase of the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who helped make this program a success for our students.

FCCPTA Scholarship Applications Open Through April 15

Each spring, FCCPTA awards 5 PTSA member students with $1,000 scholarships to assist in their pursuit of post-graduation learning.

The 2022 application is open and will close on April 15.

Learn more/apply here.

FCCPTA scholarship graphic

Future Conservation Leaders Scholarship

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District is offering a scholarship to one high school senior or college freshman pursuing a degree in conservation or a related field. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 1. Learn about and apply for the Future Conservation Leaders Scholarship.

Historical Marker Project Highlights Untold Stories

Ona Judge Historical Marker

FCPS and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have announced the launch of a joint Historical Marker Project. The purpose of the optional project is to bring attention to untold or lesser known histories from Fairfax County communities. The rich history, culture, and accomplishments of these communities is often underrepresented in history books and school curriculum. The first focus of the project is Fairfax County’s Black and African American communities. 

As part of the Historical Marker Project, students in grades 4-12 will focus on Portrait of a Graduate skills, such as communication and collaboration, by engaging in inquiry to recognize the voices, experiences, and achievements of Black/African Americans from Fairfax County. Students can submit suggested topics featuring a person, place, or event until March 31

More information on the Historical Marker Project is available online.

Schoology Design Challenge

art contest

Calling all FCPS students - create a design to fill the Schoology login page! Students may submit more than one design, submissions are due by 11:59pm on May 20, 2022. Any medium is acceptable for original artwork. Read more here.

Audubon Society of NOVA Youth Education Mini-Grant

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia’s (ASNV) mini-grant program supports teachers, schools, and non-profit organizations in educating youth about birds and the environment. ASNV is awarding three mini-grants of up to $500 each. All projects must include an educational component. Applications are due by Friday, April 1. Learn more and apply for the ASNV Youth Education Mini-Grant.

Kindergarten Registration

Will your child turn five years old by September 30? If so, contact your local school to make arrangements for kindergarten enrollment. Most schools begin gathering information now for parents of incoming kindergartners, and many host an orientation or open house for potential students and their families. All kindergarten programs are full-day and located in FCPS elementary schools. 

Check your school’s web page or contact the school directly for specific enrollment information and dates of orientation that typically occur between mid-March and the end of June. 

Get more information about kindergarten registration.

FCPS Named on Forbes’ Best Large Employers

FCPS educator

FCPS ranked 264th on the Forbes’ list of best large employers and is the only school district or educational employer in Virginia to make the list. “We credit this to a culture that puts the wellbeing of staff front and center,” said Sean McDonald, interim assistant superintendent of human resources in an article for

Join FCPS Alumni & Friends Network via Educate Fairfax 

Educate Fairfax connecting alumni

You are invited to sign up for the FCPS Alumni & Friends network, via the Educate Fairfax Foundation! Just launched, FCPS Alumni & Friends is an online network of alumni, teachers, parents, and community members that have ties to Fairfax County Public Schools. Through this network, we will celebrate the achievements of our graduates, friends and families, and help them connect with one another.

Join FCPS Alumni & Friends today!

Office of Auditor General - Audit Buzz

  • New Issue of Audit Buzz.  The February 2022 issue of Audit Buzz is now out.  
  • February 16, 2022 Audit Committee.  See the meeting agenda and documents here.  The next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 16 (4pm).
    • The Audit Committee approved a proposed change to FY22 Audit Plan to amend the FY22 OAG Audit Plan: (a) To audit the external counsel engagement process, the related expenditure, and the related Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process, (b) To postpone the “Employee Evaluation Process” audit to FY23.
    • OAG presented on the results for the FY22 Q1 Continuous Monitoring and the results of a Business Process Audit (BPA) for Madison High School
    • FY21 Business Continuity Plan Performance Audit Report – OAG presented the scope of work at the Audit Committee. 
    • The FY22 Community Use Audit results were posted to BoardDocs, and this topic is scheduled to be presented and discussed at the March Audit Committee meeting (March 16).

Fairfax County Park Authority 2022 Summer Camps 

Fairfax County summer camp

Registration is open and camps are filling quickly! Last year more than 95% of Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) in-person camps filled up and had wait lists. With lower camp sizes still in place, plan now to guarantee a spot in your child’s favorite spring break or summer camp. Find camps for all your children in one place this summer! Visit the FCPA Camps website to register or find a camp job.

Blood Donations Needed 

The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care.  Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments. Please schedule your blood donation today.

Blood donors needed now graphic red cross

Job Opportunities

Current Job Openings in FCPS

Teen Job Fair

Fairfax County high school students looking for their first part-time job, summer and seasonal job opportunities, or who want more information about potential career pathways, are invited to attend one of two upcoming teen job fairs and resume building workshops. Volunteer opportunities and resume building workshops will also be available for younger students. The job fairs will be held on Saturday, March 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. at West Springfield High School, and Saturday, March 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Chantilly High School. Registration for the job fairs is available online.

Fairfax County Park Authority Camp Counselor Hiring

The Fairfax County Park Authority is hiring camp counselors and camp directors to lead campers in our summer ROCS variety camp and several park-based nature camps. Camps operate from mid-June until mid-August. Camp counselors as well as camp directors are responsible for overseeing several camps and campers at one location. Pay is competitive. Learn more and apply at this website.

Children’s Teachers 

The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is seeking to employ two part-time Children’s Teachers for its Family Learning Program. Teachers will be responsible for conducting age-appropriate activities with children while their parents attend English class two times a week  and for collaborating with the adult ESOL teacher on Parent and Child Time (PACT) activities. For more information, please contact Xavier Muñoz at

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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