November Community Update

Hello Community Members,

As we move further into the second quarter of school, the work I'm involved with to promote students' success gets deeper and more exciting!

I'm observing agreement and energy all over the place for work that improves how our schools prepare students for personal pathways for success after high school.

My observations are culled from five Superintendent's community conversations I've attended, chatting with families and students at sporting events, emailing with constituents, attending community meetings with intersections of people and services, reviewing reports and updates from the Superintendent, and talking with local employers - for some examples!

Also, specifically in the career and technical education (CTE) space, my recent visits to the Davis Career Center (DCC) and the Edison Academy, I see how FCPS provides outstanding instruction. Now, I want FCPS to expand such instruction meaningfully - early enough in students' education to obtain prerequisite experiences; in ways that are not solely location-dependent (i.e., needing to commute to another FCPS school); and with community partners who are eager to hire qualified FCPS graduates!

The gathering momentum is palpable. You are definitely part of what's happening! See below for many opportunities to engage.

Photo collage of School Board Member Meren

Recent Work

Academic Acceleration Data

Here is data from the FCPS Superintendent about two important aspects of students’ academic acceleration since the depth of the pandemic in 2020.

One is clarifying about student performance on a national standardized test – the NAEP – where FCPS students were a small sample of all participating students nationwide (less than 2%).

The second is about the school division’s use of federal funding (“ESSER”) for academic acceleration after the pandemic.

About the NAEP data: this information clarifies – even corrects – data and information that you may have heard about (not from FCPS) on student performance and use of funding for academic success.

It’s important to understand the following about the NAEP data:

The FCPS fall 2022 membership for 4th and 8th grade combined was 26,863 full time students.

  • Yet, only 476 FCPS students in 4th and 8th combined took the 2022 NAEP. This means:
    • 1.8% of FCPS enrolled 4th and 8th graders participated in NAEP (compared to 100% taking SOLs)

The Fall 2022 membership puts VA enrollment for 4th and 8th grades combined at 189,783 full-time students.

  • Only 1.9% of these VA enrolled students participated in 2022 NAEP statewide (3,600 out of 189,783)

About use of ESSER funding:

Similarly, information from non-FCPS sources incorrectly focused on reimbursement rates of funds to FCPS – painting the picture that FCPS wasn’t using these needed funds, when in fact FCPS has been and continues to use the funds according to the plans approved by the School Board and the state.

See presentation slides from 11/3 for more information, here.

The School Board will have a public Work Session about ESSER on November 21.

If you’d like to hear the spoken presentations that accompany these information here, you can view the recording of the School Board’s 11/3/22 Regular Meeting on the FCPS You Tube Channel. This portion of the meeting is agenda item 4.06, which began about 2 hours into the meeting.

Academic acceleration data slides


Secondary Course Offerings

The School Board voted to approve changes to the list of middle and high school course offerings for the 2023-2024 school year, as recommended by the Course Review Committee, and as detailed in the agenda item.

Audit Information

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of FCPS reports to the School Board. As such, I connected with our auditor, Esther Ko, to hear updates and discuss audit work. Following are some recent audits for your information (all audit reports and further information about OAG is publicly available, here).

  • Information Technology Assessment Management (ITAM) audit report: An assessment of the processes by which FCPS makes decisions for IT hardware purchases (i.e., laptops, iPads), distributes devices, and keeps track of devices throughout the devices’ lifecycle of use; and the project management approach used to track the budget, smooth distribution of devices, and other aspects to make sure students and staff have the equipment needed to succeed in FCPS. 
  • Special Education Comprehensive Review: OAG continues to serve as the project liaison for the comprehensive program review of FCPS’ special education, which American Institutes for Research (AIR) was contracted to perform. AIR presented its Final Report during the School Board’s October 4 work session. Watch the video. The School Board will hold a second session to discuss a framework for FCPS’ Special Education Enhancement Plan at the November 15 work session.

Policy Updates From the Governance Committee 

More environmentally-conscious, resource-savvy policies are coming to FCPS! This means improvements in learning environments that benefit direct instruction, resources savings in time and money, and less strain on natural resources and our environment!

On the Governance Committee of the School Board, I’ve been thrilled to work with Acting Assistant Superintendent of Facilities & Transportation, Chuck Fanshaw, to take a holistic review of policies that guide this office’s work. This Committee reviews policies, with the Superintendent and staff, and then sends proposed updates to the full Board for consideration, and ultimately adoption. All proposed changes are on Board Docs – first on the Governance Committee agenda, and then on Regular Meeting agendas (first as “New Business” and often then as “Consent Agenda” items).  

Here are the policies that are being updated, on various timelines, in the months ahead. All drafted changes can be found here, on the Agenda from the 10/19 Governance Committee meeting.

  • Going to the full Board soon for action:
    • Policy 8220: Architectural and Engineering.
  • Governance reviewing again soon after additional staff input:
    • Policy 8611: Vehicle replacement.
    • Policy 8612: Security, Safety, and Emergency Procedures. This will be in tandem with the school division’s security audit happening in the months to come.

These next three policies require considerable updating, and will be worked on in tandem as the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) process occurs into the new calendar year. I’d expect these policies to have a next draft to the Governance Committee after the CIP process, so in late winter/ early Spring. The updates will incorporate a host of work done in FCPS and in partnership with Fairfax County, including the Joint Environmental Task Force, past CIP updates and follow-on motions of the Board, and more! Basically the updated policies will bring together all that has been proposed related to FCPS facilities in various places to a more accurate and ambitious set of policies to lead the school division forward!

  • 8258: Building Evaluation, Building Renovation, and Infrastructure Maintenance
  • 8310: Site Planning Development
  • 8542: Environmental Stewardship!

Solar Power Really Is Coming to FCPS!

Rooftop solar

I was thrilled to cast my vote as the School Board approved the implementation of the solar power purchase program! Annandale High School will serve as the pilot project for FCPS to develop a working knowledge of these installations. The installation there will begin in late 2023 or early 2024. Since June, FCPS has worked with IpSun Solar to develop a proposal as part of a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Fairfax County, FCPS, Housing & Community Development, and the Park Authority. 

FCPS Advocacy Plan to State & Federal Policymakers

The School Board adopted its 2023 Legislative Program, which is the latest in the annual statement of the school division's priorities that we advocate for to law and policymakers in the State General Assembly and the U.S. Federal Government. The General Assembly convenes in January for its session, and I'm working now with other county-level elected officials and community advocates to prepare to make our case for needed supports for students' success. View the Program in Board Docs.

Community Engagement Opportunities

FCPS Strategic Planning That Reaches All

FCPS Strategic Plan

FCPS is launching the engagement phase that will help develop the division's brand new Strategic Plan. During her Community Conversations listening tour in each high school pyramid, Superintendent Reid has heard from many of you about your hopes and aspirations for our students. That feedback will become part of our proactive strategic plan that will serve as our North Star—or guide—for the future.

Student Representative Michele Togbe student survey video

The entire FCPS community is invited to engage in building our shared future. This includes hearing from our parents and caregivers, and broader community, as well as surveying students in grades three and above. Watch this short video with Michele Togbe, Student Representative to the School Board, on why student voice matters in this process. You will have an opportunity to have your voice heard in one of many upcoming community forums. We encourage you to join us in this journey by actively participating in the conversation. The goal is to have the final strategic plan by June 2023. For a more detailed overview, visit FCPS’ Strategic Planning webpage.

How FCPS Develops Its School Year Calendar 

School Year Calendar Development

In an annual planning process, FCPS uses input from the community to develop the calendar for the following year. Our framework for creating the calendar is available online to ensure transparency, as we work to build a calendar that is inclusive and equitable. Watch your email for a feedback form, which will be shared with parents, staff, and middle and high school students. 

Mondays School Holidays

October certainly had several student holidays on Mondays. I’ve heard a mix of input from families about this throughout the month, so I want to share this information:

The student holidays that happened on Mondays in October are due to a variety of reasons, that coincided within the month. This included a Federal holiday, cultural observances, and important teacher work days. Monday, October 31, is not a holiday due to Halloween – it is a teacher work day for end-of-quarter work.

Teacher work days provide time for teachers to plan for class and individual instruction, participate in required and desired professional development, and meet with parents. This time is challenging to come by during the regular school day when teachers are instructing students – especially for our elementary school teachers who traditionally have had less time for planning than middle and high school faculty.

As a working parent, I understand the burden that student holidays may place on families. I hope this information can at least help families understand the reasons for this scheduling.

Feedback Sought on Proposed Family Life Education Changes

The Fairfax County School Board is reviewing recommended changes to the Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum and invites public feedback as part of the review process. In May 2022, the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC) presented recommended curriculum changes, to go into effect for the 2023-24 school year. Those changes include adopting gender-combined instruction, and exploring instruction of gender identity, recommended media, and other instructional changes. 

The recommendations reflect leading education and child development research and expert advice. According to research cited in the recommendations, these changes will create a more inclusive learning environment, result in higher academic achievement for students, and improve school climate.

Public feedback will be shared with FLECAC and the School Board.

Learn more about the recommended changes. The public feedback form will be open October 31 through December 1

Community Review Begins for Secondary World Languages Basal Resources

FCPS will adopt new Secondary (Grades 6-12) World Languages Basal Resources for the 2023-24 school year. Basal resources are the primary instructional resources used to teach a given subject. The process for selecting new resources includes an opportunity for the public to review the instructional materials being considered. Public review will run through Thursday, December 8. A review committee made up of community members, administrators, and teachers will meet in November and December to evaluate the materials under consideration as well as feedback from the community. Find more information on FCPS’ website.

Schools Adopt Text and Translation Platform

FCPS has recently approved the use of TalkingPoints, a two-way messaging app that allows parents and caregivers to communicate with teachers and schools. Look for messages from your child’s school on how they will be using the app. For more information, visit the FCPS TalkingPoints webpage.

The app translates messages, so teachers can input messages in English, and parents can respond in their preferred language. TalkingPoints supports 125 languages, making it easier and faster for our FCPS families to connect with their schools. If you need to update your preferred correspondence language, contact the front office at your child’s school and ask for the registrar.

School Board Advisory Committee Opportunities 

If you are interested in serving on a School Board Advisory Committee, I have vacancies for the Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee (MSAOC), the Human Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC), and the School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). To learn more and apply click here.

colorful hands raised

Hunter Mill Happenings

Madison High School Updates

Liz Calvert principal announcement staff photograph

Welcome Liz Calvert, the new Principal of Madison High School!

Liz Calvert, previous Assistant Principal at Madison High School, is the new Principal of Madison High School. During the selection process, Ms. Calvert was found to be uniquely qualified and the best fit and match based on feedback from students, staff, and community members. As an experienced leader with exceptional interpersonal skills, Ms. Calvert has led teams of teachers in collaborative learning and using data to make informed decisions on instructional practices.

Ms. Calvert has experience as an administrator at every level in the Madison pyramid. She understands the importance of Madison High School’s leadership among the pyramid schools and in the Town of Vienna. I am confident that she will continue the work to deepen teachers’ skills and provide rigorous learning opportunities for students at Madison High School.

Check out the beautifully-renovated Madison High School! This project was funded by the 2017 and 2019 bonds - thank you to the Fairfax County voters for making it happen!

Learn more about the renovation here:

Renovated Madison High School Exterior

South Lakes HS Field Hockey Wins Quarter Finals

South Lakes HS field hockey team

Congratulations to the South Lakes field hockey team for winning the quarter finals of states, following an undefeated season! Go Seahawks!


McNair Upper Educator Named FCPS Hero 

Watch this video to see why Kristen Luck, a physical education teacher at McNair Upper Elementary School, is one of our FCPS Heroes.  

Our Heroes is a new series of videos being produced by the Office of Communication and Community Relations to highlight teachers and staff who inspire their communities. Do you want to recommend someone? If so, please email, with “Hero” in the subject line.

FCPS Hero Video

Theatre in Hunter Mill

Much Ado About Nothing

Madison HS Drama presents Much Ado About Nothing! In this story of crossed wires, Shakespeare gives us his sharply tuned humor through masked identities and hidden feelings, mostly misplaced honor, and good old-fashioned deceit. However, we are also rewarded with timeless themes of love, of friendship and of marriage. Don’t miss this immortal classic of the stage.

Thursday November 10 at 7:30pm
Friday November 11 at 7:30pm
Saturday November 12 at 2:30pm and 7:30pm

James Madison High School Tickets (

South Lakes HS Peter and the Starcatcher

South Lakes HS Drama presents Peter and the Starcatcher! This family-friendly comedic play is set on the high seas in a faraway land. You’ll enjoy the fast-paced adventure of Peter and his friend Molly, as they overcome bands of pirates and thieves in their quest to keep a fantastical secret safe. Suitable for all ages, and most enjoyable for children 9 and up.

November 17 at 7:30pm
November 18 at 7:30pm
November 19 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm

Tickets are available in advance here.

Transportation Safety Update on Beulah

Radar speed sign on Beulah Rd

Fairfax County Public Schools, in partnership with the Fairfax County government, is actively working on improving safety near our schools. One recent example of this work is a radar speed sign on Beulah Rd near Wolftrap ES - an area that has long suffered from unsafe transit conditions. This latest improvement follows other efforts made by residents, FCPS, and the county together to update road paint, crosswalks, signage, and more.


Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Opens in Reston

Dolly Parton Imagination Library flyer

November Is...

National School Psychology Week

We're celebrating the important work school psychologists do to help all students thrive. Visit the National Association of School Psychologists website.

Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native Americans. It is also a time to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges they have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

Learn more about the heritage months, celebrations, and traditions recognized by FCPS.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day FCPS

Veterans Day is a time to pause, reflect, and recognize the extraordinary sacrifices our veterans and their families have made on our behalf. We thank them for their service. Learn about the history of Veterans Day.

National Family Engagement Month

Woman and young girl

Families are children's first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers. More than 35 years of research shows that the most effective way to increase student achievement is for families to be actively involved in the education of their child. Strong parental and family support is vital to the well-being and success of students. FCPS has many resources for families designed to increase engagement and partnerships with families while fostering academic success and social-emotional growth.

Upcoming Public Meetings and Topics 

  • November 14 at 7:00 pm - Regular Meeting
    • Goal 1 and 2 Reports
    • Policy 8220 Engineering and Architectural Engineering Services

    • Policy 2202 Eligibility for Enrollment

    • Local Plan for the Gifted
  • November 15 at 1:00 pm - Work Session
    • Grading Policy
    • Special Ed Comprehensive Review follow up with AIR
  • November 29 at 11:00 am - Work Session
    • Strategic Plan/Governance
    • Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities Annual Report

Please note, times and topics are subject to change. 

QR code for School Board meetings in Spanish

For Spanish speakers -- to watch recorded School Board meetings or live Regular Meetings on YouTube, you can visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel or scan the QR code.

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

Other Information of Interest

FCPS Receives $2 Million Grant to Fund STEAM

Student working

FCPS has been awarded a $2 million Department of Defense Education Activity Military-Connected Local Educational Agencies for Academic and Support Programs grant that will support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) and computer science integration to advance math learning goals. This grant project, Code UP!, is a five-year grant program that officially began last month. 

Visit this website to learn more about Code UP! and see which schools will implement the program.

Are Your Students Using

Do your students need homework help or feedback on their writing? How about a practice quiz to get ready for a test? Try - it is open to FCPS students in all grades, on-demand, 24/7, at no cost to families. Tutors are available in multiple languages. Learn more.

Fairfax Area Student “Shark Tank” Technology Challenge

The Fairfax Area 50+ Technology Committee is proud to announce the 7th Annual Fairfax Area Student “Shark Tank” Technology Challenge. The competition is open to all high school students in Fairfax County, Fairfax City and City of Falls Church. Students are challenged to develop an innovative device or app that will have a positive impact on the lives of older adults, adults with disabilities, or caregivers. Students are encouraged to be innovative and creative. Potential projects may be either a mobile app, web service, robotic, assistive device or any combination. Cash prizes will be awarded to the student winners by IntegrityOne Partners, the event sponsor. [Additional details]

Purple Star Schools Support Military-Connected Families

Military family in front of American flag

40 Fairfax County Public Schools have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children as 2022 Purple Star Schools. The Purple Star designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families. See the full list of schools. 

2022-2023 Meritorious Budget Award

Once again, Fairfax County Public Schools’ Office of Budget Services has received the Meritorious Budget Award (MBA), from the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO).

ASBO International’s MBA program promotes and recognizes excellence in school budget presentation. Program participation enhances school business officials’ skills in developing, analyzing, and presenting a school system budget. Participants submit their budget documents to a panel of school financial professionals who review the materials for compliance with the MBA Criteria Checklist and other requirements and provide expert feedback that districts can use to improve their budget documents.

FCPS Office of the Ombuds

Office of the Ombuds

An Ombuds is someone who helps resolve conflict by facilitating communications and sharing available resources. The FCPS Office of the Ombuds works as an independent confidential resource to help students, families, community members, and employees get questions answered, resolve concerns, and voice complaints regarding FCPS matters.  

The Ombuds is available to: 

  • Share strategies for parents to improve communication with, and between, school and home.
  • Help to resolve disagreements between parents and schools or disagreements involving employees in the workplace.
  • Provide ideas to foster parent participation in Individual Education Plan (IEP) and 504 Plan meetings.

They do not change or make decisions, policies, or regulations; take sides; or provide legal advice.

Anyone with concerns, questions, or complaints to share with the Office of the Ombuds may call 571-423-4014, email, or visit their webpage, where you may Submit a Question.

Student Bus Passes

Bus clipart

Did you know: All Fairfax County middle and high school students can get a Student Bus Pass to ride the Fairfax Connector and Fairfax CUE bus for free? Fares are free from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, all year, with the pass. Learn more about Student Pass online. Complete the application and return it to your school office.

Envirothon Competition and Annual Training

Help your 9th-12th grade students develop Portrait of a Graduate skills and provide an opportunity for them to earn their Science and Environment diploma seal! Envirothon is a great opportunity for students to immerse themselves in meaningful learning, all while working collaboratively to solve real-world environmental problems. Learn more about Envirothon and look for 2022-23 updates coming in October.

Save the date for the annual Envirothon training on Saturday, November 19, 2022, at Graves Mountain Lodge. This regional training focuses on the fields of aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and the 2023 special topic – Adapting to Climate Change. Get support in creating or strengthening your Envirothon team and learn more about the program. Other benefits:

  1. Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District will pay for student and teach registration, lunch is provided
  2. Transportation may be available for Envirothon teams
  3. Training experiences include a soil pit, stream monitoring, wildlife skulls and pelts, tree identification, and speaking with topic experts

Contact Ashley Palmer, Communications and Education Specialist with Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District for more information and to register. Registration is required.

Multiple Training Opportunities for Families 

PEATC logo

The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), presents the following training opportunities:

Currently Open:

  • Transition University - Fall 2022 is a free, self-paced online course that focuses on providing parent-friendly information to help make transition planning easier. The fall edition of this course will be open through November 29, 2022. Participants who complete the full course will receive a certificate of completion showing 7.5 hours.
  • IEP University (IEPU) is a free, self-paced online course for families and professionals that provides useful and accurate information around IEP development and meetings. This course will be open through November 20, 2022. A certificate of completion for 6 hours will be provided for all who complete the training.

Coming Soon!

  • Early Childhood Academy (ECA) is a free, five-week online program that will assist families in supporting their child's early learning and development. Participants who complete all sessions will receive a certificate of completion with 9 contact hours. This program opens on November 14, 2022, and closes on December 19, 2022.

Building Strong Parent Advocates  is a free training that provides information to help families build solid foundations in understanding the special education process while empowering them to be their child's best advocate. This program can be accessed anytime between November 21, 2022, and December 12, 2022. Participants who complete the training will receive a certificate of completion showing 6 hours.

Red Flag Gun Law in Virginia

Red Flag Gun Law in Virginia

Virginia’s Emergency Substantial Risk Orders (ESRO) law prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing, possessing, or transporting any kind of firearm. If you know of someone with a gun acting in a way that concerns you, speak up to prevent a gun tragedy. 

To request an ESRO in Fairfax County, call the police non-emergency line at 703-691-2131. If there is an immediate danger, call or text 911. Learn more about Red Flag laws on the county government website.

Job Opportunities

$3,000 Signing Bonus for Bus Drivers

Job fairs will be held for those interested in becoming bus drivers for FCPS on Wednesday, November 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lorton Center. Click on the links to learn more, call 571-423-3000, or email

Sub and Save the Day!

Sub and Save the Day

FCPS is always looking for kind and caring substitute teachers and substitute instructional assistants to ensure our students continue to thrive when teachers and instructional assistants need to be out of the classroom. Substitute teaching is a great opportunity for future teachers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, college students, part-time employees, and anyone who wants to make a difference. 

FCPS has started offering bonuses for substitutes who are available to teach on high volume days. Additionally, substitutes who work more, will earn extra bonuses when they reach 50, 100, or 150 days worked in a school year.   

Substitute Teacher and Substitute Instructional Assistant information sessions are held virtually on Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Candidates will receive an email link to the virtual information session the Monday before the session. Sign up for an information session

Visit Current Job Openings for all posted positions.

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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