January Newsletter

Dear Fairfax County Students, Staff and Families,

Happy New Year! I hope that you and your families are well. I enjoyed my time with my family and friends – it was filled with live music from my son, extreme cooking projects, hours long board game battles, and much laughter and love. I hope you were also able to recharge and relax.

After the year returned to its normal fast pace, I had the opportunity to address the Fairfax County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly and share some of FCPS’ key priorities such as fully funding public education to help address learning loss, student mental health needs, english language learner funding, and ensuring academic enrichment for all. I also stressed the importance of eliminating the support cap, addressing the cost of competing in Fairfax, and asking for help with education workforce development, recruitment and compensation. Another topic I mentioned was the ability for localities to address speed limits in school zones to help keep our students safe. I know that we have wonderful partners in our Fairfax County delegation that will do their best to support our students, staff and schools.

I also enjoyed attending Lunar New Year celebrations hosted by the Asian Community Center and attending a service at First Baptist Church of Vienna to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I appreciate these opportunities to connect with our wonderful, diverse Fairfax community.

We are currently in the middle of our budget process and on voting on our calendar. See below for more information. I welcome hearing from you regarding our budget priorities and calendar options.


You may have heard the news that Virginia Attorney General Miyares is investigating FCPS regarding Commended Student notifications. You can view Superintendent Reid’s statement on the investigation into the notification for Commended Students. I want to make clear that I support recognizing our students for all of their achievements, including their academic achievements. FCPS stands ready to work with our state partners and I welcome the results of Dr. Reid’s independent investigation to find out what can be done better in the future to ensure timely notification of achievements. In the meantime, my focus has been and remains on meeting student needs and ensuring all students have an excellent education that helps them gain the knowledge and skills to set them on their path to success. 

Warmest regards,


Below you will find:

School Board Updates

School Board Dais

A reminder that you can view materials for School Board meetings on BoardDocs and recordings of meetings on the School Board YouTube Channel.

FY24 Proposed Budget

Superintendent Reid presented the proposed FY24 budget at the January 12 regular meeting (see materials here). My priorities for the budget remain addressing student learning needs and providing advanced and innovative education to give our students skills and knowledge to be ready for the careers of the future, addressing the needs of students with the largest gaps, such as English language learners and special education students, and recruiting and retaining excellent teachers and staff, more important than ever in this era of significant teacher shortages.

I am pleased to see a 3% MSA, step increase for eligible employees, a retention bonus for new employees, a step extension for all scales, continuation of extended special education teacher contracts and other efforts to address the needs of our excellent work force. Dr. Reid’s budget also continues the multi-year commitments to investments such as environmental initiatives and advanced academics and identifies funds for the Equitable Access to Literacy Plan, achievement gap closing strategies, middle school athletics and more. The proposed school operating fund budget represents a 7.6% increase over the FY23 Approved Budget and a 7% increased transfer request from Fairfax County compared to FY23. 

We discussed the proposed budget at our January 17 work session which included a very useful presentation on student enrollment and associated increased needs of our students. I look forward to the ongoing conversations and discussion around the budget in work sessions and the public hearing scheduled for January 23.

School Year 23-24 Calendar

The School Board heard a presentation and had a discussion of proposals for the upcoming school year calendar at the January 17 work session (see materials here). We will have another opportunity to discuss the calendar at the January 31 work session. The School Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar on February 9.

Approving a calendar requires compromise and balancing of many competing priorities. While I know some may be disappointed where we land, we are doing our best to find the right balance between many competing interests. After reviewing the results of the survey, our focus groups, and listening to my constituents, I am interested in approving a calendar that has consistency for student learning, is inclusive of our student and staff community, allows our teachers sufficient planning time, ensures students and staff can have access to summer programs and employment, and is mindful of family child care needs. I would also like to set the calendar for a few years so that our families are able to plan their schedules.

Capital Improvement Program

The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is a planning tool to coordinate capital projects over five years to determine future capital requirements. Read more about the proposed CIP. The School Board heard a presentation and had a discussion about the CIP at the January 10 work session (see materials here). We also had a public hearing on January 12. Some of the important issues surrounding the CIP are recent construction cost escalations, the development of a new renovation queue for the future, specific areas of overcrowding and unrenovated facilities, reconsidering the scope of future renovations, and using factors such as programming and boundaries to address facility needs.The School Board is scheduled to vote on the CIP on February 9.

Academic Matters Update

Dr. Reid presented an Academic Matters Update on the Virginia Growth Assessments (VGA) at the January 12 regular school board meeting. She shared how results will be distributed to families and that FCPS students, in general, outperformed the state on the Fall VGA. More than fifty percent of FCPS students performed in the top two quartiles for every VGA. As part of this discussion, she shared the efforts that are underway to provide in person tutoring in afterschool enrichment programs in the spring. See the materials and watch the recording.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • Monday, January 23 at 6pm - Public Hearing: FY24 Budget
  • Tuesday, January 24 at 11am- Work Session: FY24 Budget
  • Thursday, January 26 at 7pm - Regular Meeting
  • Tuesday, January 31 at 1pm - Work Session: SY24 Calendar
  • Thursday, February 9 at 7pm - Regular Meeting: action on CIP and SY24 Calendar
  • Tuesday, February 21 at 1:30pm - Work Session: Governance
  • Thursday, February 23 at 7pm - Regular Meeting: action of FY24 Budget
  • Tuesday, February 28 at 1:30pm - Collective Bargaining

Please note, times and topics are subject to change. 

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

For Spanish speakers, watch recorded School Board meetings, or watch live during the Regular Meetings on YouTube, you may visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel

Visit the Community Participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting. Visit BoardDocs for more meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts.

Interested in School Board action items? Sign up to get an update on School Board votes the morning after the School Board meeting.


COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan Meetings for Families of Students with Disabilities

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to implementing a plan for COVID-19 compensatory education as part of its obligation to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. Please join the remaining informational meeting for parents/guardians and other stakeholders: Wednesday, January 25, 7-9 p.m.

Visit our website to see what language interpretation services will be available at each meeting and to learn more about the COVID-19 Compensatory Education Plan.

Strategic Planning Community Forums Scheduled

Beginning January 30, FCPS will host a series of community forums as part of our Strategic Plan development process. The schedule and locations for the sessions are posted on FCPS' Strategic Planning webpage. Planning teams, which include a diverse range of voices from the FCPS community, are continuing to review student achievement, access, and survey data and crafting a collective vision for the school division. Key communicators will soon receive strategic planning materials to share with their groups and networks. Preparations for divisionwide student focus groups are underway, and there will be opportunities for employees to engage in a survey and “reality check” sessions in the upcoming months. For the latest information, please visit the Strategic Planning web page and check it often.  

Youth Substance Use Presentations

FCPS is dedicated to providing parents and community members with the most accurate and up-to-date information on youth substance use, prevention, addiction, interventions and available supports. Join FCPS and our partners from the Fairfax County Police Department and Community Services Board as we discuss these topics as well as the ongoing opioid crisis. There will be a divisionwide virtual presentation on Tuesday, March 21 at 10am as well as in-person presentations in each high school pyramid.  Register for the virtual event and see the details of pyramid meetings,including dates and locations

Salad Bars Returning to Elementary Schools

salad bar

The Office of Food and Nutrition Services is excited to begin adding salad bars back to elementary schools as a part of lunch service this month. The goal is to reach all 142 elementary schools before June 2023. 

Salad bars encourage students to build nutritious and delicious meals each day. Students are able to select a salad bar lunch or fruit and vegetable sides paired with an entree. Salad bar offerings include student favorites such as: apple slices, baby carrots, bananas, hard boiled eggs, broccoli, corn, cucumber slices, grapes, orange slices, salad greens, shredded cheese, and lunch meats.

Five FCPS Students Among Nation’s Top 300 Teen Scientists

Society for Science announced the top 300 scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2023 (STS), the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. 

Five of the 300 scholars are FCPS students: One is from McLean High School, and four are from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The scholars will be awarded $2,000, and their schools will be awarded $2,000 for each enrolled scholar.  

Read more about the award and see who was named a finalist

Dual Language Immersion Program Registration


Registration for the countywide lottery for Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs will open on Monday, January 23. Current pre-K students may apply for the kindergarten immersion program, and current kindergarten students may apply for the first grade immersion programs for the 2023-24 school year. 

Programs are available in French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. Visit the DLI registration page for more information. Get more information on DLI programs and registration.

FCPS 2023 Gap Year Fair 

FCPS School Counseling Services and Go Overseas are co-hosting the annual FCPS Gap Year Fair on Wednesday, February 1, at West Springfield High School from 6:30 to 9 p.m. This event is for high school students and parents/caregivers. Representatives from more than 40 programs offering gap year opportunities will be on site.

Students are encouraged to pre-register for this event. For more information, visit USA Gap Year Fairs

In the event of inclement weather, the Gap Year Fair will be held on Thursday, February 2, at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Learn about Neurodiversity

All human beings are neurodiverse. There is infinite variation of thinking and experiencing the world due to our identities, experiences and brain wiring that is a valuable form of human diversity. Watch a recording of the recent Parent Resource Center webinar in which FCPS Neurodiversity Specialist, Kristen Haynor, examines the brilliance and advantages of neurodiversity.

Resources for Families of Students with Disabilities


SEPTA, the Fairfax County Special Education Parent Teacher Association, was created to empower and connect families, students, and educators to ensure students with disabilities develop their full potential as individuals and community members. Visit the SEPTA website to become a member or learn more. 

The Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) is a state mandated Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC). Parents/guardians, students, teachers, administrators, staff, and others interested in special education at FCPS are welcome and encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and/or public comment related to the unmet needs of students with disabilities.

FCPS’ Office of Special Education Procedural Support provides guidance to staff, families, and students in areas related to the implementation of and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended. 

Families of students in special education programs can find more resources in the Special Education Handbook for Parents. Translations are available from the Parent Resource Center (PRC).

The PRC offers free webinars, consultations, a lending library, and resources to help adults support the success of all students, including those with learning challenges, special needs, and disabilities. Their YouTube channel includes videos of workshops and webinars for families and educators. Sign up for the PRC's newsletter to receive information on upcoming webinars and other resources. Please contact the PRC with questions at prc@fcps.edu or call 703-204-2941.

Kathy Murphy, the assistant ombuds for special education, provides information and support to parents/caregivers and students regarding special education and Section 504 services. Staff in the Office of the Ombuds believe that by being transparent and connecting families with available supports and services, children with special needs can equitably access public education.

Contact the ombuds by submitting a question, calling 571-423-4014, or emailing ombuds@fcps.edu.

Tutor.com for Test Prep

Did you know Tutor.com can help with more than just homework? This free, on-demand tutoring service also offers a comprehensive range of resources that include exam prep for AP, SAT, and ACT tests. 

Students can take practice quizzes at any time, and if they struggle in particular areas, they can immediately connect to a live tutor through voice or chat options for help. Learn more on the FCPS Tutor.com webpage

How to Partner or Volunteer with Schools

FCPS Business and Community Partnerships is happy to work with local businesses and organizations to help support our schools and students. Through its Ignite Partnerships, the team establishes valuable long-term relationships in the community. Please contact Jay Garant at 571-423-1225 or Kathy Ryan for information. Learn more about Business and Community Partnerships by subscribing to their monthly newsletter.

Support Financial Literacy

Junior Achievement of Greater Washington (JA) is a public/private nonprofit collaboration between FCPS, educators, businesses, and volunteer mentors who come together to inspire, guide, and teach students how to be financially capable and ready to take on their futures. 

Eighth graders at FCPS have an opportunity to build their financial literacy at JA Finance Park. Talk to your students’ social studies teacher to find out what day your student will be visiting. Parents can sign up online to volunteer

Business professionals are also encouraged to volunteer to work with students. If interested, please contact Caitlin Hennessy.

Opportunities for Volunteers 55+ Years Old


Ignite Partner GrandInvolve is recruiting older adult volunteers to provide classroom assistance with reading, event support, math, materials preparation, and other important tasks that a teacher might request. This all-volunteer led program facilitates volunteer opportunities in 25 of FCPS’ Title I elementary schools.

If you or someone you know would like a rewarding experience with flexible hours and an engaging variety of responsibilities, consider volunteering with GrandInvolve. Learn more and complete their interest form.

Community News and Opportunities

Hispanic Leadership Alliance Scholarship Program

The Hispanic Leadership Alliance (HLA) scholarship is for a first-generation Latinx student from Fairfax County Public Schools. A first-generation Latinx student is one born abroad or to immigrant parents in the United States. The student must be the first one in his or her family to attend a post-secondary educational institution. HLA is a non-profit organization of Fairfax County Public Schools employees, retirees, former students, and residents. Get more information and the application form.

The Shape of Youth Mental Health in Northern Virginia

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia will present a webinar on February 1 for a discussion of their report entitled “The Shape of Youth Mental Health: Finding a Way Back from Sadness and Stress for Northern Virginia's Teens.” The event is open to the public and is free to attend (in-person or virtually), though limited in-person seating is available. Learn more and register.

Respite Care for Families Raising Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Jill’s House provides respite care for families who are raising children ages 6-17 years who have intellectual disabilities. Parents can drop their children off for 24-48 hours and have time to rest, relax and look after themselves. Rest is important for everyone, and respite care has been proven to reduce stress.

At Jill’s House, children can enjoy a variety of activities tailored to their interests and abilities, such as swimming, art, music, reading, games, and outside play in the playground. This gives children a chance to connect with others and enjoy community meals. Jill’s House also offers parent support groups, scheduled sibling nights and family retreats.

Jill’s House serves families in the DC metro area and around the country. Jill’s House charges fees on a sliding scale based on family income. They also accept Children's Services Act (CSA) funding and Medicaid waivers. Find out more about Jill’s House.

One Water Art Contest

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) is joining regional water utilities to host its second annual art contest with the theme of protecting our source water. Local student artists in grades 9-12 can submit their art which captures the importance of protecting our local water sources. The submission deadline is Sunday, January 22. Learn more about the One Water Art Contest for high school students and submit your entry.

U.S. Global Change Research Program Enlists Student Artists

Students can help others understand climate change and inspire people to take action through art. The U.S. Global Change Research Program is looking for youth ages 13-17 to submit artwork related to the topic of climate, people, and nature. Student art will help readers of the Fifth National Climate Assessment see how the climate is changing and what that means for the people, places, and activities that students love. Submissions are due Jan. 27.

NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge

NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge is now open and will close on April 28. The judges will choose winners in two categories: grades five through eight and grades nine through 12. Entries must be submitted by an educator or a student leader who's 18 years old or older. Read more here.

January is …

National Mentoring Month

Imagine a world where young people feel empowered, encouraged, and understood. Mentors can make that world a reality by helping young people find and follow their passions, excel in school, and thrive wherever they are. Learn more about Mentoring Month

Research has shown that young people with at least one trusted mentor are less likely to skip school, less likely to use illegal drugs or drink alcohol, and more prepared to enter college or the workforce. Yet one in three children lack a mentor. 

All it takes is one person to serve as a trusted adult to help change a young person’s path in life. Mentors provide attention, support, and enrichment, and help connect their mentees to resources that may help them on their journey in life. 

FCPS’ MentorWorks program matches mentors with students in schools near where they live or work. They meet for at least 30 minutes a week. Learn more about how to become a mentor for an FCPS student. Please contact Martha Macdonald, mentoring specialist, for additional information at mmacdonald@fcps.edu.  

Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is the month to raise awareness about human trafficking and to educate the public about how to identify and prevent this crime. Learn more. See the School Board resolution


Here are just a few FCPS productions. Be sure to check out the Fine and Performing Arts Calendar on the FCPS website. Individual listings for many middle and high school theater events are featured. Users can subscribe to the calendar to be notified of upcoming performances, and each event can be added to a calendar or shared on social media.

Herndon play

Region 1: Herndon HS, The Insiders: A One Act Play, January 27 and February 3, https://herndondrama.org/.

Region 2: Annandale HS, Firebringer, January 20-21, https://annandaletheatre.org/.

Annandale play
Mount Vernon HS

Region 3: Mount Vernon HS, Choose Your Own Oz, January 20-21, www.mvhstheatrearts.com.

Region 4: Lake Braddock SS, Into the Woods, February 16-18, https://www.lbtheatre.com/box-office.

lake braddock play
Fairfax Academy presents Legally Blonde

Region 5: Fairfax Academy, Legally Blonde the Musical, February 3-5 and 9-11, https://mtasacademy.weebly.com/

Good News!

Region 1: Andrew Kearley, Oakton HS senior, applied for and was selected to be a member of the Antarctic Climate Expedition 2023 where he will spend twelve days participating and assisting in the formulation of 23 resolutions to inspire transformative changes for global net-zero emissions by 2050. What an amazing experience!

R2 Good News

Region 2: Saehee Perez, a student at McLean HS, has been selected as one of only two students to represent Virginia as a delegate to the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) in March. Saehee will also receive a $10,000 college scholarship.

Every year, two of the highest-achieving students from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education system overseas are selected through an extremely competitive merit-based selection process held at the state departments of education nationwide. Congratulations to Saehee!

Region 3: Congratulations to the 2022 Hollin Meadows ES Noetics Learning Math Challenge, Team Captains and National Honorable Mention winners! Keep up the great work! https://twitter.com/PTAHMES/status/1613185734550208515 

R3 Good News

Region 4: Congratulations to Jeanne Gates, Laurel Ridge ES Special Education Teacher, who has been selected as the VFW 2022 Virginia Elementary Teacher of the Year! After winning at the local level through VFW Post 8469, Ms. Gates' application was advanced to the state level where she was selected as the VFW 2022 Elementary Teacher of the Year for the state of Virginia. This award recognizes Mrs. Gates’ outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to her students. Read more.

Region 5: Congratulations to Woodson's Rocket League for winning the state championship in Esports! Members of Woodson's Rocket League Team are Greysen Berg, Chance Clayville, Connor Lane, and Andrew Wong. Mr. Shu and Mr. Kuykendall are the coaches.

woodson esports

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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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