February 2023 Newsletter

Mason District Community,

It has been a very busy month as the School Board engaged in its annual work of reviewing the Superintendent’s proposed budget, approving the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and the School Calendar. I appreciate the feedback provided to me by Mason families on these important matters and ask that you continue to share your thoughts, concerns and questions.  

February is also the time during which we celebrate Black History Month. There are numerous activities available in our schools and community in commemoration of this month which was established by Carter G. Woodson – and officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976, to promote and educate about black culture. While the opportunity to learn and celebrate the culture is laudable, I challenge all of us to engage in constructive dialogue and discussions about the contributions and challenges of the Black community throughout the year. Black History is American History and should be regularly integrated in social and historical discussions. 

black history month

Happy Black History Month!

The Annandale High School Singers performed the national anthem at the January 12th School Board meeting. Listen to their beautiful rendition below.


The Annandale Singers performing at the School Board meeting on January 12, 2023.

I had the privilege of attending the Bryant High School Winter Commencement ceremony earlier this month. I continue to be impressed by the resilience and dedication of the Bryant HS graduates who demonstrate their strong commitment to the completion of their studies despite facing significant challenges.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023!


Bryant High School Class of 2023!

I value the input I receive from the Mason District Community and am happy to address questions or concerns via email or phone. You can reach me by email at rjanderson@fcps.edu. If you are interested in scheduling a phone call, please reach out to my assistant, Cristy Coffey, at cmcoffey@fcps.edu to arrange a time.


In this newsletter, you will find information about the following:

Calendar Eating Disorder Awareness and Resources
Budget 2023 Student Rep to SB Applications
VDOE Calculation Tool Error Applications for PreK/Early Head Start
Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Summer Learning Programs
Bren Mar Park ES Renovation Historical Marker Project
Strategic Planning Facilities Update
Special Education Enhancement Plan  School Communications Awards
Text-to-Speech Regional Scholastic Art Awards
History Standards Upcoming Events
Magnet School Information Nights Calendar Reminder
Scholarship Opportunities Upcoming School Board Meetings
Tutor.com for Test Prep  
Adult Panel Discussion  


The School Board approved a calendar for the 2023-2024, 2024-2025, and 2025-2026 school years at the February 9th School Board meeting. The approved calendar is an amended version of the draft BLUE calendar.

I appreciate the time and effort taken by our community to respond to the survey which included the 4 options: Blue, Orange, Green and Purple – each for the next three school years. At its closing, 2,748 individuals responded to some part of the survey from the Mason District. The feedback regarding the Blue calendars resulted in the following:

  • 71% (341 of 479 respondents) indicated the calendar did not have sufficient 5-day weeks;
  • 83% (1009 of 1216 respondents) indicated a 2-week Winter Break was preferred;
  • 56% (1258 of 2247 respondents) indicated the start dates of Aug 21, 2023, Aug 19, 2024 and Aug 18, 2025 met expectations;
  • 55% (79 of 143 respondents) indicated the number of instructional days did not meet their expectations. 

Because the calendar presented for the Board’s vote did not align with the feedback from the Mason District families, I did not vote in support of the amended BLUE calendar. However, the calendar did pass with a vote of 7-5.

The Board is scheduled for action on proposed follow-on motions which will be addressed at the Next Regular Business Meeting on February 23, 2023. I will be seconding a motion for the development of a calendar policy to be established prior to any future calendar discussions. Such a policy would serve as a framework by which factors impacting the calendar are identified and prioritized.



Dr. Reid presented the FY 2024 Proposed Budget at the regular School Board meeting on January 12, 2023. The Fiscal Year 2024 Proposed Budget for the School Operating Fund totals $3.5 billion. The proposed budget includes an increase of $249.6 million, or 7.6 percent, over last year’s budget.

The Proposed Budget focuses on several key areas:

  • Proposed increases in employee compensation:
    • 3% Market Scale Adjustment (MSA) - $80.9 million
    • Step Increase for eligible employees - $58.2 million; 
    • 1% Retention Bonus for eligible employees - $19.9 million; 
    • Step Extension for all scales - $4.3 million. 
  • Investments that close the achievement gap for all students:
    • Equitable Access Literacy Plan - $15 million;
    • Achievement Gap Closing Strategies - $6 million;
    • Cybersecurity - $3.5 million;
    • Early Childhood Expansion - $2 million;
    • Employee Background Checks - $1 million; 
    • Middle School Athletics - $0.6 million;
    • FCPS Lighthouse Schools Pilot - $0.5 million; 
    • Safety and Security - $0.4 million

The School Board held Budget Work Sessions on January 17th and January 24th to discuss the Superintendent’s Proposed FY 2024 Budget.

My priorities continue to center around the allocations of staffing and resources based on the needs of our schools. In addition, I remain concerned about the recruitment and retention of teachers in our Title 1 schools and of special education teachers. To that end, I have posed the questions below for further exploration by staff and the Board. 

  1. Survey WABE participants to determine if divisions provide additional pay or benefits (compensation) for Title 1 teachers to assist in teacher retention at Title 1 schools. If WABE participants are not providing incentives, research school divisions nationally to identify incentives being offered to stem teacher attrition at hard to staff schools.
  2. Survey WABE participants to determine if divisions are providing additional pay or benefits (compensation) for special education teachers due to the critical shortage. If WABE participants are not providing incentives, research school divisions nationally to identify incentives being offered to retain special education teachers.
  3. What would be the cost to provide a stipend at interim periods, (i.e. 10 days, 20 days etc.) to IAs serving as classroom substitutes?
  4. What would be the cost to provide all Title 1 schools family liaisons 1.0 FTE contracts?

There are many important issues in the Superintendent’s proposal and I urge you to review the documents provided. More information on the FY 2024 Proposed Budget is available online.

Next steps in the budget process:

  • February 21 Fairfax County Executive releases FY 2024 Advertised Budget Plan
  • February 23 School Board Adopts FY 2024 Advertised Budget
  • February 28 Joint Budget Meeting between School Board and County Board of Supervisors

VDOE Calculation Tool Error

The Virginia Department of Education recently notified Virginia Superintendents of an error in the Basic Aid calculation tool. Last year, the Governor eliminated the sales tax on groceries and agreed to adjust allocations to reduce the impact of the loss of the grocery tax revenue on school divisions in the Commonwealth.

Because of this error, school divisions will now face a shortfall in funding as the FY 2023 budgets closes. Absent further intervention, school divisions will need to revise previously released FY 2024 budgets to reflect the current revenue loss.

Statewide impact is projected to result in a shortfall of $58.1M in FY 2023 and $143.1M in FY 2024. Based on VDOE’s formula (and confirmed by general assembly staff), FCPS will face a shortfall of $5.1M in FY 2023, causing a need for a revision to the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget in FY 2024 of $12.7M.

Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

The FCPS Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is a planning and fiscal management tool used to coordinate the location, timing, and funding of capital projects over five years. The annual review of current student membership and facilities data is used to identify new construction and/or repurposing of existing buildings, capacity enhancements, renovations (based on renovation queue), and site acquisitions. Newly identified needs are included in the estimated schedule of capital projects for the next five years.

The School Board approved the proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) FY 2024-2028 at the February 9th regular meeting, with two amendments

  • Kent Gardens (Dranesville): added to the priority recommended boundary/capacity adjustment table;
  • Early Childhood Education Center (Franconia): reallocated $0.5 M for design and planning;

Mason District projects in the current queue include:

  • Falls Church High School: FY 2027 – estimated completion
  • Braddock Elementary: FY 2023 – estimated completion
  • Bren Mar Park Elementary: Currently in planning/design; FY 2024 - permitting; FY 2027 – estimated completion;
  • Justice High School Addition: FY 2025 – estimated completion

Project webpages will keep the public informed of the details and progress of each renovation/construction project. Updates will include engagement opportunities, project details and timelines, progress updates, and other information. View timelines for each approved project

I continue to have concerns about the overcrowding in the Mason District schools and will specifically continue discussions with staff about strategies to address the overcrowding at Glasgow Middle School as well as the elementary schools in the Justice Pyramid. 

The Board is scheduled to take action on proposed follow-on motions which will be addressed at the Next Regular Business Meeting on February 23, 2023. I will propose a motion to address significant traffic and safety concerns at Belvedere Elementary School’s kiss and ride queue. I will also second a follow-on motion to ensure that future renovation and construction projects address food preparation facilities most capable of delivering fresh and diverse food options.


Bren Mar Park ES Renovation

The Bren Mar Park Elementary School renovation project is currently in the design phase. This project was funded for planning and design in the 2021 school bond referendum. The scope includes additional square footage for instructional and administrative space, as well as upgrades throughout the school and on the site. 

Visit the Bren Mar Park Elementary School Renovation Project Webpage for up to date information, sign up for the mailing list, and provide feedback.  Additional information will be forwarded in the coming weeks.

Strategic Planning

strategic planning feedback form

NEW! Feedback Form

In addition to attending in-person and virtual forums, individuals can contribute to the conversation by answering a few questions and providing comments using the Strategic Plan Feedback Form. All feedback provided will remain anonymous.

Community Forums

I was pleased with the robust conversations and engaging feedback received at the Mason District Community Forum on February 2nd at Mason Crest ES. The Community Forums provide families, students, staff, and community members the opportunity to review student achievement, access, and perception data and identify strengths and challenges.

For those unable to attend the February 2nd meeting, virtual opportunities to participate will be available in March. Dates and registration links will be published soon on FCPS' Strategic Planning webpage

sped enhancement plan

Special Education Enhancement Plan: Feedback Opportunity 

Fairfax County Public Schools is developing a Special Education Enhancement Plan to help ensure an excellent educational experience for all students with disabilities. As part of this effort, FCPS is seeking feedback from employees, families, and community members on Part 1 of the Draft Special Education Enhancement Plan.

Please complete this form by Friday, February 17, to provide input on FCPS’ priorities regarding special education including vision, mission, core values, goals, and objectives. 

Thank you in advance for lending your voice to this important work. Visit the Special Education Enhancement Plan webpage for more information.

Text-to-Speech Available on FCPS Websites

I am very excited to share that FCPS is introducing an innovative way to address the diverse needs of the community in its communication practices. A new text-to-speech feature, available on the FCPS website and on each school website, will read the text aloud from webpages.

The feature will help those with accessibility needs, such as visual impairments, dyslexia, or other difficulty reading large amounts of online text. The text-to-speech feature is available in English, Spanish, and Korean. Learn more and try out the new feature.

This feature, for which I have been strongly advocating, is a significant step in promoting greater access to and better communication with large swaths of the Mason community. I look forward to its expansion to include the other most frequently spoken languages by Mason District families. 

History Standards

As previously mentioned, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recently proposed major changes to History and Social Studies learning standards. After significant public feedback, the VDOE removed the documents from their website. 

On January 5, 2023, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow delivered a draft revision of the commonwealth’s K-12 history standards to the state Board of Education. The proposed 2023 History and Social Science Standards of Learning incorporate content from earlier drafts and include new content to foster a more complete story about how the past has shaped the Commonwealth, the nation and the world. On February 2, 2023, the VDOE accepted the proposed standards on first review.

Public comment regarding the proposed standards are being accepted through March 21, 2023 via public hearings or the online public comment form. For information about the review process and public hearing details, refer to the VDOE History and Social Science Standards of Learning Revision website.


Magnet School Information Nights

FCPS elementary magnet schools provide programs that enhance learning in science, technology, and performing arts. 

Parents/caregivers interested in sending their students to an elementary magnet school program are encouraged to attend school-based information nights:

  • Wednesday, February 15 at 6 p.m. - virtual meeting for Bailey's Upper (Link to meeting)
  • Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. in person meeting at Bailey’s Primary

Information nights will provide an opportunity to learn about individual school programs, student eligibility, the lottery process, and available transportation.

FCPS will be accepting applications for its elementary magnet school programs from Wednesday, March 1, through Wednesday, April 12, at 4 p.m. Get more information about parent information nights and the magnet school lottery, or on the schools, their programs, and locations.

Scholarship Opportunities

Hispanic Leadership Alliance Scholarship Program

The Hispanic Leadership Alliance (HLA) scholarship is for first-generation Latino senior students from FCPS. 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. 

Apply by February 27.


Justice High School Seniors - Are you in need of financial support for college? The Justice High School Scholarship Fund awards needs-based scholarships exclusively to seniors who have attended Justice High School for four semesters. 

The Justice High School Scholarship Fund application will open on February 24, 2023. Interested students are encouraged to gather required documents such as teacher recommendations (from a counselor, teacher, and coach/employer/community member) and a  FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Completing the FAFSA form is free. 

Learn more about the Justice High School Scholarship Fund or consider a donation.


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 website.

Adult Panel Discussion

Preparing Families for Difficult Conversations about Alcohol & Drugs

The FCPS Student Safety and Wellness Office, along with each pyramid’s Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist (SAPS), will be presenting in-person, adult-only panel discussions designed for parents/caregivers of students in 5th grade through high school. There will also be a virtual opportunity. Receive basic information about alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and opioids; learn what caregivers can do; and identify and connect with community resources. Remaining discussions scheduled for Mason District parents/caregivers:

  • Annandale Pyramid & TJHSST - March 6, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Edison Pyramid - March 14, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Justice Pyramid - March 6, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Virtual Session - March 21, 2023, 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. Register for the virtual option.

Eating Disorder Awareness and Resources

The Code of Virginia, 22.1-273.2, requires Virginia public schools to provide, on an annual basis, parent educational information regarding eating disorders for pupils in grades five through twelve. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA 2022):

Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. While no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that it is a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Eating disorders are not fads or phases, and can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.

FCPS has created a webpage, in collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department, containing detailed information and resources about eating disorders.

2023 Student Representative to the School Board - Accepting Applications!

student rep video

Michele Togbe, the current Student Representative to the School Board describes the demands, expectations, and rewards of the position.

Each year, FCPS students have the opportunity to 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. An eligible student is currently in grade 9, 10, or 11; is a resident of Fairfax County or Fairfax City; and is a student in FCPS. 

Learn more about the application process.

Applications Open for PreK and Early Head Start

FCPS PreK and Early Head Start programs provide a high-quality early learning experience for qualifying income-eligible children ages 6 weeks to 4 years. Eligibility and application information can be found on the PreK and Early Head Start website.


Summer Learning Programs Registration: Now Open!

FCPS’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) camps and Institute for the Arts (IFTA/E-IFTA) camps are open for registration! 

Career and Technical Education (CTE) 

Tech Adventure Camp (TAC) is a week-long exploratory camp designed to give current K-6 students an opportunity to explore STEAM, culinary, health, trades, and business and marketing areas. Visit the TAC webpage for more information. 

CTE Summer Academy (CSA) is a week-long enrichment program that allows students in grades 7-11 to dive deeper into CTE program areas, develop skills, and begin career exploration. Visit the CSA website for more information and registration.

Institute for the Arts Camps (IFTA)

IFTA is a two- or four-week summer enrichment program for students currently in grades 6-11. Students select from nearly 90 classes in art, dance, health and physical education 9, music, self-directed economics and personal finance, and theater. Visit the IFTA website for more information and registration. 

E-IFTA is a weekly arts camp for students in grades 2-5 who love to sing, dance, act, perform, make, and create. Students take part in four classes every day related to dance, music, theater, and visual art. They work with FCPS fine arts teachers who create classes that are fun and engaging. Visit the E-IFTA website for more information and registration. 

Historical Marker Project

historical marker

Examples of markers throughout Fairfax County.

The Historical Marker Project started in 2022 with an initial focus on the Black/African American experience. The project’s purpose is to reveal narratives and oral histories of Fairfax County’s African American communities whose rich history, culture, and accomplishments are underrepresented in our history books.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recognized students, school and county staff, and community members for their outstanding achievements as part of the Historical Marker Project at their February 7th meeting. Six markers were chosen to be installed in 2023, and a committee is working on refining the language for the markers. 

Read more about the project, finalists, and selected markers.


Facilities Update

The following items involving Mason District schools were approved by the Board at recent School Board meetings:

  • Award of Contract - Justice HS Addition Project (2/9)
  • Award of Contract - Chiller Replacement at Poe MS (1/12)
  • Solar Power Purchase Agreement for Mason Crest ES (12/15)

School Communications Awards


Congratulations to Westlawn Elementary School for being presented with a 2022 Award of Communication Excellence. The award celebrates the creation of excellent website, newsletter, and social media content that informs and engages readers. Special recognition is extended to Alanna Dushok and Cindi Choate for their fantastic work! Learn about all five awardees.

Regional Scholastic Art Awards

The 2023 Regional Scholastic Art Awards program has awarded 337 FCPS students in grades 7-12 a total of 533 awards for outstanding artwork.

The Gold Key and Silver Key artworks will be displayed at Northern Virginia Community College’s Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale from Friday, February 9, to Thursday, March 23, with an award ceremony on Wednesday, March 1.

Gold Key award-winning works will be judged at the national level against other gold key work from regions across the country.

Congratulations to the following Mason District students receiving awards:

  • Annandale High School: Mayah Kim
  • Justice High School: Elizabeth Cheek, Elizabeth Forrest, Gretchen Hardy, Raine Jeff, Jenna Kassem
  • Falls Church High School: Vivian Craig, Aaron Cruz, Jodi Zi En Tay

Learn more and view a complete list of FCPS awardees.

Upcoming Events

Up In Lights, the Annual Broadway Desserts Show at Justice High School

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Purchase tickets


Calendar Reminder

Calendar Reminder

As a reminder, all schools and offices will be closed on Monday, February 20, for the Presidents Day holiday. Classes will resume on Tuesday, February 21. See the complete 2022-23 School Year Calendar

Upcoming School Board Meetings

Regular School Board Meetings (Luther Jackson Middle School)

  • February 23, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.
  • March 9, 2023 at 7:00 p.m.

Work Sessions (Gatehouse Administration Center)

  • February 21, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.
  • February 28, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
  • March 7, 2023 at 1:00 p.m.

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 channel.

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


Reuniones de la Junta Escolar de FCPS en Español

Para ver las reuniones de la Junta Escolar grabadas o para ver en vivo durante las reuniones regulares en YouTube, por favor vaya al canal de YouTube de FCPS en Español o escanee el código QR.

We are cognizant of the significant language needs of the Mason District and I will continue to advocate for their availability and inclusion.


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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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