March Newsletter

Dear Fairfax County Students, Staff and Families,

Happy belated Pi Day! 

While it still feels like winter, I hope you are looking forward to the promise of warmth that spring will bring! It is hard to believe it is mid-March! I am looking forward to seeing our students finish this year strong and celebrate with them during those important end of year moments - concerts, games, awards, international nights, spring festivals, plays, and of course, graduations. This is my favorite time of year when we get to celebrate our students. My own kiddo is finishing his freshman year at college, something I never thought he would be able to do when he was little when doctors told us all the things they believed he would never be able to do. I believe all students deserve a school environment that nurtures their strengths, encourages them to dream big, and supports their needs without letting those needs define all of who they are. Our staff are working hard to help our students catch up with their academics, manage behaviors, be mentally well, and have good executive functioning - those important ready to learn skills of organization, time management, and persistence. I appreciate their efforts and the partnership of families and the community in this effort. It truly takes a village to help the next generation be the leaders of tomorrow. 

We’ve had a busy month. The School Board took two more important steps. First, we adopted the FY24 Advertised Budget (read more about it below). Our budget work will continue but I want to express my gratitude that County Executive Bryan Hill’s Advertised Budget fully funds the recurring costs that support our student and staff needs as identified in Dr. Reid’s proposed budget. I appreciate the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors steadfast support of our public schools. 

Second, the Board approved a collective bargaining resolution (more below) that will improve the education of our students by improving recruitment and retention of our excellent staff. By allowing our employees to have more of a voice in their employment, they will not only have better working conditions but also better morale. In an era of significant teacher shortages, this will be an important tool to help us recruit and retain the best teachers so our students can have the world class education for which FCPS is renowned. 

I have also been energized by the interactions I have had with our students and community members recently. I held a virtual town hall with Sully District School Board Representative Stella Pekarsky on March 1. We provided an update about some of the major topics affecting FCPS and were able to take many questions from those in attendance. I am thankful for those who took the time to come, listen and share.

In addition to some wonderful school visits to Robinson Secondary School and Laurel Ridge ES, I enjoyed celebrating the return of the salad bar at Bonnie Brae ES. I loved the enthusiasm of the students as they debated their favorite fruit or vegetable. We determined they are all good because it is important to “Eat the Rainbow” of fruits and vegetables. My new friends and I formed “Team Rainbow.” Since then, I have done my best to be a good Team Rainbow member by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. 

I have also been able to attend some great community events. Woodson’s International Night was an excellent way to enjoy and recognize our multicultural community. Speaking at the FCCPTA Reflections was an amazing way to celebrate the creativity of our student artists. The works of art, music, and dance were amazing. I also had the chance to visit the Arrow of Light Cub Scout Den of Pack 1683 with Springfield District School Board member, Laura Jane Cohen. We were invited to discuss the tough topic of gun violence in schools with the den and I appreciated the chance to have that conversation with them, to share what FCPS does to keep students safe and to listen to their thoughts.

I also attended a few community events that highlighted important work to be done. One was the Special Education PTA’s 2e event with Dr. Reid. I am thankful to those who came to share their many stories about their 2E students in FCPS and to focus on the work that needs to be done. I also attended Dr. Reid’s Opioid Awareness meeting. This is a pressing challenge for our community and we all need to be educated about its impact. If you missed the meeting, you can read more about opioid misuse. Opioids are here in our community and our students need all of us to come together to keep them safe. I look forward to continuing the conversation at Dr. Reid’s next opioid town hall on April 24. 

Finally, I had the opportunity to give public comment on behalf of the school board to the Virginia Board of Education on the new state proposed social studies standards. I encourage you to review these yourself. We feel these standards were developed through a faulty process, overemphasize rote memorization over critical thinking skills, are developmentally inappropriate, and do not teach the full inclusive history. I firmly believe that avoiding the mistakes of the past means we need to study all of our history, the good and the bad, as well as the history. That is how we build a better future. If you would like to submit written comments, you can do so here by March 21, 2023. Here is more information about the proposed changes.  

As always, please let me know how I can help.

Warmest regards,


Below you will find:

School Board Updates

Collective Bargaining

The Fairfax County School Board approved a collective bargaining resolution at the March 9 regular meeting. The resolution means that FCPS can now bargain collectively with employees over terms and conditions of employment.  This development was made possible after the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2021 that permitted local governments and school boards to allow collective bargaining for their employees. After this legislation, the School Board invited all certified employee associations to form a work group with division leadership to create the collective bargaining resolution to govern collective bargaining in FCPS. The work group worked for over 18 months to draft and reach consensus on a resolution. The draft resolution was presented to the School Board and made available to the public. The Board also held a public hearing and a work session. The resolution adopted by the Board had only limited revisions to the work group’s draft. I am so thankful for the hard work of the work group to reach this consensus resolution and pleased that FCPS can now move to the next stage of the process. Read more about collective bargaining in FCPS and see my remarks.

FY 2024 Advertised Budget

At the February 23 meeting, the Fairfax County School Board adopted the FY 2024 Advertised Budget, which prioritizes student achievement, and recruiting and retaining outstanding educators.

The FY 2024 Advertised Budget totals $3.5 billion—a net increase of $249.6 million or 7.6% over the FY 2023 Approved Budget. To support the investments included in this budget, the superintendent is requesting an additional $159.6 million, or a 7.0% increase, from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Nearly 86% of the Advertised Budget is targeted at instruction. 

The budget includes innovative investments that aim to close the achievement gap for all students. Read more about those investments

Capital Improvement Program Follow On Motions

At the February 23 Regular Meeting, the School Board approved three follow on motions to the Capital Improvement Program. These follow on motions directed the Superintendent to 1) develop an annual School Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Assessment Program, 2) update the specifications for renovations and construction projects to include food preparation facilities that can deliver fresh and diverse food options, and 3) bring a plan for a performing arts warehouse to be used to catalog and share sets, props, costumes, equipment, instruments, and other related items among our schools. I was pleased to champion the motion for the performing arts warehouse. I think a warehouse where these resources can be shared among our schools will help all of our schools continue to produce amazing productions and concerts that allow our students to shine.

Calendar Follow On Motions

The School Board approved two follow on motions for school year calendar 2023-24 directing the Superintendent to:

  • Develop a plan for the promotion of enrichment and/or recreational activities that may be available for students to participate when schools are closed for professional work days and extended periods of time. 
  • Work with the Governance Committee on improving the school year calendar development process. Specifically, looking at which factors are considered in the process, how they are prioritized, and the timeline by which this work happens.

Academic Matters Updates

At the February 23 Regular Meeting, Superintendent Reid shared a video on Early Childhood Education, and presented on  science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), and computer science.

At the March 9 Regular Meeting, Dr. Reid shared information on work-based learning experiences for students that help develop career readiness. 

School Board Student Representative Applications Due

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 FCPS students’ interests. The Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council delegates will vote to elect the representative to the School Board in April.

Eligible students should currently be in grades 9, 10, and 11; a resident of Fairfax County or Fairfax City; and an FCPS student. Students are required to provide a written application by Friday, March 17, and a 30-second candidate statement via Flip video, which is due Friday, March 31

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • March 28 at 11am - Retreat: Strategic Plan 
  • March 30 at 7pm - Regular Meeting: FY23 Third Quarter Budget Review
  • April 11 at 11am - Forum: School Resource Officers and School Food & Nutrition Policy; Work Session
  • April 13 at 7pm - Regular Meeting: Special Education Annual Plan
  • April 25 - Retreat: Strategic Plan
  • April 27 at 7pm - Regular Meeting

Please note that times and topics are subject to change.

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

For Spanish speakers, to watch recorded School Board meetings, or live during regular meetings, 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.


Community Meeting on the Dangers of Fentanyl

Opioid graphic

Monday evening, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid and Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis hosted nearly 400 families, staff, and community members for a conversation on the dangers of fentanyl. During this impactful event, audience members heard testimonials from individuals affected by the opioid epidemic and learned facts from medical experts and law enforcement representatives.  

The conversation will continue on Monday, April 24, with our next community meeting on the critical topic of fentanyl danger and opioid awareness. More information is coming soon. Visit our Opioid Awareness webpage for updates as they become available. 

Visit the Fairfax County Government webpage on opioids for information on how you can take action and how to get help for yourself or loved ones.

Difficult Conversations About Drugs and Suicide Prevention

FCPS’ Parent Resource Center (PRC) is dedicated to helping adults support the success of all students. The PRC will present the following webinars:

  • Preparing Families for Difficult Conversations About Alcohol and Drugs: Tuesday, March 21, at 10 a.m. This webinar will give parents tools to engage in meaningful conversations with their children about alcohol and drugs. Parents will learn basic information about alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, and opioids; what can be done as a caregiver; and how to identify and connect with community resources.

Click on the titles above to register.

FCPS New Strategic Plan

Strategic Planning graphic with students

Strategic Planning Survey Closes March 20

If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to share your perspectives on the current draft of work-to-date related to the development of FCPS’ new Strategic Plan. Your input is important to this work and will help ensure a thriving future for each and every FCPS student.

Parents and caregivers of current FCPS students, please check your email for a message from FCPS dated Tuesday, March 14. For Community members who do not currently have a student enrolled in FCPS, please use this link to participate. 

All responses are anonymous. Visit our Strategic Planning webpage for more details.

Virtual Community Forums Coming Soon

Plan to attend a virtual community forum to discuss the first draft of proposed goals for the new Strategic Plan. Forums are scheduled for Monday, April 10, at noon; Tuesday, April 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (in Spanish); and Monday, April 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Registration links will be available soon. Visit the Strategic Planning Community Forum webpage for more details.

No-Cost Mental Health Teletherapy for Students

FCPS has partnered with Hazel Health to offer virtual mental health services to high school students via live video sessions. Starting Monday, April 10, parents/caregivers who have been struggling to find a therapist for their child or who notice changes in their child’s behavior will be able to connect them virtually with a licensed therapist. 

Teletherapy services for students are short-term, evidence-based, and culturally-responsive. 

Teletherapy is available on any device, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Therapists will be locally-licensed clinicians; 50% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC); and 40% of whom are bilingual. More than 15 languages are available.

Hazel Health’s licensed therapists can help students who are experiencing:

  • Mood/behavior changes, lack of motivation, grief/loss.
  • Anxiety, worry, fears.
  • Bullying, sexual identity challenges, challenging peer and family relationships.
  • Academic stress.

Beginning April 10, the first step for parents is to provide information through an opt-in form. Visit FCPS’ Teletherapy webpage for details.

Proposed Updates to Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Department of Special Services will be hosting two virtual meetings for FCPS families, employees, and community members regarding proposed updates to the Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) Regulation. The meetings will be held:

  • Tuesday, March 21, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Monday, March 27, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Participants will have an opportunity to learn about suggested updates to the SR&R and ask questions via Zoom Chat. Language interpretation will be available in Spanish. A certified deaf interpreter will be available as well.

An online feedback form will be posted to the FCPS website by Monday, March 20. Visit the FCPS website for more information and to register for a meeting.

Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten class playing

There’s an easy five-step process outlined for parents looking to register their child for kindergarten: 

  • Determine eligibility. 
  • Identify your local school. 
  • Gather documents. 
  • Fill out forms. 
  • Schedule an appointment. 

After the appointment at the school (the student and one caregiver must be present), the student will be ready for orientation, Bridge to Kindergarten, or any other introductory events each school may host. Read more about the registration process.

Understanding Virginia Growth Assessment (VGA) Reports

Grade 3-8 students across Virginia took VGA tests in fall and winter of 2022-23. FCPS mailed score reports to families earlier this month that combine Fall and Winter results. When viewing students’ scores, it is important to keep in mind that there is no “passing” or “failing” for VGA tests and that each vertical scaled score reflects performance on a single day. VGA results should be used alongside other available data for a more complete picture of students’ academic progress. Also keep in mind that the VGA asks questions from the entire curriculum, including some standards that will not be taught until later in the school year.  

The FCPS VGA Score Reports webpage now includes a section on Understanding VGA Results, featuring Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). This section will continue to be updated throughout the spring to address incoming questions and to reflect additional state guidance as it is released. 

High School Assessment and Grading Survey

Instructional Services is conducting a survey to gather perceptions and preferences around assessments and grading elements. High school students, their families, and high school-based staff will be surveyed. Students and their families will be asked about their current classes and how they feel about assessment, grading, and grading practices and policies. 

The survey results will be used along with information from student focus groups, research, best practices, and benchmarking to propose recommendations to the School Board later this spring. Surveys will be sent Monday, March 20, and individuals will have until Friday, March 31, to respond. 

Improved Access to Language Translation on FCPS Websites

translations banner

In a continued effort to prioritize access for our diverse communities, FCPS is launching a language translation feature that will be available on every division and school webpage. The feature has been added to the header at the top of the page and will scroll with the user as they navigate the page. Learn more about our new translation feature.

Special Education First Class Award Nominations

First-Class Awards are presented each year at the Special Education Conference to individuals who support, design, and/or implement inclusion activities that result in positive outcomes for students. The Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities is seeking nominations for these awards, which recognize and celebrate the inclusion efforts of educators, administrators, and students in all facets of education. 

Please complete this form to nominate an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to inclusive practices in FCPS. Nominations will close Friday, April 14. Email with questions. Award winners will be recognized virtually at the Special Education Conference on Saturday, April 29

FCPS Early Childhood and PreK Programs

A teacher blows bubbles toward a young student

Fairfax County Public Schools offers programs for the youngest learners:

  • PreK is for students 3-4 years old whose parents meet income requirements. Space is limited, and priority is given to 4-year-olds to help them prepare for kindergarten. 
  • Early Head Start is for infants, toddlers, and expectant mothers who meet income requirements. 
  • Early Literacy Programs and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) work with parents to help prepare their children for school. 

Community liaisons are available to assist families with the registration process and answer questions. For more information, visit the Early Childhood Registration webpage

Magnet School Applications Are Open  

Fairfax County Public Schools is accepting applications for its elementary magnet school programs. Registration for the elementary magnet school lottery closes on Wednesday, April 12, at 4 p.m. Three FCPS elementary magnet schools provide programs that enhance learning in science, technology, and performing arts. Get more information about the magnet school lottery.

Site-Based Substitutes Needed

FCPS is looking for talented individuals with strong academic backgrounds to become site-based substitutes. These substitutes will work primarily at one specific school and report to that school daily. Starting pay is $24.86, and health insurance benefits are available. 

To learn more about the position and which schools have vacancies, visit the Site-Based Substitute webpage

Summer Learning Opportunities

FCPS’ Career and Technical Education (CTE) camps and Institute for the Arts (IFTA/E-IFTA) camps are now open for registration. Visit the websites below for more information on schedules and fees. Tuition is waived for students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Career and Technical Education

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 to register. 

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 webpage to register.

Institute for the Arts Camps

Institute for the Arts (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 webpage to register. 

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 webpage to register. 

FCPS Students Receive 2023 Regional Scholastic Writing Awards

Fairfax County Public Schools student writers won 35 Gold Key awards in the 2023 Regional Scholastic Writing Awards competition. In all, 213 Gold Key, Silver Key, and Honorable Mentions were earned by FCPS students.

Riva Jain, a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), was named an American Voices Nominee for her dramatic script, “The Interview,” and Aileen Zhao, a student at McLean High School, was named an American Voices Nominee for her poetry, “Catalog of Ants.” Read more and see the full list of winners

Three High Schools Recognized for Press Freedom

Three Fairfax County public high schools—Chantilly, McLean, and West Springfield—are among 16 schools nationally that have been selected as 2023 First Amendment Press Freedom Award winners. The award recognizes private and public high schools that actively support, teach, and protect the First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions on content.

Two FCPS Middle School Teachers Head Abroad on Fulbright Awards

Fulbright Teachers

Congratulations to Shannon Evans, French teacher at Thoreau Middle School, and Sulekha Subhash, emotional disabilities teacher at Luther Jackson Middle School, who received Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program awards. As Fulbright recipients, the teachers will share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and abroad.  Read more.

Community News and Resources

Fairfax County Teen Job Fair Series

Looking for a job or volunteer opportunity? All students are invited to attend the remaining 2023 Fairfax County Teen Job Fair Series that  will be held on Saturday, March 18 at South County High School from 11am - 1pm and on Saturday, March 25 from 1pm - 3pm at Chantilly High School. At each fair, students will have the opportunity to engage with employers offering part-time, full-time, seasonal, and volunteer positions. During the fairs, students will also be able to attend career-building workshops like Resume Building and Interviewing 101. Most positions at the fair are geared toward students age 16+, but some opportunities for younger students may be available with parental consent. Registration for students is free and available online or at the fairs. For more information, or to register, please visit the Teen Job Fair webpage.

SEPTA Awards Nominations


Show the love for your staff and school by nominating teachers, staff and students for a SEPTA Award of Excellence. Nominees should be an outstanding supporter of special education and a champion of inclusion. Anyone can submit a nomination. You do not need to be a SEPTA member to nominate someone or to be nominated. Fill out a nomination form online.  Nominations for the 2022-2023 SEPTA Excellence Awards are open until March 17, 2023.

March Is …

National Women’s History Month

Women's History Month

Every year, March is designated Women’s History Month by presidential proclamation. The month is set aside to honor women’s contributions in American history. Read the School Board resolution from the March 9 meeting and learn more about Women’s History Month in National Geographic Kids

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

On February 26, 1987, President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613 recognizing March as the National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. According to the CDC, developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in the following areas: physical, learning, language, or behavior. These conditions which begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime. About one in six children in the U.S. have one or more developmental disabilities or other developmental delays, according to the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Many individuals with developmental disabilities are participating in the social, economic, and civic life in Fairfax County and their contributions are invaluable to our community. See the Board of Supervisors Proclamation.

Celebrating Arts in Our Schools

Arts in Our Schools

The Council for Art Education (CFAE) administers Youth Art Month. Youth Art Month encourages support for quality school art programs, and promotes art material safety. The program provides a medium for recognizing skills developed through visual arts experiences unlike any other curriculum subjects, including problem solving, creativity, observation, and communication.March has also been designated by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month® (MIOSM®), the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation. 


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.


Region 1: Herndon MS, Legally Blonde The Musical, Jr., March 24-25,

Region 2: Kilmer MS, Into the Woods Jr., March 17-18, 24-25, 


Region 3: Carl Sandburg MS, Footloose: Youth Edition, April 19-22, 

Region 4: Irving MS, Snow, like, White and the Dwarfs, March 24-25,


Region 5: Rocky Run MS, Shrek Jr., March 17-19, 

Good News!

Region 1: Congratulations to Herndon HS for placing 7th in the nation and Hughes MS for placing 8th in the nation in the Learning Ally Great Reading Games! 

Region 2: Congratulations to McLean HS student Olivia Zhang! She received the Harry F. Byrd Leadership Scholarship for District 8.


Region 3: Congratulations to the Edison HS Technology Student Association students, Zack Ng, Daren Nguyen, Laya Karunakaran, Artashes Hovhannisyan, Timothy Lee, Hanako Patten, Hanna Orozco and Alex Berhane who placed in the top three for various categories in the 2022-23 Northern Region Technology Student Association Competition. All advanced to the State Competition. 

Region 4: Congrats to South County HS student, Matt Nelson, who has been chosen to represent the United States as part of the American Football Worldwide ELITE TEAM. Matt will be one of 30 players on the high school senior select team squad. The American Football Worldwide ELITE TEAM will travel to Italy for a week of educational touring, serving as ambassadors for American football and culminating the week participating in a rare and special international game against a national 20U American Football team representing Italy. The game will take place at Vigorelli Stadium, in Milan, on Saturday April 8, 2023. Congratulations, Matt!

Region 5: Congratulations to Woodson HS’s Deaf Academic Bowl students who just returned from Austin, Texas having won 7 of 8 of their matches, placed 3rd in the event, and qualified to go to the National competition at Gallaudet University April 20th -24th to compete against the top 16 schools in the nation.

Not only did they win, they beat other schools by wide margins. All 3 of these sophomore students (Karine Jelalian, Sonan Sahgal, Maggie Smallwood) are Cued Speech students who use the services of Cued Language Transliterators at Woodson. Coaches Shan Pillai and Julie Clinch raised funds, gave hours of trivia/game prep sessions and showered abundant encouragement on the students.  


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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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