Welcome to 2024 in FCPS!

To read this newsletter in other languages, please visit our website.

Para leer este boletín en otros idiomas, visite nuestro sitio web.

ይህንን ዜና መፅሄት በሌሎች ቋንቋዎች ለማንበብ፤ እባክዎን ድረ ገፃችንን ይጎብኙ

이 소식지를 다른 언어로 읽으려면, 우리 웹사이트를 방문하시기 바랍니다.

.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى

Dear Community Members,

Happy New Year with firework graphics

Happy New Year!

Here we are, close to the mid-way point of the academic year. For my family, that means that this coming fall, we will have a high school student! Maybe some of you share this timeline? Experiencing children grow has reinforced to me the right of all children to quality public education, and this remains the foundation of my work for our community at the start of this second School Board term that has now begun.

January begins an important time of the year for public education funding. The Virginia General Assembly convenes on Wednesday, January 10, for its legislative session through March 9, during which time it will determine laws and funding of our public schools, and more. Preceding that, the state Delegates and Senators who represent Fairfax County will host a public hearing at the Fairfax Government Center tomorrow, Saturday, January 6. Our FCPS Board Chair, Karl Frisch, will present remarks on behalf of the full Board, reflective of our adopted legislative agenda, viewable here. The public is welcome to attend, and individuals may register to speak.

The General Assembly will work on the Governor’s proposed budget, which was released in December (information is here). Of note by FCPS initially is a proposed change to reduce the funding to Fairfax for the Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI). While currently the state splits the cost per pupil with FCPS, the proposal would decrease the state’s share for our youngest students. The state department of education continues to review the proposed budget, which directly impacts FCPS’ proposed budget that will be presented publicly by the Superintendent to the Board in the coming weeks. Then opportunities for public comment and public meetings by the FCPS Board, and County Board of Supervisors who determine the funding amount for FCPS, will be held through the spring when the budget is adopted by public vote.

Recent Work

Considering a Change for Middle School Start Times 

Bell graphic

This month, the School Board will consider a plan to adjust the starting time for middle school days to be no earlier than 8am. The current start time of 7:20am challenges our adolescent students to get a healthy amount of sleep, which is a priority included in School Board Policy 2100. Furthermore, commuting to school before daylight at times of the year can be a safety hazard for our students. I spoke to this matter in a recent WTOP article, which you can read here, and remain eager to engage in this work.

In September, FCPS awarded a contract to Prismatic Services, Inc., to develop a plan for potentially changing middle school start times. Prismatic staff will present their findings to the School Board in January at a public meeting. The Board will decide in the spring whether or not to proceed with changing middle school start times. Read about the middle school start times project.

Upcoming School Board Meetings 

The newly-elected 2024-2028 School Board has begun its term! Hunter Mill District residents will continue to be represented by me as their magisterial member, and also by the three at-large members: Kyle McDaniel, Ryan McElveen, and Ilryong Moon.

The Magisterial District Representatives will now include Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Braddock District; Robyn Lady, Dranesville District; Marcia St. John-Cunning, Franconia District; Ricardy Anderson, Mason District; Mateo Dunne, Mount Vernon District; Karl Frisch, Providence District; Sandy Anderson, Springfield District; and Seema Dixit, Sully District.

  • Tuesday, January 9, 12:30pm: Work Session
    • Capital Improvement Program
  • Thursday, January 11, 7:30pm: Regular Meeting
    • Capital Improvement Program
    • Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Resolution
  • Thursday, January 18, 6pm: Public Hearing
    • Capital Improvement Program
  • Thursday, January 25, 7:30pm: Regular Meeting
    • School Year 2025 Proposed Budget
    • Instruction Program (Executive Expectation 9) Report 
  • Tuesday, January 30, 10:30am: Work Session
    • Fiscal Year 25 Proposed Budget 

Accessing Board Meetings 

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 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.

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

QR code for spanish speakers
New School Board 2024

Hunter Mill Happenings 

South Lakes Student Selected as Athlete of the Week

David Rochester

David Rochester, a senior at South Lakes High School has been selected at ABC 7 News' Athlete of the Week! Rochester transferred to South Lakes from O'Connell at the beginning of the school year and shared that he immediately felt at home with his teammates and coaches. With a 4.5 GPA, David recently committed to play basketball at Brown University after graduation. For now, he has his eyes on winning a state championships with his fellow Seahawks!

Hunter Mill Student Artists Shine

Trophy graphic

FCPS students received awards from the National YoungArts Foundation Competition, selected through a competitive application process and reviewed by panels of discipline-specific artists. 

The national honorees were chosen out of more than 9,000 applicants across the several categories - classical music, dance, design, film, jazz, photography, theater, visual arts, voice, and writing. 

Congratulations to the following winners from the Hunter Mill District!

  • Audrey Goodner, Langley HS, classical music/violin
  • Valeria Lai, Thomas Jefferson HSST, classical music/violoncello
  • Joshua Thrush, Madison HS, classical music/contrabass 

Additional Information of Interest

Marie Lemmon Named Assistant Superintendent of the Department of School Improvement and Supports 

Marie Lemmon

Ms. Marie Lemmon has been named the new Assistant Superintendent of the Department of School Improvement and Supports.

Ms. Lemmon has over 20 years of experience with FCPS, most recently as the principal of Bailey’s Upper Elementary, leading the opening of the school in 2014.

The Department of School Improvement and Supports (DSIS) is housed within the Office of the Chief of Schools and functions to support Regions and schools in their efforts to promote student success.  DSIS uses data to promote continuous improvement for students and develops and implements specialized programs, interventions, and initiatives tailored to the unique needs of students, especially for English learners, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. DSIS provides support to all schools at different levels depending on the need, ensuring a comprehensive support system that tackles achievement gaps, promotes educational equity, and creates a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.

Paul D'Andrade Named Executive Director for the Office of Transportation Services 

Paul D'Andrade

Paul S. D’Andrade has been named the new Executive Director for the Office of Transportation Services.

Paul brings a wealth of expertise and experience in transportation leadership and school transportation services to this vital role. He has been a part of the FCPS family since 2019, initially serving as a Coordinator in the Office of Transportation Services before advancing to Assistant Director in 2020.

Prior to joining FCPS, Paul held significant leadership roles, including Assistant Director at the Rail Operation Control Center with the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) for nine years. His extensive background also includes work with mass transit authorities in Charlotte, NC, and New York City.

Community Conversation About Opioid Awareness

Please join Dr. Reid on Wednesday, January 10, at 6:30 p.m., at Edison High School for a community conversation about opioid awareness. You may register to attend. However, registration is not required; it is simply for space considerations. 

FCPS’ website also has resources to help you start the conversation and additional support for families struggling with substance misuse.

Virtual Math Week

Get ready for Virtual Math Week from Monday, January 8, through Friday, January 12. Save the date for a week filled with stories, games, and math activities, in English and Spanish, for families with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. This is a free experience designed to make math fun for the whole family. Learn more about FCPS Math Week.

Math turtle

Dual Language Immersion Program Registration

Registration for the countywide lottery for Dual Language Immersion (DLI) programs will open on Monday, January 22. 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 2024-25 school year. Programs are available in French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. 

Parents/caregivers who are interested may want to attend an informational meeting. Meetings are held at the school site. Check the FCPS events calendar for the most current information. Meetings will begin on Tuesday, January 16

A virtual meeting hosted by the World Languages Office will include general program information. Access to this virtual meeting will be made available on the FCPS events calendar and the Dual Language Immersion registration site on the day of the meeting.

Get more information on the immersion program webpage and registration page.

Academy Open Houses Begin in January 

Is your child interested in architecture and construction, information technology, or health science? FCPS high school academies will hold open houses for interested students beginning in mid-January.

An academy is a center within a high school that offers advanced technical and specialized courses that can prepare students for postsecondary education and/or career fields. Students enrolling in academy elective courses will be provided with opportunities to participate in a variety of career experiences including shadowing, mentoring, or internships with local businesses. More than a dozen career fields can be explored through FCPS academies.

Learn more and find the calendar of Academy Open Houses.

2024 Gap Year Fair

FCPS’ School Counseling Services and Go Overseas are co-hosting the annual FCPS Gap Year Fair on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at George C. Marshall High School from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. This event is for high school students and parents who are interested in learning more about the growing array of gap year opportunities. The evening will begin with a presentation in the auditorium from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. 

Following the presentation, a program fair will be held in the cafeteria from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., with representatives from over 30 programs offering gap year opportunities. Students and their families are encouraged to meet the representatives and learn about the variety of experiences available. 

Students are encouraged to pre-register here for the event. Registration is open to students and families up to and including the day of the fair. For more information, visit: USA Gap Year Fairs.

**In the event of inclement weather on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. The Gap Year Fair will be held on Thursday, February 1, 2024, at the same time and location.

Volunteer to be a 2024 Science Fair Judge

Are you a scientist looking to give back and inspire future scientists? FCPS School-Based and Region Science Fairs are looking for you!

Volunteers are needed for

  • Judges at High School Fairs
  • Judges at the Regional Science Fair on Saturday, March 16, 2024

Find more information.

Science Fair Judges


Safe Students, Safe Schools

Two students walking down hallway

Fairfax County Public Schools believes that academic success is built on the foundation of a safe learning environment. This includes physical safety, and mental health and wellness. 

FCPS has a comprehensive approach to safety that involves physical security measures, online monitoring by security staff, and crisis intervention support. The division has created the Safe Students, Safe Schools Brochure (PDF) to enhance your awareness of potential hazards and to equip you with practical tips for how you can help. Visit the FCPS website for more information.

Job Opportunities

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.


Wishing you a very happy new year,

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.

© Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia