New School Board Leadership; Education Budget; Upcoming Opportunities, and More!

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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, 

As this month of February rolls in, the opportunities keep abounding within FCPS and on the School Board.

First, I am honored that my colleagues have entrusted me to serve as Vice Chair of the Fairfax County School Board, through the end of the current leadership term in July 2024. I am eager to join Chair Frisch in facilitating the smooth workings of this newly-elected Board. Already I’m inspired by the energy and calls to action that our Members have expressed, and I am ready to help us achieve our best work together, so our students, staff, and community can thrive.

Read more about board leadership.

Karl Frisch and Melanie Meren


We also usher in Black History Month. I am always eager for our schools to provide instruction that explores the experiences and contributions reflective of Black Americans. Really, though, every month is Black History Month, because Black history is American history. Yet we must continue elevating this necessary learning, so that we can fully understand the lived experiences of Black people in the United States. See below for more information and resources to explore.

And while the days can get cold (except when, oddly, they don’t), please help students to continue showing up at school! Attendance is a big factor for success in learning.

Finally, don’t get too curled up all warm indoors – you can get out there and be part of school communities, too! I’ve found the best entertainment is close to home, attending such student events as a gymnastics meet, spelling bee, Broadway musical review, family literacy night, basketball game, and more. Show up for our students – it helps us all!

Recent Work

Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Update 

Work is heavily underway to develop the over $3 billion FCPS budget for the next school year – that’s Fiscal Year 2025 (“FY25”), that funds school year 2024-25! The fiscal year in FCPS follows the same calendar of the state government’s: July 1 is the start of the new fiscal year annually.

On Thursday, February 8, the Superintendent will publicly present to the School Board her proposed budget, at the scheduled Regular Meeting. One way the Board has prepared for this presentation and on-going budget work is through our vote to approve our Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Priorities Resolution, directing the Superintendent to develop a student-focused, equitable, and needs-based Proposed Budget for FY2025, aligned to the Division’s Strategic Plan and inclusive of the board's strategic budget priorities of:  

  • FCPS workforce recruitment and retention to include competitive compensation with consideration for differentiated pay for hard to fill positions such as teachers in Title 1 schools and special education teachers; 
  • student academic success, access to enrichment and mental health supports, and the closing of achievement gaps;
  • school safety and security;
  • maintaining or lowering class sizes and accelerating expansion of preschool options including inclusive preschool offerings; and
  • increasing universal breakfast and lunch opportunities and reducing school meal debt.

Dr. Reid’s presentation, as well as other budget documents, will be available after she presents to the School Board. 

There will be a Public Hearing on the proposed budget at 6pm on February 13. If you would like to share your comments, you can sign up to speak at this link (scroll to "FY 2025 Proposed Budget Public Hearing and click "register to speak").

FY25 Budget


School Renovations and Building Enhancements

Construction Site

Separate from the annual $3 billion budget, FCPS received funds identified for new school construction, capacity enhancements, and renovations - known as “capital” improvements. These funds are used per the “Capital Improvement Program” or “CIP”, which the School Board considered during the School Board meeting on January 11. Learn about the proposed CIP program.

These projects — presented as part of FCPS’ proposed FY 2025-29 CIP — represent a commitment to providing equitable access to high-quality public school environments for all students. View the proposed CIP. The School Board is scheduled to vote on the proposed CIP at the Thursday, February 8, Regular Meeting.

Academic Matters 

Access to Advanced Coursework for High School Students

During the Academic Matters segment of the January 25 School Board meeting, Superintendent Reid presented information on FCPS’ academic advising for high schoolers and advanced coursework selection. Advanced coursework is a focus of the division's 2023-30 Strategic Plan’s Goal 3, Academic Growth and Excellence. 

FCPS Advanced Coursework Options


Beyond empowering students to pursue their personal interests, exposure to rigorous and college-level coursework through AP, IB, and/or DE participation is correlated with increased high school and college graduation rates and enables students to earn college credits while still in high school. As you can see below, FCPS continues to invest in removing the roadblocks between our students and their opportunities for advanced coursework. 

Investing in College-Level Opportunities


The Importance of Pre-K Inclusion

During the Superintendent Matters segment of the January 25 School Board meeting, Dr. Reid shared an update on FCPS' 2023-30 Strategic Plan Goal 1: Strong Start: Pre-K-12 as it relates to the division's inclusive pre-K initiative.

The Importance of Pre-K Inclusion


Belvedere Elementary School is a wonderful example of why inclusion matters for our very youngest learners, as you can see in this video, and the benefits it brings to students with (and without) disabilities. FCPS is currently finalizing a comprehensive pre-K inclusion plan that will be shared with the Board and the community at large later this spring. More information on this plan can be seen below.

Pre-K Inclusion in FCPS

Upcoming School Board Meetings 

  • Thursday, February 8, 7:30pm: Regular Meeting 
    • School Year 2025 Proposed Budget Presentation
    • Capital Improvement Program 
    • Executive Expectation Process
  • Tuesday, February 13, 12:30pm: Forum
    • Boundary and Capacity 
  • Tuesday, February 13, 1:45pm: Work Session
    • Fiscal Year 2025 Proposed Budget 
  • Tuesday, February 13, 6pm: Public Hearing
    • Budget 
  • Tuesday, February 20, 12:30pm: Forum
    • School Meals Debt 
  • Tuesday, February 20, 1:45pm: Work Session 

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 

Family Literacy Night at McNair Elementary 

There was an incredible turn out at McNair Elementary School (preK-2 grade) for the "Snow Better Time to Read" Family Literacy Night! It was really remarkable how many families and students attended, of all ages and generations. The staff hosted different literacy-based activities, showcasing strategies from the science of reading approach that continues to be implemented across the school division. I visited with McNair’s Librarian and School Based Technology Specialist, who were available that evening to the throngs of visitors.

McNair literacy night


Aldrin Chorus Shines at School Board Meeting 

Melanie Meren with Aldrin ES Chorus

Thank you to the Aldrin Elementary School Chorus for a beautiful performance of the National Anthem at the January 25 School Board meeting! The students were under the wonderful direction of Becky Sowers and Leah Marie Peterson.


Senior Night for Warhawk Gymnasts 

Student athletes attend school all day, and then spend hours at practices or meets. I recently saw gymnasts from Madison, South Lakes, and Herndon compete in the meet at Madison. And it was the Warhawk’s Senior Night, so it was extra exciting. Such an impressive meet.

Gymnastics meet at Madison HS

Student Interns Learn Life Skills on the Job

Curtis Roberts

Curtis is an FCPS senior who is trying something new. Curtis has autism and attends Cedar Lane School, which provides smaller class settings for students who require additional support. He’s also now an intern at Brooke Rental Center in Vienna.

Curtis’ mother says she wanted to be sure that Curtis obtained work experience. For some students with special needs, however, the typical teenage after-school job can be trickier to navigate successfully.

Cedar Lane offers employment assistance programs for teens at their school. The students work as unpaid interns, monitored by school staff, who are picking up real-world skills for successful employment. Read more about the Cedar Lane internship program.

Hunter Mill Scholars Recognized in Science Talent Search

Society for Science Logo

The Society for Science has announced the top 300 scholars in the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2024. Two of the selected scholars are Hunter Mill District students: 

Kiran Myneni
Madison High School 
Project Title: Public Health Strategies for Disease Mitigation in the SIR Model

Brian Lee Zhou
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Project Title: Novel Data-Driven and Constraint-Guided Deep Learning Models Optimize a Multi-Objective Flapping Fin Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Control System

Scholars were selected from 2,162 applications from 712 high schools across 46 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 10 other countries. Students were chosen based on their outstanding research, leadership skills, community involvement, commitment to academics, creativity in asking scientific questions and exceptional promise as STEM leaders demonstrated through the submission of their original, independent research projects, essays, and recommendations. 

Read more here. 

Westfield Recognized for Social Media Presence 

Westfield HS instagram

FCPS recently presented awards for outstanding school communications at the annual School Communicators Conference.

The 2023 Awards of Communication Excellence celebrate the creation of excellent website, newsletter, and social media content that informs and engages readers. 

Westfield High School won in the category of Social Media!

"Westfield’s Instagram is fun, bright, and student-centered. The Bulldog spirit shines through, and their engagement metrics are an indicator of that. They are not afraid of jumping on a trend, with their 'Hi Barbie!' reel earning more than 400 likes."

Herndon HS Marching Band in 2023 Pearl Harbor Day Parade

Herndon HS Marching Band

Serving as Virginia's representative, the Herndon High School Marching Band, "The Pride", had the opportunity to play at the USS Missouri and during the December Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade. The band had previously performed at the 2013 parade. The Memorial Parade takes place every year as a way to pay respects to the survivors, veterans, and active duty military on the anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack. Read more in this Patch article.

National Board Certified Teachers

National Board Certified Teacher

Congratulations to all of the National Board Certified teachers in FCPS

Initial certification and renewal of National Board Certification is a multi-year process requiring teachers to compile and submit a portfolio documenting their high quality instruction, ability to differentiate, and demonstrating how their practices continue to align with the Five Core Propositions of Accomplished Teaching in their certificate area. 

A special shoutout to the NBCT educators teaching Hunter Mill students:

  • Stephanie Stewart (Herndon HS)
  • Estefania Vargas Claros (Marshall HS)
  • Kristine Elsener (Marshall HS)
  • Amy Helm (Herndon MS)
  • Anthony Petras (Herndon HS)

FCPS ranks in the top 30 school districts nationwide for the number of National Board-certified teachers, with over 300 active National Board-certified teachers currently supporting students and schools. 

Hunter Mill Participating in Lighthouse School Pilot

The FCPS Department of Information Technology (DIT) has launched a new initiative called Lighthouse Schools. It's a professional development program in collaboration with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for schools to leverage innovative, technology based practices to reach their School Innovation and Improvement Plan (SIIP) goals. 

All middle and high schools were invited to apply for participation in the pilot program. Future expansion of the program, based on funding, envisions adding schools across all grade levels on an annual cycle ensuring participation from all regions and all school levels through the implementation of the FCPS Strategic Plan.

The Lighthouse pilot program cohort will include the following schools:

  • Madison HS (Region 1)
  • Herndon MS (Region 1)
  • McLean HS (Region 2)
  • Bryant HS (Region 3)
  • West Springfield HS (Region 4)
  • Frost MS (Region 5)
  • Lewis HS (Region 6)

During this year-long program, schools will design innovation goals tailored to their unique communities and in support of their School Improvement and Innovation Plan goals. Schools will continue learning and growing together throughout the spring and summer of 2024. This work will be crucial to student success in the years to come, as AI continues to adapt and be further integrated into our daily lives.  

Additional Information of Interest 

Preparing for Winter Weather 

Winter weather safety

Wondering how FCPS decides when to close or delay schools? Watch this video to learn more about what factors into winter weather calls ❄.

FCPS’ website is generally the first place where the division will post an emergency weather closing. Other communication channels will be used as quickly as possible including email, text, social media, and news stations. Learn more about how schedule changes are communicated

February is Black History Month 

FCPS Black History Month

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. 

As the School Board liaison to the Fairfax County Park Authority Board, I'm pleased to share these Black History Month opportunities - some of which are in or near the Hunter Mill District!

Learn more about the heritage months, celebrations, and traditions celebrated in FCPS. Learn more about Black History Month

Career Exploration Events for Students

In February, school divisions across the region will team up with Virginia Ed Strategies to host the annual Instruction 2 Industry Career Expo event. This Northern Virginia regional event invites high school students to connect virtually and in person with more than 60 local industry professionals from in-demand career fields. 

These free career exploration events aim to provide students with opportunities to prepare for tomorrow’s workforce today. 

Virtual sessions will be held Monday, February 5, through Thursday, February 8, 4-7pm, and the in-person Career Expo and Job Fair will be held Saturday, February 17, 1-4pm, in the North Hall of the Dulles Expo Center

Students should register on the Instruction 2 Industry Events webpage.

2024-2025 FAFSA Completion Assistance 

College Access Fairfax

The 2024-2025 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is now open. Current seniors should plan to complete this form to determine their eligibility for financial aid for their first year of post-secondary education.

College Access Fairfax has partnered with FCPS high schools to offer FAFSA completion events. Families are encouraged to attend any of the sessions where they can receive assistance in completing the necessary financial aid forms. Register at College Access Fairfax:

Upcoming sessions that are in or close to Hunter Mill include:

  • February 7, 7-9pm at Westfield HS
  • February 8, 6-8pm at South Lakes HS

Please note:

  • Students and parents should attend together, if possible.
  • Students should bring their FCPS laptop; personal computers cannot connect to the FCPS Wi-Fi and limited computers will be available for use.
  • Verified FSA IDs are required prior to the event. Create an account to receive a FSA ID. 
  • Items to bring to complete the FAFSA: FSA ID for both student and parent; social security numbers or permanent resident numbers; alien registration card, if applicable; 2022 tax forms and wage statements; date of birth for student and parents; parents’ date of marriage and divorce, if applicable; date you moved to VA; driver’s license number; current statements for checking, savings, and other asset accounts; current investment records, including 529 or prepaid college plans; LES for any month in 2022 (for military families).

Middle School Spring 2024 Track and Field Registration

More information regarding the Track season coming soon! Read more about MS Athletics here. To register for Spring 2024 Track and Field, go to this link.

Upcoming Webinars and Events for Families 

The Family Resource Center offers free webinars for adults to support the success of all students, including those with learning challenges, special needs, and disabilities. Upcoming events include: 

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid – This in-person course teaches how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among children and adolescents ages 12-18. Friday, February 9, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Family Resource Center.
  • Behavior Solution Series for Elementary and Secondary Families – Join FCPS Behavior Intervention Services staff for help encouraging positive communication and behavior at home. Webinars will be held at 10 a.m.:
    • Proactive Strategies for Effective Communication, Friday, February 16 
    • Taming Tantrums and More, Friday, March 15
    • Proactive Strategies for Effective Communication, Friday, April 19
    • Taming the Teen-Aged Brain, Friday, May 31
    • Elementary Webinars:
    • Secondary Webinars:

Click the linked titles above to register.

Technology Student Associations Fair Judges Needed 

Judges are needed for this year’s Technology Student Association’s Northern Regional Fair on Saturday, March 2 at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. At the fair, engineering students from across Virginia’s Northern Region compete in events from robotics, flight, Computer Aided Design (CAD), structural design, video gaming, and more. No background knowledge of the event or projects is needed. Judging begins at 8:30 a.m. and judges will be provided breakfast and lunch.  

Complete this simple form if you’re interested in being a judge.

Science and Engineering Fair Judges Needed

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

To learn more and to sign up here

FCPS to Receive $16 Million to Buy More Electric Buses

Melanie Meren at EPA electric bus event

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of two applicants in Virginia to receive more than $17.1 million through EPA’s first Clean School Bus Program’s Grants Competition. Fairfax County Public Schools was selected to receive $16.5 Million to purchase 42 electric school buses. 

FCPS was the first school division to acquire electric buses in 2019. With the help of this EPA grant, our electric bus fleet will more than double.  

FCPS has one of the largest bus fleets in the United States, transporting more than 141,000 students on over 1,600 buses each day.

Summer Program Offerings from FCPS

You know you live in Fairfax when you're registering for summer camps in January!

FCPS has some very interesting summer programs that are a great value for the money. It's a nice way for students to keep learning over the summer.

Information is currently on a variety of webpages, so I put together this simple "cheat sheet" to help understand what's offered and how to register.

Summer program offerings

Student Environmental Action Showcase

Join students from across Northern Virginia for a day recognizing and sharing their environmental vision and solutions at the Student Environmental Action Showcase (SEAS). SEAS will feature a project and eco-art expo, student presentations, partner exhibits, teacher resources, and career discovery opportunities. SEAS will take place Thursday, April 18 from 10:30am-1:00pm at the Northern Virginia Community College Annandale campus. Register by Sunday, March 31. Learn more in the SEAS Flyer and on the NoVA Outside SEAS webpage.

Raising Awareness About the Dangers of Fentanyl 

Foster Family

FCPS hosted a Community Conversation to raise awareness about fentanyl and other drugs, recently at Edison High School. Last year, we lost a student, Cayden Foster, from Centreville High School who had no idea that the Percocet pill he took had fentanyl in it. His courageous parents shared their story with the audience in attendance. Overdoses in our country are up 400% over the past decade and we must educate all our students on the risks of fentanyl as we teach, support, and empower them to reach out to a trusted adult when and if they or one of their peers is engaging in risky behavior. Please watch and share the video interview with the Fosters

Office of the Ombuds: At Your Service!

Ombuds Office Members

Ombuds staff engage with staff, families, and students to offer resources and improve the experience of each and every member of the FCPS community. They work as an independent confidential resource to help get answers to questions, resolve concerns, and hear complaints regarding FCPS matters.  

The ombuds is available to help resolve disagreements involving employees in the workplace or between parents and schools. Ombuds staff do not change or make decisions, policies, or regulations; take sides; or provide legal advice.

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

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 for information. Learn more about Business and Community Partnerships by subscribing to their monthly newsletter.

Open for Business sign

Urgent Need for Blood Donations 

Inova blood donor services

Multiple traumatic incidents and other medical emergencies have left the Inova blood inventory for Type O blood critically low. Inova needs all blood types, but a boost to the supply of Type O will help patients in need significantly. Call 1-866-BLOODSAVES (1-866-256-6372) or visit to schedule an appointment.

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.

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