School boundary policy review, middle & high school course selection, budgeting for 2025-26, summer learning, and more!

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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,

Being two months into my second term on the School Board, I am so energized about the work ahead, the focus of the School Board, and my community connections that continue to blossom!

This month as Vice Chair, I helped bring two full-day retreats to our new School Board. This was time well spent getting aligned on the responsibilities and opportunities before us. To this point, this week the School Board began work to review the FCPS boundary policy – see below for more information. We also adopted the Capital Improvement Plan that’s critical for planning about class size and facilities needs.

Additionally, this month I’ve visited academic events happening at Forest Edge Elementary, Flint Hill Elementary, Sunrise Valley Elementary, and Herndon Middle School - plus attended athletics at South Lakes HS and a performance by the Herndon High School Step Team! I had the best seat in the house for hearing Rachel Carson Middle School students perform the National Anthem at our School Board meeting. I cheered along with many for two amazing Madison pyramid educators, as well as the FCPS Grammy-winning music educator. I also helped bring clearer information to parents and families about the middle and high school course selection process that’s critical right now. Whew! Good thing that February this year has an extra day! 😉  

In this newsletter, 

Recent Work

Fiscal Year 2025 Proposed Budget Presented

FY25 Budget FCPS

The Superintendent has proposed her budget for the 2024-2025 school year (Fiscal Year 2025). The School Board now reviews the proposal, hears public input about it, and will vote to send an "advertised" budget forward to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who have the ultimate authority to fund public schools. The work will culminate in May with an adopted budget, that goes into effect on July 1, 2024.

The FY 2025 Proposed Budget prioritizes competitive compensation for all Fairfax County Public Schools employees by investing $170.7 million to provide a 6.0 percent compensation adjustment for all employees and $55.3 million for the recurring cost of a 2.0 percent compensation supplement adopted by the Virginia General Assembly during FY 2024. Competitively compensating our staff in Northern Virginia is essential to recruit and retain the best educators and operational staff. In a time of staff shortages for many positions in public education, I support this compensation investment.

The budget includes $46.6 million to maintain existing class size formulas and provide necessary support to students — all students. Of the $46.6 million investment, $7.8 million is needed to cover an increase of 1,749 students compared to the FY 2024 projection. The balance of funding, $38.8 million, will provide additional support to students as indicated by free or reduced-price meal eligibility, special education services, or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services.

The FY 2025 Proposed Budget also designates funding of $7.1 million for the continuation of multiyear initiatives. These initiatives include expansion of inclusive preschool, environmental initiatives adopted by the Joint Environmental Task Force, and implementation of a modernized human resources system that will support core operations for the entire division. To improve student wellbeing outside of the classroom, multiyear initiatives also include additional certified athletic trainers, enhanced fine and performing arts stipends, and expanded athletic offerings. Special education daily contract extensions, which were supported by federal ESSER III funds, and funding for the safety and security screening program are priorities for use of FY 2024 yearend funds.

The proposal also would add boys volleyball and girls wrestling to every high school in the next school year! I'm very happy for the many students and adults who championed boys volleyball this past year.

It is important to note during this budget process that FCPS continues to navigate the chronic underfunding of public education by the Virginia General Assembly and Governor. As you may recall, Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) studied Virginia’s K-12 Education Funding in a report released in 2023. Among other findings, the study verified that Virginia school divisions receive less funding than the 50-state average and the regional average. FCPS has had to work diligently to identify creative solutions and the Commonwealth must modernize our funding formulas and support Virginia school divisions with financial reporting and budgeting.

FCPS' budget consists of more than numbers. It is also a record of past decisions and a spending plan for the future. The budget reflects FCPS’ priorities and is a communications document that informs stakeholders about FCPS’ values and goals.

The School Board is scheduled to vote to adopt the Advertised Budget on Thursday, February 22. Read more about the proposed budget. Keep up with FCPS’ budget development process.

 Capital Improvement Program and School Boundary Policy

I voted in support of the Proposed FCPS Fiscal Year 2025-2029 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) at the February 8 School Board Meeting. The CIP passed, as amended, along with two follow-on motions that I proposed during the vote - to direct the Superintendent to find solutions for larger-than-desired class sizes and long renovation timelines. This includes exploring untapped funding opportunities that could be used to more quickly pay for renovations. 

Information about all capital projects will be posted on project webpages on the FCPS website. Read more about the approved CIP.

The Board is undertaking a holistic review of Policy 8130, the school boundaries policy, in response to concerns from the community on a host of issues over the years,  including temporary classrooms (trailers), instructional program locations, overcrowding, and transportation needs. The Board discussed this need at its scheduled February 13 public forum, prior to its Work Session that day. The Board authorized its Governance Committee to begin working with the Superintendent to update the policy via publicly scheduled meetings. No specific school boundary changes will be discussed, and in the future, any boundary changes would involve robust community engagement as part of the process.

Executive Expectations

The School Board voted to amend the Executive Expectation process found on page 14 in the Strategic Governance Manual and resume its use. Additionally, we voted to amend the Executive Expectations process and details found on pages 1, 3, 5, and 14-31 in the Strategic Governance Manual to align it instead with Executive Limitations.

Academic Matters 

How School Counselors Support Student Success

National School Counseling Week

During Academic Matters at the February 8 School Board Meeting, Dr. Reid recognized National School Counseling Week (February 5-9). She discussed counselors' roles, how they support academics, college and career paths, and social-emotional wellness. School counselors' work supports all five pillars of the 2023-30 Strategic Plan.

Learn more about the role of school counselors in FCPS.

February Is...

Career and Technical Education Month 

Career and Technical Education Month

By enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) course or program, students learn the technical applications of many occupations while preparing for higher education or entry-level employment. A core program of CTE courses is offered in every middle and high school including Business and Information Technology, Family and Consumer Sciences, Health and Medical Sciences, Marketing, Technology and Engineering Education, and Trade and Industrial Education. Since this is an elective, course offerings may vary by school. Learn more on the CTE website.

Black History Month 

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. 

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

Lunar New Year: February 10

Lunar New Year student art

Chúc mừng Năm Mới! Wishing good fortune to those in our community who celebrate Lunar New Year! This year's Lunar New Year artwork was created by Marshall High School student Kerstin Q. For those in many East and Southeast Asian countries, including Pacific Islanders, the Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year and is all about ushering in luck & prosperity with family.

I'm looking forward to attending and speaking at the beloved annual Chinese New Year Festival sponsored by the Asian Community Service Center. The festival will take place on Saturday, February 17, from 10am-6pm, at Luther Jackson Middle School! 

Love the Bus Month 

Love the Bus Month

February marks the month-long celebration of Love the Bus, a time to show gratitude towards the dedicated professionals who ensure the safety of students on their journey to and from school. This initiative is a meaningful way to recognize the diverse group of individuals who make the yellow school bus experience possible for students. 

Upcoming School Board Meetings 

  • Tuesday, February 20, 12:30pm: Forum
    • Addressing student meal debt
  • Tuesday, February 20, 1:45pm: Work Session
    • Fiscal Year 2025 Proposed Budget
  • Thursday, February 22, 6:30pm: VHSL Fall Student Recognition
  • Thursday, February 22, 7:30pm: Regular Meeting
    • Middle school start times, Strategic Plan, Fiscal Year 2025 Advertised 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
School Board Members

Hunter Mill Happenings 

Achievement Assembly at Forest Edge ES

Forest Edge Elementary School hosted a first-ever “Achievement Assembly” – one for younger grades (Pre-K-2) and one for older grades. I joined so many parents and families in the building to celebrate achievements at the half-year mark – including growth in reading and math achievement, attendance, community-mindset, and more. My favorite award was given by celebrity custodian, Mr. Jose, for the best-mannered class in the cafeteria – it was a Kindergarten class!  

Forest Edge students

Buzzing with Academic Excellence: Elementary Spelling Bees

Flint Hill students and staff with Melanie Meren

From “wag” to “stitchery”, the Flint Hill Elementary School spelling bee was genuinely delightful to watch!

Thirty of the school’s youngest students - in Kindergarten and grades 1 and 2 - participated in this Scripps spelling bee that is hosted by the Flint Hill PTA!

The students were patient throughout with great sportsmanship. Ultimately the top three students were from second grade, and the winning word - “stitchery” - was a 5th grade level word!

Over at the Sunrise Valley Elementary School spelling bee, about fifty students ranging from the youngest scholars to the seasoned 6th graders, converged for the thrilling event.

The Fairfax County Spelling Bee happens on Sunday, March 17.

Thank you to both PTAs, volunteer judges, and principals Younger and Montiquilla for being so supportive of these young learners.

Sunrise Valley mascot with Melanie Meren

From Student to Staff: A Dogwood Success Story 

Melanie Meren with educators

Ms. Aisha Farooq, an FCPS alum, is now working to help students in the same classrooms she once was taught in. Throughout her time as an FCPS student, Aisha worked hard, with the help of her mom and teachers to meet her IEP goals and navigate significant health challenges. Now, a young adult, Aisha participated in the STEP program at South Lakes HS, which offers job training for students with IEPs. 

This year, an opportunity arose for a position in the very same classroom at Dogwood ES that Aisha completed her STEP training in. Ms. Janelle Ali, the classroom's teacher knew that Aisha was the right person for the job, sharing that "her story is a testament that early intervention works and the importance of building relationships."

All Kids Bike Initiative Visits Hunter Mill

Cunningham Park ES and Marshall Road ES were recently invited to participate in the All Kids Bike initiative, thanks to a generous grant from HDR, an engineering firm.

All Kids Bike is a non-profit organization that is on a mission to teach every child in America how to ride a bike in kindergarten PE class. The All Kids Bike Kindergarten Learn-to-Ride Program is a 24-fleet of bikes, pedal conversion kits, 2 steel rolling storage racks, helmets, one teacher instruction bike, and online curriculum training, which is everything needed to teach kids how to progress from balance to riding a bike in 8 lessons.

Cunningham Park students with All Kids Bike


Listen to Student Artists Explain Their Work

David, a senior who attends South Lakes High School, created and submitted an art piece to the Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition. He describes his art as a “diversionary” piece. It’s an award winner, and now a reproduction hangs at Dulles International Airport. 

At first glance, the image seems orderly. A person, head in hand, at a desk thinking. Like many workspaces, there’s an adjustable lamp and a brightly lit computer screen, and entering the room is a fair amount of light and shadows. But take a closer look. Is the worker thinking or bothered? 

Learn more about this piece from the student-artist.

Student art


FCPS Teams Win Five of Seven Top MATHCOUNTS Awards

Student teams from Fairfax County Public Schools won five of the top seven awards in the Northern Virginia Regional MATHCOUNTS competition, held recently at Chantilly High School. The regional competition combines the Fairfax, George Washington, and Northern Virginia Chapters of the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers.

Congratulations to Cooper MS student Kevin S. for being part of the winning Fairfax Chapter team!

Read more about the winners.

Outstanding Hunter Mill Staff 

Meg Brinkhuis, librarian for Cunningham Park ES, has been named the FCPS Region 1 Teacher of the Year!


Region 1 Teacher of the Year
Region 1 Outstanding Professional Employe

Alice Whitener, a school counselor at Madison HS has been named the FCPS Region 1 Outstanding Professional Employee! Now that's a great way to celebrate National School Counseling Week!


Superintendent Community Conversation at Terraset ES

Dr. Reid speaking with student

Join Dr. Reid at Terraset Elementary School on Thursday, May 2, 6:30-7:30pm, for Our Schools, Our Future – A Community Conversation. Your voice matters! Share your thoughts about FCPS and bring your questions to a conversation on:

Pre-registration for a Community Conversation is not required but will help us plan. Childcare and interpretation services will be provided for all events based on staff availability. Events are open to all. Learn about other opportunities to connect with Dr. Reid.

Friends of Reston Library Makes Generous Donation 

Friends of Reston donate to Fairfax Library

The Friends of Reston Regional Library (FRRL) recently presented $100,000 to the Fairfax County Public Library. The generous donation will be used to support the children's collection. 

A well-supported library is the heart of a thriving community and I'm grateful for the commitment of FRRL to making that vision a reality!

Additional Information of Interest

High School Music Teacher Wins a GRAMMY

Annie Ray, Annandale High School Orchestra director, whose work with children with disabilities has drawn praise, won the 2024 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Ray, the 2023 Fairfax County Public Schools Outstanding Secondary School Teacher, attended the star-studded GRAMMY ceremony in Los Angeles to officially receive the honor. Read about Annie Ray and her win and watch her official GRAMMY interview.

Annie Ray

Real Food for Kids Culinary Challenge

Real Food for Kids Culinary Challenge

The Real Food for Kids Culinary Challenge will be held on Saturday, March 2, at 10:45 a.m., at Hayfield Secondary School. The event features a public tasting of student dishes and demonstrations from two local celebrated chefs. 

The student challenge at the heart of this event is to create healthy, delicious, and culturally diverse school menu items that meet USDA guidelines. Entries will be judged by a panel including celebrity chefs, school food professionals, and local food producers. The public is invited to vote for their favorite dish. 

Chefs Najmieh Batmanglij and Chris Morgan of Joon restaurant will offer a demonstration at 11:15 a.m. The public tasting of student dishes begins at noon. 

Student created dishes from this annual event have been featured on school menus throughout the Greater Washington Region. It is free to attend, but registration is required.

Food and Nutrition Updates

Starting in March, FCPS will introduce new and exciting menus that will offer more hot options and parfaits at breakfast, and new items at lunch such as Sweet Thai Chili Chicken Wings and Asian-Inspired Dumplings. Also in March, FCPS cafeterias will display new menu cards on each food service line that provide detailed information on the included food group(s) and information to assist students in knowing which food items meet their cultural and philosophical dietary preferences. This aids students in making informed decisions on the foods they choose to eat. The Menu Card Poster will share how to read the menu cards.

FCPS menu update


Teen Job Fair: March 2

Fairfax County's Teen Job Fair is at Chantilly High School on Saturday, March 2nd, 2024 from 11:00am to 1:00pm and on Saturday, March 9th at West Springfield High School. The fairs are open to all teens in Fairfax County looking for employment, volunteer opportunities, or tips on building their resume.

Student registration is free and open to all teens in Fairfax County looking for employment, volunteer opportunities, or tips on building their resume.

Business registration is also free and open to any organization providing positions for students. Free table space and a complimentary table covering will be provided to registered businesses and organizations to advertise their available positions. The full list of participating businesses from last year's Teen Job Fair Series, is available for viewing.

Academy Open Houses 

Is your child interested in architecture and construction, information technology, or health science? A high school Academy is a center within a high school that offers advanced technical and specialized courses to 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. Learn more and view the calendar of Academy open houses.

Open House Details

Science and Engineering Fair Judges Needed

Bee drawing

The Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair will be held on Saturday, March 16, at Robinson Secondary School. 

Each year 250 judges are required to evaluate science fair projects in a wide variety of categories ranging from plant sciences to robotics. Ideally, those volunteering to serve as category judges would hold an advanced degree or possess extensive academic and/or professional experience in their selected STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) category.

Members of the general public are invited to attend the science fair open house at Robinson Secondary School on Sunday, March 17, 1-3 p.m.

Sign Up for FCPS Summer Camps and Learning Programs

FCPS students during summer learning opportunities

Registration is now open for several summer camps and learning opportunities offered by Fairfax County Public Schools for all students.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) camps and Institute for the Arts (IFTA) camps will be held in July at Lake Braddock Secondary School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bus transportation will be available from select FCPS middle and high schools. 

CTE programs are available for students currently in grades K-5 to explore STEAM, culinary, health, trades, and business and marketing areas; and for students currently in grades 6-11 to explore CTE program areas, develop skills, and begin career exploration.

E-IFTA and IFTA are weekly arts camps for students in grades 2-11. E-IFTA is for elementary students who love to sing, dance, act, perform, make, and create. IFTA allows older students to select from nearly 90 classes in art, dance, health and physical education 9, music, and theater. Visit the IFTA webpage or E-IFTA webpage to register.

Programs are also available for high school students to fulfill the Economics and Personal Finance course requirement, earn a high school course credit via this summer’s online campus program, or recover one high school course credit through the Credit Recovery Academy

FCPS’ free online class for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provides FCPS middle and high school English Learners the opportunity to continue developing their academic, reading, and writing skills in online discussions with an ESOL teacher. 

Find session dates, registration links, and registration deadlines on FCPS summer programs.

Kindergarten Registration: It's as Easy as 1-2-3

Young students sitting together

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

  1. Determine eligibility. 
  2. Identify your local school. 
  3. Gather documents. 
  4. Fill out forms. 
  5. 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.

Many schools are currently planning kindergarten orientations, so make sure you don't miss out!

Read more about the registration process.

💻 Register Your Child Online

Parents may register their children online for kindergarten through 12th grade. Learn how to begin the online registration process

When registering, parents will create (or log in to an existing) SIS ParentVUE account. Please note that passwords should be more than 12 characters long. If you have an existing account and your password is shorter, please update it when you log in.

Upcoming Family Resource Center Events

  • How can students participate in mathematics throughout high school in a way that is relevant to and supportive of post-secondary and career interests? During a virtual session on March 8, 10-11:30am, mathematics graduation requirements and how to support students in navigating the various course offerings currently available in FCPS will be discussed. Register for Understanding High School Mathematics Course Offerings

NVSWCD College Scholarship

NVSWCD is offering a $1,000 scholarship to graduating high school seniors or college freshman pursuing a degree in natural resource conservation or a related field. NVSWCD’s Future Conservation Leaders Scholarship award winner will also be submitted to the VASWCD Educational Foundation committee for review and may be eligible to receive one of four $2,000 state-wide scholarships. The deadline to apply is Monday, April 1. Learn more and apply for the Future Conservation Leaders Scholarship.

Youth Conservation Camp for HS Students

Applications are now open for Youth Conservation Camp, held July 14-20 on the Virginia Tech campus. This one-week program will focus on forestry, soil, aquatics, and wildlife to teach high school students more about the natural world. Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply and may receive a partial scholarship from NVSWCD. Applications are due Friday, April 26. Learn more about Youth Conservation Camp, including how to obtain an application and contact NVSWCD with questions.

Job Opportunities

Help Students Achieve Their Dreams — Teach for FCPS!

Save the date! Attend an instructional job fair on Saturday, February 24, 9 a.m.-noon, at Lake Braddock Secondary School. Network and take advantage of interview opportunities with representatives from various FCPS schools. Employment offers may be extended during the fair. Register today.

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 via my website (click "Submit a Question"). 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.


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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