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Fairfax County public schools are planning to open on a two hour delay Monday due to possible snow and freezing rain overnight.

A Winter Weather Advisory is now in effect, as forecasters warn of a potentially difficult morning commute.

More from the National Weather Service:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 AM EST MONDAY… * WHAT…SNOW, SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO ONE INCH AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS OF LESS THAN A TENTH OF AN INCH EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALONG WITH PORTIONS OF CENTRAL MARYLAND, CENTRAL, NORTHERN AND WESTERN VIRGINIA AND EASTERN WEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 7 PM THIS EVENING TO 10 AM EST MONDAY. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS WILL IMPACT THE MONDAY MORNING COMMUTE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW, SLEET OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. EXPECT SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES, AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. WHEN VENTURING OUTSIDE, WATCH YOUR FIRST FEW STEPS TAKEN ON STEPS, SIDEWALKS, AND DRIVEWAYS, WHICH COULD BE ICY AND SLIPPERY, INCREASING YOUR RISK OF A FALL. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1. &&

The Virginia Dept. of Transportation is urging Northern Virginia residents to expect icy conditions and, if possible, to telework Monday morning.

“VDOT asks that drivers be alert to a potential mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain to impact roads,” the transportation department said Sunday afternoon. “Crews have brined roads which will assist at the onset of the storm, but drivers are asked to prepare now for impacts to the morning rush hour.”

“If you must drive” in the morning, VDOT said, “add in extra time to drive slower.”

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The Fairfax County School Board approved the FY 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) on Jan. 24, and the much talked about boundary adjustment to relieve the overcrowded McLean High School didn’t make the cut.

The CIP shows that McLean High School is currently at 114 percent of its capacity, with projections showing the population increasing to 127 percent by 2022. Meanwhile, the nearby Langley High School sits at 82 percent capacity following an extensive renovation.

Jane Strauss, the Dranesville District representative on the School Board, had been spearheading the effort to make the boundary adjustments but faced pushback from other School Board members. Strauss confirmed that the boundary adjustment wasn’t docketed in the CIP and the boundary change won’t happen until the 2022-2023 school year at the earliest, and that’s assuming the item is successfully added to next year’s CIP.

Strauss said the growth of Tysons is going to continue fueling expansion in nearby schools, and the schools are caught between the urgency of that growth and taking time to start the shifts as early as possible to keep school groups together.

“The tall high-rises are not producing kids, but existing housing stock is,” said Strauss, nothing that committed workforce affordable housing included in some of the new developments will likely mean an increase in students as well. “Drive around the greater Tysons area and there are other apartment complexes now because of the Silver Line. As job opportunities grow, the whole region will be a better place to live.”

Other school board members said they were uncomfortable approving a spot-boundary change before the School Board conducts a broader boundary examination on Feb. 25.

“I do have concerns about doing a limited boundary change in one area without taking a more holistic analysis and approach,” said Tamara Derenak Kaufax, a representative from the Lee District, at a Jan. 14 work session. “We’re going to have to do what staff has been advocating, doing a holistic approach to [the] system and looking at the impacts.”

Some McLean High School parents were unenthusiastic about the School Board’s decision.

“Sadly, no concrete proposals to address [McLean High School] crowding were added with the final revisions,” said Susan Garrahan, a parent to a McLean High School sophomore. “Some other Board members countered that the McLean-Langley boundary adjustment study should be rolled into a countywide boundary project set to start in late February, and that is what happened. Perhaps this will lead to a remedy for MHS on the same timetable as if it were just a McLean-Langley boundary adjustment project, but if it takes longer as part of a countywide project — and I think that is likely — it will be the students and staff who pay the price of overcrowding every additional day that it takes.”

Strauss also noted that this boundary is a more specific adjustment between neighboring schools than what is usually covered in the broader boundary changes.

“In some cases, boundary changes cast a wide net across multiple schools,” said Strauss. “Looking at the CIP, it shows that Langley High School has room.”

Furthermore, if Langley High School remains below its capacity, Strauss said its class choices might be more limited than other high schools.

“When schools are under-enrolled, you start to have staffing concerns,” said Strauss. “If you’re under-enrolled and yet still have a desire to offer certain languages or electives, you have to hire teachers [for those classes]. But if you’re under-enrolled, you’re not automatically considered for hiring new teachers. There is a benefit [of the boundary change] for an under-enrolled school.”

Though the boundary changes aren’t on the table for short-term changes, Strauss said new modular additions are still possible for the school.

“We can take those out where they are no longer needed and move them,” said Strauss. “There’s always enough funding in the CIP for that.”

Whether or not the School Board is involved in official plans to make boundary changes, Strauss said she is still planning on meeting with the community to develop solutions.

A McLean High School Parent Teacher Student Association meeting on overcrowding is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. at McLean High School, though as happened earlier this month, icy conditions could postpone the meeting. Strauss said she plans to meet with Langley High School parents for a similar discussion in March.

Photo via McLean High School PTSA

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Fairfax County Public Schools will be closing two hours early on Tuesday due to expected winter weather which may lead to a messy evening commute.

The school system made the announcement late Monday afternoon.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory ahead of the wintry precipitation, warning of “hazardous conditions” on the roads.

More from the National Weather Service:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM TUESDAY TO MIDNIGHT EST TUESDAY NIGHT… * WHAT…ANY RAIN WILL CHANGE TO SNOW DURING THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING HOURS. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2 INCHES EXPECTED. * WHERE…THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND AND CENTRAL AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 3 PM TUESDAY TO MIDNIGHT EST TUESDAY NIGHT. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD CONDITIONS. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS WILL IMPACT THE EVENING COMMUTE. TEMPERATURES WILL FALL BELOW FREEZING DURING THE EVENING, CAUSING ANY MOISTURE OR SLUSH TO FREEZE ON UNTREATED SURFACES. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. EXPECT SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES, AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1. &&

Photo via Fairfax County Police Department

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In a robotics competition featuring 35 schools and 2,500 students from across the state, a team from Vienna’s St. Mark Catholic School walked away with a third place win and $16,000 in scholarships.

According to a press release from the school, eighth-graders Valentina Roza and Frankie Anstett took home a bronze award during the finals for the Cyber Robotics Coding Competition (CRCC), held at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Engineering on Jan. 12. The pair missed second place by only one point, the school said.

The competition features a graphical simulation of a robotics kit, where students use a coding interface to direct the robot to carry out a series of complex tasks and missions.

Two seventh-grade students from the school, Ava Romeo and Finley Tarr, placed 10th in the competition.

All four students were awarded the scholarships, which are applicable only if the students attend VCU.

“We are so proud of our students for shining in this state-wide event,” Darcie Girmus, principal at St. Mark Catholic School, said in the press release. “We feel strongly that by focusing our instruction on critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork, that they will succeed in any number of challenges across multiple disciplines, including coding.”

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Fairfax County Public Schools will open two hours late on Tuesday.

The closure is “due to the very cold weather.” Temperatures may dip into the single digits in parts of the county overnight.

School offices and central offices will open on time, FCPS said.

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Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is finalizing the details of an updated Capital Improvement Program (CIP), giving a look at what the future holds for the Tysons area.

While total student population in FCPS has gone down by 1,011 students this year, projections show schools in the Tysons are becoming increasingly crowded. One of the most immediate concerns for the region is overcrowding at McLean High School.

At a Jan. 14 work session, School Board Member Jane Strauss called for a limited boundary study to move students from Longfellow Middle School and McLean High School to the nearby Cooper Middle School and Langley High School attendance area.

“The boundary study would primarily focus on the north end of the Tysons area where we have some older apartment buildings,” said Strauss. “These are not new high rises, but older family-friendly buildings.”

Strauss said the change would impact students currently zoned for Spring Hill Elementary School. The change would also not take place until school year 2020 to allow more discussions with parents and planning.

“McLean High School is overcrowded now, and projected to be more so over time as a result of project growth in Tysons,” said Strauss. “If you look at Langley’s capacity, they are under-enrolled now and that will continue, so there is plenty of room. If we don’t do this, that means more trailers and possibly a module at [McLean]. If our goal is a reduction of reliance on trailers and modules, this boundary change I think is a good use of space and money.”

But the proposal received some pushback from other members of the School Board, who said they were uncomfortable with a spot-boundary change a month before the School Board is scheduled to begin a broader review of school boundaries.

“Before we talk about individual boundaries, we do have scheduled as a School Board to [take a] holistic [approach] to how we look at boundary changes,” said School Board Member Karen Sanders.

The School Board is scheduled to vote on the CIP on Jan. 24 and begin looking at boundary changes on Feb. 25.

“I do have concerns about doing a limited boundary change in one area without taking a more holistic analysis and approach,” said Tamara Derenak Kaufax, a representative from the Lee District. “We’re going to have to do what staff has been advocating, doing a holistic approach to [the] system and looking at the impacts.”

Dalia Palchik, School Board representative for the Providence District and a candidate for the Board of Supervisors, also said the idea of adding the boundary change 10 days before the School Board votes on the CIP gave her pause.

Palchik also inquired about the proposed Tysons Elementary School, a facility planned to help handle new residential developments in Tysons, but one that is currently unfunded with few details publicly available.

“We have that in our 10-year plan and the site is identified on our map,” said Kevin Sneed, Special Projects Administrator for Facilities and Transportation Services. “Build-out will last through 2030, which is about when we show this school opening. When we start seeing the yield of students, other schools won’t have the capacity to support them.”

Megan McLaughlin, a School Board member representing the Braddock District, said she had concerns that the county is underestimating the number of new students those new developments will bring in. She urged staff to re-examine its strategy for extracting concessions from developers, commonly known as “proffers.”

“I’ve asked staff to look at existing houses and use the proffer formula for how many students [were projected] to come out of a building and how many we actually ended up having,” said McLaughlin. “We need to be better at examining how many students [new developments] yield.”

McLaughlin said this happened for a smaller development in her area, but was concerned that as new development comes into areas like Tysons and McLean, the impact of those enrollment projections being off could magnify.

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It’s true that McLean High School is overcrowded, but following last night’s School Board public hearing on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), Dranesville District Representative Jane Strauss says plans are in the works to relieve some of the pressure.

The CIP shows McLean High School currently at 114 percent capacity, with projections sending that up to 127 percent by 2022.

Strauss said that she has been in discussion with members of the community about adjusting the school boundaries to relocate some of the older, multi-family units to other schools. With an extensive renovation project just wrapping up in October and a school capacity utilization at 82 percent, Strauss said Langley High School is the best option for relocation.

The school’s renovations began in 2014 and added a new two-story science addition, new gyms, a new library, a fine arts facility, classrooms and more.

“We’ve been talking with the community about this for years,” said Strauss. “We had to wait for the Langley High renovations to finish, but now is the time to begin talking about boundary changes.”

Strauss said shifting boundaries to send students to Langley High School and Cooper Middle School is essential, not only to relieve the current overcrowding, but to prepare for the incoming developments along the Silver Line.

In addition to the changes at the high and middle school levels, Strauss said she plans to propose adding classrooms to Franklin Sherman Elementary School. Franklin Sherman, Strauss said, is the last property in the area that has space to expand without needing zoning changes.

In the long-term, though, Strauss said McLean will need the new elementary schools at Pimmit Hills and Tysons to help deal with long-term population growth fueled by new development. Plans for the schools are in the CIP, but are still years away.

At the hearing, parents from McLean and other schools throughout Fairfax urged border adjustments to offset overcrowding.

The current enrollment at McLean is 2,255, with a program capacity of 1,983,” said Susan Garrahan, a Langley High School alum with a daughter at McLean High School. “This equates to 14 percent over capacity. The forecast in the draft CIP shows that in the last two years of this five-year plan, McLean will be the most overcrowded high school in the county at 26 to 27 percent over capacity.”

Garrahan said development along the Silver Line will likely continue to bring families with school children into the McLean-area schools.

“Given current conditions and your forecast of serious overcrowding, I was startled to see no concrete proposals to address this situation in this year’s CIP,” said Garrahan. “I have read about your efforts to revise the policies and procedures for boundary adjustments.  This makes me concerned that McLean will get stuck in a holding pattern, overcrowded while procedural matters get ironed out.”

The school newspaper’s October edition described the school overcrowding as leaving students stuffed three to a seat on school buses and teachers traveling with a cart full of supplies because of limited classroom space.

“I ask the board to have the courage to look at school boundaries,” said Keith Foxx, an FCPS parent. “Several reports developed by the School Board mention this as an option, usually at the bottom because it’s not popular. Let’s stop kicking the can down the road, we’re going to have to deal with this.”

On Jan. 17, the McLean High School PTSA will host a meeting in the Lecture Hall with Strauss and Kevin Sneed, a school planner, to discuss the plans to address school overcrowding.

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New development is underway across Tysons, but school officials believe it will take years yet for buildings to reach capacity.

In McLean, however, overcrowding at all levels is a problem that’s likely going to get worse over the next few years.

According to the Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), McLean High School and nearly all of the schools that feed into it will be over capacity by the start of the 2020-2021 school year. While additions are planned for West Potomac, Justice, and Madison High Schools, there are no plans in the CIP for major additions to McLean High School.

McLean High School is currently at 114 percent capacity and is projected to go up to 127 percent capacity by the 2022 school year, as the school built to handle 1,993 students welcomes 2,524. Over the next few years, the CIP says temporary classrooms, modular additions and boundary changes are possible for McLean High School.

The elementary schools feeding into McLean High School — Chesterbrook, Franklin Sherman, Haycock, Kent Gardens, and Timber Lane — also face challenges in the coming years. Chesterbrook, Haycock, and Kent Gardens all exceed 100 percent capacity and projections from the school show that overcrowding continuing for at least the next five years. Kent Gardens currently has 117 percent capacity and is projected to reach 119 percent of its capacity next year.

More temporary classrooms are proposed for Chesterbrook, Haycock and Kent Gardens, with new modular facilities or building additions at Chesterbrook and Kent Gardens. New boundary changes are also possible for Haycock and Kent Gardens.

Marshall High School, which covers the Tysons area, fares a little better in terms of overcrowding than McLean. The school is currently at 95 percent capacity and isn’t projected to reach 100 percent capacity until the 2023 school year.

The only Tysons-area elementary school facing severe overcrowding over the next five years is Shrevewood Elementary School, currently at 118 percent capacity and projected to increase to 125 percent capacity by 2023. Temporary classrooms, building additions, and boundary adjustment are all being considered as potential solutions to address overcrowding at Shrevewood.

While school staff downplayed the immediate impact of residential developments on schools, in the long run, the school CIP will need to include plans for a growing student population in the Tysons area.

“In addition to the estimated student yields, for comprehensive plan studies, recommendations to address future school facilities needs are provided to Fairfax County government,” staff wrote. “Recent long-range planning initiatives include [the] Tysons Urban Center, Merrifield Suburban Center, [and] McLean CBC.”

New residential developments are proposed to form the core of the downtown McLean Community Business Center. At least 4,000 new residential units are planned for the Spring Hill development alone, according to the Tysons Partnership.

By 2027, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) hopes to start planning for a new elementary school in the area to handle the youngest generation of Tysonians.

The FCPS 10-year Capital Improvement Plan shows planning for a new Tysons Elementary School FY 2027, and repurposing of the Pimmit Hills school a year later as an elementary school to provide capacity relief to other schools feeding into McLean High School.

FCPS documents show plans to seek funding for Tysons Elementary and the Pimmit Hills Repurposing in a 2025 referendum.

A public hearing for the CIP is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. in Luther Jackson Middle School (3020 Gallows Rd). A School Board decision on the CIP is scheduled for Jan. 24.

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BASIS Independent McLean, a private school at 8000 Jones Branch Dr. in Tysons, is planning on opening a brand new program for 2-3-year-olds next year.

Applications are now available for “The Twos Program,” which will begin in fall 2019.

The new program will offer full-day programming focused on physical, social, emotional and language growth. The program will run year-round and aim at preparing toddlers for pre-K courses.

“Through being a part of the ‘Two Program,’ children will learn about themselves and their world, and how to develop positive, constructive relationships with others in it,” Cassie Korik, director of student affairs, said in a press release. “Opportunities to play, collaborate, and investigate together enhance children’s development and learning.”

The classrooms will be led by two teachers focusing on maintaining consistent daily routines of education in everything from science and technology to social-emotional health.

The school is part of an international network of BASIS schools, which educate students from pre-K through 12th grade.

Photo courtesy BASIS Independent McLean

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The following article excerpt is from our content sharing partner, FairfaxNews.com.

Fairfax County public high school seniors have turned in another above-average performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The College Board reports the mean SAT score on this year’s test is 1213. That’s 103 points higher than Virginia’s statewide average and 164 points above the average nationwide. The score also betters, by 28 points, the Fairfax County public schools’ mean score from last year.

Read more at FairfaxNews.com

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