Tysons Corner, VA

(Updated 1 a.m.) Video from Freedom Hill Elementary in Vienna showed at least six cars driving past a school bus loading up with children.

As a reminder for those who might not have been paying attention during their driver’s ed class: if a school bus is loading or unloading passengers, whether or not the lights are active or the stop sign is extended, drivers are required to stop unless the bus is on the opposite side of a median or barrier.

Drivers are also required to remain stopped until all passengers have been loaded and the bus moves again. Failure to do so could result in a ticket.

During VDOT’s initial proposal for I-66 corridor improvements, the Federal Highway Administration noted that concerns were expressed about pedestrian safety on Gallows Road.

The person who posted the original video said that the clip was representative of pick-up and drop-off at the school.

But the story has a happy ending, at least, with Fairfax police arriving the next morning to monitor traffic and enforce the laws.

Photo via Twitter

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Students at a private school in Tysons got to examine and touch artifacts from American history in a unique lesson on World War II.

The traveling “Operation Footlocker” exhibit stopped by an AP U.S. history class at the BASIS Independent McLean (BIM) yesterday (Tuesday), according to the school.

The program by the National WWII Museum sends a footlocker full of 15 artifacts from WWII — like letters home, sand collected from Normandy and Iwo Jima, or wartime magazines — to schools in order to facilitate hands-on educational experiences.

The footlocker opened in BIM included a 1944 high school yearbook, wooden toys, and a U.S. Army field manual. The footlockers come with cotton gloves for handling the artifacts and a manual to explain the significance of each object.

“We’re grateful to the National World War II Museum for this fantastic learning opportunity that allows our students to touch, feel and see this moment in history with genuine artifacts,” said Tiffany Conroy, head of school for BIM in the press release.

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The Fiore Montessori School in northern Vienna is seeking Fairfax County approval to increase the school enrollment and expand into a nearby vacant building.

The property is spread across 4.5 acres across from the Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park on Beulah Road. The site has been used as a private school since 1985 and in 2010 won approval to operate a childcare center and nursery school. In 2013, the school was accredited as a Montessori facility.

The vacant building was once part of the school, but has been unused since 2000.

According to the application, the increase is necessitated by demand from new Tysons residents. The school primarily serves families in Vienna and Tysons.

“Since 2010, significant growth has been occurring around the school, particularly in [Tysons],” the applicant said. “New families moving into the area especially value the quiet neighborhood, educational methodology and green and natural surroundings that the school offers for childcare, nursery school and elementary school.”

The vacant building would be remodeled without increasing the size of the building but would increase the school’s enrollment capacity. The application notes that the school is also considering expanding the school’s age range to care for students younger than 3 years old.

A Planning Commission hearing for the project is scheduled for June 12.

Photo via Facebook

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Fairfax County Police are holding an anti-DUI and alcohol awareness event at Langley High School in McLean today.

The event, which is being held from 9 a.m. to noon, is timed to coincide with some key moments on the school calendar.

More from FCPD:

Prom and graduation season are quickly approaching, and we want to remind teens about the importance of being responsible at celebrations. We are partnering with Fairfax County Public Schools by hosting our Spring Drug and Alcohol Awareness Program.

Juniors and seniors at Langley High School will be given the opportunity to wear physical impairment goggles while being tested on both simple and complex tasks, such as driving a wheelchair through a cone course or going through a mock sobriety check with our officers. Students will also learn about Virginia’s underage drinking laws and the consequences for breaking them, as well as the physical and mental dangers that often come with underage drinking.

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At 6 p.m. last night, Fairfax County Public Schools announced that schools would open on a two hour delay today, due to expected snow.

As of this morning, however, roads and sidewalks around the county were mostly wet, with some slick spots, while grassy areas had a coating of snow. Yesterday’s forecasts called for anything from no snow to 2 inches.

Given what was known last night, do you think FCPS made the right call?

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After killing the boundary change proposal to relieve McLean High School, the Fairfax County School Board is currently beginning discussions on a broader redistricting effort. But as it does, it’s having trouble escaping the shadow of McLean’s overcrowding.

“I’ve received a number of letters about the McLean area saying that they had a meeting and that staff members were there and there were decisions made,” Karen Keys-Gamarra, an at-large member of the School Board, said in work session on Monday. “In the letters I’ve received, they are expecting to get this boundary change, it’s just a matter of time, so they want to know why the Board is dragging its feet. I think we need a statement in a more official capacity.”

Overcrowding at McLean High School has been a contentious topic made worse by nearby Langley High School’s under-capacity status following extensive renovations.

Dranesville District Representative Jane Strauss had put forward a plan to shift some students in McLean High School’s feeders — elementary and middle schools whose students are planned to attend McLean High School — to Langley. But the plan faced pushback from other members, who said McLean High School needed to wait for the broader redistricting to take effect.

As the School Board is putting together its priorities, Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Brabrand said he will work on putting together more information for the McLean community.

“My own view is I want to work with the Board and get goals and prioritization clear before making boundary decisions,” said Brabrand. “I get that there’s tension, but I think we need to build this transparency… [this process] is based on prioritized factors or goals. When that’s done, then we can begin going through the boundary decisions to include that pyramid.”

School staff said the ongoing challenge is that any school-level changes that get made to address immediate overcrowding could conflict with the countywide plans being developed. Staff noted that a new modular facility will be installed at McLean High School, but that it will not eliminate overcrowding at the school.

But Brabrand assured McLean parents that the update would likely come within the month.

“In March, we will put together goals and hope to have a framework in place before the school year ends,” said Brabrand. “It could impact the 2021 school year.”

Photo via McLean High School PTSA

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The Fairfax County School Board is looking for a new student voice.

Every year, a high school student is selected to serve as a representative on the School Board.

Applications for the position are currently available online and are due March 18.

“The student representative is not a member of the School Board but serves in a nonvoting, advisory capacity, representing the interests of the students of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS),” according to a post by FCPS.

The student representative will be required to attend meetings and engage in discussions with members of the School Board. According to the school board bylaws, the student representative will receive compensation for their participation in meetings, but not to exceed $50 per day.

Students in grades 9, 10, and 11 are eligible for the position.

Applicants will need to attend the election convention at Edison High School on April 11 and speak in front of the Student Advisory Council’s student delegates. The delegates will then elect a representative to the board.

Photo via FCPS

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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.”

More via social media:

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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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