The McLean Citizens Association is hosting an online forum Feb. 28 to give people a chance to ask questions to local government and school leaders.
The meeting will come less than a week after Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill is scheduled to present his proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 on Tuesday (Feb. 22).
Hill projected in November that the county will see “robust” revenue growth in the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, due primarily to growth in the real estate tax base.
However, the forecast also anticipated a $40.7 million shortfall, noting that a tax relief expansion could reduce revenue by $12 million.
The MCA’s annual forum will occur from 7 to 9 p.m. with Hill, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust, and chief financial officers for the county and Fairfax County Public Schools slated to attend.
Those seeking to ask questions must register, as attendance will be capped at 100 people. But the group will also livestream the event on its Facebook page.
Both the county Board of Supervisors and FCPS pass their own budgets. Superintendent Scott Brabrand presented his proposed budget for the school system on Jan. 13, and the school board discussed it at a work session on Feb. 8.
The school board is scheduled to adopt an advertised budget on Feb. 24.
In the past, MCA’s budget forum has provided insight into tax implications of the county budget and how limited funding sources, including federal COVID-19 relief measures, will affect revenues.
(Updated at 9 a.m.) Bill Ending School Mask Mandates Signed — Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation yesterday (Wednesday) letting parents opt their children out of mask requirements, adding an emergency clause that sets a deadline of March 1. Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement to Tysons Reporter that it’s reviewing what this means for the district, which sued to keep its mandate. [Patch]
Wind Advisory Takes Effect Tonight — The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, that will be in effect from 10 p.m. today (Thursday) to 10 a.m. tomorrow. The alert warns that winds could reach 20 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, potentially blowing down tree limbs and creating power outages. [NWS]
Tysons Area Schools to Hold Graduations in D.C. — Langley, Madison, Marshall, and McLean high schools will have graduation ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall on May 31 and June 1 after the events were previously moved due to D.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement, which ended Tuesday (Feb. 15). FCPS said the rule “would have prevented a number of students and families from attending.” [WTOP]
Seven Corners to Get New Fire Station — Fire Station 28 personnel moved to temporary quarters yesterday as Fairfax County prepares to tear the existing station down and build a new one in its place. The new building will have two levels and 13,500 square feet of space, and the current estimated occupancy is mid-2024. [FCFRD/Twitter]
Vienna Inn Named Top 10 “Lovable” Dive Bar — DC Eater ranked the longtime Town of Vienna staple as the 10th most lovable dive bar in the D.C. area: “Around since 1960, this Northern Virginia neighborhood institution is famous for its chili dogs and its convivial vibe. During the pandemic, the chill bar debuted curbside takeout, delivery, and heated outdoor seating.” [DC Eater]
FCPS Can Keep Enforcing Mask Mandate — An Arlington County judge ruled yesterday (Tuesday) that Fairfax County Public Schools and the six other districts engaged in a lawsuit against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order can enforce their requirements until the legal challenge is resolved. The ruling came as the state Senate, led by Sen. Chap Petersen, approved a measure to let parents opt out of school mask mandates. [The Washington Post]
I-495 Pedestrian Bridge Under Construction — “Check out the progress on this bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-495 and the connecting shared-use path in Tysons! This link from Tysons One Pl/Fashion Blvd to Old Meadow Rd and Provincial Dr is scheduled for completion this summer.” [VDOT Northern Virginia/Twitter]
Keam’s Roundabout Funding Bill Dies — A House of Delegates subcommittee voted to table legislation proposed by Del. Mark Keam, who represents Vienna and much of Tysons, that would’ve given more funding to sidewalk and roundabout projects. Virginia currently requires regional transportation funds to be prioritized based on congestion relief. [Sun Gazette]
Valentine’s Day Market Coming to Tysons — “Need a gift for your Valentine? @CelebrateFFX has you covered! Stop by the Loving Shop Local Market, this Saturday, Feb. 12 from 12-5 PM at The PARC for all of your Valentine’s Day essentials!” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]
FCPS Mask Requirement Still in Effect — Masks are still required in Fairfax County Public Schools after a hearing in the lawsuit that seven Virginia school boards filed to prevent Gov. Glenn Youngkin from enforcing his optional masks executive order. An Arlington Circuit Court judge did not make a decision in the case yesterday (Wednesday) but said one will be made soon. [FCPS]
Dulles Toll Road Changes Anticipated — With Phase 2 of Metro’s Silver Line expected to open this spring, transportation officials said earlier this week that fares on the Dulles Toll Road will likely rise in 2023 to offset the project’s cost. The road could also switch to an electronic, cash-less system this year, where drivers will pay using their license plate, an EZPass, or a phone app. [Inside NoVA]
No Charges in FCPD Officer Shooting — A Fairfax County police officer who shot and injured a man in Chantilly on Jan. 4 will not face criminal charges, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced yesterday (Wednesday). The prosecutor said the officer “was reasonable” to fear serious injury or death, due to evidence that the resident was wielding a compound bow and arrows. [Patch]
Local Students Speak in Support of Transgender Inclusivity — Some Fairfax County Public Schools students testified in support of policies protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students from discrimination at a General Assembly hearing on Tuesday (Feb. 1). However, a House education subcommittee passed the debated bill, which seeks to halt a requirement that local school boards adopt those policies. [WUSA9]
Registration Begins for Park Authority Classes — “The Fairfax County Park Authority just opened registration for spring classes. Despite an enormous number of available classes to choose from, there are limited spaces available in our facilities, so timely registration via Parktakes Online is recommended to reserve your spot.” [FCPA]
Input Sought on Renaming Supervisor Districts — Fairfax County’s Redistricting Advisory Committee is seeking input from residents, businesses, and more on whether the county should rename Lee, Mason, Mount Vernon, Springfield, and Sully districts. The committee will make recommendations on March 1. [Fairfax County Government]
FCPS Test-to-Stay Program Begins — Fairfax County Public Schools launched test-to-stay programs at seven schools yesterday (Monday). Part of a statewide pilot, the program allows unvaccinated students identified as close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to keep attending school in person if they take a rapid test every morning for five consecutive days, test negative, and are asymptomatic. [WTOP]
White House Replica in McLean Sold — A 12,000 square-foot replica of the White House located at 1111 Towlston Road sold for $2.438 million in January. The six-bedroom house includes an attempted recreation of the Oval Office and was built in 1995 by a Vietnam refugee who wanted to pay homage to the U.S. [D.C. UrbanTurf]
Former Dranesville District Supervisor Remembered — “Former Dranesville District Supervisor Rufus Phillips III (D), who had served in the U.S. Army and later with the Central Intelligence Agency, died Dec. 29, 2021, at age 92 from complications of pneumonia. A longtime McLean resident, Phillips was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1971 and served until 1975, said Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) at the board’s Jan. 25 meeting.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]
Clothing Stores to Fill Former L.L. Bean — The now-closed L.L. Bean at Tysons Corner Center will be divided into smaller parts, including a two-story store for the fast fashion chain Primark. Plans indicate that Old Navy and Lululemon Athletica will also relocate to new spaces, leaving about 10,000 square feet left for other tenants. [Washington Business Journal]
Firefighters Flock to Woodson High School — “An early morning fire on damaged at least one building in Fairfax County Public Schools’ Woodson Complex off of Main Street on the eastern border of Fairfax City on Sunday. The complex is home to the school district’s Office of Facilities Management, which houses FCPS’ central operations, grounds operations, receiving, and food service.” [Patch]
FCPS Recognizes More Religious Holidays — The Fairfax County School Board approved a calendar for the 2022-2023 school year that designates Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, and Orthodox Good Friday as student holidays. The year will start on Aug. 22, and Veterans Day is also now a student holiday and staff work day. [FCPS]
Tysons-Based ID.me Partners with IRS — “You’ll soon have to prove your identity to a Virginia-based security company called ID.me in order to file a return, check tax records, or make payments on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. Your old username and password credentials–if they still work–will stop working in the summer of 2022.” [Fast Company]
GMU Changes COVID-19 Vaccine Policy — George Mason University students are now “strongly encouraged,” rather than required, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after new Attorney General Jason Miyares said on Friday (Jan. 28) that state universities can’t mandate the vaccine without enabling legislation. About 96% of the university’s students are vaccinated. [The Washington Post]
Snow Exacerbates Regional Grocery Supply Issues — “Icy roads and the after-effects of last week’s snowy weather have stripped the shelves at local grocery stores in recent days, compounding supply chain crises that have been in the news for months, says one potato supplier.” [DCist]
County Gives Covid Relief to Businesses — “The Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives announced today that it has awarded more than $16,000,000 in PIVOT grant funds to 1,016 Fairfax County businesses adversely affected by the pandemic. Businesses in the most hard-hit sectors of the Fairfax County economy, including hotel, food service, retail and personal services, and arts and culture industries, were targeted.” [Fairfax County DEI]
FCPS Adopts Updated Covid Quarantine Guidelines — Fairfax County Public Schools has adopted most of the new federal guidelines for COVID-19 isolations and quarantines, allowing staff who test positive to return to work after five days if symptoms are gone or improving. Students must still isolate for 10 days, since school cafeterias don’t have room for social distancing. [Patch]
Christmas Tree Collection Extended — “Christmas tree collection has been extended through January 21, 2022, for recycling. Lights, decorations, and stands must be removed to ensure collection. After January 21, please schedule a brush Special Pickup to have the Christmas tree removed.” [DPWES]
Vienna Starts New Water Main Project Today — “Glen Ave. will be closed to through traffic from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Albrecht Circle and Wade Hampton Dr. to allow for installation of a new water main. Detours during those hours will last for 3 weeks or until the project is complete.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Person Stabbed at Tysons Metro Station — An individual was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after a man reportedly stabbed them around 5:30 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 7) at the Tysons Metro station. Metro Transit Police officers responded to the incident, and Fairfax County police later arrested a man believed to be the suspect. [WTOP]
No Injuries in McLean House Fire — “At 10:43 pm last night, crews from #FCFRD and Arlington County Fire Department dispatched to house fire in 1500 block of Dominion Hill Ct, McLean. Units arrived to find home fully involved in fire. 2nd alarm requested. Fire out. All occupants safe. No reported injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]
Police Identify Serial Killer Victims — “The Fairfax County Police Department identified two badly decomposed bodies found in a large plastic container near a shopping cart on Dec. 15 in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County as a woman from Washington, D.C., and a woman from California, police officials said at a news conference Friday night.” [Patch]
FCPD Recovers Stolen Vehicles — Fairfax County police recovered two vehicles during traffic stops in late December that had been reported as stolen. One was found on I-495 at Arlington Boulevard on Dec. 30, and the other was obtained on Dec. 31 after the driver attempted to get out of a traffic stop on I-495 at Leesburg Pike by striking a police cruiser with his vehicle. [FCPD]
FCPS Survey on Next Superintendent Now Open — “Please weigh in by participating in the Superintendent Search Survey today. The survey allows FCPS parents/guardians, staff, high school students, and community members to share their thoughts on the leadership characteristics and qualities of the next superintendent.” [FCPS]
Inova Launches COVID-19 Testing Site — “Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? An Inova COVID-19 Vehicle-Side Testing Clinic will open Dec 30. Open M-F, 8am-5pm. PCR testing only, no rapid antigen testing. Appointments are required, please contact call ctr: 571-472-6843. Open M-F, 8am-6pm.” [Inova Health/Twitter]
Fairfax County Public Schools Commits to In-Person Classes on Return — “We recognize that a lot has changed over the past two weeks, with the omicron variant causing an increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide. As we continue to live through this ever-changing pandemic, we are committed to keeping our schools safe and open for in-person instruction.” [FCPS]
Men Arrested for Local 7-Eleven Robberies — Fairfax County police have arrested two men who are allegedly connected to robberies of a 7-Eleven at 9511 Blake Lane in Fairfax on Dec. 6 and a 7-Eleven at 8110 Old Dominion Drive in McLean on Dec. 11. Police believe the suspects were also involved in other robberies in neighboring jurisdictions. [FCPD]
Fire Department Further Adjust Staffing Due to COVID-19 Cases — The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department detailed additional staffing changes yesterday (Wednesday) on top of ones reported earlier that day by Tysons Reporter’s sister site FFXnow. The department now has 66 employees infected by COVID-19, with another 12 staff members required to quarantine. [FCFRD]
Langley Student Gets Perfect ACT Score — “Kaavya Radhakrishnan, a junior at Langley High School in McLean, scored a perfect 36 on her ACT exam this year…Only about a third of 1% of students who take the ACT earn the top score – or just 5,579 out of 1.67 million students who took the ACT in the United States in 2020, according to the nonprofit that administers the test.” [Inside NoVA]
Highline Office Buildings Refinanced — “Westbrook Partners and American Real Estate Partners (AREP) have landed a $148 million refinance from CIM Group for Highline at Greensboro District, a 460,851-square-foot, Class A office campus in Tysons Corner…Westbrook and AREP purchased the two-building Highline complex — at 8401 and 8405 Greensboro Drive in McLean, Va. — in 2017 for $132 million, and have invested a further $31 million to renovate and reposition it since.” [Commercial Observer]
From state exams to college-prep tests, James Madison High School 11th-grader Aidan Jones knows how stressful it can be as a student.
With the pandemic adding to concerns about students’ mental health, Jones is working to turn therapy dog visits into a regular occurrence and possibly have one pet make its second home in Madison’s counseling office.
“My goal is to try to get a therapy dog as an extension to the counseling staff,” Jones said, noting that ideally, a teacher would take care of the dog and bring it to school during the day.
Jones developed the idea of a permanent therapy dog program while taking an interdisciplinary course last year, where one assignment had students come up with plans to improve people’s circumstances.
Students shared their ideas in “Shark Tank“-like online presentations, and 1970 Madison graduate Ted Dintersmith, a filmmaker and author who advocates for education reform, agreed to fund some projects, including Jones’s, according to Madison High School Principal Greg Hood.
In the cross-curricular program, Jones met and spoke with Melanie Meren, who represents the Hunter Mill District on the Fairfax County School Board. He says working with her allowed the idea to morph into an actual thing.
Meren said in a statement that she’d like to see therapy dogs serving in more schools.
“This is something close to my heart — as a dog owner, I’ve experienced the calm and reassurance that a trained dog can bring to humans with its unconditional love,” she told Tysons Reporter by email. “As a parent, I’ve seen how dogs trained for reading therapy support can encourage reluctant readers to read aloud to gain confidence in their abilities.”
Research has shown that even petting a dog can help relax people, one of numerous mental health benefits.
“Therapy dogs are nonjudgmental, and that really lowers the anxiety,” Jones said.
However, Jones says he would like Madison to have a dog as part of its counseling staff, or at least make the outreach more regular. He noticed that having a therapy dog at the school made a difference not just for students, but also for teachers.
Jones has been working with school leaders to move the project forward. He suggested that the school target particularly stressful periods for a group to bring in a trained dog to help students.
“I think this would be really beneficial to just help…the Fairfax County Public School system in general, starting with Madison High School,” he said.