Tysons Corner, VA

Tired of underpaid jobs and inconvenient hours, three entrepreneurial McLean teens decided to start their own company.

Their new company, TeenServ, aims to solve teenage unemployment with a platform that matches students and community members who need short-term assistance with various tasks. Website users can pick-up shifts wherever and whenever they want, making it convenient for hectic schedules.

Around a year ago, Jack Lannin, Quin Frew and another McLean teen were walking home together from the local pool where they worked as lifeguards, upset that they received a significant pay cut when they came up with the idea for TeenServ.

Lannin told Tysons Reporter that pay change “almost cut their salary in half,” and they wanted to find another job but there were few options.

“Aside from getting a real job, reffing sports or yard work, there isn’t really a good way to make money,” Lannin said, adding that even becoming a referee requires a significant startup cost for teens — around $70 — to pay for training and a uniform.

They started out by going door-to-door and asking community members if they would pay teens fair wages for short-term yardwork. Soon enough, they began gathering opportunities.

“For teens, it’s really intimidating going door-to-door,” Lannin said. “But for us, it wasn’t a big deal.”

With help from an entrepreneurship class at McLean High School and feedback from peers, the students were able to turn their idea into a reality. Currently, they said they are learning as they go, thanks to guidance from their class and feedback from customers.

So far, the website has employed more than 200 teens, according to Lannin.

The third founder, whom Tysons Reporter wasn’t able to receive parental permission to publish their name, said one of his friends has made more than $1,500 so far by taking on random jobs and managed to build a rapport with homeowners who request him for all their upcoming tasks.

TeenServ pays students up to $18 per hour — well above Virginia’s minimum wage of $7.25.

The boys say the platform is mutually beneficial for community members and teens. The community members enjoy working with teens because it gives them an opportunity to interact with someone they otherwise wouldn’t, and teens feel like they are giving back to the community, they said.

If the customers are unsatisfied with the work, the three founders will come back to finish the job free of charge. The founders said they only had to take a customer up on this once or twice so far.

“For the future, we really want to start with McLean and expand as large as possible thought the area,” the third founder said.

Photo Courtesy TeenServ 

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Updated at 9 a.m. — The Fairfax County Park Authority said this morning (July 10) that the west parking lot at Scott’s Run and bridge at Lewinsville Park are still closed. 

Around the Tysons area, work is underway to clean up and repair roads, parks and even a high school after severe flash flooding yesterday.

“Nearly 5 inches of rain fell on Fairfax County Monday morning — nearly a month’s worth of rain in just a few hours, overwhelming numerous parts of our public infrastructure,” according to Fairfax County.

McLean High School had two hallways flooded along with the athletic locker rooms and coaches’ offices, Ellen Reilly, the principal of the high school, told Tysons Reporter, adding that Fairfax County Public Schools assessed the school today (July 9) to make sure that all of the areas were safe.

“Custodial staff worked throughout the day pumping out the water from the locker rooms and the carpets will be shampooed once everything dries out,” Reilly said.

The staff received a shout out on the high school’s Twitter:

Kirby Road will continue to be closed in McLean for several weeks as crews work to repair extensive damage.

The Fairfax County Park Authority said this morning that several parks in the Tysons area are closed as park teams assess the damage, including the west parking lot at Scott’s Run and bridge at Lewinsville Park.

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Every Fairfax County high school student will soon have a school-issued laptop for the 2019-2020 school year.

The upcoming rollout is part of the plan by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to issue computers to every student by 2023 with an initiative called FCPSOn.

FCPSOn aims to help students access a digital device for learning at school and possibly at home depending on the school and grade level.

“This 1-to-1 computing initiative will better prepare students for college and careers,” according to an FCPS press release, adding that the computers won’t replace teachers.

Last week, the Fairfax County School Board adopted the FCPS FY 2020 Approved Budget, which includes $16.1 million for instructional programs — where the FCPSOn initiative falls under.

The budget includes a little more than $4 million to implement FCPSOn for the high schools and a new technology fee of $50 per high school student per year, FCPS said will cover repairs or replacements for equipment.

FCPSOn started as a pilot program in the Chantilly High School pyramid and eLearning Backpack high schools in the 2016-2017 school year. Phase 1 was funded through a combination of FCPS and the VDOE e-Learning Backpack grant funding.

The remaining timeline — pending approval — is:

  • school year 2020-21: middle schools
  • school year 2021-22 elementary grades 5-6
  • school year 2022-23: elementary grades 3-4

McLean High School is looking for volunteers to help with distribution from August 12-15 from 12-7:30 p.m.

Image via FCPS

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Vienna MAC Project Moving Forward — “The Vienna Town Council on April 29 voted 5-2 set a June 3 public hearing to discuss town’s fifth MAC application, a proposal by Sunrise Development Inc. to build a senior-living center with ground-floor retail space at 100-112 Maple Ave., E.” [Inside NoVa]

Langley, McLean High School Students Lauded — “The Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce lauded stand-out students, teachers and support-staff members from Langley and McLean high schools May 1 at the organization’s 2019 Education Awards.” [Inside NoVa]

Q&A With Stomping Ground Owner — Nicole Jones shared why Tysons Galleria for her new second cafe — A Taste of Urbanspace. [Arlington Magazine]

Marshall High School Students Making News — Students’ films made the documentary and animation categories in the 2019 Virginia High School League Film Festival, which will be held June 1 in Charlottesville. The Marshall High Architecture, Construction, Engineering Mentor team took home the first place trophy for ACE DC Competition. [FCPS, FCPS]

Rankings Show Virginia Teacher Pay Needs Boost — “Teachers in the District of Columbia are among the best paid in the country, while Virginia teachers have plenty of ground to make up, according to a nationwide analysis published last week by one of the country’s largest education unions… Virginia teachers earned an average of $51,994 a year for 32nd among the states, while starting teacher pay is $40,453 annually, ranking the Commonwealth at 16th.”

Spotlight on Vienna’s Food Scene — “The upscale town of Vienna has become an international food scene–restaurants from Thai, Mexican, American, Japanese, British, and Indian to Chinese, Middle Eastern and Italian–provide a global culinary tapestry.” [Vienna Connection]

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Several public high schools in the Tysons-area, including Langley and McLean high schools, made the cut for U.S. News and World Report’s annual roundup of best high schools on the state and national levels.

“Schools are ranked on their performance on state-required tests, graduation and how well they prepare students for college,” according to U.S. News and World Report.

Fairfax County Public Schools dominated U.S. News and World Report’s “Best High Schools in Virginia,” and five out of the eight Fairfax County schools included two in McLean, two in Vienna and one in Falls Church:

  1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: Alexandria
  2. Langley High School: McLean
  3. McLean High School: McLean
  4. Oakton High School: Vienna
  5. Open High School: Richmond
  6. Marshall High: Falls Church
  7. Madison High: Vienna
  8. West Springfield High School: Springfield
  9. W.T. Woodson High School: Fairfax
  10. Deep Run High School: Glen Allen

The Tysons-area high schools bumped up a few spots for this year’s list. Last year, Langley ranked #3, McLean was #5, Oakton was #6 and Marshall was #8.

Their rankings on the national level hit the top 200 and 300 categories:

  • Langley: #123
  • McLean: #127
  • Oakton: #173
  • Marshall: #251
  • Madison: #261

Image via Google Maps

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After a large amount of local consternation over the group homes for a rehab facility proposed near McLean High School, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and other local officials are putting together a meeting to clear things up.

The Newport Academy, a therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, recently purchased three residential homes (1620, 1622, and 1624 Davidson Road) in McLean with the intent of using them as a treatment facility.

Another project is also planned for 1318 Kurtz Road in the Salona Village neighborhood.

The meeting is planned for Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. in the McLean High School Auditorium (1633 Davidson Road).

Foust is expected to be joined at the meeting by a pair of local state lawmakers, Dels. Rip Sullivan and Kathleen Murphy. Representatives from Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and from Monroe LLC  — the company that runs the Newport Academy — are also planning to attend, to explain the new facility.

According to Foust’s office:

The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the operations of the homes, licensing and permitting authority, relevant legislation and regulations, and resident concerns. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.

Photo via Google Earth

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A teen-focused rehab center is planned to open across from McLean High School and some nearby residents are not pleased.

The Newport Academy, a therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, recently purchased three residential homes (1620, 1622, and 1624 Davidson Road) in McLean with the intent of using them as a treatment facility.

An employee at the Newport Academy confirmed that a new center is planned for McLean, but that the facility is still going through state and medical licensing.

The employee said the new facility is several months away, at least, from opening. But the company does have at least 18 jobs listed as available for the site, from an executive director to tutors and chefs.

A discussion group was started on Facebook on April 4, with some neighbors expressing concerns on everything from increased street traffic to drops in home values. A few others pushed back against the concerns and said they hoped neighbors would avoid “Not In My Back Yard” syndrome.

In an email to local residents, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust wrote that group homes in residential neighborhoods are typically considered “by right” uses, meaning there’s no requirement of public notice and no zoning approvals needed from the county.

Foust also noted that the Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals because of a handicap or disability and that the Code of Virginia requires local zoning ordinances to consider a “residential facility in which no more than eight individuals with mental illness, intellectual disability, or developmental disabilities reside, with one or more resident or nonresident staff persons, as a residential occupancy by a single family.”

While the group’s license application is still pending before the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Foust said approval would hinge on qualifications and quality of care, not local land use concerns.

Photo via Google Maps

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In what is a best-case scenario for an elected official, County Supervisor John Foust and others at last week’s Fairfax County Budget meeting in McLean said the new year’s spending plan has been fairly uncontroversial.

“In prior years it’s been much more controversial,” said Foust. “The budget this year seems to be generally accepted. People are happy that we’re holding the tax rate flat and I know people are thrilled that we’re able to fully fund the school operating budget.”

Others in the McLean Citizens Association said that the biggest talking point in the audience was concern over the McLean High School overcrowding, which is currently a School Board issue rather than a County Board one.

Foust noted that a leader of a local parent group spoke up and asked Superintendent Scott Brabrand about redistricting the school. At a School Board meeting last week, Brabrand said an update on solutions for McLean High School overcrowding would be released sometime in March.

Foust said 3.8 percent revenue growth, much of it driven by new development in Tysons, has given the Board flexibility to fund the School Board’s budget and funding for county priorities like gang and opioid prevention efforts. Foust said some of the biggest new items in this year’s budget are a series of environmental initiatives to address climate-change related issues.

But Foust also said one of the biggest criticisms of the budget has been that it doesn’t give enough to the county’s affordable housing programs.

“One issue that is not funded the way advocates would like to see funded is affordable housing,” said Foust. “There’s been so little concern expressed about this budget, but the extent that I’ve heard has been that we need to do more about affordable housing. I think the Board of Supervisors agrees and we’re working on that.”

Foust also said that there are concerns about the budget skipping a pay-raise for employees.

“There are concerns by employees that as advertised the Board does not pay full market rate adjustment to county employees,” said Foust. “We’re looking at our options to see if there’s anything to help find money in the budget to pay a little bit more.”

Public budget meetings are being held in each of Fairfax’s districts, but anyone wishing to address the Board of Supervisors directly regarding the budget is invited to speak at public hearings on April 9 and 11.

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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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A meeting on Thursday (Feb. 28) will take a look at how the county budget will impact McLean.

The McLean Citizens Association (MCA) is hosting the meeting in the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave.) and put together a list of top issues facing the area. The rundown includes items that are McLean specific and issues like the long-term economic viability of the Metro system.

According to the MCA, questions up for discussion include:

–  Trade-offs between self-imposed county bond limits, county operating expenditures, and local taxes?
–  The impact of development and demographic trends on costs for county-provided services, including schools?
–  Below market salaries for many teachers?
–  Unusually generous pension plans for county and school system employees?
–  Overcrowding at McLean High School and other schools?
–  Metro and other transit maintenance, repairs and expansion, especially in future years?

The budget, which was presented as a draft to the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, highlighted the growth and challenges associated with new development in Tysons and the surrounding localities.

One of the topics of discussion, the overcrowding of McLean High School, has been particularly contentious. The School Board killed a proposal to redistrict McLean High School to send some students to the under-capacity Langley High School.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust and County Chief Financial Officer Joe Mondoro are planned to be in attendance to discuss the budget.

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