Tysons, VA

Concerns about a proposed boundary change impacting high students in McLean dominated the public hearing last night on the Capital Improvement Program for Fairfax County Public Schools.

The draft CIP says that McLean High School is currently at 118% capacity, with projections showing the population increasing to 122% capacity in the 2024-2025 school year.

“For years, we have cobbled together a bandaid patchwork of solutions that were never meant to be permanent,” Kimberly Adams, from the Fairfax Education Association, told the school board about the trailers at McLean High School.

Adams said that the school board needs to ask for more funding to pay for additional improvements that will add more school space.

One idea that county officials are pursuing would shift students from McLean High School to nearby Langley High School, which has a current capacity of 83%.

Meetings in the fall solicited community input on the proposed boundary change that could impact the schools for this upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

More than a dozen parents, students and locals urged the school board to renovate McLean High School, add a modular brick-and-mortar addition, add IB classes at Langley High School or allow McLean families the option to enroll their kids at Langley High School.

Two McLean high school students, who spoke together, said that they don’t support the boundary change and would prefer to see a modular instead.

Jennifer Colman, a McLean High School parent, told the school board that the CIP has “good options” for the school, but that the boundary change is not one of them.

“Take the boundary change off the table,” Colman said.

And if a boundary change does happen, several parents, like John Callanan, urged that the change happens for the lower grades, like with students in elementary school, rather than at the high school level and that the boundary change not split up families.

“If we must consider boundary changes do it from elementary to middle to high school,” Callanan said. “Do not begin at the end.”

All of the testimony wasn’t about McLean High School overcrowding — several students urged for support of solar polar legislation and building schools that are equipped with solar and geothermal systems so that they can be net-zero energy.

Some parents urged for the school board to address overcrowding at Shrevewood and Kent Garden elementary schools. Other people said that the schools need to have more support for twice-exceptional autistic students.

Image via FCPS/YouTube

0 Comments

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) unveiled its proposed fiscal year 2021-25 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) last week.

In November, Fairfax County voters approved a $360 million school bond referendum that includes $2 million in planning funds for a new “Silver Line elementary school,” along with other construction and renovation projects.

For the new Silver Line elementary school, permitting would happen in FY 2022, with permitting in FY 2023 and construction from FY 2024-2026, according to the CIP draft.

The revised budget estimates the Silver Line elementary school will cost $39.5 million.

“Anticipation of the completion of the Silver Line Metro has already spurred higher density residential growth along that corridor which may result in an increase in students within FCPS,” according to the CIP draft.

Along with the Silver Line school, the 10-year CIP forecast expects permitting to start on a new elementary school in Tysons in FY 2027.

Here is information on school renovations in the Tysons area in the proposed CIP:

  • Falls Church High School, costing $141.9 million
  • Cooper Middle School, costing $52 million
  • Dranesville Elementary School, costing $38 million
  • Louis Archer Elementary School, costing $29 million

A public hearing will be held on the CIP on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. at Jackson Middle School (3020 Gallows Road), followed by a school board work session on it on Jan. 13. A vote on the CIP is scheduled to take place on Jan. 23.

0 Comments

(Updated 12/28/19) Come Jan. 1, the Fairfax County School Board will have a lot of new faces.

The 12-member board will see eight newcomers in 2020.

Half of the school board’s incumbents decided not to seek reelection, including: Ilryong MoonRyan McElveen, Jane Strauss, Pat Hynes, Sandy Evans and Dalia Palchik. The two Republican incumbents — Elizabeth Schultz and Thomas Wilson — lost their reelection bids.

At-Large Member Karen Keys-Gamarra won reelection, along with:

Here is information on the new incoming members, who took their oaths of office on Thursday (Dec. 12) at Jackson Middle School.

At-Large Members Abrar Omeish and Rachna Sizemore Heizer

Omeish and Heizer, along with incumbent Karen Keys-Gamarra, beat three opponents for the At-Large seats.

Heizer has worked as a college professor, disability justice advocate and lawyer, according to her campaign website. Omeish is the co-founder of Give, a youth-led nonprofit and led the county-wide campaign for an anti-bullying campaign, according to her campaign website.

Hunter Mill District: Melanie Meren

Meren, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, beat her opponent, Laura Ramirez Drain. Meren is a parent and small business owner who has lived in Fairfax County for more than 15 years, according to Reston Now

Dranesville District: Elaine Tholen

Tholen beat three opponents. A resident of Fairfax County for 25 years, Tholen most recently served as the director and treasurer for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, according to her campaign website.

Mason District: Ricardy Anderson

Anderson beat opponent Tom Pafford. She has been a community volunteer, a veteran of the National Guard Army Reserve and lived in Annandale for more than 10 years, according to her campaign website.

Providence District: Karl Frisch

Frisch beat opponent Andrea Bayer in the election. Frisch has served as the executive director of consumer watchdog Allied Progress, was a small business owner and worked as a staffer for the Committee on Rules in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to his campaign website.

Springfield District: Laura Jane Cohen

Cohen beat two opponents, including Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz. Cohen has been a resident in the county for nearly 20 years and is a former preschool teacher, according to her campaign website.

Sully District: Stella Pekarsky

Pekarsky beat Republican incumbent Tom Wilson. She was previously an FCPS ESOL teacher, small business co-owner and trustee on the Fairfax County Board.

Come 2020, the school board seats will all be filled by Democrats.

“Corbett Sanders will remain chair of the School Board and Derenak Kaufax will remain as vice-chair,” according to FCPS. “School Board officers are elected at the first meeting in July of each year.”

The board also includes a non-voting student representative who is selected by the Student Advisory Council.

Photo via Facebook

0 Comments

School Start Time Changes in Falls Church — “The Falls Church City Public Schools will begin classes two weeks prior to Labor Day next fall, on Aug. 24, based on a 4-2 vote by the School Board Tuesday night. The new calendar will conclude the school year next spring with graduation on June 2 and the last day of school on June 10.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Where Can You Eat Out This Christmas? — Here are lists of restaurants open for the holidays in McLean and Vienna. [Patch, Patch]

Local Police Fighting Crime at Tysons Malls — “Tysons urban team patrols the shopping centers. Over the past six years they busted organized retail criminals from other states, and even Russia, Romania and China.” [ABC7]

Want to Work at Wolf Trap? — The performing arts center and National Park plans to host three job fairs — one on Sunday (Dec. 29) noon-4 p.m., Saturday (Jan. 4) noon-4 p.m. and Tuesday (Jan. 7) 4-8 p.m. [Potomac Local]

0 Comments

Meetings to solicit community input on a proposed boundary change for two high schools in McLean seemed to raise more questions than they answered.

Roughly 200 parents, stakeholders and politicians, including Providence District Supervisor-elect Dalia Palchik and several incoming Fairfax County School Board members, attended the meetings at Langley High School on Monday (Dec. 2) and McLean High School last night (Wednesday).

McLean High School, which was designed for a capacity of 1,993 students, currently has 2,350 students. Meanwhile, newly renovated Langley High School has 1,972 students and could have up to 2,370, according to the presentation from FCPS staff.

The proposed boundary change would move some students from McLean High School (1633 Davidson Road) to Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike) to address the overcrowding issue.

There are 18 trailers at McLean High School right now, Jane Strauss, the Dranesville District representative on the school board, said at the Monday night meeting.

“It would be unfair to not consider a boundary change,” Strauss said, adding that Fairfax County does not want to move juniors and seniors from the schools. “You want to keep large cohorts of kids together.”

Read More

0 Comments

Two meetings next week plan to gather community input on a proposed boundary change for McLean and Langley high schools in McLean.

In October, Fairfax County School Board approved an amendment to its Capital Improvement Program that kicks off a boundary study about moving some students from McLean High School (1633 Davidson Road) to Langley High School (6520 Georgetown Pike).

The meetings next week are meant to give locals a chance to provide feedback and talk to FCPS staff, according to a newsletter from McLean High Students, Parents and Community Expect Sensible School Size (McSPaCES).

The first meeting is set to take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday (Dec. 2) at Langley’s cafeteria. The second meeting is scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 4) at the cafeteria in McLean High School.

“McLean High is projected to have an enrollment of 2,500 by 2023 making it the most crowded of the 24 high schools in FCPS,” according to McSPaCES. “At least 500 students would need to be moved out of McLean High School for it to approach its building design capacity of 1,993 and not require trailer classes and/or modular class complex.”

Langley, which was recently renovated, has extra space to accommodate the students.

In a letter posted on McSPaCES from the assistant superintendents for the regions that include the two schools, they wrote that no decisions will be made at the meetings, which will include small group work and presentations from FCPS staff.

​”The community feedback from the boundary scope meetings will be collected and used to develop options,” the superintendents wrote. “The options will be presented to the community at boundary study meetings in the spring.”

0 Comments

Updated at 4:25 p.m. — As of 4:23 p.m., county-wide turnout is at 25.1% for in-person voters, Fairfax County tweeted.

With just a few hours left before the polls close this evening, Tysons-area voter turnout has steadily increased throughout the day.

Contested races are underway for the Providence and Dranesville District seats and the chair on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

As of 1 p.m., voter turnout was at 15.9% in the Providence District, 18.2% in the Hunter Mill District and 18.4% in the Dranesville District, Fairfax County tweeted.

Around 2 p.m., Tysons Reporter spotted a full parking lot outside George Marshall High School (7731 Leesburg Pike). As of 1:57 p.m., 991 people had voted at the high school.

A polling official at Marshall told Tysons Reporter that it’s been a “great steady flow” all day.

The Chief Election Official at Langley High School in McLean told Tysons Reporter earlier today that most voters tend to come between 5 p.m. and when the polls close at 7 p.m.

Registered voters can find their polling locations with the My Neighborhood Map or through the portal on the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Tysons Reporter interviewed the candidates running for the Providence and Dranesville District seats on the Board of Supervisors: Dalia Palchik, Eric Anthony Jones, John Foust and Ed Martin.

Additionally, we have a guide about who is running in the local races for the Tysons area.

Kalina Newman and Catherine Douglas Moran contributed to this story.

0 Comments

Today is the last chance for Fairfax County voters to head to the polls.

More than half of the seats are contested on both the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board.

While many of the Board of Supervisors candidates are incumbents — like John Foust, Penny Gross and Pat Herrity — some new faces are also vying for seats due to officials retiring, like Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth.

Voters will also decide the fate of a $360 million bond referendum for Fairfax County Public Schools.

0 Comments

The election is one week away for Fairfax County voters — and several seats are contested on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board.

Eight of the nine district seats on the school board are contested, while six district seats and the chair are contested for the Board of Supervisors.

While many are incumbents — like John Foust, Penny Gross and Pat Herrity on the Board of Supervisors — some new faces are also vying for seats due to officials retiring, like Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth.

Here are the candidates (listed alphabetically by last name) running in the races Tysons Reporter will be reporting on next week:

Chairman of Board of Supervisors

Providence District Supervisor

Dranesville District Supervisor

Commonwealth’s Attorney

Fairfax County School Board — Providence District Seat

Fairfax County School Board — Dranesville District Seat

Fairfax County School Board — At-Large Seats (voters choose three)

In total, 10 locations will offer in-person absentee voting until Saturday, Nov. 2, at 5 p.m.

Voters can find their polling locations with the My Neighborhood Map or through the portal on the Virginia Department of Elections website. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Check back on Wednesday and Thursday this week for Q&As with the Providence and Dranesville District candidates for the Board of Supervisors.

The election is next Tuesday, Nov. 5.

0 Comments

Candidates vying for the Providence and Dranesville district seats on the Fairfax County School Board debated a variety of issues — from guns to vaping — at local debates.

Two recent candidate debates hosted by the League of Women Voters-Fairfax Area gave community members a chance to hear from the school board candidates.

The audience questions varied drastically at the two debates — except for the issue of school safety and bullying of LGBTQ students.

Guns in Schools and Active Shooter Drills

Dranesville District candidate Ardavan Mobasheri and Providence District candidate Karl Frisch said that they are worried about excessive school safety procedures.

“Schools are becoming fortresses,” Mobasheri said.

Frisch said that active shooter drills are unnecessarily and cause harm. “I’m afraid we are traumatizing our kids,” Frisch said.

Frisch made a point that telling teachers to put black paper over windows and hiding in the corner is not an efficient measure during an active shooter situation.

Karl Frisch’s opponent, Andrea Bayer, agreed with him that drills are not effective. During the debate, Bayer said that many of the active shooter training drills are costly to the taxpayers and not backed by statistical evidence that shows they work.

“Let’s do the thinking before we invest tax dollars,” she said.

Frisch and Bayer suggested bulletproof glass in the classroom, more efficient teacher training and cameras monitoring the schools.

The other two Providence District candidates — Anastasia Karloutsos and Elaine Tholen — focused on school resource officers (SROs), agreeing that they should have guns.

Tholen said that SROs should be the only people in schools allowed to have guns, while Karloutsos said that guns should be expanded to SROs or retired police officers in elementary schools.

How to Address LGBTQ Bullying 

All of the candidates agreed that LGBTQ students should feel safe at school.

“We need to make sure every single student that walks through our doors feels protected,” Frisch said.

Bayer noted that “Fairfax County has always accommodated LGBTQ students.” She said that she’s never heard of any issues.

Tholen, a Providence District candidate, said that she wants to see more community schools, mentor programs and peer-to-peer programs. One of her opponents, Karloutsos, said that mental health counselors could help students struggling with bullying.

Providence District Candidate Debate

At the Providence District Candidate Forum last Wednesday (Oct. 16), popular topics for the school board candidates included vape pen and e-cigarette use among kids, prayer in schools and retention. (Providence District School Board candidate Jung Byun did not attend the event.)

When it came to bus driver retention, Bayer said it’s low “because behavior is a major issue on the bus.”

“I don’t like driving my van. Why would I want to drive a school bus?” she said, adding that traffic leads to frustrated drivers.

Frisch said that bus drivers — and the rest of school staff — need higher wages.

The candidates sparred over how they would approach prayer and vaping in schools.

Frisch said that he supports expanding holidays for Muslim and Jewish kids because kids can lose out on education when they are forced to take off school days for religious holidays, while Bayer said that students have opportunities to practice whatever they want.

“Our schools are freedom of religion not freedom for religion,” Bayer said.

As for vaping, Bayer said that vaping is a parenting issue, while Frisch said he would use his platform, if elected, to educate students on vaping.

Dranesville District Candidates Spar Over Overcrowding, One Fairfax 

Meanwhile, at the forum for Dranesville District candidates last Thursday (Oct. 17), the candidates debated how to address overcrowding at McLean High School.

Karloutsos and Tholen agreed that the principal needs to be involved in the decision making.

While Tholen said that she is supportive of a boundary adjustment that would switch some McLean High School students to Langley High School as a short term solution, Mobasheri said he does not support the proposal.

“McLean [High School] needs an addition,” Mobasheri said, calling for a new high school in Tysons. “It is no longer suburbia.”

While only brought up briefly, One Fairfax — a joint social and racial equity policy of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board — was one of the most contentious topics of the night.

Karloutsos blasted it as a “big issue,” while Mobasheri called it the “21st-century rendition of the Bill of Rights.” (Tholen did not comment during that debate on One Fairfax.)

There were two topics that the three Dranesville District candidates all agreed on — students should be vaccinated and that restraint and seclusion should either be used when there is a threat of imminent danger or never at all.

The election is on Nov. 5.

Ashley Hopko and Catherine Douglas Moran contributed to this story.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list