Wednesday, December 15, 2010

School Board Report

Dear Friends,

As we enter the holiday season, I wanted to focus this newsletter on what a few of our schools are doing to help children and families and let you know ways in which you can contribute to these generous efforts.

Bailey's Elementary Holiday Bazaar: This event serves 120 needy families and will be held on Dec. 20. Donations needed: New toys and books; new or gently used stuffed animals; $25 gift cards to Target, Safeway, Shoppers or Sears. Donations (take to the front office at Baileys, 6111 Knollwood Dr , Falls Church, VA 22041) are needed by Dec. 15.

Sleepy Hollow Elementary:   Each year, the Sleepy Hollow School community provides holiday  gifts anonymously for SHES families that may be in need of assistance. If interested, you may sponsor an entire family or individual children within a family. They want to make sure every child  has two presents. You will be provided with the gender and age of a child in order to help you with purchasing the gifts. For information, please contact Mr. Devlin at or 703 237-7000.
Westlawn Elementary: An ongoing need at this school under renovation is to have enough umbrellas for students going to and from classrooms in trailers. If you have extras, please take them to the front office at 3200 Westley Rd, Falls Church, VA 22042
Stuart High School: Has an ongoing need for school supplies, including binders, notebooks, pens and pencils (the students particularly like mechanical pencils), highlighters and basic calculators.  If you can contribute, please taken them to the front office at 3301 Peace Valley Ln Falls Church, VA 22044.
Poe Middle School: Has an ongoing need for books to provide plenty of reading material for students during Poe's DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) period. Please take any donations to the Poe office at 7000 Cindy Lane, Annandale, 22003.

Holiday Meals and Gifts for Fairfax County Families: Local non-profit Our Daily Bread, Inc. administers a holiday program that matches local families with donors who provide holiday meals, as well as gifts for the children in the family. For more information, to sign up or to donate to this effort:

And now a few School Board updates:

2011-12 School Calendar Set: The School Board approved the calendar for the 2011-2012 school year at its Dec. 2 meeting. I appreciate all the comments I received on the issue of whether we should eliminate Columbus Day as a holiday in exchange for more time at Winter Break or an earlier end to the school year.  The reaction was decidedly mixed.

When we considered this issue on Dec. 2, I offered an amendment to delay the vote for two weeks before approving the school calendar to give us more time to get feedback--including a short survey--from parents, teachers and other stakeholders.  My amendment didn't pass, the Columbus Day change was defeated, and the Board approved the calendar:

PTA Presidents' Meetings: I recently had two meetings with Mason District PTA presidents and very much enjoyed their ideas and feedback, both on systemwide school issues and on school-specific concerns.  Future meetings will be held every two or three months.

AP/IB Fee Payments:  High school parents have received bills for this year's new $75 fees for AP and IB courses. Some parents have expressed concerns about the timing of these bills, coming as they have at a time when families often feel strapped due to holiday expenses.  Please note: Superintendent Dale has advised us that no one will be penalized for payments after the first of the year.  Further note: I continue to look for ways to eliminate these fees, which I'm concerned will discourage some students from taking high-level courses.

2012 Budget: The Board will start budget season in earnest in January. We will receive the Superintendent's recommendations on Jan. 6, hold public hearings on Jan. 24 and 25, and approve an Advertised Budget on Feb. 3.  For more information and to take a brief County survey on the budget:

Construction at Lacey Center Site: Construction has started at the Lacey site (3705 Crest Dr., Annandale) on the new elementary school, set to open in fall 2012. This elementary school will be the first in Fairfax County to have a geothermal cooling and heating system. That's great news, but it also means that we will be drilling wells for the system over the next three months. For more information and updates on this project (as well as photos of the groundbreaking ceremony):

Annandale Regional Study:  This study of overcrowding at Annandale High School and Poe Middle School has its last meeting scheduled at Annandale High School on Dec. 15. This meeting is open to the public and I urge interested individuals to attend. The group is due to report to the Board on its conclusions on Jan. 10. The study could have a significant impact on schools surrounding Annandale and Poe.

To see background documents, Frequently Asked Questions and who represents you school on the committee, go to this link: