Tuesday, May 10, 2011

School Board Update

Dear Friends,
May is especially busy this year.  The School Board will be working on making changes to the FY2012 budget to account for a flat transfer from the County this year as well as working on boundary options for our new elementary school and to relieve overcrowding at Annandale High School. We also continue our work on reforming student discipline policies and practice.

Budget: Superintendent Dale has given us his proposed options for amending the budget that includes teacher raises, paying for AP/IB test fees and putting full-day kindergarten in all of the remaining schools that don't yet have it. He has also recommended setting aside $500,000 for any changes the School Board decides to make on student discipline policies and procedures.

AP/IB Fees: Approval of the proposal will end the AP/IB test fees, and I strongly support doing so (an amendment of mine in January called on the Superintendent to find a way to do this as part of the budget).  You should have received your refunds by now of any AP/IB test fees you had paid this year.

Sports Fees: The superintendent's options don't reduce or eliminate the $100 per sport fees. I am working on an amendment to cap these fees at two per student per year, so at least we will have a bit of a break for some athletes and families. I plan to offer this when we vote on the final budget on May 26.

Timeline: The Board will have work sessions on the budget May 16 and May 19. We will hold budget hearings on May 17 and 18. On May 26, we will approve a final FY2012 budget at our regular School Board meeting. If you would like to speak at the budget hearings, you may sign up online.

New ES Math Sequence: FCPS will have a new math sequence in elementary schools starting in the fall. The changes are intended in part to align with new state math standards but also are intended to allow for greater differentiation within a classroom so that each student can learn at his or her own pace and level.  This should enable students to accelerate in math more easily and seamlessly.

For those of you familiar with "Compacted Math," the new terminology will be "Advanced Mathematics."  One hope of the new sequence will eliminate gaps when students advance more quickly then average. The new advanced math sequence will be available in all elementary schools.

Here's an overview with a link to a PowerPoint on the topic: http://www.fcps.edu/DIS/OEIAS/math/math.htm

Here's a chart that shows the sequence: http://www.fcps.edu/DIS/OEIAS/math/EMISCHARTfinal.pdf

As someone with a great interest and support for advanced math, I welcome any change that enables students to go as far and as fast as they can and should go.  One concern I have heard, and which I will be monitoring, is how well multiple levels of differentiation can work in one classroom.

Student Discipline: On Monday, May 16, the School Board will hold a work session on Dr. Dale's10 recommendations for changes to student discipline procedures and policies. I support these proposals but also want us to expand them to include other revisions, such as more parent notification and more academic support for students when they are on suspension. The work session will start at about 2 pm at Gatehouse Administration Center, 8115 Gatehouse Rd., Falls Church 22042, and is open to the public.

Individual high schools and middle schools are hosting dialogues on discipline issues for their school communities. As always, I welcome getting your views directly via email or visits to my office hours as we consider various proposals for change.

Stuart Raider Run: The 14th Annual Raider Run is this Saturday, May 14, at JEB Stuart High School, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church. Starting at Stuart, the run winds through the neighborhood. Please come and join us for a family friendly and healthful event to support the school.  Race day registration begins at 6:45am, and the race begins at 8am. To preregister online: http://raider5k.com/ . Adults are $25 (pre-registered by Thursday, May 12) or $30 on race day and students are always $10.  I'll look forward to seeing you there, where I will serve as starter and then enjoy watching the run.

Annandale High School's Red and White Golf Classic:  At 8 am Wed., May 18th, at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, VA. This is Annandale's main PTSA fundraiser. Please consider putting together a group to come out and play some golf, or consider being a sponsor or donor. No need to be affiliated with AHS to participate in this fun outing. For more information:

Honors Courses: At my request, the School Board will hold a work session on July 18 on honors classes at our Advanced Placement (AP) high schools. Several school PTSAs have expressed concern about elimination of some honors courses, leaving only standard level and AP courses in some areas. The Superintendent will provide more information on the rationale behind going from a three-tier to two-tier course structure where we have done so, and the Board will discuss which approach is preferable.

Annandale/Lacey Site Boundary and NonBoundary Options: Later this week, FCPS will release specific options for boundary and nonboundary solutions to the overcrowding at Annandale High School and Poe Middle School, as well as for the new elementary school at the Lacey Center site. The School Board is scheduled to make final decisions on these on July 28, for implementation in Fall 2012.

When the options are posted, I will issue a special report with a link so you can review them right away.

Who should pay special attention? Anyone with students now attending, or scheduled to attend, Annandale HS, Poe MS, Glasgow MS, Holmes MS.

Elementary schools whose students may well be most affected by possible AHS/Poe boundary changes: Bren Mar Park, Parklawn, Wakefield Forest.

Elementary schools whose students may well be most affected by options for the new elementary school at the Lacey Center site: Annandale Terrace, Beech Tree, Woodburn, Belvedere, Pine Spring.

Community dialogues on these options will be held from 7-9 p.m. on:
May 16
• Annandale High School cafeteria, 4700 Medford Drive, Annandale
(use entrance 7)
• Edison High School cafeteria, 5801 Franconia Road, Alexandria
(use entrance 1)
May 23
• Falls Church High School cafeteria, 7521 Jaguar Trail, Falls Church
(use entrance 8)
• Lake Braddock Secondary School cafeteria, 9200 Burke Lake Road, Burke
(use entrance 15)
June 6
• Specifically for speakers of other languages and will include interpreters for Arabic, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. At Annandale Terrace Elementary, 7604 Herald Street, Annandale. The meeting will be held in the gymnasium, adjacent to the Parent Resource Center.
(use entrance 1)

To register (you won't be turned away if you don't, but this helps for planning purposes): 

These changes will have a significant impact on several schools in our area.  Please plan to attend one of the community dialogues on the proposals to voice your views!