Tuesday, January 6, 2015

School Boundary Changes Discussed in the FCPS Capital Improvement Plan

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has a public hearing tonight on the approval of their Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) which decides how FCPS spends about $155 million per year in renovation and construction monies created by bond referenda passed by the voters. 

For the first time, this year's CIP included references to possible school boundary adjustments including approximately seven school changes in the 44th District including adjustments at Stratford Landing ES, Hybla Valley ES, Hollin Meadows ES, Groveton ES, the creation of a new GT/AP center at Bucknell ES and a new Arts & Science Focus School at Virginia Hills.

I lived though boundary changes when I was a student.  My original elementary school (Hollin Hall) was shut down in 1980, my intermediate school (Stephen Foster) no longer exists, and I was at West Potomac HS on the day it opened.  I am very aware of the effects these changes have on students and the interest the community takes in these issues.  These issues are completely controlled by the FCPS School Board.

Several constituents brought the proposed CIP to my attention last week and an impromptu meeting was held last night at Stratford Landing Elementary School that approximately 200 people attended. 

I have spoken with Mt. Vernon School Board Member Dan Storck and School Board Chairmen & Lee District Member Tamara Devereaux Kaufax and both have assured me that the CIP is not a an actual vote on boundaries.

There is a public hearing tonight where the FCPS School Board is taking public testimony regarding the proposed CIP:
January 6, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.
Luther Jackson Intermediate School
3020 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

I have attached three things below the fold:
  • My letter to the FCPS School Board
  • An email that was sent to Stratford Landing parents by their PTA for with information on the process
  • School Board Member Dan Storck's latest communication to the Mt. Vernon District on the process.

Email to Stratford Landing ES parents.
Many thanks to the over 200 parents/community members who came out to learn more about the FCPS Capital Improvement Program (CIP)http://www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/cip/cipbookfy2016-20.pdf and listen to our school board member Dan Storck explain the overcrowding issue along the Route 1 corridor on Sunday afternoon.

If you were unable to attend yesterday, some interesting information shared was the following:

*FCPS has about 155 million per year for the Capital Improvement Program to pay down the bonds that the public votes on every two years.
* There are several elementary schools in the cue (including Stratford Landing) that are up for renovation in the next few years. The schools up for renovation in our pyramid are Waynewood, Stratford Landing, Bucknell, Belle View, and Hollin Meadows. This info is on page 10 of the CIP.
* Any boundary or staff specified changes will NOT be considered part of the motion on Tuesday; the vote on January 22 is just regarding approving schools in the cue. Dan Storck assured us he would offer an amendment that the specific details of the current CIP NOT be considered in this current vote. This includes both boundary and program changes.
* There will be multiple options for community input at upcoming Town Meetings regarding the details of programs and boundary changes (dates and times TBD)
* In addition there was conversation that the FPAC (the Fairfax Planning Advisory Committee) meets the first Tuesday of each month and will be discussing the CIP, specifically regarding the Route 1 Corridor this Tuesday, Jan. 6. Public Comment is welcome at this meeting as well as the School Board Meeting, also on Jan. 6.
* The timeline, as outlined by Dan Storck, our School Board representative, includes the Jan 6 hearing on the CIP, the Jan. 22 School Board vote on the CIP and then community feedback meeting beginning in late February/ early March. The School Board, as explained by Mr. Storck, will likely not vote on boundary change issues until June or July.

The following resources were recommended for citizens of FCPS to read:
Tipping Point- http://www.fcps.edu/pla/ope/docs/fcps_tipping-point.pdf
Capital Improvement Program- http://www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/cip/cipbookfy2016-20.pdf
FPAC: http://www.fcps.edu/schlbd/committees/fpac.shtml

Here is a link to the official boundary study proceedings:http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/89SMNR58A671/$file/R8130.pdf

In addition, we encourage all of our interested parents, neighbors and community members to reach out to our school board members, including Dan Storck, the three at-large members, and the chairman. They can be contacted at:
Fairfax County Public Schools Staff responsible for boundaries and recommendations to the School Board are:
  • Jeff Platenberg (Assistant Superintendent of Facilities) - jkplatenberg@fcps.edu
  • Kevin Sneed (Special Projects Administration, Capital Improvement & Planning, Facilities & Planning) -kmsneed@fcps.edu
The Stratford Landing PTA will be sending meeting information and any additional information as we receive it. The best ways to stay in-the-know are to make sure you are receiving KIT messages from Stratford Landing, to join our PTA Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/stratfordlandingpta/, and to ask Dan Storck to be added to his email distribution list for his upcoming newsletters. If you attended the meeting Sunday, and signed the email list, we will also be sharing that list with Mr. Storck and will be using the list as a quantifier at the School Board meeting on Tuesday.
SLES will have a caravan to Jackson Middle School leaving Stratford Landing at 4:30pm (meeting begins at 6pm) on Tuesday, January 6 for those willing to speak or simply show their support for our school community being heard on these important issues. Please wear green and white to show support and we welcome posters too.
Finally, if you have questions, feel free to reach out to Sara Jefferies at PTAStratfordLanding@gmail.com or Cathy Hosek atcathyhosek@gmail.com
Also, here is the latest from Mt. Vernon School Board Member Dan Storck:
News From Dan Storck
School Facilities Funding Plans and Boundary Changes

This Tuesday, January 6, 2015, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Jackson Middle School, the public is invited to speak at the Fairfax County School Board’s Public Hearing on the 2016-2020 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP identifies Fairfax County Public Schools’ five-year facility and capital needs and the request to the County for funding. You can sign up to speak by going to the Fairfax County School Boardwebsite or by calling 571-423-1075.  The public hearing will be the School Board’s first opportunity to hear from the community about the CIP and its impact on your school. The Board will consider the CIP and public comments at the January 12 Work Session and is scheduled to vote on the capital program at the January 22 Board meeting. You are also encouraged to share your comments about the CIP with School Board members by emailing those comments tofairfaxcountyschoolboard@fcps.edu.
Included in this CIP—to meet the Richmond Highway Corridor student growth and facility improvement needs—is funding for a new area elementary school (ES), a new Ft. Belvoir ES (80% federally funded), and additions, renovations and/or planning funding for Woodlawn ES, Bucknell ES, Waynewood ES, Stratford Landing ES, Hollin Meadows ES, Mt. Vernon Woods ES, and Belle View ES. With over a billion dollar shortfall in FCPS’s capital funding needs, these substantial County financial commitments to Richmond Highway Corridor schools will enable our community to meet its new classroom and school renovation commitments, while providing our students with some of the best school facilities in the County. These investments are critical to relieving school overcrowding and providing the additional pre-school development, advanced academic and innovative program spaces crucial to developing each of our students to their full potential. 

For the first time this year, the staff recommended CIP "include potential capacity and capital solutions to schools which are currently or projected to be over-capacity." While I have been a fierce advocate in getting the capital funding which this CIP provides to address our schools’ overcrowding, I have many concerns about the specifics of the proposed school enrollment changes without first receiving input from community stakeholders. As I have consistently committed to the community, staff and Board members, a deep, transparent community engagement process that includes many meetings, many school enrollment options, over many months of time is essential.
Since this enrollment study process is to start by early March, the "capacity solutions" included in the CIP are at best premature. I look forward to that process so that I can best represent you. Your views are always welcomed by me and crucial to exceeding the needs of our students. As always, it is an honor to represent you.

Dan Storck
Mt. Vernon District Member
Fairfax County School Board