It’s the start of a new school year and already things are picking up for school boards across the county. Fairfax County Public Schools recently held two meetings and plans to hold several more in the near future.
On September 10th, 2018, a school board meeting was held at Fairfax City’s city hall regarding the new Tuition Bill, the School Opening Report, and Summer School Report. The meeting established that Fairfax City’s summer school went on without many issues, and that schools across the city have opened smoothly. The tuition bill entailed much of the budget regarding schools within the city and plans to provide funding for several items on their agenda. Grants to schools to support summer enrichment programs, field trips and staff development, funds to reimburse teachers who achieve National Board Certification Support for increasing 1:1 technology at Lanier Middle School for all students, funding for the Innovation Lab at Daniels Run ES and STEAM Lab at Providence ES to provide science and engineering to all students in elementary school, for example, are such items that will be addressed with the new bill.
The current city school board consists of five members: Carolyn Pitches (Chairman), Toby Sorensen (Vice Chair), Jon Buttram (Former Chairman), Mitch Sutterfield, and Bob Reinsel. The Fairfax City School Board was established for leaders and champions for public education to serve in their community. The board has administrative and operational control of the city’s schools, and conducts regular meetings, with the next meetings scheduled on October 1st and November 5th.
The Fairfax County School Board, not the same as the aforementioned board, also held a meeting on September 13th, 2018, and covered a variety of topics that are relevant to the county as a whole. The meeting had its usual run-through and had covered several qualms of the general public of Fairfax County’s public school system.
To kick the meeting off, in support of September being child cancer awareness month, the board decided start the conference with a message to all attendees and viewers at home by addressing an organization by the name of Ellie’s Hats, whose mission is to brighten the day of a child who is battling cancer by sending a package of hats and other items for the child battling cancer and their siblings. To learn more head to their website at ellieshats.org.
The board also decided to acknowledge schools across the county for their academic achievement, namely the receiving of the Governor’s Award of Academic Excellence. Some of these schools include Flint Hill Elementary School, Chesterbrook Elementary, Franklin Middle School, Rocky Run Middle School, Chantilly High School, Oakton High School, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology as well as several other schools.
There was also a section on citizen participation during that meeting where those who are not part of the board receive a chance to voice their concerns in front of both the board and general public. On the 13th, there were three main issues covered throughout the conference.
A recurring issue brought up by parents and teachers alike were all tied to an incident at South Lakes High School at which the FCPS School Board decided to remove teachers and administrators and relocate them with little notice. The movement was highly protested and was still carried out earlier this summer. One of the citizens, who will remain anonymous, stated that FCPS removed staff from South County without reason, and failed to follow up on what they promised. The several parents and teachers claim that the notice was delivered via mass community e-mail, setting a bad example for the students as protocols were not followed and the code of ethics was broken. The collective citizens that protested the relocation of the staff at South Lakes have voiced their anger, calling the incident shameful, unjust, as well as disrespectful to all of the staff members that were removed from their positions, leaving the school disorganized and not functioning as smoothly as it once did.
On a much lighter note, another concerned individual brought up recent issues with the board failing to show transparency with what they do. The entity who brought up the issue came with statistical reports that the board had published over the course of a few months, and questioned the validity of the results, as well as what the board keeps away from the public. The questioning party continued to request information that the public deserves to know instead of only what they’re given now.
Something more relevant to students however, was a proposal to switch the graduation system from a completion to a mastery system. The student who addressed the issue displayed the lack of fundamental skills students show during school, with online school in particular being more severe. The student mentions that, due to a lack of class time, students are often not able to go over questions they may have missed on an exam, furthering the importance of a mastery class rather than a completion class. The student also brought up possible solutions for funding, exemplifying the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation after they funded a similar program in the past.