A residential development project that’s stalled for years and would run along Hidden Creek Golf Course is moving forward.
Project leaders with Golf Course Overlook LLC and Golf Course Plaza LLC say they could demolish an office complex that housed a Montessori school, law offices and more.
“We get excited for each and every new development and measure of progress that we come across each day,” said Curt Adkins, vice president of Golf Course Overlook, which is based at the site (11480 Sunset Hills Road).
All of Golf Course Plaza’s tenants have vacated and a crew involved in the project remains at the site.
“We were asked to leave,” attorney JohnPaul Callan of The Callan Law Firm said, noting his office moved to Sterling. “It was probably about two months ago.”
A county database says a demolition permit for the property was processed in March but the permit’s “date issued” status is listed as not available. The county’s Land Development Services department wasn’t immediately able to address a Reston Now message seeking clarity on the matter by the time this article published.
The project was submitted to the county in 2016, put on hold in 2017 and downsized in 2019.
The project has called for constructing a 300-unit residential complex that’s nine stories tall. A rendering shows the project with rectangular building wings meeting into a center that has floor-to-ceiling glass walls on each level for that section.
A hauler or hauling companies to remove the debris could be picked in six weeks, Adkins said.
The developer plans to submit a building permit soon.
Reston Association’s IT director has resigned, an IT committee has no chair and the organization has been working for over a year to upgrade its website.
It comes after Ven Iyer, a former RA board member, raised concerns about information technology issues, noting issues in March that included an email breach of former RA CEO Hank Lynch resulting in a loss of $187,000.
Clara William took on the role in September 2019, but RA spokesman Mike Leone said she resigned last month.
The organization temporarily took down its website in July 2020 and has been using a platform called Squarespace, a website builder that doesn’t require coding. A DropBox — a popular file hosting service — is used to house meeting materials for the public.
“We upgraded the website in July 2020, and it currently resides on SquareSpace,” Leone said in a statement. “It is secure and no member data is housed on that platform so there are no security concerns.”
In late February, the board agreed to have staff create a report by its next board meeting about all IT incidents in the past two years that resulted in the loss of “data, money or website capacity,” costs associated with the incidents and more. The motion said it would be released to members at the earliest date possible.
The board again reviewed the issue in executive session during a June 24 regular meeting, referred “the matter of the website to the IT Committee for review and recommendation” and instructed the association’s CEO to have “staff answer all Board questions” by Aug. 18.
Staff has completed the document but it’s not being made available to the public. Leone said it’s an internal document that addresses website capability and security. It wasn’t immediately clear whether dues-paying RA residents will have access to it. Leone said the IT committee will have access to the questions when they officially meet.
According to RA, it hopes to launch a new website sometime in 2022 but a timeline won’t be set until the IT committee meets.
Meanwhile, Lynch resigned in August. Larry Butler has since been named acting CEO as the search for a permanent CEO continues.
The developer behind Halley Rise, the mixed-use project currently under construction, is now offering more details about amenities: a dog park and an outdoor fitness park.
The parks will be open to the public during daylight hours, and the dog park will have separate sections for small and large dogs, developer Brookfield Properties tells Reston Now.
The combined 4,500-square-foot dog area, just under the size of a basketball court, will also have wooden bridges and other elements for canines, benches for people and water fountains for dogs and their owners.
Meanwhile, the 8,000-square-foot Apex Fitness Park will include Trekfit outdoor equipment such as a cargo net as well as push-up, pull-up and parallel bars.
The over $1 billion complex began construction in October 2019 along Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Park, which will place it next to the forthcoming Reston Town Center Metro station.
The parks are expected to open this fall, the developer says.
Other amenities for the complex include a Wegmans and over four football fields’ worth of retail space.
Parts of the project are slated to open this year and next, including move-ins for The Edmund, a luxury apartment building there, starting in the next few weeks, spokesperson Laura Montross says.
A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors yesterday (Thursday) after a woman reported that he spied on her in a Lake Fairfax campgrounds bathhouse and masturbated.
The Herndon man scaled a cement wall to look at the woman on Oct. 27, 2020 from above while she was using a locked private room with a toilet, shower, and changing area, she said in a victim impact statement to Fairfax County General District Court.
During the incident, the man was in an above-ground area with a cement wall and wooden rafters, according to her statement. The wooden rafters are about 12 feet from a concrete floor, part of an open ceiling, noted police, who responded at Lake Fairfax Park around 7 p.m.
“The defendant’s pants were down to his ankles and he was masturbating while watching me use the toilet and washing up in the changing area,” the woman said in her statement. “When I noticed the defendant was watching me…I started screaming for help.”
The man was vigorously stroking himself, the woman said, and she continued to scream as she exited the bathhouse. He later confirmed to police that he masturbated inside the bathhouse.
“I was afraid during the incident that he might jump down on top of me and sexually assault or rape me,” the woman said.
A police dispatch said the woman exited the bathhouse, and campers surrounded it. When the woman spotted the man exiting, two campers from Reston detained the man, telling him to get on his knees.
When the woman left the restroom, she heard a thump, and the man later told witnesses that he hurt his hand, according to a police report.
An ambulance responded, and the man was taken to a hospital.
The man said in a letter on file with the court that his actions were horrible and “completely unacceptable.”
He apologized and said he has undergone counseling sessions to ensure this kind of incident never happens again.
“My wrist is a constant reminder of my mistake, and the pain and limitations it has resulted in,” he said.
The woman had been using the campgrounds with a tent. After the incident, she bought a used car and decided to leave the area without finalizing plans in an attempt to recover.
The Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had recommended a three-month jail sentence but allowed it to be suspended. They also dropped an indecent exposure charge from Aug. 20, 2020.
The man pleaded guilty to charges of simulated masturbation and peeping. The court sentenced him to one year of probation and required him to continue weekly therapy and receive mental health treatment.
Fairfax County says it has not altered the bathhouse facility or made any procedural changes, such as giving campsite guests who pay to stay there a key to access the bathhouse.
A county spokesperson labeled the case a “unique incident,” adding that that’s not to diminish its “importance or the impact on those who were affected by this behavior.”
Two Lake Anne Plaza restaurants recently paid tribute to the 13 U.S. military service members who died in a suicide attack at the Kabul airport last month.
Café Montmartre and Kalypso’s Sports Tavern joined other restaurants around the world in setting aside tables over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-5) for the men and women, ages 20-31, who were killed during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Both of us decided to do this at the same time in order to allow the many visitors to our plaza to take a moment to reflect on the loss and remember the sacrifices made to help others,” Kalypso’s owner Vicky Hadjikyriakou said, noting that she collaborated with Café Montmartre owner Anh Lee.
The Aug. 26 suicide attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport came amid an urgent evacuation effort after the Taliban seized power and U.S. troops started to leave, ending the country’s 20-year military presence in Afghanistan on Aug. 30.
A regional offshoot for the Islamic State claimed responsibility for two bombings, which occurred at an exterior gate of the airport and a hotel.
More than 100 people died.
Flag-draped transfer cases line the inside of a C-17 Globemaster II Aug. 29, 2021, prior to a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The fallen service members died while supporting non-combat operations in Kabul.
Gone, but never forgotten. pic.twitter.com/7HzJvnFrSD
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) August 29, 2021
Café Montmartre and Kalypso’s decorated the tables that they set aside with small American flags. Kalypso’s placed them in cups of beer along with a sign that said “Reserved for the 13 fallen HEROES.”
“Both of our families emigrated to the United States within the last 50-60 years, with Anh’s family leaving Vietnam in much the same circumstances as those in Afghanistan, so doing this was especially meaningful,” Hadjikyriakou said.
The tables were kept indoors or outdoors all day and evening throughout the holiday weekend. People could also sign their names, give condolences, and share messages that the two restaurants plan to send to the victims’ families through the nonprofit United Service Organizations.
Other businesses across the country and globe have made similar memorials.
“Anh and I wanted to honor those who gave their lives for others, but weren’t quite sure of the best way to do it,” Hadjikyriakou said. “We saw that other establishments had ‘Tables of Honor’ and we decided we would join the hundreds of restaurants across the country ensuring that these men and women were not forgotten over the holiday weekend.”
Regional transportation officials are considering more ways to improve transit along the I-66 corridor, led by a multi-million-dollar proposal to create a new express bus route from Reston to key Arlington County work sites.
The express bus is one of four projects now up for public comment as the Northern Virginia Transit Commission decides what to fund for the latest round of the agency’s I-66 Commuter Choice program, which has $7 million in available funds, according to NVTC senior manager Ben Owen.
These four projects are part of a supplemental fourth round for fiscal year 2022 after the NVTC approved an initial batch of projects last year that was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on I-66 toll revenue, which funds the Commuter Choice program.
The available money includes prior-year carryover that hasn’t been allocated, interest from the funds, and money released back to the commission from past projects that finished, NVTC communications and public affairs manager Matt Friedman said in a statement.
One of two projects proposed by Fairfax County, the new express bus service would connect Fairfax Connector’s Reston South Park and Ride lot with key employment destinations in Arlington County, including the Pentagon and Pentagon City and ending in Crystal City.
The county is seeking $5.1 million to cover two years of operating costs for the service as well as the purchase of six buses.
For its other project, the county has requested $154,000 to reduce Connector fares from $7.50 to $4.25 on the 599 express route from the Reston North Park and Ride to the Pentagon, Pentagon City, and Crystal City Metro stations in Arlington.
The other projects up for public comment come from OmniRide, which is seeking $85,000 to provide $200 per month incentives for new vanpools along I-66, and the Town of Vienna, which has applied for $5 million to design and construct a new Park and Ride lot at the soon-to-be-renovated Patrick Henry Library.
Staff presented a report on the proposed projects to the commission yesterday (Thursday). They recommended funding all of the projects except for the Patrick Henry Park and Ride.
For each round of Commuter Choice funding, NVTC staff give each of the submitted projects a technical score out of 100 that’s based primarily on their potential for reducing congestion, but also takes other factors into account.
The Town of Vienna’s proposal actually received a higher technical score of 56 than Fairfax County’s Reston North fare subsidy idea, which got a score of 44. However, staff said that the Patrick Henry Park and Ride would “exceed the available funding,” pushing the total cost of the projects to $10 million.
“The staff recommendation to fund Fairfax County’s fare buy-down proposal reflects the strong regional interest in fare reduction and equity initiatives,” NVTC staff wrote in their report. “It would also be a low-cost/costeffective means to help rebuild transit ridership in the I-66 Corridor.”
The OmniRide project received the highest score (62), followed by the Reston South express bus service (59).
Excluding the Vienna Park and Ride, the projects would move an additional 250 transit users through the I-66 corridor inside the Capital Beltway each morning when fully implemented, according to NVTC estimates.
The Commuter Choice program allows proposals to be resubmitted for future funding cycles if they’re not approved.
The public comment period runs through Sept. 17. People can participate by filling out a 12-step online form, providing feedback by email and phone, and joining in a virtual town hall this coming Wednesday (Sept. 8).
After the public comment period, NVTC will determine what it wants to fund, but the 17-member Commonwealth Transportation Board will have final approval over which projects are selected.
The commission is scheduled to approve its program on Oct. 7, followed by the CTB vote on Oct. 20.
A newly proposed timeline for Silver Line Phase 2 pushes the date for substantial completion of the project to May 19, 2022, nearly one month later than previously suggested.
The date comes from contractor Capital Rail Constructors and was included in the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s July monthly report, which was finished on Aug. 26 and released on Wednesday (Sept. 1).
Like before, MWAA says in its report that it disagrees with the contractor’s projected “longest path” timeline.
“Based on the remainder of work to be accomplished, the Airports Authority believes that the Substantial Completion date can be accomplished within Q4 2021,” the report says.
The business was contractually obligated to complete the project in August 2019, MWAA spokesperson Marcia McAllister said.
A phase known as Level F testing began this week and could last several weeks, she said. While components work on their own, this process helps ensure that the entire system works together.
“We are in the testing phase of the project, which is very dependent on coordinating and finalizing testing with MWAA and WMATA, including scheduling of the next outage at Wiehle Avenue and the review of test reports,” Keith Couch, project executive for Capital Rail Constructors, said in a statement.
The Wiehle-Reston East Metro station was shut down for a weekend in late June so workers could tie together the Silver Line’s first and second phases, but some tests were not completed over those two days, so another outage is needed.
WMATA says it typically provides information about planned track work about eight weeks in advance. As of today (Friday), no notice about a Wiehle station shutdown has been posted.
While the new timeline extends the substantial completion date from April 21 to May 19, Capital Rail Constructors suggested that the completion could shift to this year.
“While based on the information available at this time our schedule shows a May 2022 substantial completion date, there are opportunities through collaboration with MWAA and WMATA to improve on that date and complete the project by October of this year,” Couch said in the statement.
Matt Letourneau, a Loudoun County supervisor on the WMATA board of directors, said yesterday (Thursday) at a Northern Virginia Transportation Commission meeting that despite the contractor placing the substantial completion date into 2022, the Airports Authority has not changed its fall 2021 timeline.
The $2.8 billion project will extend Metro’s Silver Line from the Wiehle station westward to Ashburn in Loudoun County, adding six new stations along the Dulles Toll Road.
Substantial completion represents the moment when MWAA will be ready to hand the 23-mile extension over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Officials previously expected Metro to take control of the project by Labor Day, but MWAA admitted in early July that it won’t make that deadline.
After the substantial completion, it will still take at least half a year before the line can begin operating publicly, since Metro needs to conduct its own testing, training, and other activities, a WMATA presentation in July noted.
Preliminary construction for Phase 2 began in 2014. It was originally supposed to open in 2018.
Fresh off relocating to a new headquarters, technology business and defense contractor Leidos is adding to its footprint in Reston.
The addition at 11929 Market Street is for an “agile software development factory and cyber operations training center,” the company told Reston Now.
“This continues our investments and growth in Reston/Fairfax County/VA and will bring added high-tech jobs to the area,” Tom Doheny, strategic communications and media relations director, said in a written statement.
Leidos says the move is intended to serve customers’ needs, develop products and services, and act as an annex to its recently completed headquarters at 1750 Presidents Street.
Building, electrical, plumbing, and gas inspections have occurred throughout July and August at the space for office improvements, which also involved an interior demolition permit that Fairfax County issued on Aug. 12.
“RTC’s commercial leasings have always defied, and continue to defy, gravity,” Reston Town Center Association Executive Director Robert Goudie said in a statement. “It speaks, I think, to the compelling live, work, visit proposition that we work so hard to continually extend and enhance. This is a place where leading companies want to be, and for good reason.”
The Fortune 500 company moved to its new headquarters at 17Fifty, a 17-story office building, in March 2020 after previously occupying 11951 Freedom Drive, also in Reston Town Center.
Photo via Google Maps
Fairfax County Public Schools will provide additional compensation for select staff members, particularly bus drivers and special education teachers, and bolster its mental health services, thanks to a new round of federal COVID-19 relief.
The ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) spending plan approved by the Fairfax County School Board on Thursday (Aug. 26) devotes $188.6 million to various expenses tied to keeping schools open and safe during the ongoing pandemic.
The funds will last for three years and came from the American Rescue Plan Act that Congress passed in March.
“We believe our ESSER 3 plan addresses key areas to support schools as they return to in-person instruction from the pandemic as well as increase our focus on serving students and staff in our school division with an equity lens,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement for the board’s meeting last week.
The school board approved the measure almost unanimously. Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin abstained, restating concerns that the spending plan doesn’t contain the level of detail she wanted to ensure adequate oversight.
The multi-year funding covers:
- Nearly $55 million for academic intervention
- $46 million to pay special education teachers more for increased workloads connected with the pandemic and individualized education plans
- $23 million for social and emotional learning needs of students
- Nearly $14 million for after-school programming and transportation
- $10 million for cafeteria, classroom, and outdoor monitors
- $9 million for cybersecurity
- $3 million to increase bus drivers’ starting pay from $19.58 per hour to $22.91
The academic and social and emotional learning categories encompass everything from tutoring support for before and after school programs to mental health materials, technical education, and transportation to school programs on Saturdays.
“Each school will receive funding allocations as well as stipends for academics and wellness,” FCPS said in a news release on Friday (Aug. 27). “The academic and wellness allocations are to be used to directly support students. The amount each school receives is based on its project enrollment and need.”
For academic and wellness-related items, which make up 82% of the allocations, elementary schools are expected to receive about $50,000 to $189,000, middle schools will get $69,000 to $298,000, and high schools can count on around $105,000 to $368,000.
Schools will get similar amounts to address social and emotional learning needs, resulting in about $37 per student.
The plan was designed to give schools flexibility in how they spend their money, while also establishing checks and balances for approving and overseeing the money, according to FCPS.
“All schools will create a plan that outlines how they will use their ESSER III funding to support students’ academics and wellness, and they will post information about their plan on the school website,” FCPS said.
The plan also calls on FCPS to fast track the addition of 10 positions for its English Language Learner programs, which already include 887 positions, 98% of which are teachers, Brabrand noted.
According to the state, $124 million was available as of April 30 for Fairfax County, and the remaining third will become available after FCPS submits a plan to the state due on Wednesday (Sept. 1).
The Commonwealth required school districts to post their plans for using the money within 90 days of receiving the funds. Districts were also required to gather public input, which FCPS did with a hearing on June 7.
The ESSER plan is separate from the year-end budget review that the school board approved during the same meeting on Thursday, which included one-time bonuses for FCPS staff.
The Fairfax County School Board approved bonuses for all public school employees yesterday (Thursday) in a gesture intended thank them for their work during the pandemic.
According to Fairfax County Public Schools, the district had $82.1 million available in its year-end budget review. The school board voted 10-1 to approve the measure with Braddock District Representative Megan McLaughlin opposing and Member-at-Large Abrar Omeish abstaining.
The bonuses will be paid in November and consist of $500 for temporary workers and $1,000 for both full-time and hourly contracted employees.
“$1,000 doesn’t touch the surface. I understand that. I think we all do here,” Springfield District Representative Laura Jane Cohen said at the board meeting.
During a work session on Tuesday (Aug. 24), the board considered giving the same amount to everyone, including some 2,500 substitute teachers, but FCPS staff noted that a person who only worked one day would then be eligible for the higher amount.
The total cost of the one-time bonuses is $32.7 million. The board also approved other revenue adjustments, including $12.2 million for textbooks and nearly $6.6 million in major maintenance projects.
While multiple school board members described the bonuses as “modest,” the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, a union that represents educators and other non-administrative staff, expressed appreciation for the gesture.
This is appreciated and we can’t wait to see what’s possible with collective bargaining. Dignity and respect for all FCPS employees is what’s needed to keep our ranking as a top school district. #PublicSchoolProud #1u #unionproud
— Fairfax County Federation of Teachers (@FCFTcares) August 27, 2021
McLaughlin said before the vote that she supported the bonuses for staff, but she voted against the motion because of one line item involving Food and Nutrition Services computer equipment and software services.
McLaughlin cited concerns over FCPS spending $1.8 million on Food and Nutrition Services, saying it’s meant to be a self-sustaining grant fund that had previously been allocated $10 million.
Omeish said she would abstain from the vote to urge FCPS to adjust how it considers spending money at the end of each budget year.
“What’s left at year-end is not a trivial amount,” she said. “I’m hopeful that in this coming cycle, we can…have a process that is more thorough at the end of the year, one that involves community input or at least more justification around the monies allocated to prevent the rubber-stamping problem.”
Omeish also said that the FCPS equity team should lead from the beginning to address disproportionate needs and properly prioritize such spending.
The board also passed a $188.6 million plan for spending federal COVID-19 stimulus money from its ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) fund. McLaughlin abstained.
The multi-year plan includes funds to pay special education teachers more for increased workloads, to support students’ social and emotional learning needs, for cybersecurity, to increase bus drivers’ starting pay, and to hire cafeteria, classroom, and outdoor monitors, among other expenses.
Faced with challenges from providing affordable housing to mitigating flooding, Fairfax County has its hands full, but it’s currently armed with vacant property assessed at tens of millions of dollars.
Currently tax-exempt, the properties could be used for commercial development, environmental preservation, housing projects, recreation, or stormwater drainage, among other purposes.
“There is a critical shortage of affordable housing options in Fairfax County,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said when asked about what the county should do with its vacant properties.
The total financial value of vacant, county-owned properties exceeds $50 million, as calculated based on a public records request and assessments in an online county database for over 100 parcels that could be used for commercial, residential, or other uses.
It wasn’t immediately clear if other restrictions, such as environmental issues, setbacks, and prior plans, limit the use of those properties.
The $50 million-plus figure includes at least $10 million in assessed property that was listed as vacant but nonbuildable, but it excludes properties in floodplains as well as parcels already in use, such as parking lots, parks, or school areas.
One of the largest vacant property acquisitions is across from the Fairfax County Government Center: a 2.6-acre property bordered by Legato Road and Post Forest Drive that cost around $50 million in 1994. It currently has an assessed value of around $11,450.
“One of the elements of the County’s Housing Strategic Plan is to utilize vacant parcels as well as to repurpose land, such as existing parking lots, to increase the supply of housing,” Foust noted by email.
Created in 2018, the Communitywide Housing Strategic Plan calls on Fairfax County to make vacant or underutilized, publicly owned land available for affordable and mixed-income housing “to expand housing options without direct public financial subsidy” through public-private partnerships.
Currently, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has three such properties that are slated to be developed through public-private partnerships:
- The Oakwood Senior Housing Project, which will provide affordable units for the elderly near Alexandria
- Autumn Willow Senior Housing, a 10.88-acre property near Centreville
- The Route 50/West Ox Affordable Housing Project near Fair Oaks Mall
The county’s more sizable vacant lots include five adjacent properties along South Van Dorn Street in Franconia that occupy around 3.7 acres located near Thomas A. Edison High School.
The county also has a 9.63-acre parcel near the Innovation Center Metro station that will eventually open in Herndon as part of the much-delayed Silver Line extension.
Foust says part of the property includes a community playing field, but its proximity to the Metro station could make it a candidate for future affordable housing.
“Placing affordable housing on the site could be a good use of the land,” he said. “If that came about, the playing field would need to be relocated.”
In McLean, the county has two properties in a residential neighborhood at 7135 and 7139 Old Dominion Drive that have been assessed at a combined $2.06 million. They are slated for a traffic improvement project at the intersection of Old Dominion and Balls Hill Road. The project is currently in the design phase.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a Washington Business Journal story about affordable housing that land is the county’s “single most useful tool.”
“Reallocation of Board-owned property can occur in a number of ways,” McKay said in a statement. “However it is often at the request of a County agency and is followed by an extensive review of the property. Within the last year, the Board was proud to authorize the transfer of two properties to the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the potential creation of affordable housing.”
Photo via Google Maps
A new day care is coming to Reston that will teach kids how to read music, play instruments, and sing.
“The focus is music,” he told Reston Now.
Wininger’s interest in running the day care, which is looking to open on Sept. 27, was inspired by his 20-year-old daughter Madison, who is on the autism spectrum.
When she was 3 or 4, he decided to learn guitar after a developmental pediatrician told him she wouldn’t be able to speak. He thought that couldn’t be true, and he saw his daughter prove the doctor wrong.
The day care will serve kids up to age 6 with music lessons twice a day, both group and individual sessions.
Kids will learn songs to sing and how to play instruments ranging from drums and musical bells to keyboards and guitars. Students can even take some of the smaller instruments home with them, along with accompanying music books.
Research on the childhood development benefits of learning music has been mixed. Some studies question the existence of a connection, while others show positive effects on the social skills of kids as young as 1 and suggest learning music may encourage faster neurodevelopment than other activities.
For Wininger, seeing his own daughters grow and be influenced by music illustrated how perceptive kids can be. His younger daughter, Hope, showed off her drumming skills at age 5, and when Madison was younger, she could only speak a few words, but now, she can’t stop talking and singing.
One of the goals of the Rock and Roll Daycare program is for children to be able to read music fluently. Unique to Wininger’s locations will be a multicultural program where kids learn to sing songs from different countries each month in the original languages.
“I want this to be the…’it takes a village’ feel,” he said of the Reston day care, which features a main room, six enclosed rooms, restrooms, and an office.
Rock and Roll Daycare was started in 2012 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by two musicians and is now moving to expand across the country with upcoming sites in New York, Indiana, and Texas, along with Wininger’s Virginia locations.
Wininger plans to limit electronic devices in his day cares to what is needed for staff. He also doesn’t want his locations to be limited by the day care environment.
He envisions additional programming, from concerts to date nights for parents, and wants to make use of his drumming and guitar skills for the day care and additional outreach. The kid-focused band Rocknoceros from Fairfax will perform at the Reston site on Sept. 28.
The cost per child will be $2,400 per month, which is higher than usual to retain staff, Wininger says, noting that candidates with education and musical experience are gravitating toward the openings. The day care is planning to hire two employees for every eight kids.
“We’re Montessori-inspired by the way we teach education,” Wininger said.
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The Herndon Police Department is investigating a stabbing in the 1000 block of Elden Street.
A man may have a weapon, police said on Twitter just before 9:30 a.m. today (Thursday). He was initially described as 6 feet, 1 or 2 inches, but that was later revised to 5 feet, 8 or 10 inches.
He was seen wearing an olive baseball cap and a dark shirt with a grey backpack with a blue trim.
The man was last seen heading toward Alabama Drive, police said.
According to an 11 a.m. update, police said that the stabbing occurred at the end of a verbal argument between two men. The victim was transported to Reston Hospital and is now in stable condition.
Herndon Middle School, which is just down the road from where the incident took place, went into lockdown, but the measure was lifted around 11 a.m.
“Our officers have been in constant communication with all of the schools in the area from the start of this incident,” the Herndon Police Department said. “They were given appropriate instructions for lockdown.”
INCIDENT ALERT: Officers are in the 1000-blk of Elden St investigating a stabbing. Subject is described as H/M 6’1-6’2, olive baseball cap, dark shirt, grey backpack w blue trim. Subject may still be armed. FFX1 is overhead. Updates as available. #herndonpd pic.twitter.com/0mUGQCCqts
— Herndon Police (@HerndonPolice) August 26, 2021
Fairfax County Public Schools is considering providing $1,000 bonuses to its employees, along with a base pay increase for bus drivers.
FCPS administrators and the school board discussed the potential compensation boosts during a work session yesterday (Tuesday), when they also debated how to spend and oversee $189 million in federal COVID-19 relief money.
As part of its fiscal year 2021 budget review, the district could use $32.7 million for one-time bonuses to employees, which is unrelated to the relief money. A retention strategy similar to bonuses given to county government workers, the bonuses would be $1,000 for contracted employees and $500 for 3,352 hourly workers.
A vote on the budget review is scheduled for the school board’s meeting tomorrow (Thursday). If approved, the bonuses would be paid in November, according to FCPS staff.
Springfield District School Board Representative Laura Jane Cohen raised concerns about the proposed gap between what full-time and temporary staff would receive.
“I would argue that there is no way in the world we could have gotten through last year and now even more with folks being quarantined [without substitute teachers],” Springfield District representative Laura Jane Cohen said.
The discrepancy led the school board to consider whether temporary staff could also get $1,000. Those workers include some 2,500 substitute teachers as well as other workers, such as coaches and dining room assistants, but someone who worked one day would also be eligible, according to Sean McDonald, interim assistant superintendent with the Department of Human Resources.
During their work session, the school board also discussed plans for the ESSER III money (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) that FCPS got from the $1.9 trillion stimulus that Congress passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act this spring.
The ESSER III fund is intended to help FCPS respond to pandemic-related issues and will run from this current school year through June 2024. The proposed spending plan covers increased workloads for Individualized Education Program (IEP) staff, addresses students’ social and emotional needs, and supports other school operations.
FCPS staff also pitched allocating nearly $3.3 million to increase bus drivers’ pay, citing a need to stay competitive with surrounding school districts.
“I believe our labor market is fundamentally restructuring before our eyes right now,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said.
He said the ESSER III money could raise the minimum pay of the district’s 325 bus drivers to “step six,” or around $23 or $24 per hour. Faced with a shortage of drivers, FCPS is currently offering a starting salary of $19.58 an hour to new drivers, along with a $2,000 signing bonus.
Braddock District representative Megan McLaughlin expressed disappointment with the ESSER III spending plan, saying she wanted more information on how staff came up with the dollar amounts for each line item.
“I’m sitting here in shock,” McLaughlin said. “…There’s no way I’m voting for this on Thursday, and here’s why. At some point, this board has got to demonstrate where we stand on our fiduciary responsibility.”
FCPS has proposed spending the money based on four categories:
- Address learning deficits
- Provide for students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs
- COVID-19 prevention and mitigation strategies
- Other uses, such as technology, communication, translators, interpreters, project management, and transportation
Those will help give individual schools flexibility in how to spend their money with FCPS providing oversight.
“The flexibility is there so a school with those needs can shift the funds and resources as approved by the region to take care of those specific needs,” said Mark Greenfeld, assistant superintendent of the Department of School Improvements and Supports.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge dismissed a case today (Friday) that sought to recall Dranesville District School Board Representative Elaine Tholen.
Tholen’s legal team had argued against letting the case continue in court, which came after a parents’ group called Open FCPS Coalition collected and submitted over 5,000 signatures to protest school closures during the pandemic.
“Citizens who disagree with elected officials’ policy choices should vote for someone else in the next election, not ask courts to yank them from office,” Tholen’s legal team previously argued in seeking to dismiss the case.
The group, which has received funding in part from a former Republican gubernatorial candidate and a nonprofit committed to with center-right policy advocacy, voiced opposition to how the school board handled the closures. A petition submitted to court argued that keeping schools closed hurt children with disabilities the most.
The legal team for Tholen, who represents Dranesville District, argued in part that the lawsuit contained “no allegations that comes close to showing that Tholen acted with ‘wilful,’ ‘evil’ or ‘corrupt’ intent.”
“We are very pleased that the Court dismissed this case and saw it for what it was – an attempt by a small number of people to substitute their judgment for that of the full elected School Board,” a Fairfax County School Board spokesperson said in a statement. “We look forward to a full, five-day schedule of in-person classes starting next week.”
Democrats weighed in on the matter Friday.
“Republican operatives are leading these so-called ‘bi-partisan’ groups seeking to overturn the democratic election of our officials,” Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Bryan Graham said in a statement Friday afternoon. “The pandemic has caused a difficult situation for all of us, and our school board has done a tremendous job balancing the need to keep our community safe while serving the education needs of our students” and more.
Statement from FCDC Chair @BryanGrahamVA on the Failed Attempt to Overturn the 2019 Election of Elaine Tholen
⬇️READ NOW⬇️ pic.twitter.com/JceVbl6Eq5
— Fairfax Democrats (@FairfaxDems) August 20, 2021
Del. Marcus Simon, a Democrat whose office covers part of Fairfax County, called the dismissal a signal that recall efforts are a waste of time and resources. He said on Twitter that the “statute is being misused to frivolously harass elected officials by a small minority” of constituents.
Open FCPS Coalition had also been collecting signatures to recall two other school board members, Member-at-Large Abrar Omeish and Springfield District Representative Laura Jane Cohen. The group previously said those members were chosen because those representatives gathered the least amount of votes, which lowered the amount of signatures needed to file recall efforts.
When it submitted the petition for Tholen on July 19, Open FCPS Coalition said only one school board member, Megan McLaughlin, advocated for reopening in a way that it felt was consistent and a priority.
The petition required that a special prosecutor to handle the case. Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley of Albemarle County was appointed to that role on Aug. 10.
“[Hingeley] concluded that he could not prosecute the recall petition because it did not have a sufficient basis to move forward,” the school district said in a statement. “So, he moved to dismiss the petition and the judge granted the motion to dismiss.”
In a statement, Open FCPS derided Hingeley’s decision to request a dismissal as evidence of politics being put ahead of children’s well-being.
“It is a shame that the voices of thousands of parents have been silenced by a Commonwealth’s Attorney, who just like the School Board, is more interested in politics than the wellbeing of our kids,” Open FCPS Coalition founder Dee O’Neal said. “Hingeley chose special interests over parents and children who deserved representation.”
In a statement, Tholen called the legal case “an ordeal” but said she was glad she could now focus her attention on the students who will return for five days a week of in-person learning on Monday (Aug. 23).
“I am excited to say, we have over 180,000 students starting school next week. Those students need our full attention to keep them safe and to give them the best education possible,” she said. “They are still suffering in a pandemic, just like the rest of us. Please, let us put these divisive events behind us and work together to give our students the positive, undivided attention they deserve.”