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by RestonNow.com May 15, 2018 at 1:30 pm 3 Comments

(Updated May, 16 at 12:37 p.m. with a new photo) A former teacher in Reston who won educator of the year was charged with indecent acts with a child.

Timothy Threlkeld taught technology and engineering at Langston Hughes Middle School, according to the Washington Post, which broke the story this afternoon.

Search warrants obtained by The Post indicate that authorities began investigating Threlkeld in 2014. That same year, he was honored by the Virginia Technology and Engineering Education Association as its middle school teacher of the year. According to the association, he worked at the middle school for eight years.

One of his students told police that he gave her kisses and hugs. Additional interviews with the victim revealed that “put his hand down her pants and touched her private parts… [and] forced her to touch his penis,” according to The Post.

The teacher was arrested in November 2017, according to the report. No online notices of his arrest appear online. 

He will stand trial in August, according to the Post.

Photo via FCPD

by Fatimah Waseem May 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm 23 Comments

Consistent with national trends, black and Hispanic students are suspended at higher rates than their white peers in Reston schools.

Discipline disparities are especially prevalent at the high school and middle school level, according to federal data released by the U.S. Department of Education in late April.

In Fairfax County Public Schools, 40 percent of students are white, 25 percent are Hispanic, and 10 percent are black. But in-school and out-of-school suspensions are higher for black and Hispanic students. The dataset includes information for the 2015-2016 school year on more than 96,000 public schools.

Black students comprise 23 percent of total in-school suspensions and 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions. Similarly, Hispanic students comprise 41 percent of total in-school suspensions and 35 percent of total out-of-school suspensions.

White students, on the other hand, comprised 22 percent of in-school suspensions and 24 percent of out-school suspensions.

At South Lakes High School, black students are about twice as likely as white students to be suspended. They comprise just 13 percent of the total student population but account for nearly 35 percent of all in-school suspensions and nearly 37 percent of all out-of-school suspensions.

Disparities are evident among the Hispanic population at Herndon High School, where Hispanic students make up 39 percent of the total student population, but account for 64 percent of in-school suspensions and 54 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

In a statement to Reston Now, FCPS spokesman John Torre said the school system is concerned about the “disproportionality in school discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates between white children and children of color and is addressing those concerns by promoting and utilizing these alternative forms of discipline.”

At Herndon Middle School, Hispanic students, who make up 40 percent of the student population, accounted for 73 percent of in-school suspensions and 76 percent of out-of-school suspensions. White students made up 34 percent of the student population and accounted for 10 percent of in-school suspensions and 5 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

For black students, who make up 8 percent of the student population, disparities were not as evident. Black students accounted for 7 percent of in-school suspensions and just under 5 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

Major disparities were not as pervasive at Hughes Middle School, where 42 percent of students are white, 15 percent are black, and 26 percent are Hispanic.

White students comprised 8 percent of in-school suspensions and 14 percent of out-of of school suspensions. Black students comprised 27 percent of in-school suspensions and 28 percent of out-of-school suspensions. Suspensions for Hispanic students were in-line with their demographic makeup.

At the elementary school level, fewer overall suspensions were reported. Overall, racial disparities were also not as evident as they were in the middle and high school level.

Data in Fairfax County are in line with national trends. In 2015, 31 percent of students referred to police were black, even though they comprised 15 percent of the total school population. White students comprised about half of all students but only made up 36 percent of student police referrals.

Read FCPS’ entire response after the jump.

File photo via Karen Raffel

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by RestonNow.com May 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm 12 Comments

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors officially adopted the proposed FY 2019 budget at their meeting last week on May 1.

Among the highlights of the new budget include an increase in the real estate tax, and increased funding for schools, including teacher salaries.

Homeowners can expect a two-cent increase in the annual real estate tax, from the current $1.13 per $100 of assessed home value to $1.15.

Supervisors said this will result in an average increase of $241 per year for homeowners, and a revenue increase of $49.3 million for the county.

“I believe the additional revenue is an important investment needed to shore up the foundation on which our quality of life in Fairfax County rests,” Chairman Sharon Bulova said in recorded comments on the county website.

The new budget also includes increased funding for Fairfax County schools by $91.49 million, or 4.22 percent over the previous year.

“The package fully funds the school board’s request, bringing teacher salaries into competitive alignment with our sister jurisdictions in the region,” Bulova said. “Again, 52.8 percent of our general fund budget [will be] going to the schools.”

Of the additional $91.49 million, $53 million of that will be dedicated to teacher salary scale increases, according to the county website.

“It is anticipated that the FCPS FY 2019 Advertised Budget will remain fully funded, with increased state revenues,” county documents explain. “This includes projected cost increases related to updated enrollment information.”

Bulova said the increased funding will also allow for a 2.25-percent market rate adjustment for county employees, as well as allow for performance, merit and longevity increases.

The approved budget also provides funding for many early childhood education programs, gang prevention and opioid addiction intervention, as well as an increase in funding for Metro “pending a long-term solution,” she said.

The county’s “Diversion First” program will also receive funding. Diversion First offers alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities, who come into contact with the criminal justice system for low level offenses.

Other small tax and fee increases for basic services include:

  • Trash/Refuse Collection and Disposal – Annual collection fees will increase by $5, from the current $345 to $350. Annual disposal fees will increase by $2 from the current $64 to $66.
  • Sewer Fees – Annual sewer service fees will increase from $6.75 per 1,000 gallons to $7. Annual base service charges will increase from $27.62 per quarter to $30.38.
  • Stormwater Services – The district tax rate will increase from $0.0300 to $0.0325 per $100 of assessed value.

One area in which fees will decrease is the Phase I Dulles Rail Transportation Improvement district tax rate, which will go down from 15 cents to 13 cents per $100 of assessed value, thanks to a recommendation by the Phase I District Commission.

The county produced a video on its annual budget is formed and adopted for interested residents.

File Photo: Sharon Bulova

by RestonNow.com May 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm 0

Hunters Woods Elementary in Reston will add a new, fresh salad bar to its daily lunchtime offerings on Wednesday this week.

Fairfax County Public Schools is partnering with the organization Real Food For Kids to bring fresh salad bars to all 141 elementary schools. School officials said they are gradually rolling them out, at a rate of around 30 schools per year for the next four years. The first schools received salad bars during the 2016-17 school year.

The Hunters Woods PTA described what the salad bar will be like and how it will fit in with current lunch offerings in a letter to families recently:

“Students will be able to go through the salad bar to get fresh fruits, vegetables, lettuce, proteins and other toppings. Students can purchase a stand-alone meal if they would like to get their fruits, vegetables, and protein from the salad bar, or they could get a hot entrée and a pretzel from the lunch line to accompany fruit and vegetable selections from the salad bar.”

The salad bar is scheduled to open this Wednesday, May 2, and the school’s PTA says volunteers are needed during the first two weeks to help ensure a smooth debut, and show students how to utilize it. Available volunteers can contact the school for details on how to help at 703-262-7400.

Photo: Fairfax County Public Schools

by RestonNow.com April 23, 2018 at 2:30 pm 2 Comments

A seven-member team from Langston Hughes Middle School has advanced to the final round of the Odyssey of the Mind contest, an international educational competition that aims to develop creative problem-solving.

Students apply creativity by solving problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting an interpretation of literary classics.

The team won second place in the Virginia State Tournament this month, qualifying them for the 39th annual world finals. The championship takes from on May 23 through May 26 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

As the team prepares for the competition, it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $14,000 to finance the journey, which includes expenses for housing, tournament registration and travel.

In March, the team won first place at the regional competition at Thomas Jefferson High School, where they were challenged to present a humorous, documentary-style performance based on a classic.

Photo via Kris Gabor

by Fatimah Waseem March 9, 2018 at 1:20 pm 11 Comments

A lockdown at South Lakes High School, Terraset Elementary School and Langston Hughes Middle School around 12:40 p.m.was lifted earlier today, according to a Fairfax County Public Schools spokeswoman.

Local police receive a report that a student with a gun was at South Lakes High School this afternoon. Police said the report was false and lifted the lockdown around 1:13 p.m.

School officials said the situation was resolved in a peaceful and quick manner.

Hughes Middle School’s lockdown, which went into effect around 1 p.m., was lifted at 1:12 p.m. All classes resumed as normal by 1:25 p.m., according to the school’s principal, Aimee Monticchio.

“Staff and students did a great job responding to a very delicate situation,” Monticchio said.

Some parents said the school system did not inform parents and guardians of the lockdown quickly enough.

Parents at South Lakes High School, where the lockdown occurred for 27 minutes, received an email about the three lockdowns at 1:21 p.m.

Here’s more information from social media:

This story has been updated.

by Fatimah Waseem March 2, 2018 at 5:00 am 0

(Updated at 6:05 a.m.) The strongest windstorm in years is sweeping through the region, causing major problems on roadways, widespread power outages, and closures.

Earlier this morning, Fairfax County Public Schools announced they will be be closed today. Metro is operating at slower speeds above ground and Metro’s Rush Hour Promise will not be in effect today.

The dangerously high winds have left “all types of debris” on roadways in the county, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. The high wind warning is in effect until 6 a.m., with the strongest gusts expected in the middle of the day.

The National Weather Services advises all residents to remain in doors and away from windows.

by Fatimah Waseem November 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm 20 Comments

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, which offers a trans-disciplinary framework could come to Dogwood Elementary School (12300 State Route 4721) soon.

The school has been named a candidate for the program, effective March 1 2018, according to a new release issued by the school system. According to the program’s website, IB classes aim to nurture and develop students between 3 and 12 into “caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.”

Two years ago, Belvedere Elementary School (6540 Columbia Pike) was the first Fairfax County public school authorized as an IB PYP school.

According to the school system, schools selected to participate in the program are driven by a common vision: a commitment to high-quality, challenging and international education.

The school will receive on-and-off-site consultation from the program. Teachers will have access to IB’s online curriculum center, which includes teaching materials and participation in online forums. Since its introduction in 1997, the program is taught in over 109 countries around the world. Students are encouraged to strengthen their knowledge and skills across and beyond subject areas. Studies are guided by six themes of global significance.

For more information, contact the school’s principal, Mie Devers.

File photo.

by Fatimah Waseem November 8, 2017 at 9:00 am 1 Comment

Fairfax County School Board to Discuss  School Calendar — The board will review three options to change the school calendar for next year on Monday, Nov. 13. Changes include several options for the first day of school and the selection of the length of winter break and early release days. Proposed changes can be found on the school system’s website. For more information, contact the school system’s community relations and communication office at 571-423-1200. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Federal Capital Partners To Sell Amazon Web Services Building in Herndon — The landlord has hired a firm to market the One Dulles Tower, a 400,000 square foot building for sale. The company purchased the building for $80 million in 2015. [Washington Business Journal]

Event to Highlight Crash Management Efforts in Northern Virginia — Virginia’s transportation department will show how multiple agencies and jurisdictions work together to clear incidents on the state’s roads on Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. The event, which will be held at the department’s Northern Virginia District Office (4975 Alliance Drive), is the first open house in Northern Virginia that will feature a simulated crash scene and indoor technology exposition. For more information, visit the department’s webpage. [Virginia Department of Transportation]

Herndon High School Theatre Presents ‘Twelfth Night’ —  William Shakespeare’s holiday comedy will be performed on Nov. 10, 11, 16 and 17  from 7:30 – 10 p.m. Timings for Nov. 12 and Nov. 18 are between 2 and 4:30 p.m. Parental guidance is recommended, as the performance is not suitable for audience members under the age of thirteen. Tickets, which are $12 for adults and $6 for students, can be purchased on the theatre’s website. Performances will take place in Herndon High School’s auditorium (700 Bennett St.). [Herndon High School Theatre]

Sobriety Check Set for Friday — Officers from the Reston District Station will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint in the area this Friday. A first-time DUI offense can result in fines ranging from $250 to $2,500 and a one-year license suspension. Individuals arrested with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 or higher must spend at least five days in jail. [Fairfax County Police]

File photo.

by Fatimah Waseem November 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 13 Comments


Despite the downpour of rain on Tuesday, a steady stream of voters cast their votes at Armstrong Elementary School in Reston. As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 209,223 residents of Fairfax County voted in Virginia’s election.

The state is only of of two in the United States with statewide elections this year. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam are vying for governor in what is expected to be a narrow contest, according to The New York Times. Libertarian Cliff Hyra is also running.

In the last election in 2013, turnout rested at 46.8 percent. With a little more than four hours before polls close, turnout this year sits at 30.6 percent, according to the county.

A record number of absentee ballots were cast this year, according to Fairfax County officials. More than 41,000 Virginians participated in early voting, up by roughly 61 percent from voting in 2013. Absentee voting was up in every jurisdictions in Virginia, except three, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit organization that provides information about local politics.

There are more than 684,041 active registered voters in Fairfax County. Throughout the day, voters trickled in at various polling sites throughout Reston and Fairfax County. By 10 a.m., nearly 16 percent or roughly 109,000 of registered voters already casted their ballot.

All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election. Fifty-five of those seats are contested.

Reston’s current Delegate, Democrat Ken Plum, is running without opposition in this election. Plum is currently serving his 36th year as the local Delegate for the 36th District, which includes Reston. Prior to his political appointment, he served for roughly 20 years as a public school teacher and administrator. Plum recently commented on his unopposed race for re-election in his weekly commentary.

Two candidates, Republican Jill Vogel and Justin Fairfax are running to replace Ralph Northam as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, a role which often presides over the State Senate, and has the power to break tie votes. The race for attorney general is between the current attorney general, Democrat Mark Herring, and his opponent, Republican John Adams.

The Board of Supervisors has asked residents to approve the sale of $315 million in bonds. If approved, the county has published a list of school improvement projects they would use the money to pay for.

The American Civil Liberties Union received multiple reports from Virginia voters who said that they received calls falsely saying their polling place had changed. The civil liberties organization advised voters to confirm polling locations at elections.virginia.gov and report any issues by calling the organization at 804-644-8080.

Polling stations are open through 7 p.m. Results can be viewed live at VPAP’s website or on the Fairfax County Government website.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

by Dave Emke October 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Three elementary schools in Herndon are part of a group of schools that have “adopted” a Houston-area school district recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Region 5 — which includes Coates, Floris and McNair elementary schools in Herndon — is raising money to support Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas. According to information provided by Coates Elementary:

As you are well aware, our nation has recently been impacted by devastating hurricanes in Texas and Florida. We have seen, and been deeply moved by, the images and footage showing this devastation and the impact it is having on families and children. Many FCPS parents, students, and staff have been asking themselves and each other, “How can I help? What can WE do to ease the suffering?” So we decided to start a fundraiser focused on helping schools and students!

Region 5, part of Fairfax County Public Schools, in Northern Virginia will “adopt” the Fort Bend Independent School District in Houston, Texas. Fort Bend ISD serves approximately 74,500 students from very diverse backgrounds which makes them a great match for us.

We are asking all Region 5 schools, made up of nearly 34,000 students, to team up and raise money to help children, families, and schools in Texas. We are a community of learners, and we are committed to supporting learning and families in our nation’s community.

A GoFundMe page set up for the effort shows a little over $7,000 has been collected as of Monday. The fundraiser has a $100,000 goal, according to the page.

Fort Bend ISD’s website reports that numerous schools in the district suffered flood damage during Harvey, and free meals and other services are being provided for students who are homeless or displaced as a result of the storm.

FCPS public information officer John Torre said while he isn’t aware of any similar projects taking place from other FCPS regions, there are other individual schools that have initiated their own hurricane relief efforts.

by Dave Emke September 21, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Food Collection Helps Herndon Students — Nonprofit organization Food for Neighbors collected food on a recent Saturday at Plaza America, with items collected going to students in need at several county locations, including Herndon middle and high schools. The program is working to add other schools, including South Lakes High School, to its efforts. [Fairfax County Times]

County Task Force Rides Out Maria — Virginia Task Force One, Fairfax County’s elite urban search and rescue team, has been busy this past month assisting with efforts following hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They were scheduled to go to Mexico to help following this week’s earthquake there, but instead find themselves waiting out Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. [WJLA]

Metro Lines Slow This Weekend — Work west of Foggy Bottom means the Orange, Blue and Silver lines are only scheduled to run every 24 minutes this weekend. The Silver Line will only run between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston. [WTOP]

New FCPS Superintendent Talks About Goals — Dr. Scott Brabrand says there’s work to be done in the district, including diversifying the workforce and scaling back demands on teachers. [Washington Post]

by Dave Emke September 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm 37 Comments

The ballot for November’s Virginia election in Fairfax County includes the question of the $315 million public schools bonds referendum.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted in July to advance to question to the ballot. Absentee voting begins Friday, Sept. 22. Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 7.

According to information provided by Fairfax County, the bond funding would be used to:

  • Plan and/or construct two new elementary schools
  • Relocate one modular building
  • Plan additions at three existing high schools (Madison, Stuart and West Potomac) to add capacity
  • Plan and/or construct renovations of 10 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools

One of the most expensive items on the list of projects to be funded is construction at Langston Hughes Middle School, for which more than $41 million would be budgeted. Another $1.3 million is on the list for planning renovations at Fox Mill Elementary School.

Click here for the full list of projects included.

The wording of the yes/no question is:

Shall Fairfax County, Virginia, contract a debt, borrow money, and issue capital improvement bonds in the maximum aggregate principal amount of $315,000,000 for the purposes of providing funds, in addition to funds from school bonds previously authorized, to finance, including reimbursement to the County for temporary financing for, the costs of school improvements, including acquiring, building, expanding and renovating properties, including new sites, new buildings or additions, renovations and improvements to existing buildings, and furnishings and equipment, for the Fairfax County public school system?

The sale of municipal bonds is a form of long-term borrowing that spreads the cost of major capital improvements over the years facilities are used. This method of financing ensures that current and future users help pay for the improvements. If approved, these bonds will probably be sold to large investment banking syndicates that will have to competitively bid for them. Once bought, they are typically resold to financial institutions, which then sell them to investors.

Also on the ballot will be the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates. To find your polling place, visit the Virginia Department of Elections website.

Image courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

by Dave Emke August 30, 2017 at 9:00 am 4 Comments

Karen Keys-Gamarra Wins School Board Seat — The candidate, backed by the Democratic party, received nearly 64 percent of the 70,198 votes cast (10.4 percent voter turnout). In the Hunter Mill District, Keys-Gamarra took almost 72 percent of the vote. The At-Large term to which she was elected runs through 2019. [Fairfax County/Karen Keys-Gamarra]

D.C. Congresswoman Calls for Metro Board to Step Down — U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), ranking member of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), has called on current members of Metro’s Board of Directors to resign to make way for the smaller five-member temporary board recommended by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. [Eleanor Norton]

FCPS Changing Policy on Teachers Who Admit Sexual Transgression — Dr. Scott Brabrand, the new superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, says FCPS will more promptly notify state officials about teachers who admit sex offenses to ensure those teachers are unable to find teaching positions in other school districts. [NBC Washington]

New Local Platform Matches Families with NanniescNanny, a hyperlocal web platform that matches families with nannies, is launching in McLean, Vienna, Falls Church, Tysons Corner and Reston. [McLean Patch]

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