72°Overcast

New Preschool Prep Program to Begin at Reston Community Center

A new preschool preparation program is coming to Reston Community Center on Tuesday mornings from Oct. 2 to May 14. Children can attend the free program with a parent or guardian and learn more about the tools, skills, and confidence needed to transition from home to school.

The program is made possible through RCC’s partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, a national program that partners with parents to help children transition to school. Adults will receive training and materials for reading, writing, language, math and motor development. Materials will be available in English and Spanish.

RCC’s executive director Leila Gordon said the program is a “vital resource” for area families. “The transition from home to kindergarten is a big leap into a brand new world. Preschool Prep will take the fear away and make sure that leap has a happy landing,” Gordon said.

During weekly meetings, adults and children will meet a HIPPY instructor to learn new skills and chart progress. Registration is open online.

Sessions will take place between 9:30-10:30 a.m. for three-year-olds. Two slots are offered for four-year-olds between 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. and between 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

File photo

3 Comments

Friday Morning Notes

Kids are first, aren’t they? — Kids R First is back for its 20th anniversary as the Reston-based organization helps public schools kid from Northern Virginia with its school supply distribution program. [The Connection]

The official version of events — “Reston Gateway will greet Silver Line riders with 4.8 million square feet of mixed-use development at the north entrance to the Reston Town Center Metro Station. The Board of Supervisors approved the aptly named new development on July 31 and it marks the first major new development on the north side of this station.” [Fairfax County Government]

Bookmobile is going places — As of yesterday,  Herndon Elementary School’s summer bookmobile has distributed more than 3,500 books to children in Herndon. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

6 Comments

Schools and Future Development Come Under Focus at PRC Workgroup Meeting

(Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:45 p.m. to remove unclear information about the number of total available seats in the South Lakes Pyramid.)

Local citizen representatives pressed county and school officials on how the school system will mitigate the impact of planned and future development on Reston’s public schools Tuesday night.

The meeting, the third in a series on the county’s proposal to increase the community’s population density, highlighted a major obstacle in managing increased school enrollment: limited and uncertain funding to meet future needs.

Kevin Sneed, who oversees design and construction services for the school system, said new development is not expected to generate many students because of the style of new multi-family units.

Two residential buildings recently built in Tysons generated only 21 students, Sneed said. Student enrollment from new residential development in Reston is expected to increase in the next 20-25 years, he said. Meanwhile, the school system must balance the need for renovations at several schools. 

The site for a new high school in the area — especially along the Dulles Suburban Corridor where McNair, Coates and Hutchison Elementary Schools are served — is critical. However, the school system is constrained by lack of funding to purchase a new property. And current plans to mitigate the future impact of development on schools likely will not kick in until development actually takes place, Sneed said.  Development may go live years after it is approved by the county, he said.

Stu Gibson, a former school board member of 16 years, said building capacity only once the students impact the system is a “disturbing” strategy. Gibson said he was concerned that the county is planning for additional residences before the infrastructure is in place to handle additional growth — a mode of operation that he said goes against Reston’s comprehensive plan.

Instead of purchasing land, the county and the school system are relying on proffers from developers and negotiating with applicants to see if land for a new high school can be provided, according to Leslie Johnson, the county’s zoning administrator. So far, those negotiations have been unsuccessful. But talks are underway on the county-level to change the formula used to determine how much developers pay based on the expected impact of the development on area schools.

Others worried that viable land for a new school may be limited, especially when parking lots and aging office parks that could be the site for a future school are redeveloped into mixed-use projects.

Johnson said the county is closely evaluating the impact of each development proposal on fire services, schools, parks and other public infrastructure.

“We are keeping track of the cumulative impact, but, at some point, there will be a trigger for some type of development,” Johnson said.

When and how that trigger comes forward remains unclear.

File photo

10 Comments

Tuesday Morning Notes

Conviction upheld for Reston woman — A federal appeals court upheld convictions and prison sentences of two women, including a Reston resident, for using an internet chat room to raise money for al-Shabab, a Somali militant group. [The Inquirer]

Nearby: Transparency concerns — “School resource officers have become a familiar sight in Fairfax County middle and high schools over the past two decades, but questions about how they should balance their dual role as school administrators and law enforcement officials.” [Fairfax County Times]

Nearby: Lip sync challenge — Local police participate in a lip sync challenge for Bebe Rexha’s song “Mean to Be.” Since it was released late last week, the video has more than 24,000+ views. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo submitted by Gail Crockett

19 Comments

Reston Hospital Center Awards Scholarship to High School Graduates

The medical staff of Reston Hospital Center awarded seventeen area high school graduates with scholarships this year. The awards are given to students to recognize their academic excellence and desire to pursue a career in healthcare.

RHC offers $15,000 in scholarships annually. At an award ceremony hosted by RHC, John Deardorff, President and CEO of RHC and HCA’s Northern Virginia Market, said, “These students are well deserving of the medical staff scholarships as they begin their journeys of exploring careers in the healthcare field. We hope that one day they return to their roots as members of our local medical community.”

The scholarship winners for 2018 are as follows:

  • Natalie Rothrock – Briar Woods High School
  • Jakob Cohen – Broad Run High School
  • Ria Grover – Centreville High School
  • Amara Novotny – Chantilly High School
  • Arman Daneshpayeh – Chantilly High School
  • Agota Banks – Dominion High Schoo
  • Pranavi Palliniti – Dominion High School
  • Yousef Hassan Elgodamy – Herndon High School
  • Minnie Suki Nguyen – Herndon High School
  • Katherine Elizabeth Priester – James Madison High School
  • Yusuf Masser Bade – Langley High School
  • Shreya Dalal – Oakton High School
  • Khanh Nguyen – Park View High School
  • Ashlin Rain Murphy – Potomac Falls High School
  • Tashfia Anaan Emdad – Potomac Falls High School
  • Aishwarya Jadhav – South Lakes High School
  • Ruma S. Jadhav – South Lakes High School

Photo via RHC

0 Comments

Wednesday Morning Notes

Chalk on the water — Unleash your creativity this weekend as Lake Anne Plaza’s ground becomes a canvas for amateur and professional artists alike. [Public Art Reston]

Stateside: June 12 — The primary elections in Virginia and Fairfax County are on Tuesday, June 12. All 243 precincts will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. [Fairfax County Government]

Happening nearby: motorized partitions — “Schools in Fairfax County, Virginia, will be allowed to use motorized panel doors again after a little boy died in a “tragic accident” at his elementary school. Wesley Lipicky was killed on May 18 after he was crushed between a motorized panel and a wall.” [NBC4]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

2 Comment

Former Langston Hughes Middle School Teacher Charged with Indecent Acts with a Child

(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

3 Comments

Black, Hispanic Students Face Higher Suspension Rates in Reston Schools

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

A few years ago, the School Board approved revisions to the district’s disciplinary regulation – Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) – to better align with best practices and reduce suspensions with the goal of keeping students in class by promoting alternative forms of discipline and reducing the length of suspension for certain offenses.  Among the changes: reducing the number of offenses which carry mandated consequences and increasing the focus on school-based interventions.

Suspensions have gone down significantly at the high school level.  Much of this can be attributed to the restorative justice training that administrators received as well as the addition of the Systems of Support Advisor position in all high schools. Out of school suspension declined from 5997 in 2009-2010 to 4103 in 2015-16.

Restorative justice continues to expand as an alternative to suspension for discipline incidents.  Currently, FCPS has five full-time restorative justice facilitators and is working to increase this number as more students are diverted into the program.  Between Sept. 2014 and June 2016, there were 1,086 participants in restorative justice for school discipline.

Restorative justice is a victim-centered process that gives victims a voice about their harm and its effects as well as about terms of repair (including accountability by the offender).  It’s an option not afforded by criminal prosecutions except for impact statements for the most serious crimes. Wider utilization provides some important outcomes to juvenile health in the community, including:

  • lower rate of court involvement and records for first-time offenders, particularly among juveniles of color
  • lower rates of suspension/expulsions in schools, esp. among students of color

One of the beneficial outcomes of restorative justice is an improved relationship between schools and parents of students involved in the discipline process. When compared to the traditional discipline process, parents feel as though the restorative justice approach provides additional transparency because they are fully involved in the process and are given a voice in the outcome, whether their child has been harmed or their child was involved in the harming.

The Alternative Accountability Program  has expanded and is now used countywide by SROs and police for juveniles involved in selected first time criminal activity. The police refer the youth for a restorative justice  conference as an alternative to filing a formal complaint with the court.

In high schools, System of Support Advisors (SOSA) have had significant impact.  SOSAs work closely with youth referred to in-school suspension to determine the cause of referral and prepare students to return to class, reducing repeat offenses.  They observe and work with teachers to help identify triggers and strategies for working with teens who are repeatedly disruptive, and they form relationships with teens and connect youth to other school resources (counselor, psychologist, social worker).

FCPS recognizes and 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.

23 Comments

Fairfax County Supervisors Adopt 2019 Budget

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

12 Comments

Volunteers Needed as School Implements New Salad Bar

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

0 Comments

Local Middle Schoolers Prepare for ‘Odyssey of the Mind’ World Finals

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

2 Comments

Updated: Lockdown Lifted at Three Reston Schools After Police Investigate Report of Student with a Gun

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.

11 Comments

Fairfax County Public Schools Closed Due to Wind Storm

(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.

0 Comments

Dogwood Elementary School Under Consideration for International Curriculum

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.

20 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list