Tuesday Morning Notes

Cops May Have Been Exposed to Data Breach — “Officials say a possible data breach may have compromised the personal information of more than 500 employees of a Virginia police department. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. told the Washington Post that he doesn’t have any reports that officers’ personal information has been exploited.” [FOX 5]

Home Burglary Reported on Vernon Drive — Police are investigating a burglary at a home on the 9400 block of Vernon Drive on Nov. 15 and stole personal property. [Fairfax County Police Department]

FCPS Wins First Place in Virginia Energy Efficiency Competition — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been awarded first place in the academic category of the 2019 Virginia Energy Efficiency Leadership Awards, sponsored by the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council. The awards showcase how organizations across Virginia save money on energy bills while reducing energy consumption and stimulating job growth and the economy.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Photos: Langston Hughes Middle School Renovation Targets 2021 Completion

The $39 million renovation of Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road) could be completed as early as August 2021.

The project, which began earlier this year, is in the first phase of construction. So far, the parking lot and bus loop were partially completed of the summer.

Originally constructed in 1979, the expanded school is set to be 189,000 square feet and serve 1,250 students, according to Hughes Group Architects. Fairfax County Public Schools officials estimate the project will be mostly completed by August 2021. 

The first phase of the project, which runs through December 2020, will include a two-story addition with an administration office, library, science and technology classrooms, communications and electrical rooms, as well as parking and other site work.

The second phase, which runs from January 2020 through December 2020, will improve the north entry point, renovation classrooms, and create a lecture hall and collaborative space. Demolition of the existing library and the north entry area is planned.

The final phase of the project, which runs through January 2021 through August 2021, will include upgrades to the performing arts and drama area, the gym, and locker rooms.

The project includes a central court called the “Hall of Nations” — a collaborative and flexible space meant to serve as an auditorium, a classroom or a breakout space.

Photos via FCPS

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Thursday Morning Notes

Local Schools Recognized for Excellence in Web Content — “Fairfax County Public Schools has recognized ten school websites for excellence in web design and use of web-based tools in the 2019 Best of the Web Awards.  Winners were recognized at this year’s Web Curators conference.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

County Executive, FCPS Superintendent Discuss Budget, Collaboration — The county’s latest edition of “Connect with County Leaders,” a podcast, features County Executive Bryan Hill and Superintendent Scott Braband of Fairfax County Public Schools. [Fairfax County Government]

Reston Artist Unveils Newest Mural in Falls Church  Reston artist Dana Scheurer is known for her many commissions and installations, among them “The Midtown Community Mural” on New Dominion Parkway in Reston Town Center, Public Art Installation — Bicycle Racks at Walker Nature Center, and Lobby Installations — The Jordan in Arlington, AHC Inc. Baltimore office, The Serrano, Jackson’s Crossing and The Woodbury Apartments, according to the artist’s website.” [The Connection]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

State Democrats Take Control of State Legislatures — “Virginia Democrats continued their winning streak under President Trump on Tuesday and took full control of the statehouse for the first time in more than two decades. Suburban voters turned out in big numbers to back Democratic candidates, continuing a trend of once GOP-friendly suburbs turning blue. This is the third election in a row in which Democrats made significant gains since Trump was elected.” [Associated Press]

Reston Town Center Ice Rink to Open on Friday — The public ice skating rink will open on Friday (Nov 8). Access is $10 for adults, $9 for youth under 11, and skate rentals are $6. [Reston Town Center]

Edison Academy to Host Apprenticeships and Skilled Workforce Fair — “High school students and recent graduates interested in the construction-related trades, service industries, manufacturing, and information technology are invited to attend the Apprenticeships and Skilled Workforce Career Fair on Thursday, November 7, at Edison Academy. The fair is designed to encourage interest among high school students and recent graduates in the in-demand skilled career fields that are attainable through two-year degree programs, certifications, apprenticeships or on-the-job training.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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In Landslide Victory, Meren Win Hunter Mill District School Board Seat

Melanie Meren, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, easily won the Hunter Mill District seat on the Fairfax County School Board.

With a little over 69 percent of the vote, Meren overtook her opponent, Laura Ramirez Drain, as of 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 6). According to unofficial election returns, 27 of the 28 precincts reported results. 

Meren has described herself as a “Fairfax County parent leader” who wants to promote strong education. Drain’s campaign focused on the family life education curriculum, school boundaries and the FCPS budget.

Earlier in January, Hunter Mill District representative Pat Hynes said she would not seek re-election.

Voters also ceremoniously ushered in former Planning Commissioner Walter Alcorn, the Democratic candidate for the Hunter Mill District Supervisor seat, Tuesday night. Alcorn, who won the Democratic primary, faced no candidate from any other party.

Democrat Steve Descano won the Commonwealth’s Attorney position in Fairfax after ousting current Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrough in the June primary.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust (D) retained his position on the county board, which he has held since 2007, as well, defeating Republican opponent Ed Martin.

Photo via Melanie Meren

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Planning Funds Sought for New ‘Silver Line’ Elementary School

As phase two of the Silver Line opens early next year, Fairfax County Public Schools are looking to secure funds to begin planning for a new elementary school near the Silver Line.

On Tuesday, Nov 5., voters will consider a bond referendum for $2 million in planning funds for the project.

A site for the new school has not been finalized. A spokesperson for FCPS also declined to release the pyramid the school would be located in until a location has been selected.

“Fairfax County Public Schools is collaborating closely with Fairfax County land use and government staff to identify sites,” said Lucy Caldwell, the school system’s director of news and information.

Developer Pomeroy/Clark LLC plans to dedicate six acres of land for the school — a condition of approval for the developer’s mixed-use project at the intersection of Sunrise Valley Drive and Frying Pan Road.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the project in June, which includes 2 million square feet of residential uses and an elementary school in five separate land bays spread over 44 acres.

The plan depicts a five-story, 135,000-square-foot elementary school — details that are contingent on the future approvals of the final development plan for the school and pending discussions between the school system and land use staff. 

The applicant worked closely with Fairfax County Public Schools on the site design to ensure that adequate parking, bus circulation, and recreation space can be provided for the school,” according to the county. 

School renovations and construction projects are financed through the approval of bonds.

File photo

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Fairfax County Schools Look to Hire More Bus Drivers

Fairfax County Public Schools are looking to hire more bus drivers.

To date, the system has 80 openings for bus drivers, according to a recent release.

A job fair is set for Wednesday, Nov. 13 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Gerry Hyland Government Center (8350 Richmond Highway) in Alexandria.

In order to qualify to work as a bus driver with FCPS, applicants must be at least 21 years old; have a good driving record; pass a physical exam, drug screening, and background check; complete a five-week training program, take the commercial driver’s license road test, and obtain a commercial driver’s license,” according to FCPS.

The current salary for a bus driver is $19.20 per hour. The position includes benefits like retirement, health, and dental plans and six paid non-working days. Drivers are also allowed to bring infant and preschool-age children on the bus with them.

Morning shifts typically run from 6-9:30 a.m. while afternoon shifts run from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

File photo

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Following Sandy Hook Shooting, Dogwood Elementary School to Upgrade Security Equipment

The security systems of Dogwood Elementary School are expected to get an upgrade after state Gov. Ralph Northam awarded five Fairfax County Public Schools a state grant.

The $236,102 grant pays for video monitoring systems, mass notification systems, visiter identification technology, two-way radios and other security upgrades.  It was established through the School Security Equipment Grants program, which was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2013 following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Four other schools were selected for the grant: Crestwood Elementary, Parklawn Elementary, Riverside Elementary and Whitman Middle School. The grant is given to schools that are most in need of modern equipment, cannot afford the equipment, or have a relatively high number of offenses.

This year’s grant favored elementary schools at the recommendation of Northam’s Students Safety Workgroup.

A local match of 25 percent is required of most divisions to accept the grant.

Image via Google Maps

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Wednesday Morning Notes

A Guide on How to Handle Peer Pressure — “Everyone has peers. Peers can be your friends who are about your age and have similar interests and experiences. Peers can also be other kids who are about your age and are involved in the same activities with you or are part of a community or group you belong to. You may not consider all of your peers to be friends, but they can all influence you.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

A Legacy to Live on in Reston — “Commissioned by Public Art Reston, Volta took calculated measures during the production phase of the community-inspired project finalized in 2019 to protect the mural panels against sun and element damage as well as vandalism. A few days before the Oct. 17 unveiling of the Public Artwork at Colts Neck Road Underpass, Volta shared, in a one-on-one interview, key processes and materials essential in the successful creation of the paneled mural, and safeguards he took to protect the investment.” [The Connection]

Volunteers Sought for Halloween House and Trick-or-Treat Trail — Reston Association is looking for volunteers over 15 years of age for its annual event. An orientation Is set for today (Wednesday) from 6-7 p.m. at the Walker Nature Center. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

New School Board Policy on Cannabis-Derived Oil in Schools — “The Fairfax County School Board has approved a policy on the storage, dispensing, and administration of cannabidiol oil and THC-A that aligns with Virginia law that became effective on July 1. The policy states that no school nurse or employee of a local health department who is assigned to a public school can be prosecuted for possessing, storing, or distributing cannabidiol (CBD) oil or tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THC-A) oil that has been prescribed via a valid, written certification by a medical professional.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Self-driving Shuttles in Suburbs Like Reston — “A Boston-based startup called Optimus Ride has launched a new self-driving vehicle service in the Washington, DC suburb of Reston, Virginia. On Monday, I traveled to the site, a 45-minute drive from my home in the nation’s capital, to see it first-hand. Since August, the company has been ferrying passengers between a Fannie Mae office building at the site and an overflow parking lot a few minutes’ walk away. But Optimus Ride has much larger ambitions for the site.” [Ars Technica]

Development Surges Along the Silver Line — “While acknowledging the need for housing and concerns about the area’s already high cost of living, Northern Virginia business leaders see the impending arrival of the Silver Line and its surrounding development as critical for the economic future of not just Fairfax and Loudoun, but the region as a whole.” [Fairfax County Times]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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In Lawsuit, Parents Allege County Schools Improperly Secluded, Restrained Students

Parents and disability rights groups are suing Fairfax County Public Schools for allegedly improperly secluding and restraining students with disabilities, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that the school system used practices to “silence, detain, segregate and punish students with disabilities,” according to the complaint.

One of the parents suing the school system — Jennifer Tidd — lives in Reston. Her 12-year-old son attended Kilmer Center, a public special education school operated by the county in Vienna.

“Tidd’s son was secluded on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers,” the Washington Post reported.

The Fairfax County Public School system told the following to the post:

The parents, Jennifer Tidd, Pamela Ononiwu and Ashley Thomas, are accusing the 189,000-student school system of using the practices to “silence, detain, segregate, and punish students with disabilities,” according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Fairfax school officials said they have completed a thorough and independent review of seclusion and restraint guidelines, and added staff, increased training and appointed an ombudsman for special education. The school system also created a task force to look at best practices for restraint and seclusion. The parents who filed the lawsuit lambasted that task force as a “public relations ploy.”

 “We acknowledge that the use of restraint and seclusion is an especially sensitive and challenging issue and is appropriate only when less restrictive alternatives fail,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in statement released late Tuesday. “We will continue to base our procedures and practices on that guiding principle.”

A March investigation by WAMU found that some Fairfax County schools isolated or restrained students and failed to report the incidents to the federal government. The investigation featured the stories of parents whose children were restrained at Armstrong Elementary in Reston and other area schools.

File photo

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Volunteers Sought for Reston Home Tour — The Reston Historic Trust & Museum is looking for volunteers to help with the annual home tour, which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19. [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]

Fairfax County Public Schools Maintain High On-Time Graduation Rate — “For the second straight year, more than nine out of ten Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) high school students earned a diploma within four years, according to graduation reports released today by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). More than three out of five of these students earned Advanced Studies Diplomas.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Herndon Man Arrested in Connection with Assault — Irving Duncan, 33, of Herndon was arrested for the aggravated assault of a victim that is known to him, according to police. The assault happened while the victim was asleep on Oct. 6. [Herndon Police Department]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Boat Rental Season Extended — Reston Association has extended boat rental season through Oct. 15. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays,  11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m on Oct. 14. [Reston Association]

County Seeks Comment on High School Science Resources — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is soliciting public review and comment on basal instructional resources under consideration for high school science.  A basal resource review committee composed of community members, administrators, and teachers will meet this fall to review and recommend new high school science instructional resources to the Fairfax County School Board.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Lake Thoreau Pool Structural Analysis Update — Reston Association has received preliminary findings from engineers about the pool’s concrete decking and shell. A complete analysis and recommendations is expected in October. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Colts Neck Underpass Art Installation Underway — Artist Ben Volta is working on installing public artwork on the Colts Neck underpass. More than 700 unique designs were contributed by the community to make the project possible. [Reston Today]

Accredited Status for All County Schools  All 194 schools in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) have received an accredited status level for 2019-20 based on performance in the 2018-19 school year. Two schools have been accredited with conditions for non-academic measures for dropout rate. One school has been accredited with conditions for performance in English.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

County Offers Help to Prevent Overdoses — Between January and March, there were 324 fatal overdoses in the state. Twenty two of the incidents took place in the county. The county offers several resources for residents, including the Fairfax Detoxification Center and appointments at the Merrifield Center. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Friday Morning Notes

Herndon Middle School Gets At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program –The school is one of 13 in the county to receive the at-risk afterschool meals program. The same meals will be available at no separate charge to all participants. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston Friends Semi-Annual Book Sale Continues — Thousands of used books will be available for purchase during the sale, which continues into the weekend. The sale is on today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Reston Regional Library. [Reston Regional Library]

International Walk to School Day is Next Week — County schools will take part in International Walk to School Day on October 2 in  “an effort to promote physical activity and reduce traffic congestion and pollution near schools. Students and employees are encouraged to bike or walk to school and work. Parents are encouraged to accompany their children to school, and to work with their school or PTA to assemble bike trains or walking groups for the event. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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