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Thursday Morning Notes

If you want a promotion — If you’re interested in learning how to land a promotion, you can attend this event tonight as part of a young professionals series open to members and guests. [Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce]

Did someone say indoor inflatables — Reston Community Center is offering a drop-in program with indoor inflatables and oversized toys on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10-11:30 a.m. Parents must supervise their kids (and unfortunately, the equipment is only game for the little ones). [Reston Community Center]

County schools host digital citizenship week  — “This week is Digital Citizenship Week in our county schools and it’s important for parents/guardians to help children become safe, ethical, responsible and respectful digital citizens.” [Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Kit Allgaier

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Here Comes South Lakes High School’s Homecoming Parade

The South Lakes High School homecoming parade is scheduled for Oct.26 (Friday), and students are taking advantage of the opportunity to fundraise for a good cause.

The school’s leadership class will fundraiser for Hungry for Music, an organization that buys instruments for children who cannot afford their own. The class aims to raise $1,000 to purchase 20 instruments for an after-school program. Collection baskets and tables at homecoming activities will be open for donation throughout the week of the parade.

The parade, which is set for 5-6 p.m., will feature student organizations, class councils, clubs, team, community groups, elementary schools, and the school’s marching band, The Spirit of Reston. Student-built boats will reflect the theme of “Tune in to South Lakes.” Each grade will select a music genre and the grand marshall this year is SLHS teacher Chris Moorhead, according to information provided by the school.

The parade begins at 5 p.m. from Hunters Woods Shopping Center. It will continue north on Colts Neck Drive, turn east onto South Lakes Drive and finish at SLHS. A small food court will be set-up in the stadium-side parking lot with food trucks from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The football game against Yorktown High School begins at 7 p.m. shortly after the parade. Admission is $5 and the Class of 1998 will also be on-site to celebrate their 20th reunion.

Photo via Lyn Fiscus

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Friday Morning Notes

The historic designation debate — In this opinion piece, the writer explores two historic designation issues in Herndon and Reston. [Greater Greater Washington]

Trout fishing season is here — You heard that right. The Fairfax County Park Authority invites you to fish for trout at Lake Fairfax Park. Season passes are available. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Tishman Speyer sheds some land — The Pinkard Group paid $3.15M to acquire the 3.3-acre parcel at the corner of the Dulles Toll Road and Monroe Street in Herndon, part of the Woodland Park East development, from Tishman Speyer. [Bisnow]

Climate change in schools — Well, not in schools. The Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution last night calling on state and federal action on climate change. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

In the time machine — Flavors of Fall brought beer, wine, food and fun to Reston Town Center last weekend. Mercia Hobson offers a recap here.  [The Connection]

Photo by Lindi Mallison

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Columbus Day: What’s Open, What’s Closed

Columbus Day, a federal holiday that is also a workday for some, is on Monday. Here’s a look at what is open and what is closed for the holiday.

Fairfax County government offices and public schools are closed. Local libraries will also be closed on Monday. No in-person absentee voting will be offered at the Fairfax County Government Center. Reston Association offices, including the Walker Nature Center and Central Services Facility, will also be closed in observance of the holiday.

Reston Community Center Hunters Woods and Lake Anne are open, but check if your individual class or event is scheduled. Fairfax County parks and RECenter are also open.

Meanwhile, Metro will run on a Saturday schedule and Metrobus will operate on a modified Saturday schedule. MetroAccess and paratransit services will operate on a regular schedule.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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Friday Morning Notes

Child dies after medical emergency on school bus — A young boy died in Herndon Thursday after experiencing a medical emergency on a Fairfax County Public Schools bus in the 2300 block of Dulles Station Boulevard. The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital and no other kids were on the bus at the time. [NBC 4]

A back to school report — School principals in Reston give an update on what’s new this year and their one-sentence message to the community. [The Connection]

The fight for control — Canaan Merchant writes about how Reston Association is asking Fairfax County to give it more control over future growth. Although the Silver Line has brought growth to the area, many residents aren’t happy, Merchant writes. [Greater Greater Washington]

Dog paddle set for today from 4-7 p.m. — Bring your dog for a dip in the pool before it’s shut down for the season. A current dog license is required and registration is $6 for Reston Association members and $8 for all others. [Reston Association]

Photo by Twitter user Mary Dominiak

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Heat advisory in effect today — The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory from noon to 8 p.m. Stay hydrated and limited outdoor exposure. Heat index values are expected to fluctuate between 100 and 105 degrees. [National Weather Service]

Friendly back to school reminders — As day two of school goes into session, the county is reminding residents about rules for buses, speeding in a school zone and crossing guard directions. [Fairfax County Government]

But what’s actually happening in schools — “With a $2.9 billion budget and 198 schools, the Fairfax County school system is the 10th largest in the country. And the student body is still growing. Budget projections call for about 1,100 new students this year.” [WTOP]

Next month’s Reston Community Center guide — RCC’s professional touring artist series opens this season with The Bad Plus, a jazz trio. Check out more of what’s happening at the center next month. [Reston Community Center]

Calling all shrub lovers — The Walker Nature Center is selling native shrubs. All orders are due by Monday, September 24 at 5 p.m. You can also shop online. [Reston Association]

Trivia night at Reston Regional Library — Show off your book knowledge at trivia night. Bring your own team of three to five people or form a team with new friends. Book-related prizes will be offered for top teams.

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Tuesday Morning Notes

First day of school — Fairfax County Public Schools are back in session today. Local police are reminding commuters to be wary of school traffic and buses. [Herndon Police Department]

Reston 101 — In case you need a basic primer, Mercia Hobson offers a brief description of the Planned Residential Community and its five village centers. [The Connection]

Something different at the end of the tunnel — Lake Anne students and staff painted a community circles mural at the entry to a tunnel on Fairway Drive on August 17. [Patch]

Nearby: Man who exposed himself found — Local police have found a man who exposed himself to a woman in a church parking lot over the weekend. Police released an image of the suspect yesterday. [WJLA, Fairfax County Police Department]

Photo by Ruth Sievers

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Major Renovations Underway at Herndon High School

Students will return to Herndon High School tomorrow (August 27) as a major construction project at the school, which has not been renovated since 1991, continues.

Between now and the 2022-2023 school year, more than 100,000 square feet of space will be added to the school. Renovations were approved as part of the FCPS Fiscal Year 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Program, which includes $310 million approved by county voters in a school bond referendum.

Currently, the second half of phase one of the project is underway, which includes adding a new wing to the back of the building and an addition to the front of the building where a new library, main office and administrative and counseling offices will be located. The school’s assistant principal Jim Hannon expects this phase to be completed by next fall or the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

Three other phases remain, which call for renovating locker rooms, art rooms, the gym, music rooms, the cafeteria, the stadium press box and tennis courts. 

School officials told Reston Now that parking continues to be a challenge this year. The number of spaces was slashed from 377 to 90, pushing the school to create a lottery system to accommodate student parking. Seniors who received a number between 1 and 100 in the recent lottery will receive spaces. Others must complete application forms to be entered into the lottery.

Photos via Fairfax County Public Schools

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‘Back 2 School Bash’ Offers School Preparation Resources on August 18

It’s that time of year again: Fairfax County Public Schools will begin the new school year on August 28. Ahead of the new academic year, a “Back 2 School Bash” with one-stop-shop resources for getting ready to go back to school will be held on Aug. 18 at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive).

The event, which is free and open to all ages, will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local schools, government agencies and nonprofit providers will be on-site to provide information about resources, programs and services offered by community agencies and through other partnerships.

The bash is cosponsored by FCPS, Cornerstones, Reston Community Center, YMCA Reston, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Service.

For more information, contact LaTanja Jones, Collaboration and Outreach Director, at 703-390-6158, or [email protected].

File photo

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Donations Sought for School Supplies and Backpack Drive

Fairfax County Public Schools has partnered with Collect for Kids, an umbrella organization for an annual school supply and backpack drive.

Donations are requested for the drive, which will provide supplies for students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Around 55,000 county students qualify for the program.

There are two ways to support the drive. Monetary donations are being collected online in order to purchase supply kits in bulk. Backpack donations can be dropped off at any Apple Federal Credit Union location in Fairfax County, Cornerstones, Britepaths and Western Fairfax Christian Ministries.

Monetary donations are accepted year-round and backpacks are accepted through August.

For more information, contact Kathy Ryan at 571-423-1206 or [email protected].

Photo by Cornerstones

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FCPS Seeks to Know What Residents Want in New Superintendent

fcps-logoAs Fairfax County Public Schools heats up the search for a new superintendent, officials are launching a major campaign to find out what qualities locals most want in their new head of schools.

FCPS’ previous superintendent, Dr. Karen Garza tendered her resignation in September and closed out her tenure in December. She took a job as the CEO of an Ohio education nonprofit, even though she had recently signed a four-year contract extension.

Now, FCPS has hired the firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to conduct a formal search for Garza’s replacement. Dr. Steven Lockard, who had been the district’s deputy superintendent, is serving as interim superintendent.

As part of its search, HYA announced this week it will hold a series of 10 community forums to encourage local residents to voice their opinions.

“[We want to] allow Fairfax County residents to share their ideas and feedback on the characteristics they are seeking in a new superintendent,” representatives from the district and HYA said.

The closest forum to Reston will take place Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 11 a.m. in the Herndon Council Chambers.

The complete schedule of meetings is as follows:

  • Monday,  Jan. 9, 1 p.m., Gatehouse Administration Center, room 1600, 8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church
  • Monday,  Jan. 9, 7 p.m., South County High School, 8501 Silverbrook Road, Lorton
  • Tuesday, Jan. 10, 12:30 p.m., Virginia Hills Center Library, 6520 Diana Lane, Alexandria
  • Wednesday, Jan. 11, noon, Providence District Office and Community Center, multipurpose room 2, 3001 Vaden Drive, Fairfax
  • Wednesday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m., Mount Vernon High School Little Theater, 8515 Old Mount Vernon Road, Alexandria
  • Tuesday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m., Herndon Council Chambers, 765 Lynn Street, Herndon
  • Tuesday, Jan. 17, 1 p.m., Burke Centre Library, 5935 Freds Oak Road, Burke
  • Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Stuart High School Little Theater, 3301 Peace Valley Lane, Falls Church
  • Tuesday, Jan. 17, 7 p.m., Chantilly High School Lecture Hall, 4201 Stringfellow Road, Chantilly
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m., Langley High School Auditorium, 6520 Georgetown Pike, McLean

In addition, a survey is expected to be launched on the district’s website Monday.

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How to Prepare for Fairfax County Public Schools Snow Days

Snow in Reston on Feb. 9, 2016/Credit: Robbie Nolan via TwitterAs winter approaches, parents of students in Fairfax County public schools must prepare for one of the biggest disruptions to their weekday routine — snow days.

Fairfax County Public Schools officials will often try to make a decision the night before regarding whether to delay or cancel school. This can happen if snow has already begun to fall or if a majority of national weather forecasters agree inclement weather is likely by morning. In cases when the forecast is uncertain, though, officials may wait until 4:30 a.m. for the most up-to-date conditions.

One way to keep up with the latest school weather announcements is to download the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) app to your smartphone. The FCPS app is available in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play.

Parents can also contact their child’s school to sign up for text-message alerts about inclement weather decisions.

In addition, school officials say that decisions and announcements will be posted to the district’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and emails will be sent to parents and subscribers of the FCPS “News You Choose” newsletter. Notifications are also posted to Fairfax County’s cable-access station, Channel 21 (Cox, Reston Comcast and Verizon customers), and sent to local print, online, radio and television media outlets.

Thirteen snow days are built into the 2016-17 school calendar. If 13 or fewer school days are canceled due to inclement weather, no make-up days will need to be added onto the end of the year in June, and no days off for holidays or in-service days will need to be canceled.

A 14th day is also allowed, however, as a free day. After the 14th missed day, every other snow day will need to be made up. A 15th snow day, for example, would be made up by canceling the traditional day off after Easter Sunday — which this year would be Monday, April 17.

We may see a bit of snow on the ground in Reston later this week, meteorologists warn, though the forecast remains in flux.

Late Thursday night into early Friday morning, the forecasters say there is a chance we could experience a coating of up to an inch. There is a higher probability for snowfall between late Friday night and Sunday morning, the Capital Weather Gang says, but the prognosticators believe that snow could miss the local area and hit more to the southeast.

More information about school make-up days can be found on the FCPS website.

Video by Fairfax County Public Schools, via YouTube

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Thursday Morning Notes

Morning Notes - Winter

Reston Company Growing By Leaps and Bounds — The Reston-based media firm VideoBlocks is growing by such leaps and bounds that they will have to leave their longtime home in Reston for bigger digs in Arlington in 2017, CEO TJ Leonard said this week. The subscription-based company provides stock video footage, photos, music and other similar types of media, and has grown from six employees to 77, all while still occupying the same 7,500-square-foot office space. [DC Inno]

RA Calendar Moving to WebTrac in January — In just a few days, Reston Association’s new WebTrac system will be fully implemented. That means the calendar of events, usually viewable on RA’s main website, Reston.org, will be moved to WebTrac. Under “Events” on the RA website, visitors can now select “View RA Web Calendar.” Remember, you have to create a WebTrac account before you can make purchases or register for events via the new site. This can be done on the home page. [Reston Association]

More Than 36,000 Local Students Receive Donated School Supplies — This week, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) tweeted out a special thank-you to the local community for making it possible for more than 36,000 county students to receive much-needed school supplies, thanks to generous donations. The supplies were collected via FCPS’s “Collect For Kids” campaign. [Twitter/@FCPSnews]

Fairfax County Firefighters Learn Emergency Paramedic Skills — This week, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue shared a bit about the progress 11 local firefighters are making in the 10-month paramedic training they are taking part in. The 11 firefighters are learning emergency medical skills, and how to prepare for and respond to real-life emergency situations. Get an inside look at the training course and what they are learning on the department’s blog. [Fairfax County Fire & Rescue]

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County Officials Urge State to Honor School Funding Commitments

fcps logoThe Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is again urging Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the General Assembly delegation not to eliminate up to $12.2 million in salary increases for teachers.

Concerned that the governor’s office will propose these cuts before the delegation when they meet in mid-December, county leaders sent letters to both on Monday, asking the state to honor its commitments.

The letters are in response to McAuliffe’s already proposed $4.4 million cut from the state’s FY17 budget — and a potential $7.8 million cut from the FY18 budget — to be included in his 2016-2018 biennium budget amendments.

“The lower amount of expected state funding stems from a $266 million negative balance in Virginia’s fiscal 2016 budget, which McAuliffe’s administration attributed to lower-than-expected payroll and sales-tax receipts”, according to a Washington Post article in July.

Although state funding represents less than 20 percent of the total cost to implement a two percent salary increase for teachers, it is an important part of the county’s school budget equation, the letters said.

Despite any decrease in funding from the state, county school officials say they will find a way to honor its overall promise of $40 million in teacher raises for FY17. However, it’s unclear how they will raise funds beyond an already adopted plan to increase property taxes by an average $304 per year.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia ranks in the top 10 nationally for income, but the bottom 10 for school funding,” said Board Chairman, Sharon Bulova (D), in a press release attached to the letters.

Officials also requested that the governor and GA delegation decelerate funding of the Virginia Retirement System in order to make it easier for both localities and the state to balance their budgets in FY18. This would save the county over $25 million while retaining its commitment to future solvency of the state’s retirement system, according to the letters.

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Op-Ed: Vote For Meals Tax – and Stop Blaming Diversity

PassionFish Reston/Credit: Passionfood HospitalityThis is an op-ed from Reston resident Lynda Reyes. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

I am writing in support of the Meals Tax. My parents risked their lives to come to this country. They had nothing when they arrived, but they worked long hours at low wages to provide my family with opportunities that are not available in other countries. We made Fairfax County our home, but because of the rhetoric surrounding the Meals Tax, we do not feel welcome here anymore.

In conversations and online comments, there is a consistent emphasis on the burden imposed by kids who are not white and wealthy. One commenter on FCPS School Board member Pat Hynes’ recent op-ed stated that “the outputs of English language learners, special education students, emotionally challenged students, and less financially advantaged students is incommensurate with the financial input” — in other words, it is supposedly a waste of money to educate immigrant kids, kids with special needs, and poor kids.

It is indisputable that our county has changed over the past 20 years — we are more diverse in every sense. According to the FCPS FY17 budget, approximately 13 percent of FCPS students are receiving special education services, about 17 percent are receiving ESOL services, and nearly 25 percent of FCPS students are eligible for free- or reduced-price meals.

I challenge opponents of the Meals Tax to view this diversity as a strength rather than a weakness. You speak about costs, but I speak about opportunities.

The world has come to Fairfax County. FCPS students come from most of the countries in the world and speak nearly 200 languages. As of September 2015, nearly 50 percent of FCPS elementary students speak a language other than English at home.

Let us build on this foundation of diversity to grow new businesses and connections with other countries, to increase exports of physical and online products and services to foreign markets, and to recruit global companies to locate in Fairfax County, where they can find employees with the linguistic skills and cultural knowledge required to succeed in the modern global economy.

But we cannot succeed if we allow the quality of our public schools to decline. As Americans, we celebrate the Horatio Alger paragon of the person who rises from nothing to achieve great success. Every kid deserves the same chance to succeed, so it follows that every kid deserves a quality education.

It is time to set aside the rhetoric, and focus on our shared values and objectives. I ask you to vote YES for the Meals Tax on Nov. 8, so we can provide our public schools with the necessary resources to get the job done — to transform a multilingual and multicultural student body into the next generation of entrepreneurs and employees, to build the future even as we cherish and celebrate the past.

With respect,

Lynda Reyes
Reston

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