Reston, VA

Friday Morning Notes

More Delays for Phase Two of the Silver Line — Yes, you read that right. Originally expected to open in 2016, the extension of Metro’s Silver Line likely won’t open until the spring of 2021, according to general manager Paul Wiedefeld. [WJLA]

Reston Association Phone Service Down Later Today — If you’re trying to reach RA offices later today, you might want to try again. Phone service will be down between 5:30-6:30 p.m. today (Friday) and on Tuesday (Feb. 25) from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The organization is moving to Verizon. [Reston Association]

County Schools to Host Free Sessions on Digital Learning — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students, families, and community members are invited to attend any of five upcoming digital learning and digital citizenship events.  All sessions are being held free of charge.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Thursday Morning Notes

New Tip Line Number for County Schools — Fairfax County Public Schools officially have a new text number: 888-777. All information is treated as anonymous and confidential. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston Association Board Meets Tonight — The Board of Directors will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. in RA headquarters. The meeting will be live-streamed online. [Reston Association]

Outdoor Lighting Standards Changed — “Fairfax County is updating our outdoor lighting standards to reduce glare and excessive illumination and match the expanded use of LED lights, which can improve the quality of life for county residents.” [Fairfax County Government]

Herndon Mayor Endorses Pete Buttigieg for President — Mayor Lisa Merkel announced her endorsement of the presidential candidate ahead of his town hall on Sunday, Feb. 23. In a press release, she says he’s committed to “bringing the local executive leadership to Washington and making Washington look more like best-run cities and towns.”

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Thursday Morning Notes

Lake Braddock Secondary Schools to Work with ARTSFAIRFAX — “Students at two Fairfax County public schools will explore a deeper engagement with the arts as part of the ARTSFAIRFAX Artist Residency Program. Rocky Run Middle School and Lake Braddock Secondary School art students will work with artists who connect 3D art exploration through mosaics and dance to history, language arts, and creative writing for engaging, unique, and innovative learning experiences.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Potomac River Cafe Honored — The cafe was among nine winners in the county’s Carrot Gold Food Safety Excellence Award. Winners were chosen from more than 3,800 permitted establishments inspected annually. [Fairfax County Government]

New State Laws on the Horizon — “In the 35 days since the 2020 legislative session began, Democratic lawmakers in Virginia advanced laws to restrict access to guns, raise the minimum wage, decriminalize marijuana and ease restrictions on abortion. They sprinted to pass hundreds of bills before a deadline: February 11th, ‘crossover day,’ when all bills must be passed by at least one chamber or be scrapped.” [WAMU]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Tuesday Morning Notes

State House Votes to Abolish Lee Jackson Day — Virginia moved one step closer to abolishing the holiday that honors two Confederate generals. The bill would remove Lee Jackson Day as a state holiday and Make Election Day, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, a state holiday instead. [WAMU]

County Seeks 911 Call Takers — The county is seeking call takers for the emergency line. Applications are due by Feb. 14. [Fairfax County Government]

School Board Approves Capital Improvement Program — “The FY 2021-25 CIP addresses uneven growth throughout the division because of changes in population, new development, and net migration. It continues to include potential capacity and capital solutions to schools which are currently or projected to be over capacity.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Lake Anne Elementary School has lost its Title I funding due to recent changes in the structure of the federal program, which was established by the U.S. Department of Education.

If a school has more than 75 percent or more students with eligibility for free and reduced meals, the program creates funding opportunities. Each local school district sets eligibility requirements.

This year, Fairfax County Public Schools increased the threshold from 40 percent of students eligible for free and reduced meals to 45 percent. The decision was due to “fluctuations in funding and increasing costs of programs and other supports,” according to a Wednesday statement by principal Jill Stewart.

In an email to parents, Stewart wrote that the loss of funding is expected to have a “minimal impact” on the school community. She noted that the school thoughtfully invested its funds in resources with longterm benefits for students, including:

  • diversified and increased our novel units for literacy instruction
  • expanded our leveled readers that are used for guided reading instruction across grade levels
  • purchased additional laptops for students
  • enabled us to purchase math manipulatives that provide concrete examples of math concepts
  • refined and expanded the instructional practices of our teachers
  • funded staff members participation in Title I professional development
  • attended a conference with Virginia Department of Education to learn more about family engagement practices
  • allowed Title I specialists to train our teachers and in our school

The school plans to discuss the funding change at a Parent Teacher Administration meeting tomorrow (Thursday) at 7 p.m.

Image via Google Maps

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Friday Morning Notes

Smoking in Bed Causes Reston Townhouse Fire — A townhouse fire on Wednesday night was caused by “smoking while in bed,” according to fire investigators. The fire happened on the 2300 block of Antiqua Court. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Robert Simon Jr. Children’s Center Marks 30 Years — “This month, The Robert E. Simon Jr. Children’s Center marks thirty years serving area families with high-quality childcare. Named for Reston’s founder, the nonprofit Simon Center provides families throughout Northern Virginia with a warm, responsive and caring environment for children to learn and grow.” [Reston Patch]

Census Begins on April 1 — A Census invitation is heading to your mailbox next month. [U.S. Census Bureau]

Local Students Earn Scholastic Art Awards — “The 2020 Regional Scholastic Art Awards program has recognized 372 Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) students in grades 7-12 with 571 awards including Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention awards, and American Visions Nominations.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Thursday Morning Notes

Reston Association Board to Meet Tonight — RA’s Board of Directors will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss several matters, including revisions to lake use and access and comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s activities. [Reston Association]

Around Town: Substitute Teacher Charged with Indecent Liberties Against Children — “A 60-year-old substitute teacher is facing two felony charges of indecent liberties by a custodian and one misdemeanor charge of simple assault for inappropriate contact with three students at Glasgow Middle School. Detectives from the Major Crimes Bureau Child Abuse Squad arrested Albert Keys, of Lorton, on Jan. 17.” [Fairfax County Times]

County Schools to Hold Job Fair — “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), the largest school system in Virginia, is searching for educators with a strong academic background and a passion to make a difference in the lives of students during the 2020-21 school year.  Principals and program managers will interview candidates at the FCPS Instructional Job Fair on Saturday, February 1.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Still No Word on Cafesano’s Cafe Reopening — A company representative tells us they have no idea when the cafe at South Lakes Village Center will reopen. Although catering and takeout services are still being offered, the cafe has been closed since early December due to a fire in the kitchen.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Dominion Energy plans to roll out eight new electric school buses in Fairfax County Public Schools by the end of the year.

FCPS is one of 16 districts chosen by the company, which will cover the difference between the cost of diesel-fueled and electric buses. Dominion Energy’s vendor, Thomas Built Buses, will provide 50 buses for the first phase of the project.

“This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools,” Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell, II, said in the press release.

Here’s more from Dominion Energy:

The buses also provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60 percent.

Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes.

Phase three would set the goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s footprint be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.

“Adding electric school buses in our fleet is consistent with the environmental focus of Fairfax County and the school division,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in the FCPS press release. 

Photo via Unplash

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Local police deemed that a “possible threat” directed at Herndon High School earlier this week was not credible, according to school officials.

In an email to parents, Herndon HS Principal Liz Noto stated that police discovered the possible threat on social media.

Police interviewed the student who posted the message and determined there was no risk to the school or students.

The administration did not release any other details about the incident due to piracy restrictions.

For precautionary purposes, the school had extra security present on Wednesday (Jan. 15).

Photo via Fairfax County Public Schools

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A local eighth-grade student earned the highest possible ACT composite score.

Anika Gulati, a student at Rachel Carson Middle School (13618 McLearen Road), is one of less than 0.5 percent of students to earn a top score. In last year’s high school graduating class in the United States, only 4,879 of the 1.8 million students who take the test earn the top score.

Aparajita De, Gulati’s mother, said her 13-year-old daughter took the test “out of curiosity.”

She wanted to see how the test is and how she fares in each of the different sections of the test,” De said.

Composite scores are derived from the average of test scores in English, math, reading and science.

Photo courtesy Aparajita De

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Herndon Middle School‘s administration is considering installing security cameras on school grounds.

The school’s administration stated that the cameras will “increase the ability to maintain the safety of all students, staff members and visitors within the building.”

Before installation begins, the school’s administration is accepting feedback from members of the school community. An informational meeting for parents is set for Thursday (Jan. 16) at the school at 5:30 p.m.

Lucy Caldwell, the director of news and information for Fairfax County Public Schools, told Reston Now that the move was not prompted by any specific events. Caldwell noted that all high school and middle schools are slated to install security devices in the near future. 

Cameras, by their mere presence, offer a deterrent to criminal and/or inappropriate behavior. Photographic evidence also serves to help identify individuals who are trespassing onto school property, thus greatly enhancing school safety.

Additionally, camera evidence can help exonerate individuals accused of acts they did not commit,” Caldwell wrote.

Photo via Google Maps

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Monday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Public Schools’ Superintendent Pitches Budget — The $3.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2021 was presented to the county’s school board earlier this month. It represents a 5.8 percent increase over the previous budget. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Reston-based Company Names Chief Product Officer — “Reston-based higher education software company Ellucian has named Stephen Laster as its chief product officer… Ellucian provides products for higher education such as student information systems, data analytics tools and graduation-tracking platforms for more than 2,700 customers.” [Virginia Business]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Wednesday Morning Notes

General Assembly Convenes Today — “Already, Democrats submitted more than 260 bills for consideration in the upcoming session… It’s been 20 years since the Democrats have had this kind of control in Richmond, but more realistically, those with the kind of progressive values of the current majorities have never come close to running the show in Richmond before.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Topgolf Competitor Seeks Site in Northern Virginia — “Spot Golf is currently in discussions with Billy Casper Golf to construct a venue at 1757 Golf Club.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Startups Get Top Honors — “Reston-based analytics software developer QOMPLX (fka Fractal Industries) was ranked as fifth-highest and Herndon-based satellite operator HawkEye360 as seventh-highest in a list of “11 D.C. Startup Fundings Above $50 Million in 2019,” compiled by DC Inno.” [Fairfax County Economic Development Authority]

Photo by Philip Lilienthal

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Today’s snow may bring some welcome news for students wishing for a snow day this week.

Fairfax County Public Schools will closed today (Wednesday). Last night, the schools system planned to open on a two-hour delay.

“The change in FCPS’ operating status for today is due to the hazardous travel conditions that remain in various parts of the county at this hour, especially on secondary roads,” FCPS tweeted earlier this morning.

Photo by Brian Murphy

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(Updated 12/28/19) Come Jan. 1, the Fairfax County School Board will have a lot of new faces.

The 12-member board will see eight newcomers in 2020.

Half of the school board’s incumbents decided not to seek reelection, including: Ilryong MoonRyan McElveen, Jane Strauss, Pat Hynes, Sandy Evans and Dalia Palchik. The two Republican incumbents — Elizabeth Schultz and Thomas Wilson — lost their reelection bids.

At-Large Member Karen Keys-Gamarra won reelection, along with:

Here is information on the new incoming members, who took their oaths of office on Thursday (Dec. 12) at Jackson Middle School.

At-Large Members Abrar Omeish and Rachna Sizemore Heizer

Omeish and Heizer, along with incumbent Karen Keys-Gamarra, beat three opponents for the At-Large seats.

Heizer has worked as a college professor, disability justice advocate and lawyer, according to her campaign website. Omeish is the co-founder of Give, a youth-led nonprofit and led the county-wide campaign for an anti-bullying campaign, according to her campaign website.

Hunter Mill District: Melanie Meren

Meren, a former U.S. Department of Education employee, beat her opponent, Laura Ramirez Drain. Meren is a parent and small business owner who has lived in Fairfax County for more than 15 years, according to Reston Now

Dranesville District: Elaine Tholen

Tholen beat three opponents. A resident of Fairfax County for 25 years, Tholen most recently served as the director and treasurer for the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, according to her campaign website.

Mason District: Ricardy Anderson

Anderson beat opponent Tom Pafford. She has been a community volunteer, a veteran of the National Guard Army Reserve and lived in Annandale for more than 10 years, according to her campaign website.

Providence District: Karl Frisch

Frisch beat opponent Andrea Bayer in the election. Frisch has served as the executive director of consumer watchdog Allied Progress, was a small business owner and worked as a staffer for the Committee on Rules in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to his campaign website.

Springfield District: Laura Jane Cohen

Cohen beat two opponents, including Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz. Cohen has been a resident in the county for nearly 20 years and is a former preschool teacher, according to her campaign website.

Sully District: Stella Pekarsky

Pekarsky beat Republican incumbent Tom Wilson. She was previously an FCPS ESOL teacher, small business co-owner and trustee on the Fairfax County Board.

Come 2020, the school board seats will all be filled by Democrats.

“Corbett Sanders will remain chair of the School Board and Derenak Kaufax will remain as vice-chair,” according to FCPS. “School Board officers are elected at the first meeting in July of each year.”

The board also includes a non-voting student representative who is selected by the Student Advisory Council.

Image via FCPS/YouTube, photo via Melanie Meren website, photo via Facebook

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