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Planning Commission Approves RTC West Expansion

The expansion of RTC West, JBG Smith’s mixed-use project less than quarter-mile walk from the future Reston Town Center Metro Station, is getting closer to final approval. The Fairfax County Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, which adds up to 576 multifamily units, 700,000 square feet of office space and 1.4 million square feet of new development to the existing office park, on Thursday night.

The developer plans to embark on a multiphase expansion for the area, which is bounded by the Washington & Old Dominion Trail to the North and Reston Town Center Parkway to the east, over the next several years. The site is currently home to three six-story office buildings, two parking garages, and retail tenants like Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Nando’s Peri-Peri and honeygrow.

A timeline for the project is pending approval.

If approved and built, the project will add another mixed-use component near the future RTC Metro Station. RTC West is next to the recently approved Reston Gateway project. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will vote on the project on September 25.  The site design incorporates the future Town Center Parkway underpass that would connect Sunset Hills Road to Sunrise Valley Drive through a tunnel under the Dulles Toll and Access Road, according to the application.

Hunter Mill District Planning Commissioner Frank Carter said the county worked with the developer to address several issues, including the distribution of workforce dwelling units. The project will provide affordable units at 80, 100 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income. Parking will not be assigned to each residential unit. In order to simplify the process, Carter said affordable units will receive parking at 70 percent the price of parking for market-rate units. The entire project is expected to provide around 2,900 parking spaces for residents and employees. 

Carter said that if parking works like the parking in RTC, the arrangement should be sufficient. The site plan accommodates 57 on-street parking spaces, encouraging people to use other ways of getting around other than cars.

The plan, which includes 3.4 acres of open space, is as follows:

  • Buildings 1, 2, and 3: Existing six-story office building with retail on the ground floor will remain. 
  • Building 4: A one-story freestanding restaurant, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, will remain.
  • Building 5: A new eight-story office with 160,000 square feet, including 10,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 6: A new 22-story office building with 396,000 square feet, including 16,000 square feet of retail.
  • Building 7: A 20-story residential building with 293 multi-family units.
  • Building 8: A new 22-story residential building with 283 multi-family units. This building wraps the north facade of a second parking garage.
  • Building 9: A new seven-story office building located on top of a current parking structure.
  • Building 10: A one-story freestanding restaurant located on the common green.

A new right-only entrance from southbound Town Center Parkway at the north of the property line will be added to the development. The site itself will contain existing internal streets with on-street parking. Other planned improvements include a new westbound, shared right-turn lane and a five-woot on-road bicycle lane on Sunset Hills Road. A five-foot wide bicycle lane will also be provided on Town Center Parkway.

Photos via Fairfax County Government


County Officials Mull How to Boost Housing Affordability

County officials are seeking the public’s feedback on how to increase housing affordability in Reston and surrounding areas.

At a meeting on September 20 (Wednesday), Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and Tom Fleetwood, director of the Fairfax County’s Department of Housing and Community Development, will discuss the second phase of the county’s Housing Community-wide Housing Strategic Plan.

The meeting will take place in the lecture hall at South Lakes High School from 7-9 p.m.

The second phase of the plan aims to offer ways resources can”act as a catalyst for new affordable housing production and quality affordable housing preservation and rehabilitation,” according to the county.

The overall plan, recently adopted by the Board of Supervisors, was drafted by county staff and a group of stakeholders, including nonprofit leaders and the business community, to pitch strategies to address future housing needs. The policy is designed to reinforce the county’s economic development strategies and approaches to ensure racial and social equity across all county services.

The plan seeks to end homeless in a decade, provide affordable housing to special needs population, meet affordable housing needs for low-income, working families and increase workforce housing through creative partnerships and policy arrangements.

Phase one of the plan includes 25 short-term strategies that can help create more housing options without major policy changes or significant revenue sources. Phase two of the plan will offer longer-term strategies to develop new tools, policies, and resources to boost affordable housing options.

File photo


New Bike Lanes, Redesigned Roads Proposed for Hunter Mill District

Prepare for a sea of orange cones. With spring quickly approaching, Virginia Department of Transportation officials are gearing up for re-stripping, road redesigns, and new bike lanes on multiple Reston roads this year.

Roadwork will take place from April through November. The Virginia Department of Transportation is holding a public meeting on plans on Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in Terraset Elementary School‘s cafeteria.

In response to residents’ concerns about safety along the South Lakes Drive corridor, the county plans to redesign a strip between Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive by converting an outside travel lane to a buffered bike lane — a move the county hopes will address concerns about limited sight distance for vehicles turning onto Sunrise Valley Drive and pedestrian traffic.

Bike lanes on South Lakes Drive between Reston Parkway and Sanibel Drive would be extended. The county will keep one travel lane in each direction due to the limited projected impacts of future development on traffic in that area.

Other plans include adding or expanding bike lines on Bennington Woods Drive, Bowman Towne Drive, Explorer Street, Lawyers Road, Pinecrest Road and others. South Lakes Drive, Bluemont Drive and Fountain Drive are slated for redesigning.

A complete breakdown of plans in the Hunter Mill District is below:

  • Bennington Woods Drive: Addition of bike lanes.
  • Bowman Towne Drive: Addition of northbound bike lane, southbound shared line markings and striped parking lanes on both sides.
  • Bracknell Road: Addition of buffered bike lanes between Stevenage Road and commercial driveways.
  • Explorer Street: Addition of bike lanes. On-street parking on both sides of the street will remain.
  • Fountain Drive: Road redesign to “increase traffic safety.” There will be one travel lane in each direction, with one dedicated left turn lane and buffered bike lanes.
  • Stevenage Road: Addition of buffered bike lanes between Bennington Woods Road and the northern Home Depot driveway and Reston Parkway. Existing parking restrictions will not be changed. Timed parking will remain.
  • Temporary Road: Addition of bike lanes.
  • Walnut Branch Road: Addition of eastbound buffered bike lanes and westbound shared lane markings.
  • Lawyers Road: Extension of existing bike lanes west to Reston Parkway and upgrades to existing shoulders between Twin Branches Road to Hunter Mill Road to buffered bike lanes.
  • Pinecrest Road: Addition of buffered lanes between South Lakes Drive and Glade Drive. On-street parking will remain.
  • Ridge Heights Road: Addition of bike lanes. On-street parking will remain. “Extra wide” parking lanes will be provided for school bus parking.
  • Soapstone Drive: Addition of buffers to existing bike lanes.

In addition to attending the meeting, residents can submit online feedback. A complete list of impacted is online.

Photo via Fairfax County Government


Nonprofit Seeks Winter Coats and Blankets for Syrian Refugees

Jurisdictions in Northern Virginia are collecting gently used and new coats and blankets for Syrian refugees in this year’s donation drive. The drive is powered by the Northern Virginia Relief Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to create a better life for people who come to Northern Virginia from around the world.

Since 2013, the drive has collected more than 100 tons of donations for Syrian and Iraqi refugees from jurisdictions like Fairfax County, Prince William County and Alexandria. Last year, 40,000 blanket and 33,000 winter coats were collected at over 100 drop-off sites throughout the country.

Donations will be accepted through Sunday at more than 30 locations. Local government drop-off locations will stop collecting donations at 5 p.m. on Friday.

In Reston, donations can be made at the Hunter Mill District Supervisor Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. A complete list of all drop-off locations is also available online.

The organization is also accepting online donations. This year, all donations will be shipped to refugees located in Lebanon through a partnership with Paxton Van Lines and Maersk Line, according to the center’s website.

Photo via Northern Virginia Relief Center


Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston’s DRB Meets Tonight — Among items on the Design Review Board’s agenda are specific aspects of the upcoming redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center. [Reston Now]

Children’s Art on Display at RCC — The mixed media exhibit “The World in the Eyes of Children” is on display at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road) until Nov. 5. [Reston Community Center/Instagram]

Body Camera Pilot Program Proposed by FCPD — If approved by the county Board of Supervisors next month, officers in the Mason and Mount Vernon districts may begin the 90-day program as early as February. [Fairfax Times]

New School in Herndon To Be Discussed — The Hunter Mill Land Use Committee will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). To be discussed is a proposal from the Fairfax County Board of Education to construct a new three-story school building on the site. McNair Elementary currently serves grades K-6. In the plan, the existing school would serve K-3 and the new building would take grades 4-6. [Hunter Mill Highlights]

Seahawks Up One in Post Poll — Following their 44-0 win over Washington-Lee last week, the South Lakes High School football team settles in at No. 13 in the area rankings. They had been ranked No. 14 the previous week. The 6-1 Seahawks return home Friday night to play McLean. [Washington Post]


Thursday Morning Notes


Commercial Trucks Pulled Out of Service for Safety Violations — Fairfax County Police randomly chose 10 commercial trucks operating in Reston on Tuesday and inspected them for safety compliance. Authorities found 35 safety violations, and four trucks were taken out of service for “serious safety violations.” [FCPD]

Hernon Residents Show Holiday Spirit in Annual Home Tour — Residents throughout the area showcased some of their favorite holiday decorations during the annual Holiday Homes Tour of Herndon. [Reston Connection]

What Lurks in the Woods of Reston? — Local authors Eric MacDicken and Kristina S. Alcorn will sign copies of and speak about their new book, “Myths and Monsters of Reston, Virginia,” at Scrawl Books independent bookstore (11862 Market St.) at Reston Town Center this Sunday from 3-5 p.m. The book details “the phenomenal and frightening findings” of “what lurks in the woods of Reston.” [Scrawl Books]

Winter Coat Closet Open For Residents in Need  The annual Hunter Mill District Winter Coat Closet is now open for underprivileged local residents to come and get a warm winter coat if they cannot afford to buy one. Coats are available now through March 18 in the Community Room of the North County Governmental Building (1801 Cameron Glen Drive). The Closet is also in need of donations of new as well as clean, gently-used coats, jackets, hats, gloves, mittens and scarves through Feb. 16, 2017. [Cornerstones]

Photo of sunrise over Reston via Twitter user @JGS.



Police Practices Subject of Hunter Mill Meeting Sept. 8

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins at Feb. 29, 2016 meetingHunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will host a community meeting on Sept. 8 to discuss the findings of the Fairfax County Police’s Ad Hoc Commission’s Police Practices Review.

In addition to the update, the forum will serve as an opportunity for the public to give their feedback on the Commission’s recommendations, including proposals related to independent oversight of the Fairfax County Police Department

The meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 8, 7 to 9 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church, 1625 Wiehle Avenue, Reston.

The Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission was established to engage the community in an open and transparent process to recommend changes that would help Fairfax County to achieve its goal of maintaining a safe community, ensuring a culture of public trust, and making sure county policies provide for the fair and timely resolution of police-involved incidents.

The commission was created by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in the months following the 2013 police shooting of John Geer in the Springfield District.

“The Board of Supervisors and the Police Department recognize the importance of maintaining that public trust and the importance of always reviewing policies and practices and seeking to improve,” Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova said in March 2015 in announcing the review committee. “To that end, the Board of Supervisors is taking a hard look at the way Fairfax County handles significant police-involved incidents. “

The report looks at (and makes suggestions for) use-of-force; recruitment and diversity; and communications, among other areas.

Read the final report of the commission on the Fairfax County website.

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins/file photo


Here’s Your 2016 Hunter Mill Lord and Lady Fairfax

celebrate fairfaxJim Lewis and Michele Hymer “Cookie” Blitz have been selected as Hunter Mill’s Lord and Lady Fairfax as part of 2016 Celebrate Fairfax.

Each year, Fairfax County Supervisors select members of their districts who have demonstrated superior community service.

The Lords and Ladies will be honored at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on June 7, as well as at a special dinner reception that evening. Celebrate Fairfax is June 10-12 at the Fairfax County Government Center.

From Celebrate Fairfax:

James G Lewis, Jr. is the ultimate storyteller. He shares his expertise, talents, extensive knowledge, and enthusiasm for local history with all. In fact, in most conversations with Mr. Lewis, you can count on hearing, “I have a story about that.”

As an avid historian with an interest in the Hunter Mill Road corridor, Mr. Lewis not only reports the history, he discovers it. His explorations have uncovered sites of skirmishes, encampments, graves and structures from the Civil War era and before. He shares this history with the community through his popular lectures; bus, walking, and cemetery tours; and numerous books and publications.

He helped produce the documentary, “Danger Between the Lines”, shown on public television and winner of the County’s historical award.

He was instrumental with the research, applications and installation of several roadside markers that denote important historical events. Recently, Mr. Lewis expanded his repertoire of lectures to include talks on WWII milestones and events, which he shares around the county at no charge. With his enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge, he connects residents across generations to our rich local history.

Michele Hymer Blitz, or Cookie as she is affectionately known, serves as the Hunter Mill District appointee to the Fairfax Area Disability Services Board and past Board Chair, a position she has held since 2006.  Over her tenure, Hymer Blitz has proved to be a champion for County residents with disabilities, especially in employment and housing issues and is a member of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee.

Along with her advocacy for individuals with disabilities, Cookie is completing a two year term as President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, and is also a long time member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Additionally, she is a Trustee of the Jewish Federations of North America and serves as National co-chair of the Aging and Family Caregiving Committee. Hymer Blitz also enjoys volunteering at the Closet in Herndon and is a supporter of Cornerstones in Reston. In 2014, she was named one of 30 Social Justice Makers in VA by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.


Tuesday: Election Day in Fairfax County

"I voted" sticker. (Photo via Flickr/vox efx)Tuesday, Nov. 3 is election day. Do you know where your precinct is located?

Here is a primer for all things Election Day 2015.

If you are unsure of you polling place, put your address in this polling locator tool from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You need an acceptable form of ID to vote. See a list of ID types from Fairfax County.

Get up to speed with this sample Hunter Mill District Ballot.

In the Hunter Mill District:

Supervisor — Incumbent Cathy Hudgins (D)  is running unopposed.

Virginia Senate — Incumbent Janet Howell (D) is running unopposed.

Virginia House of Representatives — Incumbent Ken Plum (D) is running unopposed.

Fairfax County School Board: Incumbent Pat Hynes is running for re-election against newcomer Mark Wilkinson.

There are also three At-Large School Board seats up for grabs. Here is who is on the ballot:

Additionally, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid is running for re-election against Bryan A. “B. A.” Wolfe; and Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon S. Bulova is being challenged by Arthur G. Purves and Glenda Gail Parker.

Voters will choose a new Soil and Water Conservation Director for the Northern Virginia District and a new Clerk of Courts.

Fairfax County voters will also be presented with bond issues — a $315 million school bond (which would aid in renovations for Herndon and South Lakes High Schools, as well and Langston Hughes Middle School), and a $151 facilities bond. Part of the facilities bond will go towards replacing the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Station at Wiehle Avenue and Sunset Hills Road, as well as a new animal shelter


Meet the Candidate: Hunter Mill School Board Rep Pat Hynes

FCPS School Board member Pat HynesPat Hynes, first elected to the Fairfax County School Board in 2011, is running for re-election to the Hunter Mill seat on the board.

Reston Now sent questionnaires to Hynes and her opponent, Mark Wilkinson. Wilkinson’s has not yet been returned. The two candidates will participate in a forum in Reston on Oct. 24. The election is Nov. 3.

RN: Why do you want to serve on the school board?

PH: I am very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to represent the Hunter Mill District on the school board for the past four years. My experience as the mother of two FCPS graduates, an FCPS teacher, a lawyer, and a community leader have served me well on the board and, I hope, have served the community well.

The current board has accomplished a good deal, including: later high school start times; full-day elementary Mondays; elementary class size caps; student-centered discipline reform; improvements in literacy and special education instruction; a comprehensive independent efficiency audit; and the hiring of the first-ever auditor general who reports directly to the school board.

Under this board’s direction, FCPS has taken a leadership role in the state and national conversation about better assessments, moving away from the high-stakes test score chase that has for too long dominated classroom instruction.

We have continuing challenges, however, including persistent achievement gaps, class sizes that are still too high in some schools, growing needs for space, and teacher pay that is not keeping pace in the region. Thanks to the efforts of the current board and Superintendent Karen Garza, I see progress on those and other challenges, and I hope the people of Hunter Mill will give me the opportunity to continue this important work.

RN:  What makes you uniquely qualified to serve the school board?

PH: As the only member of the current 12-member school board who has worked as a teacher in FCPS, I am uniquely suited to understand the interests of our employees. My colleagues on the board are very supportive of teachers, which I appreciate, but my time in the classroom gives me the experience to anticipate concerns and ask relevant questions. Having taught in both Vienna and Reston, I also have a network of local teachers and school-based administrators who know that I value their opinions and understand their needs.

I have been a PTA and civic leader in the Hunter Mill District for most of my 25 years in the community. I have had many leadership roles, including president of the Meekins Cooperative Preschool in Vienna, president of my children’s elementary school PTA and president of my neighborhood civic association. I was a co-founder of the Vienna Teen Center Foundation, which raised funds and developed programs for the teen center. For many years, I have been embedded in local public service, which has given me a strong local network and a broad understanding of this community’s goals and values.

My legal training is also an important asset in my work on the school board. The board has the benefit of experienced legal counsel, of course, but it is helpful to have board members with a basic grounding in the law. School boards work within legal constraints in almost everything we do, including student discipline, human resources, land use, government transparency, and many other layers of local, state and federal regulation. In addition, a working understanding of government institutions is very helpful in the advocacy work that board members are always doing on behalf of FCPS.

RN:. What are the three biggest concerns you have about FCPS?

PH: I think our most pressing challenges are closing achievement gaps, addressing our persistent budget shortfalls, and meeting the growing need for classroom space.

The FCPS Strategic Plan, developed by the current school board and FCPS leadership, sets a bold goal to close all achievement gaps. On almost any measure of achievement, we see gaps in success based on socioeconomic status and learning disabilities. We can do better. I would like to see FCPS work more effectively with our community partners to expand access to quality early childhood programs, and be more intentional about integrating classrooms and having high expectations for all students.

I continue to advocate that we improve transparency on this issue by developing an equity scorecard, prominently linked to the home page of the FCPS web site, that will provide updated data on major student achievement measures, broken out by demographic subgroups.

In my response to question 4 below, I will discuss how we are addressing the projected budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2017. I think we also have a larger, ongoing budget challenge that needs a strategic solution. Because school boards in Virginia can not raise revenue, we depend on local and state government (and, to a minimal extent, federal grants) for funding. After seven years of growing enrollment and even more rapidly rising costs, we find that even increasing revenues during some of those years have not kept pace with the need.

FCPS is spending $1,000 less per child, in real dollars, than we were in 2008. Those savings have been found by raising class size twice, freezing teacher pay four times, and cutting central office positions to the point where principals tell me support for schools is suffering. Those cost-saving measures are not sustainable, and neither is the current revenue structure. We must work with our partners in state and local government to diversify the revenue base and ensure that revenue projections better reflect true costs.

Many schools in the Hunter Mill District have been under increasing pressure for additional classroom space. Across the county as a whole, almost 1,000 classrooms are in trailers and our renovation cycle is 10 years longer than the industry standard.

School infrastructure bonds always receive overwhelming support from the community, but the county government is limited in how much debt it can incur every year. As a result, school construction funding has not kept pace with growing enrollment. The current school board has worked collaboratively with county leaders to find some short-term solutions, but more work needs to be done. This community must have a long-term strategic plan for capital funding that reflects true needs and takes full advantage of opportunities for co-locating school and county facilities. That kind of planning requires continuing high-level cooperation.
RN: The school system is facing a record budget gap. What are your ideas for closing the gap? Can it be done?

PH: First, it’s important to note that the projected shortfall for Fiscal Year 2017 is not a deficit, as that term is usually understood. School boards in Virginia must always end the year with a positive budget balance. The current school board has worked with FCPS budget staff to bring that ending balance down to less than 2 percent of the total operating budget, a tight margin, but one we believe is responsible.

Given current assumptions about costs and revenues, FCPS budget staff project a $70 million shortfall for Fiscal Year 2017 (school year 2016-17). I am committed to NOT closing that gap by short-changing teachers or raising class size, so we must find other potential cost savings. I encourage readers to do what I’ve done and go to the FCPS budget tool and compile a list of potential cuts from the 100-plus items that the budget task force has identified. It’s not easy. I find it impossible to get to $70 million without including many programs that are, in my opinion, essential to who we are as a school system.

The gap can be closed, the only question being how. I know that this community values its schools very highly and is willing to invest when asked. Several members of the FY 2017 budget task force are interested in staying involved to help crowd-source revenue options.

The current local revenue structure in Virginia relies too heavily on property taxes, especially inappropriate in a rapidly urbanizing county like ours. The school board and other school advocates must continue working with local and state leaders to find a more fair, balanced approach to revenue.

I am encouraged by Governor McAuliffe’s pledge to increase long-overdue state support for public schools. More support from the state would be most welcome.

RN: FCPS received attention earlier this year for voting to offer protection for students facing bias for gender identity. How would you have voted/did you vote on that issue? What is your interpretation of this and have you spoken with any parents about what this means going forward.

PH: I voted in favor of extending our non-discrimination policy to transgender individuals. The vote was an important act of support for a vulnerable minority, and it put us on the right side of history and federal law. The school board received many emails and other expressions of support or concern, as we often do. I always take seriously the concerns of parents, students and teachers to any change in policy.

A significant number of parents seemed worried about the practical consequences of the policy change, especially regarding use of group bathrooms and locker rooms. In response to that concern, the school board directed Superintendent Garza to develop a system-wide regulation that respects the dignity and privacy of all students. The regulation, currently being developed, will codify the current practice in some of our schools of addressing transgender student needs individually, through consultation with the family and in a way that does not infringe on others’ privacy.

This approach has worked well so far, with no complaints. The school board will see the new regulation before it goes into effect, to ensure that it reflects the guidance given to the Superintendent.

Last spring, the school board also accepted the recommendation of the Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee (FLECAC) to add lessons on gender identity to the middle and high school curriculum. I supported that vote because I think education is important in reducing bullying and discrimination. Because many parents prefer to teach about human sexuality and gender at home, the school board preserved the right of parents to opt their children out of any or all of the new lessons on gender identity.

Some parent advocates raised a concern that some of FLECAC’s recommendations would have shifted other FLE lessons on human development to the health curriculum, so the school board specifically amended the proposal and retained several lessons in FLE, thus preserving the parent opt-out right. The new FLE curriculum will take effect in the 2016-17 school year, and parents can view the lessons next summer before school starts.

RN: Large class size, overcrowded schools and a growing school population overall continue to be problems. What is the solution?

PH: How we handle growth comes down to vision and planning, and I believe the school board should have a greater role. For example, housing decisions — how much to build, of what type and where — are made by county leaders and then
communicated to the schools.

Not engaging school system leaders in land use planning is a missed opportunity to get ahead of the curve on building classrooms. The failure to plan together also means we are not building communities that have the kind of socioeconomic diversity and co-located public services that schools need to be successful.

The current school board has asked for continued dialogue with county leaders on facilities. I think that conversation should include developing a more collaborative land use planning process.

RN: Parents with students in various arts, music and sports programs are very concerned about the effects of budget cuts. What would you say to reassure them? If it comes down to the school board making cuts, are there any programs you think should be higher priority to save?

PH: At this point, as the budget task force concludes it work and prepares to report to Superintendent Garza, I am reluctant to undermine their process by taking anything off the table, other than teacher salaries and class size. The school board will make final decisions about the FY 2017 budget in May. Between now and then, there are many opportunities for parents and students to participate in the conversation about costs and revenues. Readers can visit fcps.edu for more information and, of course, email the school board any time.

RN: Fairfax teachers salaries continue to lag behind neighboring districts. What can be done about this and how can you convince teachers to stay at FCPS?

PH: We must commit to raising teacher pay every year until FCPS teachers’ salaries are competitive again, and then make sure we remain competitive. Superintendent Garza has begun a comprehensive compensation study that will look at salaries and benefits across the division, so that our decisions about pay are based on employee input and apples-to-apples comparisons with other districts. As long as employees participate fully in that study, I think it will be very helpful.

While the compensation gap must be closed, it’s important to remember that working conditions also have a lot to do with teacher satisfaction. Through working conditions surveys and regular meetings with employee association leaders, the board checks in on how well teachers feel respected and valued as educators, how well their time is protected, and whether they feel like trusted partners in the evaluation process.

In the current national anti-teacher climate, the joy of teaching is very much at risk. We must make sure that FCPS is a place where teachers are at their best because they love working here.


County Officials: School Graffiti ‘Intolerable in Our Community’

Graffiti at Herndon High SchoolFairfax County supervisors and school board members are speaking up in response to racist, profane and anti-semitic graffiti at Herndon High School last week.

There has since been similar incident at South Lakes High School, but a joint statement by Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and school board rep Pat Hynes and Dranesville Supervisor John Foust and school board member Jane Strauss was issued prior to Sunday’s SLHS vandalism.

No suspects have been charged.

The representatives say the behavior is “intolerable in our community.”

“It does not represent the inclusive community that we strive to make possible in Fairfax County,” the reps said.

Here’s the statement:

Last weekend, vile hate speech and derogatory symbols were found defacing property at Herndon High School. We stand together, all saying that this behavior is intolerable in our community. This action represents some of the worst intolerance that we have seen, and does not represent the inclusive community that we strive to make possible in Fairfax County.

This action is intended to demean and diminish members of our community. The symbols depicted at Herndon High School represent hate and inhumanity. We will not stand for this behavior in our school system, or in the greater Fairfax County community.

We will not allow our schools to become a platform for hatred and intolerance of any group or individual. Moreover, we must use this occasion in a positive way, to teach respect and tolerance and to demonstrate how the diversity of our county enriches all our lives.

This is a horrific example, but we must take it as an opportunity to further build an inclusive community for all.

Photo: Graffiti at Herndon High School


Supervisor Hudgins’ Husband Hospitalized After Fall

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins addresses crowd at Silver Line opening/Credit: Jennifer Heffner, Vita ImagesWillie Hudgins, the husband of Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, is recovering at Inova Fairfax Hospital after he was badly injured in a fall on Friday.

Hudgins suffered serious injuries in the incident at his gym, aides to Hudgins said.

The Hudgins family has been residents of Reston since 1969. Hudgins has been the Hunter Mill Supervisor since 1999.

A statement from Cathy Hudgins’ office:

On Friday, March 27, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ husband, Willie Hudgins, suffered serious injuries related to a fall. He was rushed to INOVA hospital where he was stabilized and is continuing to undergo treatment.

Supervisor Hudgins wishes to extend her thanks to Fairfax County first responders and hospital staff for their assistance in this difficult time.

Additionally, we want to thank the community for their outpouring of prayers and support for the Hudgins family.

The Hunter Mill District Office continues to conduct business as usual and will update the Hunter Mill District website and Facebook page as further information is available.

We appreciate your concern and cooperation in this very private family matter. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy during this difficult period.

Cathy Hudgins/File photo


Hudgins to Lead Community Summit Saturday

Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy HudginsHunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and other local leaders invite all Reston residents to the 2015 Hunter Mill District Community Summit on Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Frying Pan Park’s Visitor’s Center, 2739 West Ox Rd. in Herndon.

Come and hear about the Fiscal Year 2016 budget for Fairfax County and Fairfax County Public Schools, as well as get answers to questions you may have about area services and project.

Also scheduled to appear: Rep. Gerry Connolly; Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova; Hunter Mill District School Board Member Pat Hynes; Fairfax County Executive Ed Long; Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones CEO; Kate Hanley, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board;  Jerry Poje, Human Services Council; Bill Bouie, Fairfax County Park Authority Chair; George Bergquist, Committee for Helping Others; Leila Gordon, Executive Director, Reston Community Center.

The highlight event is the Hunter Mill Huddle. The Huddle is a scrum of ideas and questions/answers from the leading Fairfax County policy-makers regarding the proposed budget, Human Services, North County service and facility development, and other informational topics about the Hunter Mill District.

In addition, the Department of Tax Administration will be providing one-on-one consultation to senior and disabled residents on tax relief opportunities and applications.

To RSVP or for questions regarding the meeting, contact the Hunter Mill District Office at (703) 478-0283, or email to [email protected].

Photo: Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins/File photo


Saturday: Hunter Mill Community Summit At Frying Pan Park

Fairfax CountyInterested in what is happening in Fairfax County’s Hunter Mill District.

Then plan to attend the Hunter Mill District Community Summit Saturday at Herndon’s Frying Pan Park, 2709 West Ox Road.

Here are the highlights:

* Summit runs from 8 a.m. to noon and will feature presentations by Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins and others.

* 9 a.m. — Hunter Mill virtual field trip.

* 10 a.m. — Budget presentation by County executive Ed Long; County priorities talk by Board of Supervisors chair Sharon Bulova; Schools report from Hunter Mill School Board rep Pat Hynes.

* 10:45 a.m. — “Hunter Mill Huddle,” a scrum of ideas from leading policy makers in the Hunter Mill District on such topics as human services, parks, planning, police, schools and transportation.

* 12 p.m. — Q & A and wrap up.

Representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Taxation will also be on hand to help citizens in tax consultations or to answer questions about real estate tax.

RSVP by email to [email protected] or call the Hunter Mill District Office at 703-478-0283.


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