It has been a busy week here in FCCPS! We close out the week with a great budget planning session with City Council, excellent forward movement on our Strategic Plan, a hugely successful vaccine clinic for our 5-11-year-olds, the second week of our voluntary COVID screening test program, and we are looking forward to all the events as we wind down for winter break! This week’s message is simple: lean into the “comfort and joy” of the winter season.
Budget Planning & Updates
This week, FCCPS hosted a dinner that included the City Council, members of the General government, the School Board, and some of the administration at Meridian's new library to officially “kick-off” the budget season. There was a presentation by myself and Wyatt Shields, the City Manager, about our hopes and desires for the coming year. I am excited about the prospects as we move forward in the budget cycle as the organic growth in the City of Falls Church is projected to be 8.4%. This percentage growth is a combination of multiple revenue sources to include general sales tax, assessed home values, and the like.
Growth like this doesn’t happen very often, and via the revenue sharing arrangement we have with the General Government, the schools would receive at least half of the overall organic growth.
This year I am committed to promoting compensation for our employees and also looking at a few additional investments that will support the teacher workload issues that have come to the fore during COVID. Further, as we continue with our strategic planning process, it is equally important to look at how we are funding our future initiatives in coming years that will keep FCCPS the best school division in Virginia.
Our staff in FCCPS have put it all in for the past two years, and at the beginning of the pandemic, when our budget “tanked,” they did not get any compensation increase. I believe now is the time to “right the ship” with respect to compensation. By doing so, we remain competitive in the recruitment and retention process. Further, we will enhance our staff’s working conditions by looking at the additional needs to support identified workload issues. As you know, “teacher working conditions are student’s learning conditions.” In this symbiotic relationship, we must take care of those who take care of our kids.
Lastly, we are excited about the future of our capital program and the purchase of long-term assets that support our community values. Through some thoughtful and incredible planning by our budget team through the last two years, we have saved some money to purchase electric buses and green infrastructure. This year we will get a matching grant from the state that will allow us to build infrastructure associated with the buses and the buses themselves. The timing could not be more perfect as a few buses in our fleet are beginning to “age out.” Also, through thoughtful planning, we can get in the queue now for more buses in the future. We are also engaging with a solar company (contracts being finalized) around how we will use our year-end balance to support more photovoltaic arrays at Henderson to further pull Meridian “off the grid” and become fully Net-Zero. This spending upfront will save us money in the future through captured savings from energy.
The future is bright (pun intended), and we are excited!
Strategic Plan-Shaping Our Future
This week, we had a fantastic two days of strategic planning with our teams. On Tuesday, we met at Meridian, and on Wednesday, we met at Mount Daniel. The team present was incredible and reflected the community in so many ways. We had staff, parents, students, and community members participating. To date, we have received over 1000 points of input on our Strategic Plan, and very soon, we will begin sharing what the major themes coming out of the process are. We want to add a little definition before sharing too broadly to ensure clarity for those who look at the beginning pieces. Suffice to academics, culture, innovation, strong operations and fiscal management, etc…are all part of the big picture.
More to come soon. :)
COVID Mitigation Matters
The asymptomatic FCCPS/ViSSTA COVID screening testing team is at each school every Thursday through December 16th and resuming January 6th following Winter Break. Below is the schedule.
Jessie Thackrey Preschool 8:15-8:45
Mount Daniel Elementary 9:00-11:00
Mary Ellen Henderson/Meridian 11:30-1:30
Oak Street Elementary 2:00-3:15
PLEASE SUBMIT AN UPDATED VACCINE CARDS: Please take a moment to upload your student’s most recent vaccination card to our new FCCPS Vaccination Card Upload page. (This includes the 5-11-year-old newly-vaccinated students, as well as our previously vaccinated 12-18-year-old students.)
Students who are fully vaccinated and not showing symptoms do not have to Pause/Quarantine even if they are exposed to a positive case.
FCCPS COVID By The Numbers
Cumulative from August 1
# of Student Cases:
# of Staff Cases
# of Students in Quarantine
FCCPS Rate of Transmission
HIGH for Falls Church City
Substantial for Fairfax Health District
Please note that this data is just a snapshot of FCCPS in total and is adjusted based on the outcomes of each contact tracing investigation.
15 Days of Comfort & Joy–5 More Instructional Days Until Winter Break
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. My hope for next week is that we can ease into the holidays with love, peace, and joy as we’ve nearly made it to the winter break in as normal a schooling condition as possible during a global pandemic.
Here’s to a great week next week!