The start of a new year (although not technically a new school year) holds changes for both local students and parents. Here are the changes coming to Northern Virginia public schools in 2020 you need to know before your kids head back to school after winter break.
Arlington Public Schools
On Dec. 19, Arlington Public Schools announced the appointment of Arron Gregory, the new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer of Arlington Public Schools. Gregory comes from Trotwood, Ohio, where he held a similar position at Trotwood-Madison City School District. When he assumes his role on Thursday, Jan. 16, he will bring over 18 years of experience in education to lead the development and implementation of a strategic plan to advance diversity, equality and inclusion across all APS schools and departments.
On Dec. 20, the Arlington Public School Board adopted fees for summer school 2020. Fees for secondary summer school will remain the same as the prior year, but the full fee for “Make Up and Strengthening” courses will rise to $150. Strengthening courses for elementary students will continue to benefit students who are performing below grade level in mathematics and reading. Registration for summer school courses will continue to be on a recommendation basis by school employees.
Fairfax County Public Schools
On Dec. 13, 12 recently elected members of the Fairfax County School Board took their oaths of office for their four-year terms, which will officially start on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The elected members include Abhar Omeish, Karen Keys-Gamarra and Rachna Sizemore Heizer. District-specific board members included Megan McLaughlin, Braddock District; Melanie Meren, Hunter Mill District; Elaine Tholen, Dranesville District; Tamara Derenak Kaufax, Lee District; Ricardy Anderson, Mason District; Karen Corbett Sanders, Mount Vernon District; Karl Frisch, Providence District; Laura Jane Cohen, Springfield District; and Stella Pekarsky, Sully District.
On Dec. 20, Fairfax County Public Schools announced its proposed fiscal year 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Program, which will require more than $1 billion for the five-year plan. Due to inconsistent growth in certain areas over others throughout the county, FCPS has identified capital projects including school renovations, additions and modular additions where needed. Funds that were previously approved in the 2019 School Bond Referendum cover $500 million of the plan, which is set to fund one new elementary school, the relocation of a modular addition, construction of three new high school additions and renovations to five local high schools and two middle schools. The school board is set to hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 7, addressing the unfunded $573 million needed to complete the Capital Improvement Program.
Loudoun County Public Schools
In December 2019, it was announced that Growth and Opportunity in Virginia (GO Virginia) would award a $2.4 million grant to Loudoun Education Foundation for the creation of a Virginia K-12 Computer Science Pipeline Program in Loudoun County Public Schools. The funding will propel a two-year project that integrates computer science and computational skills from kindergarten through 12th grade, with hopes of providing local students the opportunity to build a strong educational foundation in the growing industry (especially in the Northern Virginia area). The grant has the bandwidth to fund professional development of local educators, create a database of curriculum in computer science and related fields, as well as integrate computer science-inspired lessons into other topics, such as general math, science, technology and other STEM-related subjects.
LPCS will host its third annual Mental Health and Wellness Conference on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Independence High School. The conference is meant to offer local parents and students the chance to discuss and better understand mental health topics, such as anxiety, stress, resilience and the current programs that LCPS offers for mental health preservation and education. There will be a screening of the independent film LIKE, followed by a presentation by Dr. Edward Spector (a psychologist who specializes in compulsive technology use) who will offer practical ideas on how to help students and parents limit the amount of time and the impacts of technology on daily lives, interpersonal relationships, communication and more. There will also be three breakout sessions during the conference, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register, visit the Loudoun County Public Schools website.
Prince William Public Schools
On Dec. 18, Prince William Public Schools’ newest School Board members took their oaths of office and will begin their four-year terms on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Four people of the eight-person board will remain to represent their districts, including Lillie G. Jessie of Occoquan, Diane L. Raulston of Neabsco, Justin D. Wilk of Potomac (and Vice Chairman) and Loree Y. Williams of Woodbridge. Also returning will be Chairman At-Large Dr. Barbur Lateef. New members include Adele Jackson of Brentsville, Jennifer Wall of Gainesville and Lisa Zargapur of Coles. A new vice chairman of the board will be elected at the Wednesday, Jan. 8 meeting.
For more local education coverage, subscribe to our Education newsletter.