Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

New Superintendent

Please come to Mary Ellen Henderson on the evening of Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 pm as the School Board appoints a new superintendent for Falls Church City Public Schools. Annoucement

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Chair, Earlier Summer Break, and Budget

The School Board had it's 2017 Organizational Meeting last night. We had a great crowd. If you couldn't attend, let me catch you up.
First, Lawrence Webb was elected to be chair this year. Justin Castillo, the chair the last two years, nominated Lawrence to be chair and Lawrence ran unopposed. I had the honor to be selcted as the Vice Chair on a nomination by Erin Gill - I thank my fellow board members for the opportunity.
Second, the Board approved a calendar for next school year that ends a full week earlier than the original proposal. So school next school year will end on June 15, 2018. You can see the calendar here: http://www.boarddocs.com/…/OPTION_D_2017.2018FCCPSCalendar1…My thanks to the calendar committee that worked on this option.
Last, we heard from all the school principals and functional leaders about their needs for new people (teachers and staff). It will be a very hard year, with requests, the need to maintain competitive pay, and rising benefit costs far exceeding the guidance the School Board has received from the general government. Please review the documents and share your views!
You can reach me at preitinger@fccps.org.
(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

School Board Meeting Tonight

This evening the School Board will have it's first meeting of the year (last week, we had a joint meeting with the City Council). The meeting is at 7 pm in chambers at City Hall.

It's a long meeting, and includes:
- Election of the Chair and Vice Chair
- A budget work session
- Decision on the calendar for the next school year, with four options presented, three of which end on June 15 rather than continuing into the next week, and
- A lot of administrative items.

You can find the calendar options here at item 8.05. http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AGSR766C90EA I'd welcome feedback this afternoon if you have it.

See you tonight.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Campus Planning Meeting with the City Council

On Jan. 3 the School Board had a joint meeting with the City Council to further discuss what to do about GMHS and MEH. We went through all the work that had been done by the working group - my thanks to Marybeth Connolly, Letty Hardi, Erin Gill, and John Lawrence for their work on the group,.
A whole bunch of options were presented from "do nothing" to "full new school." The middle options fell into the categories of phased construction and renovation+expansion. No decisions were made, except that (in my understanding of the discussion) that "do nothing" wasn't an option.
I think we have started to move toward limiting the options. First, it seemed to me that folks wanted to keep a new school on the options list because the cost wasn't that different from renovation+expansion. There was also a lot of support, and some opposition, to the phased construction approach.
We may be narrowing toward a couple of options. First, a new school costing in the neighborhood of $110M dollars. Second, phased construction or additions that would be done over time. This could cost as much or more as a new school, depending on how much of the current school was kept - the more you spend, the more new school you have, and the more land your free up for development. The big disadvantages are delayed development and a longer period of construction. The big advantages ore flexibility and affordability.
I'd be happy to talk more about the options, and your thoughts on them. You can reach me at preitinger@fccps.org.
Happy new year!
(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Qualities in a New Superintendent

Last Tuesday, Dec. 20, the School Board looked into the qualities that the community feels a new superintendent should have.  The feedback was aligned with what I had heard from the community.

In short, the two most important skills people want in a superintendent are communications and leadership skills.  The qualities people wanted to see were a bit more distributed, with good judgment, commitment to the community, integrity, and team builder being the top four in order.  The most significant strength of the school system is excellent teachers and staff, and the most significant challenges we face are growth, facilities, and funding.  The comments in the interviews and face to face sessions were consistent.  You can find the summary of the feedback from the community here: http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/files/AGUK7D5076EB/$file/Falls%20Church%20Community%20Engagement%20%20Power%20Point%2012-20-16.pdf.

A portrait of a new superintendent arises from these results.  Folks want a communicator and leader who joins in and is committed to our community, and addresses the significant challenges we face in facilities and funding while preserving the core of our schools - the teachers and staff.  That's my personal view of the result - I'd welcome your comments.  You can find all the materials here, including a full stakeholder engagement report.  http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AGMRJZ6E4325

(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Calendar, George Mason, and ESOL

Happy holidays, everyone. Here are my updates from the last school board meeting.

Calendar - the SB asked the FCCPS calendar committee to consider options to try to end school on June 15 rather than June 21. This would certainly require reducing the academic year from 182 days to 180 days, plus two more current holidays would need to be turned into school days.

George Mason - the school board had an energized discussion. FCCPS presented the estimated costs to replace the room and HVAC, likely required within a couple of years. A roof replacement would be $1M, and HVAC replacement either $6M or $14M depending on what was done. http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/files/AGLMGH57842E/$file/FY18%20School%20CIP%20(Amended)%20(1).pdf This is of critical importance because it is unlikely that a new high school, even if approved by referendum in November 2017, can be built in that time period. And if the high school is replaced, rather than renovated, these costs would be for a temporary fix. At same time, our students have to stay dry and warm to learn. Stay tuned.

ESOL - the ESOL advisory committee made a presentation on the recent ESOL audit. The committee's recommendations included hiring an ESOL coordinator - another valuable idea but difficult given budgetary restrictions.

(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)