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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Public invited to Feb. 10 forum on 'the State of our Schools'

Parents, local residents, Fairfax County officials, and county supervisors are invited to take part in a State of our Schools Forum Feb. 10, 7 p.m., at Glasgow Middle School.

The forum, hosted by the Mason District Council of Community Associations (MDC), is open to the public.

“With most of our schools currently at or overcapacity and new development coming to Mason District that includes thousands of residential units, we are pleased that we can host this important event to encourage a dialogue to address school overcrowding,” says MDC chair Mollie Loeffler.  

MDC recently launched a petition drive asking Mason Supervisor Penny Gross and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to return the Willston Center site to the school board to alleviate current and future school overcrowding. MDC, along with many local residents, believe a school would be a better use for the Willston site than the $125 million East County office building favored by Gross.

Schools in the Mason District that are overcapacity include Annandale Terrace, Braddock, Bren Mar Park, Columbia, Glen Forest, Westlawn, Weyanoke, and Woodburn elementary schools; Glasgow and Luther Jackson middle schools; and Stuart and Falls Church high schools. Within five years, Bailey’s Upper, Mason Crest, Parklawn, and Sleepy Hollow elementary schools are projected to be overcapacity.

In addition to school capacity challenges, forum participants will discuss accreditation issues. Stuart High School has been given an “accredited with warning” status by the Virginia Department of Education for the second year in a row. That’s a concern because a less than-fully-accredited status affects student transcripts, property values in the community, and morale of school staff.

26 comments:

  1. What happens beyond the third year of being accredited with warning?

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  2. and as I understand it one of the solutions to the overcrowded high school is the use of trailers! Can you imagine that!

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  3. So glad someone is finally doing something on this.

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  4. The problem with the schools around here are the parents. They do not join the PTA and don't care about the schools. If you look at Parklawn Elementary, they probably have 3 people on the PTA. That is ridiculous. Trailers are not the issue here. And one wonders why the entire Jeb Stuart HS pyramid is a strong 3 on the Great Schools rating.

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    1. Your fascination with trailers is remarkable. What you're failing to mention is that the education offered inside those trailers is outstanding. It's obvious that the diverse student population in Mason has created some instructional challenges that are difficult to overcome. However, I've seen plenty of Stuart grads go on to excel both academically and in life. Your comment reflects the too prevalent attitude that every school in the county should be a public prep school. Since I doubt if taxpayers will be thrilled about underwriting that pipe dream, I suggest you start becoming realistic about your expectations.

      Counting Moncure, Mason will have opened three new schools in six years. If you don't like Moncure, then get out you checkbook and send the county a check for $10 MM. That's the value of the proffers that are connected with the development of that site. Moreover, if you want to build yet another school at Willston, pray tell us where the county agencies and shelter slated for the ECOB are to be relocated. It sounds like you have time on your hands, so that shouldn't take too long. - Tom

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    2. This is not a question of unrealistic expectations "Tom." We're simply not buying into the idea that we should have to accept trailers or unsuitable office space for education while Gross takes a school site for her offices.

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    3. As I see it, county and school officials are to blame for their failure to address the problems that are causing the capacity issues. Residents are to blame as well. All you hear are calls for new schools? What good does that do,? When they get filled what next...more schools. You need to address the issue causing the problem which nobody wants to do. Things will only get worse if nothing is done and this will have a domino effect. As it has been pointed out in the article and prior posts, property values will deteriorate, additional burden will be placed upon the tax payer, stuart becoming unaccredited, and further erosion in the level of education. The writing is on the wall and with everything free around here (free lunches, free clothing, free education, free food bags, free gifts, free participation in activites, free, free, free) and with a blind eye turned to ordinance laws I don't expect much change with things only getting worse.

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    4. Speaking of trailers, why does bailey's lower continue to have all the trailers? Since half the school goes to another building why are the trailers still there?

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    5. Tom,
      How about putting county agencies in some of the record-high vacant office space and putting a school on the Willston campus? This makes more sense than putting another school in an office building and building a $125 Million county agency building on a school campus.

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  5. Where are all these kids coming from that are flooding the schools?

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    1. What's the plural of uterus? Pretty sure that's where.

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    2. It's platypus!

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  6. Braddock ES is not in the Mason District; it's in the Braddock District. There are some students in the Mason District who attend Braddock ES.

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    1. Even though the building is not officially in the Mason District (on the line) the school is under Sandy Evans School Board Member Mason District, half the kids are in the Mason District and they feed into Mason District Schools (Poe & AHS).

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  7. Building another school is not the answer. That is just putting a band aid on the real issue(s). You need to address what is causing the overcrowding before moving forward otherwise you are simply pissing in the wind.

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  8. Check for documentations on both kids and parents and I bet you it will solve some of the issues.

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  9. I don't want my child to attend a high school that not accredited! How many teachers transferred out of Stuart last year? How many first year teachers where assigned to Stuart?

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  10. Property values are - and continue - to drop in Mason District. Blight is increasing as are unregulated multi-tenant houses. School bus stops in and around any of the garden apartment complexes in the district along Routes 50, 236, 7 or Columbia Pike cause 15-20 traffic backups as they empty 2-3 buses at a time of elementary, middle and high school students. Fairfax County - and Mason District in particular - have become magnets since Prince William County established local enfrocement codes related to documentation.

    The demographic shift is quite clear in school profiles on the FCPS website. Stuart and Glasgow (its primary middle school "feeder") have populations that are 62/68% eligible for free lunch and 32/33% with limited English proficiency. Compare that to Woodson HS (10% free/reduced lunch and 4.15% limited English proficiency) or Fairfax HS (27% free/reduced and 12% limited English proficiency) and the contrasts are clear. FACT: Unlike students at other FCPS high schools that go on annual trips to perform music and visit sites, Stuart students take charter buses to Florida, Chicago, etc., because the majority of the students do not have the documentation necessary to embark on a flight.

    With regard to accreditation, school accreditation is DENIED if a school fails to meet the "rated fully" or "provisionally" standard for four consecutive years. What does that mean? Teachers won't go to work there; students applying to colleges from a "non-accredited" HS will have a tougher time gaining admission to colleges when compared to accredited HS across the county; and you'll have a tougher time selling your house because the Stuart "unaccredited" pyramid will be on your MLS profile.

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    1. While I think that it is COMPLETELY unacceptable that Stuart will most likely not be an accredited high school after next year, according to the Virginia Department of Education, that bit of information will not be on transcripts.

      http://www.doe.virginia.gov/statistics_reports/accreditation_federal_reports/accreditation/faq_accreditation_denied.shtml

      Fairfax County is willing to settle for 3/4 of their schools being below par, and has been for a long time. A dirty not-so-secret of one of the "best school districts" in the county !

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    2. " Property values are - and continue - to drop in Mason District." - Right. Which explains why assessments and home sale prices have been steadily rising.

      Moreover, that link you post states as follows: "Accreditation ratings reflect overall achievement within a school, not the performance or learning of individual students." The fact that Stuart has students who aren't performing well academically doesn't per se reflect on those students who are meeting or exceeding expectations. There are plenty of successful students at Stuart and not just in the IB program.

      Finally, if anything, the FCPS are guilty of promoting the interests of top students at the expense of those who require remediation. There are plenty of parents who expect the system to offer their kids the equivalent of a prep school education without having to pay the costs that go along with that lofty ideal. So, the real "dirty secret" is that plenty of students deliberately get left behind because the FCPS choose to direct funds toward teaching to the top of the curve. Until that inequity is addressed, it won't matter how many new school are opened. - Tom

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  11. You're nuts if you think property values in Mason are falling. Take a look at any listing website, or even your assessment. Sure, not the heights that they were, but go to any open house and look at the young families that want to live closer to the city than earlier generations

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    1. I'd be interested in seeing the data too, but bear in mind listing price/tax assessment != actual property value. Lots of homes for sale in my neighborhood off Ravensworth for fairly high numbers...they're also not selling. The ones that have closed are closing substantially under list.

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  12. Falls Church is 160 students below capacity this year, not over-capacity. If the current projections turn out to be accurate, it might be overcrowded five years from now. FCHS historically has had many pupil placements to Stuart and Marshall because Stuart is a nicer facility and Marshall has higher test scores (and now has a renovated building to boot).

    However, the poster who claims property values in Mason are falling is just wrong.

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  13. Did anyone see the article in the Washington Post this morning:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/why-is-fairfax-county-afraid-of-a-little-charter-school/2015/02/08/ce46801c-ae2d-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html
    I will be interested to hear an update on this. If the school board can fool us into a $20M Bond for a new school, I would consider supporting a bond referendum for this.

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    1. I saw this.

      I have ALWAYS voted yes for education bonds, but I will absolutely vote no on any bond referendum that includes charter school funding. Charter schools are wholly a scam to privatize and profiteer education, on the public dime.

      Thank you Fairfax County, for resisting this "innovation". Thank you. Thank you again.

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