The Fairfax County School Board had a marathon meeting Dec. 19, combining two meetings into one because of the weather-related cancellation of the Dec. 5 meeting. At-large School Board member Rita Thompson was absent from the meeting. Below is a brief account of the actions taken:
* Approved in the consent agenda: Minutes from the Nov. 21 School Board meeting, monthly separations report and a telecommunications lease between Centreville High School and APC Realty and Sprint.
* Awarded contracts for architectural services for the design of the Woodson High School renovation in the amount of $1 million to Architecture Inc; and the predevelopment services for the new south county high school in the base amount of $1,079,800 to Clark Educational Advisors.
* Approved, by a 8-3 margin, a 25-member Community Task Force on the Budget to "examine the revenue and expenditures in the FY 2004 budget as well as the long-term structural fiscal deficit." The task force will include 13 members appointed by the School Board as well as representatives from parent, civic, business and school employees organizations. The chairman of the task force will be selected by the chair of the School Board, with the concurrence of the entire board. The group will meet from January to May and issue its report in May.
* Approved the school calendars for the 2003-04 school year. There was a failed attempted by Board member Ernestine Heastie (Providence) to make Veteran's Day a school holiday in place of Columbus Day. In addition, the board agreed to change the fourth snow make-up day. Originally, scheduled to be Jan. 20, the Martin Luther King holiday, it has been moved to Jan. 30, a teacher workday. Already this school year, there have been three missed days because of snow. The King holiday will also be preserved next school year, with the fourth snow day make-up moved to Jan. 27.
* Approved, by a 10-1 margin, to continue the suspension of the challenged materials policy until Jan. 9, when the board is slated to vote on changes to the policy. The challenges that were lodged before the suspension will continue to go through the process, but no new challenges will be accepted until an amended policy is put into place.
* Ann Monday, principal at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, was named the new Cluster VI director, effective Jan. 1. Thomas Engley, who has served as the Cluster VI director since the position was created a couple years ago, is retiring at the end of this month.
* Items introduced for new business, with all scheduled for votes at the next meeting, Jan. 9, include the following contracts: construction of modulars at London Towne, Mount Eagle, Oak Hill, Parklawn and Silverbrook elementary schools; replacement of indoor telescopic bleachers at Fairfax High School; power distribution upgrades at Rocky Run, Stone and Twain middle schools; and minor facility improvements. In addition, the following recommendations for approval will be made: confirm elected members to the Fairfax County Public Schools Family and Early Childhood Education/Head Start/Early Head Start Policy Committee; confirm elected members to the Title I District Advisory Council; guidelines for awarding locally verified credits in science and social studies; policy governing charter schools and amendments to the challenged materials policy.
* The FY 2004-08 Capital Improvement Program is slated for adoption Jan. 23. There will be a public hearing Jan. 6 with a work session Jan. 13.
For citizens wishing to address the School Board, time is reserved at each regular business meeting for public testimony on matters that are on the agenda or that have been introduced for new business. The speakers' list is limited to 10 people, each allowed three minutes. The list is extended for public hearings. To reserve a space on the list, call the School Board office at 703-246-3646 between 9 a.m. on the Monday preceding the meeting and 4:30 p.m. on the workday before the meeting.