Welcome to the 2014-15 school year. The start of a new school year is always an exciting time for students, parents, and educators. Our dedicated staff has been working hard to prepare for another school year that builds on our tradition of excellence at Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). Fairfax is a community that embraces its newest residents and the cultural diversity that makes our county such a desirable place to be. For many families and businesses, the decision to relocate to a new area is often dependent on the quality of the local public schools. FCPS has a well-deserved national reputation for excellence.
As we enter a new school year, we are projecting an enrollment of 186,785 making FCPS the nation’s 10th largest school district. Fairfax County high schools are among the most academically rigorous in the U.S. and are cited every year as among the top high schools in the country. Our classrooms are led by teachers who inspire, motivate, and prepare students with the knowledge and skills they will need for the future. Our dedicated teachers promote the success of every student and create a caring learning environment where every student is valued and recognized as an active learner.
Working closely with our school board, parents, teachers, and community stakeholders, we have made a number of positive and exciting changes for our system during my first year as superintendent. We developed the FCPS Portrait of a Graduate that will serve as a foundation on which to build a long-range strategic plan for the school system and will lessen the focus on standardized, high-stakes testing and place greater emphasis on engaged students, project-based learning, and authentic assessments of student learning. The Portrait of a Graduate will ensure that our students are collaborators, communicators, creative and critical thinkers, global citizens, and goal-directed and resilient individuals when they leave FCPS.
Other significant changes that we have made include:
- The launch of full-day Mondays for all elementary students. The change will increase instructional time for students and dedicated planning time for teachers. The change to full day Mondays received overwhelming support in our community and will benefit students, teachers, and our families.
- A new standard school calendar that eliminates the need to make up inclement weather days at the end of the school year if fewer than 13 days are missed while providing two full weeks for winter break.
- The new Bailey’s Upper Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences. A first of its kind for Fairfax County, this new school is being converted from a five-story office building at 6245 Leesburg Pike to provide enrollment relief for the overcrowded Bailey’s Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences. The new campus will house grades 3-5, while the existing campus will house preschool to grade 2.
- A new CrisisLink text messaging tool for students and parents needing mental health support and resources. Crisis line staff respond to the text messages 24 hours a day. The text number is 703-997-5444.
The future remains very bright for FCPS families, students, and employees. I look forward to welcoming your children to our schools on Sept. 2 and making this year an exciting and rewarding year for all of our students.