GFCA’s Position Paper Calls for a Pause

GFCA’s Position Paper Calls for a Pause

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Children at Great Falls Elementary School, a Fairfax County Public School, participate in a tree planting program on Jan. 13, 2023.

Children at Great Falls Elementary School, a Fairfax County Public School, participate in a tree planting program on Jan. 13, 2023.

On June 17, the Great Falls Citizens Association's executive board sent its two-page adopted position paper to all Fairfax County School Board representatives, requesting that the board pause its policy review process for county-wide school boundary adjustment policy changes.

The executive board stated that the county has had to build new schools, renovate existing ones, adjust school and program assignments, and address increased financial burdens, adding that it appreciates the efforts. 

The position paper asserts that the best ways to meet school needs are transparent capacity analysis methodology, defensible data on school capacity and student population projections, and prioritizing staff and financial resources. The executive board proposed seven principles for the school board consideration to “best manage school facilities and educational spaces for current and future students.”

* Decisions should be based on accurate and defensible data about school facility resources and assignments to develop each school's objective capacity.

* In student enrollment forecasts and program capacity calculations, methodologies must be transparent.

* Priority choices should be community-based K–12 schools.

* Recognize the importance of not breaking up communities to address capacity imbalances.

* Prioritize construction, refurbishment, and maintenance; renovate based on need, not the length of time since the last renovation; and use life-cycle costing to maximize budget resources.

* Consider innovative program placement and personnel.

* Include the community in all planning and policy modification processes.

The GFCA established a school task group in December of 2023, with the executive board reaffirming its commitment to “a high level of awareness of issues relative to school facility funding and boundary adjustment policies.” The Task Force reviewed the FCPS Capital Improvements Program from earlier this year and assessed "the pulse of the community" to see how anticipated investments and school boundary revisions will affect that concept and the school community. According to the position statement, the Task Force took this action because the executive board “views our schools as the foundation of our community.

Located within the Fairfax County Dranesville Magisterial District, highlights of the U.S. Census Bureau, July 1, 2023 report that Great Falls is a Census Designated Place, with a population of 15,953 (April 1, 2020 census), its white population makes up 66.4 percent of Great Falls; Asian alone 24 percent, and Hispanic or Latino 3.8 percent of the population. Less than 2 percent of Great Falls’ population is Black. The median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2018-2022 $1,246,100 and median household income (in 2022 dollars), 2018-2022 $250,000+.