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  • 02 Feb 2020 8:22 PM | Deleted user

    Fairfax County Public Schools – Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Public Hearing

    Planned Remarks by Mr. Fadi Shadid, Co-chair, Special Committee on Schools, Great Falls Citizens Association

    January 27, 2020 at Luther Jackson Middle School

    Madam Chair and School Board Members,

    My name is Fadi Shadid and I have three children in Fairfax County Public Schools. I’m also a volunteer on the schools committee with the Great Falls Citizens Association.  Our association has about one thousand members.

    First, I want to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this very complex and important CIP process.  We all agree that we owe it to our students and communities to employ our best information sources and data insight as basis for these major planning decisions.

    The community I represent is concerned about the membership forecast for Langley High School in the proposed Fiscal Year 21-25 CIP.  We are concerned that the membership forecast may be too low and is underestimating student enrollment at Langley HS over the next five years.  The new CIP expects membership to decline 8.0% to 1,855 students after five years.  For reasons I will cite shortly, we think it is more reasonable to forecast at least a flat or slightly rising enrollment over the next five years.  We believe that a flat growth profile is consistent with experience of the past ten years, while a slightly rising forecast is supported from the uptrend of the past five years as well as the general high growth profile of our county.

    The primary reason we think your forecast is too low is that that the CIP has been forecasting a declining trajectory for Langley in every single annual CIP for the past ten years (Figure 1). The average decline forecasted from the past ten CIP’s is 6.4%, in year five as compared to year one of the forecast period.  Yet, actual membership has stayed flat and has not declined from ten years ago (Figure 2).  In 2010, the enrollment was at 2,018 students.  For September 2020, the membership forecast is expecting 2,016 students i.e., no decline. Also, the forecast for this coming September would be the highest enrollment in the past five years. These facts do not suggest a declining trend.

    Source: Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Documents

    We realize that the CIP forecast is based on input variables in a computer model. In the case of Langley, it may be that the slightly declining trend in Elementary School membership (Figure 2) or another model variable is overly dampening the Langley enrollment forecast.  We are suggesting that, whatever variables are responsible for this repeated declining forecast, they have not been accurate.  Something else is happening and causing Langley HS membership to stay about the same despite the model forecast.

    We are concerned that if this underestimation of student enrollment persists, it will eventually jeopardize program and resource planning.  More immediately, inaccurate assumptions may be used as basis for the boundary adjustment under consideration with McLean HS.

    We recommend that you address our concerns and redo the proposed membership forecast for Langley HS. Again, we think the current proposed 8% decline in year five of the forecast is a significant underestimation as were the last ten forecasts.  We think you should consider a flat or slightly rising drift over the next five years that we think is more consistent with the data and developments in our community.


    Supplemental Comments (not part of the delivered remarks):

    We are also seeing developments that likely will yield more students from the existing communities. There are at least two hundred new single-family homes under construction in the Langley Pyramid.  These are all “by-right” developments that we understand is not factored in the CIP forecast such as the Toll Brothers development south of Route 7, with over 120 homes. At a student yield ratio of 0.53 or higher, that amounts to at least 100 students. While the absolute number is not significant given the 6,000+ students in the Langley Pyramid, it none the less supports a growth profile and not a decline in household formations and student yields.  Realtors in our community are increasingly reporting new families moving from Arlington and Alexandria for relatively more affordable single-family homes in the Langley Pyramid.  Realtors are also reporting growing employment centers in Tysons and Reston are bringing in new young families into our communities.  We are also seeing demolitions and rebuilds at existing lots, similar to the experience in the older McLean neighborhoods. These demolitions are regularly occurring where one house is replaced with five or more houses that are attracting families with school-age children. These macro developments impact the Langley Pyramid and other suburbs in our county.  These trends are also supported by research studies that when it comes to raising a family, families tend to move to single-family homes from urban neighborhoods.

    If requested, the GFCA Special Committee on Schools would be happy to follow up with supporting documentation on these trends in the Langley HS community. Committee co-chairs Gordon Harris and Fadi Shadid may be reached at schools@gfca.org.

    File attachment: CIP Jan 27 2020 Comments GFCA SCC.pdf

  • 24 Jan 2020 1:02 PM | Peter Falcone (Administrator)


    More Detailed Background Information on FCPS December 2019 Boundary Adjustment Community Meetings about McLean and Langley High Schools

    PURPOSE: The Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA) Special Committee on Schools (SCS) seeks to provide you with more detailed background information on some considerations regarding the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) boundary adjustment.

    BACKGROUND: On November 19th, FCPS sent a notice announcing two community meetings on December 2nd and December 4th to start the boundary adjustment process to move some McLean High School (HS) students to Langley HS. FCPS stated that the purpose of the meetings is to present information on the process, possible scenarios, and solicit community feedback and questions. The meetings are schedule as follows:

    Monday, December 2 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Langley HS Wednesday, December 4 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. McLean HS


    ·         CURRENT SITUATION: Student enrollment in McLean High School has been above capacity for some time and amounted to 2,350 students this year, 357 students above the school design capacity of 1,993 students. Langley HS recently completed a renovation, after waiting its turn in the FCPS facilities renovation cycle queue (currently at a 37-year interval) which increased its capacity to 2,370 students. Current enrollment at Langley is 1,972 students, which was a growth of 49 students over the prior year and 50 students higher than had been projected for Langley in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). This year’s enrollment amounts to 398 below its new design capacity.

    ·         FORECAST: Enrollment at Mclean HS is forecasted to continue to grow from the growth in the Tysons and Mclean neighborhoods. Although enrollment at Langley HS grew 2.5% this year, the current CIP forecasts flat to declining growth for Langley over the next five years. 

    ·          CONCERN: SCS conjectures that such boundary adjustment may be too large and quickly fill up Langley HS. If no long-term solution is undertaken in parallel, the concern is that Langley HS may suffer from overcrowding sooner than later. Another concern is that future boundary adjustments may be undertaken in the long-term due to the fast growth in the ry adjustments may be undertaken in the long-term due to the fast growth in the Tysons area, and where Great Falls could gradually be redistricted out of the Langley school pyramid.

    ·         ACTIONS: 

    ·         BROADEN BOUNDARY STUDY SCOPE: During the FCPS Boundary Adjustment process, the SCS plans to suggest broadening of the scope of the boundary study to include expansion of physical space at McLean HS or other nearby High Schools as well as considering an Open Enrollment option, rather than boundary adjustment, where students volunteer to attend a school different than their assigned school. This would offer flexibility in capacity planning as well as choice to students and families.

    ·         REVIEW ASSUMPTIONS IN THE FORECAST: The GFCA SCS is currently researching various assumptions pertaining to these projections and plans. As appropriate, the SCS will engage FCPS leaders and our elected School Representatives.

    ·         ALLOW FOR FORECAST UNDERESTIMATION ERROR. In determining the size of the boundary adjustment, the SCS plans to suggest incorporating at least a 10% margin of error. The CIP projections for Langley HS, that were published one year ago, proved to be 50 students below actual for this 2019-20 school year. If the same underestimation reoccurs over the next five years, it amounts to 250 students, requiring at least eight additional physical classrooms. Given the historic 37-year renovation cycle, the Langley HS community cannot count on another expansion anytime soon. SCS believes it would be prudent to allow sufficient spare capacity for few more years to see if the growth experienced this year will continue.

    ·         ATTEND ONE OF THE FSCP COMMUNITY MEETINGS ON DECEMBER 2ND OR 4TH: Do not hesitate to ask questions or offer feedback. It is best to engage earlier in the process than later.

    VOLUNTEER: If you have any questions or feedback, or wish to volunteer with the GFCA Special Committee on Schools, please reach Gordon Harris or Fadi Shadid at schools@gfca.org.

  • 01 Dec 2019 1:27 PM | Deleted user

    Great Falls residents, Supervisor Foust and his staff, and representatives from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) and the Department of Public Works gathered on Wednesday, October 23rd to celebrate the official opening of the Phase III and IV segments of the Georgetown Pike trail between Falls Chase Court and Seneca Road. The completion of these two new segments means that residents now have a multi-use ADA-compliant asphalt trail that runs all the way from Utterback Store Road to Seneca Corners. Funding for the projects was through a combination of both federal and county monies. It took roughly 15 years to build this trail, from the start of sourcing funding through construction.

    The new segments are part of a long-term GFCA effort to improve pedestrian access to the Village Centre with the overall goal of having acontinuous east-west trail along the Pike between Great Falls Park and Seneca Road, a distance of approximately 4.2 miles. GFCA is collaborating with other civic organizations on pedestrian trail development, notably GF Trailblazers, as well as Supervisor Foust and Fairfax County.

    In his remarks, GFCA spokesperson Phil Pifer notedthat the Georgetown Pike trail will serve as the backbone for our ultimate vision, which is pedestrian trails throughout Great Falls that will allow people to walk or bike from their neighborhood to points of interest including schools, parks, the village and other commercial areas. Julie BenAchour, President of Great Falls Trail Blazers, observed that apart from anything else, this trail is one that will make it safer for pedestrians. Supervisor Foust congratulated the community for its commitment over the last 10+ years and the determination of all those involved to ensure that what was constructed maintained the historical integrity of the Georgetown Pike byway and enhanced the local environment. Looking forward, Supervisor Foust also indicated that $90,000 in funds left over from this project will go toward a study for the next phase, which will connect Utterback Store Road to the Village. GFCA calls this Georgetown Pike Trail Phase 5.

    Apart from securing the necessary funding, one of the biggest challenges is obtaining property owner’s permission and easements for continuing the trail. Much of Phase 5 can be built on VDOT right-of-way and existing easements, but there are some spots where the permission of a property owner would be necessary. It is only through the generosity and civic mindedness of such owners, along with the commitment of residents and a shared vision for Great Falls, that we will eventually see a completed trail spanning the width of our community, and eventually an interconnected pedestrian trail system serving all of Great Falls.

    For an NBC4 Video of the event, click here: NBC4 Report on Trail Dedication


  • 12 Oct 2019 5:30 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    The public is invited to a dedication ceremony for the recently completed Phase III and IV trail segments on Georgetown Pike at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at the intersection of Georgetown Pike and Falls Bridge Lane. Supervisor John Foust and others will be speaking briefly about the efforts of local nonprofits, residents and his office to secure the necessary funding for the project and work with county staff to design and construct the trail.

  • 28 Aug 2019 12:42 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    GFCA will provide an opportunity for residents to hear from candidates for Dranesville Supervisor and District 34 Virginia Delegate on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:30 pm at the Grange.  Joining us for this debate will be incumbent delegate Kathleen Murphy (D) and challenger Gary Pan (R), and incumbent supervisor John Foust (D) and challenger Ed Martin (R).  Note that this program will start earlier than most GFCA meetings to accommodate the schedules of some of the participants.  The first debate from 6:30 to 7:30 will feature the candidates for delegate; the candidates for supervisor debate will follow.  In addition, State Senator Barbara Favola (District 31) is unopposed and will make a short statement during the program.  The program format will include short opening and closing statements by the candidates and questions from the audience; a GFCA representative will serve as moderator.   The public is encouraged to attend.   Election Day is November 5.  

  • 28 Aug 2019 12:40 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    GFCA traditionally holds a public debate for Dranesville District and at-large school board candidates. That debate will be held this year on Wednesday, September 25 at 7:30 pm at Forestville School, 1085 Utterback Store Road. The current Dranesville school board representative, Jane Strauss, is retiring after 26 years, so this is an open seat; we have invited the three candidates who are running: Elaine Tholen (Great Falls resident), Anastasia Karloutsos (McLean resident), and Ardavan Mobasheri (Great Falls resident). In addition, we have also invited the six candidates seeking election to the three at-large seats on the school board.

  • 28 Aug 2019 12:26 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    Special GFCA Committee. The GFCA Executive Board voted at its July 16 meeting to establish a special committee to better understand and address Fairfax County School Board (FCPS) issues, including plans for building a new high school in the county and related boundary changes. The new committee, co-chaired by GFCA board member Gordon Harris and GFCA member Fadi Shadid, is in the process of developing its charter. Community members interested in the work of this new committee should contact Gordon Harris at mailto:gordonlharris7@gmail.com.

    Fairfax County residents attend discussion of school boundary policy. The Fairfax County Public School Board is in the process of updating its policy for adjusting school boundaries governed by Policy 8130.7 (Local School Boundaries, Program Assignment and School Closings Policy). A draft replacement Policy 8130.8 was discussed at the FCPS Board’s Working Session on July 22. While this meeting was open to the public and over 100 concerned residents attended, it was not a “public hearing” so there was no opportunity for residents to offer comments or ask questions. To see a video recording of the meeting click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsXnnlYFVRU

    Background information. If the school board sees a need to adjust boundaries in the future, such as overcrowding in a school, the new draft policy 8130.8, if adopted, would govern. Proposed revisions to the draft policy are being shaped by the Board of Supervisors’ recently enacted One Fairfax Policy (click here for more information on the One Fairfax Policy). The draft school boundary policy 8130.8, section “VI. Considerations Governing Establishment of School Boundaries” states that the first consideration is “Socioeconomic and/or racial composition of students in affected schools.” A lot of residents, and some FCPS Board members, are trying to understand the implications of this criteria.

  • 17 Jul 2019 9:45 AM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    On June 19th, GFCA hosted a Special Town Hall with Jane Strauss, Dranesville’s Representative on the Fairfax County School Board, at Forestville Elementary School – over 300 people attended. GFCA requested that Strauss provide her perspectives on important school issues, including any potential redistricting of the Langley High School pyramid. She made a presentation on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), long-term plans for new schools in the county, and how the school board approaches redistricting. To review her presentation see Recent news on the GFCA.org website.

    While Strauss repeated that there are no imminent plans to change the Langley pyramid, many in the audience remain concerned for a few near-term and long-term reasons. Some of the cited reasons include:

    • Lack of clarity on how the overcrowding at McLean High School will be addressed. While McLean was at 114% of capacity utilization in school year (SY) 2018-19, Langley HS was only at 82% capacity during the same period. (Ref. page 6 of Strauss’ “Forestville Presentation v3.pptx” presentation.)
    • Unclear ramifications of the county’s adopted “One Fairfax” policy. “One Fairfax is a joint social and racial equity policy of the Board of Supervisors and School Board.” (Ref. Home page of Fairfax County’s “One Fairfax” website)
    • How the residential, and therefore, student growth from Tysons Corner developments will be accommodated.
    • Impact of a potential new high school in Herndon (near 13209 Parcher Ave, Herndon, VA 20170) in the 2030+ timeframe as outlined in the CIP.

    Our local Connection Newspaper, June 25, 2019, contains a detailed article of the Town Hall meeting by Andrea Worker.

    GFCA plans to host debates in the fall for the Fairfax County School Board Candidates. We will invite the three Dranesville District Representative candidates and the six At-Large candidates. The GFCA Board will also discuss options going forward. Residents who are concerned about this issue and are commited to engaging are encouraged to volunteer: Contact Ed Phillips (ed.phillips@gfca.org) or Bill Canis (bill.canis@gfca.org).

  • 20 Jun 2019 12:49 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    On Wednesday, June 19th, Jane Strauss, Dranesville’s Representative on the Fairfax County School Board, addressed the Great Falls community about the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), long-term plans for new schools in the county, and how the school board approaches redistricting. To download her PowerPoint presentation on the CIP, click here: Forestville Presentation_v3.pptx

  • 19 Jun 2019 3:05 PM | Pam Grosvenor (Administrator)

    Jane Strauss, Dranesville's representative on the Fairfax County School Board, will address the Great Falls community at a special GFCA town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 19 at 7:30 PM at Forestville Elementary School, 1085 Utterback Store Road. Doors will open at 7:15 PM. Admittance will be on a first come, first serve basis.

    Ms. Strauss, who will be retiring from the school board at the end of this year after 26 years of elected service, will discuss her views on long-term plans for new schools in the county, concerns in the community about possible changes to school boundary lines, as well as other educational issues of interest to residents. 

    All are welcome to attend.

The opinions expressed on these pages are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the Great Falls Citizens Association

Great Falls Citizens Association
PO Box 27  •  Great Falls, VA  •  22066 

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