By Shannon Litton and Laura Downs
“Back to School” days have arrived in Falls Church City. Our school community — teachers, students and parents — feel excited, thankful, and perhaps a bit apprehensive about being back in school in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. We, your School Board, share these feelings and are thrilled to welcome everyone back.
As a School Board, our primary responsibility is governance which entails setting policy, approving the annual budget, developing a strategic plan, and hiring the superintendent.
The superintendent’s primary responsibility is day-to-day operations. We work together throughout the year, bearing in mind our different roles, to ensure Falls Church City Public Schools continue to serve our school community with caring and high standards.
This remains true despite the Covid-19 pandemic. We continue to work closely with Dr. Noonan as the Delta variant takes hold in Northern Virginia.
He is keeping us informed and we are asking tough questions and providing feedback regarding the school system’s Covid plans which follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Department of Health guidelines.
For those who would like to become more informed of our work, our meetings are always open to the public and are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Currently, the community may watch the meetings live on the FCCPS YouTube channel (youtube.com/fccpsorg). We hope to allow members of the public to physically attend our meetings soon.
Community members can make public comments at our meetings either by submitting a letter for public comment (meaning it will be posted for the public to see) or by signing up to speak during a meeting. To submit comments or sign up to speak at a school board meeting, you may email our School Board Clerk, Marty Gadell. Meetings are always recorded and archived on our YouTube channel and the School Board website.
All members of the community, even those who do not have children in the school system, are welcome to subscribe to FCCPS Morning Announcements. This daily newsletter will keep you updated on the school system. You can subscribe at fccps.org/page/morning-announcements. The morning after each School Board meeting, Morning Announcements will send “quick links” to various recorded portions of the School Board meeting so that it is easy for you to watch discussions that may interest you such as the school calendar or SOL test results.
We invite you to email the School Board with feedback. Our email addresses are on the School Board page at fccps.org/page/school-board.
Also on our web page, you will find the agendas for our meetings, the video archives, and “BoardDocs.” BoardDocs houses our meeting agendas, presentations, and other documents. You can find agendas and presentations going back to 2007.
Unlike many school systems, the FCCPS School Board does not have full-time staff dedicated solely to the activities of the School Board. We are thankful for the hard work of the FCCPS Central Office staff who help us push communication out to the school community and answer questions from the community in addition to performing the rest of their job duties. We do our best to inform the community with the help of the FCCPS Communications staff.
Knowing some members of the community may prefer face-to-face conversations, the Chair and Vice Chair will be holding “office hours” this Fall from 6 – 8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at Liberty Barbecue. Also, be sure to look for School Board members in FCCPS School Board shirts at various community events this fall.
We are grateful for the support and partnership of our parents, teachers and staff, and the community throughout this challenging time.
Local businesses partnered with us to provide food and financial assistance to some of our families, the City Council and General Government worked with us to ensure we had the fiscal resources to operate, and our Recreation and Parks Department supported families who needed help with childcare during virtual learning.
A key bright spot during this extraordinary time has been the completion of our new high school. Despite Covid, the superintendent oversaw the completion of this state-of-the-art facility on time and on budget. As a community, we can all take pride in this accomplishment.
We thank the voters and taxpayers who voted for the Bond Referendum years ago as an investment in future generations. FCCPS will be hosting a ribbon cutting for the new Meridian High School on Saturday Oct. 2. Tours will be available to the community and we hope everyone will attend.
“We moved here for the schools,” is often a phrase mentioned in our Little City. As a School Board, we will continue to do our best to govern our school system, work closely with our superintendent and keep the community informed. We wish all our families the very best during the 2021-22 school year!
Shannon Litton serves as Chair of the Falls Church City School Board and Laura Downs serves as Vice Chair.