Letters to Editor: August 31 – September 6, 2023

FCCEA Excited for 2023-24 School Year


The Falls Church City Education Association (FCCEA), the union representing educators in Falls Church City Public Schools, is excited for the 2023-2024 school year to begin! As the City and schools begin the 75th Anniversary celebrations, FCCEA members are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of our local charter.

Today’s educators in Falls Church — teachers, food service workers, administrators, paraprofessionals, librarians, custodians, counselors, technology staff, maintenance workers, bus drivers, administrative assistants, health aides, and day care staff — stand on the shoulders of generations before us.

FCCEA members helped to establish FCCPS as an independent school system in 1949. Members also helped to integrate the schools and to establish the first PK-12 International Baccalaureate system in Virginia. We have educated and loved generations of students over the years — sponsoring sports teams and clubs, opening new buildings, transporting students safely, and serving the community through the pandemic. Now, we look forward to FCCEA and the School Board creating the first bargaining contract in decades that will guarantee rights to both Certified (teachers and specialists) and all Non-Certified (support staff) school employees in Virginia. None of this would have been possible without the support of the Falls Church community, who have always shown how much they appreciate FCCPS staff.

FCCEA is committed to making certain that the collective bargaining process results in a stronger school system. Staff participation in decision-making is a hallmark of Falls Church City Schools, but it has never been guaranteed. Formalizing this partnership between staff and the Board will allow FCCEA and FCCPS to continue to be a model for the rest of the Commonwealth.

We are grateful for all of the enthusiasm from the Falls Church School Board and Falls Church Community.

Pam Mahony, Jeff Buck, Amanda Ronco

Development Impacting Schools


Last week the News-Press reported higher than expected enrollment in our schools, a significant jump considering the size of the system. In Tuesday’s School Board work session “Dr. Noonan emphasized the importance of understanding where these additional students are coming from.” School Board Chair Laura Downs specifically inquired whether the Founders Row development could be responsible for the increase. May I respectfully request that, given changes in the housing market, any investigations also revisit the projected impact of the 2000+ residential units coming online in the next few years? Also note that the City Council is likely to pass legislation this September allowing by-right development of up to 34-40 units per acre in transition zones. What fiscal modeling has the City completed in connection with this proposal, and how will this rezoning further impact our schools?

In the past, Vice Mayor Hardi and some Council members have assured the public that we can handle this rapid development, as the schools are built for growth. The current news makes me question the metrics that have made some City Council members so confident. While the recently completed high school seems roomy; our daughter’s classroom looks full. Council’s projections missed the mark in the past, at Pearson Square and Whittier Circle, for example, with school enrollment coming in much higher than expected. Apart from physical space, more students means higher costs for the City and necessitates advanced planning to ensure we have the staff and resources to meet student enrollment. As the Superintendent and School Board’s reaction last week made clear, seventy-five unexpected students is a big deal.

The News-Press celebrates the City’s “thoughtful and smart urban planning.” But it may be time to dig deeper and revisit whether the City’s assumption that ongoing mixed-use development will not strain our schools continues to hold true. Let’s make sure we have the infrastructure, finances, and workforce to support so many new residents. Welcoming new neighbors and growing the City’s tax base should not come at the expense of school children.

Lauren Thomas
Falls Church