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DELEGATE SCOTT SUROVELL ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR VIRGINIA SENATE

Jan 19, 2015

Untitled document *****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***** January 19, 2015 More Information: scottsurovell@gmail.com DELEGATE SCOTT SUROVELL ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR VIRGINIA SENATE On Sunday in an email to his supporters, State Delegate Scott Surovell (D-Mt. Vernon) announced his candidacy for the Virginia Senate seat held by retiring Senator Toddy...

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DELEGATE SUROVELL & DELEGATE HOPE INTRODUCE BILLS TO ENSURE CONSUMER PROTECTION

Jan 19, 2015

Untitled document *****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***** January 19th, 2015 More information:    Megan Howard, Legislative Aide                                 571.249.4484   Delegate Surovell & Delegate Hope Introduce Bills to Ensure Consumer Protection Mt. Vernon, Virginia...

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<a href="/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=629&Itemid=204">More Press Releases</a>

  • Cable Reports: Sexting Education, Electronic Textbooks, and U.S. 1
    This morning, I was able to appear on Cable Reports with my colleagues, Delegate David Bulova and Delegate Kaye Kory, to talk about this session and a little bit about my legislative agenda with Woody Hayes.  You can watch below. 

    Thank you Cox Communications for making this service available so our constituents can learn more about what's going on in Richmond!


  • Weekly Column: The First Ten Days: Sunshine, Pregnancy Discrimination and Firearms Safety
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of January 26, 2015.
    The First Ten Days: Sunshine, Pregnancy Discrimination and Firearms Safety
    The first ten days of the General Assembly session are usually slow, but were full of surprises this year.
    First, while on my way to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth Address, I learned that Senator Toddy Puller had announced her retirement. After digesting the shock and speaking to Toddy, I walked into the House of Delegates chamber to hear the governor’s address. \
    Most of the first week was focused on organizing committees, passing non-controversial bills developed over the summer and putting the finishing touches on our own bills.
     
    I introduced several bills that I did not cover in my prior columns. First, I introduced legislation prohibiting a Virginia employer with more than 15 employees from either discriminating against or firing a woman because she is pregnant. This issue, as it is addressed in federal law, is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Maryland adopted similar legislation last year and nothing prohibits Virginia from strengthening its own laws.

    Second, I introduced a bill to bring some “sunlight” to the State Corporation Commission (SCC), a state agency with broad regulatory power over many industries.  Recently, the SCC issued comments criticizing President Barack Obama’s proposed carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas regulations. The SCC is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) so no one can learn from the public record the information, people and other influences that led to the SCC’s conclusions. I introduced legislation requiring the SCC to provide complete disclosure of records and communications any time they issue agency comments on public policy matters.
    Third, a fellow attorney told me about his client who had been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.  The client owned large stockpiles of ammunition. State law prohibits people who have been ordered into mental health treatment from possessing a firearm, but they are still allowed to possess unlimited amounts of ammunition. My bill would prohibit that.
    I also introduced a study resolution requesting Virginia’s non-partisan government auditor to conduct a study addressing methods to stabilize and improve our transportation revenue sources. We actually collect less in gas taxes today than we did in 2007 due to more energy-efficient, higher-mileage cars, shorter commutes, fewer drivers and less travel. Gas tax revenue is declining.  Virginia is still at least $100 billion short in transportation funds over the next 20 years and projects like the Yellow Line Metro extension will not be cheap. My bill was tabled mainly because committee members said we were not ready for more transportation funding discussions. 
    I also presented three constitutional amendments.  One would repeal the ban on marriage equality. The second amendment would allow a two-term governor – that is only common sense.
    The third amendment would remove the requirement that voters provide a social security number when registering to vote. The General Assembly could still require the number or the last four digits by statute, but this requirement does not belong in the Constitution. The entire social security number is no longer necessary and having a database of six million social security numbers at the State Board of Elections presents an excellent computer hacker target. All three of my amendments were taken under advisement until all amendments are heard.
    On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the gun rights lobby came to Richmond along with firearm safety advocates. I gave a floor speech that pointed out that signs on sticks, vuvuzellas, sirens, and even helium balloons are prohibited inside the General Assembly Building, while Bushmaster Assault Rifles, AK-47’s and semi-automatic pistols are allowed – even in the balcony of the House of Delegates chamber if you have a concealed weapon permit. You can watch my speech on my You Tube channel. This needs to change.
    Finally, I wrote about Senator Puller’s retirement last week. She has been my mentor and partner for six sessions. Mount Vernon, Lee and Virginia’s veterans could not ask for a more ardent advocate. After talking with my family and business partners, I announced last week that I will be running to replace her in the State Senate. I hope I can count on the community’s support as I embark on a new challenge.
    In the meantime, please make sure you go online and complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey.
    Thank you for the honor of serving you. 
  • Solar Gets a Jumpstart in Virginia
    There was big news on the Virginia renewable energy front this past week.

    Virginia has been one of the slowest states to invest in solar or have any meaningful amounts of solar energy go live on its grid - either utility scale (big) solar installations or community level solar.  Earlier this week, Dominion Resources made a big announcement, but it barely received any press.  You can read their release here:

    Press Release - Dominion Virginia Power Planning Commonwealth of Virginia's First Large-Scale Solar Project
     
    First, they are building a utility-scale project that will be a 125-acre solar project in Fauquier County hearing Remington containing 90,000 panels that can power 5,000 residences.  This is a huge investment and a major commitment to renewable energy.

    Second, they are also investing in community solar.  This is something that I have been fighting for over the last three years.  Current Virginia Law only allows Virginia homeowners to count the energy generated by a solar panel against their usage on a utility meter if it is connected to the system at their home - this is called "net metering."  Therefore, if you don't own your roof - apartments, condominiums, and small businesses - you cannot purchase solar power.  Also, if you live in an established community with significant tree cover - such as most communities near the Beltway - solar power just doesn't work.  Here's how you solve that problem. 
     


    In other states, they allow "community net metering," where groups of people set up panels on a third-party's property such as a church, shopping center, or other building, and collectively net the energy usage against their meters. I introduced legislation to allow this under Virginia law since 2012 but it has failed each time (2012 - HB672, 2014 - HB1158). 

    On Monday, Dominion announced that they are filing a proposal with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to get permission to offer individual homeowners the ability to purchase solar energy from the company to net against their home meters.  This is how it will work:
    • The project will consist of 2 megawatts of energy somewhere in Northern Virginia.
    • It will be available to any residential or small business customer who has an electricity meter.
    • Participants can purchase up to five 100 kilowatt "blocks" of energy.
    • Blocks will cost $4.00 per 100 kw block per month (the average US home uses 940 kw/month).
    • The solar energy produced on each block will be netted against the customers actual usage to lower their bill.
    • There will be no long-term commitment.
    • Subscriptions will begin within 90 days of SCC approval. 
    • Dominion may file a proposal to expand the project.
    A version of their Frequently Asked Questions document is below.  I was happy to participate with Dominion Resources, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Delegates David Yancey, Marcus Simon, and Rob Krupicka in their announcement. 

    Some of the advantages of this program are that it removes much of the administrative logistics associated with setting up a solar project from the consumer - it will be very easy to opt in and opt out. 
     
    However, it is unlike projects initiated in other states.  Most other states allow third parties to set up community net metering arrangements.  Many in the solar industry argue that creates more jobs and helps further an alternate energy infrastructure that is more distributed instead of being concentrated at major facilities. 
     
    While that debate will rage on, the important part is that several hundred customers in Virginia will now be able to choose to partially power their home with solar power.  If it is successful, then expansion will certainly follow. 
     
    It's a first step. 

    Dominion Community Solar FAQ
     
  • Announcing Scott Surovell for State Senate!
    In June of 2009, I announced my run for the Virginia House of Delegates and declared my intention to fight for the people of Southeastern Fairfax County's where I have lived my entire life.

    Since that time, we have achieved much together:
    • I have brought back over $300 million in new funding for Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford County's public schools since 2009.
    • Worked with Senator Toddy Puller to secure $2 million for the U.S. 1 Multimodal Transit Alternatives Analysis which recommended extending the Yellow Line to Hybla Valley and bus rapid transit to Woodbridge
    • Fought the expansion of predatory lending on U.S. 1
    • Repealed Virginia's wrong-headed $100 tax on hybrid vehicles with Senator Adam Ebbin
    • Expanded mental health services at Virginia's community colleges.
    • Led the fight to make texting while driving a primary offense
    • Passed legislation to allow parents to protect children from identity theft. 
    The vacancy created by the decision of Senator Toddy Puller not to seek re-election is a huge loss for our part of Northern Virginia.  Over 23 years, Senator Puller was a relentless advocate for U.S. 1, education, veterans, and the less fortunate.

    As reported by the Washington Post today, I am taking the steps necessary to succeed Senator Puller in the 36th District of the Virginia State Senate.

    Southeastern Fairfax County, Southeastern Prince William County and Northern Stafford County all share U.S. 1 and have similar challenges.  Working together, we can:
    • Extend the Yellow Line and Blue Lines to Hybla Valley and Dumfries, and install bus rapid transit to Woodbridge to connect communites and create communities capable of sustaining our schools, growing elderly population and high quality of life.
    • Fund our schools, give our teachers competitive salaries and keeping college affordable.
    • Provide a computer to every public school student to prepare them for the 21st Century economy. 
    • Providing healthcare to the nearly 8,000 people in the 36th District who would benefit from the expansion of Virginia's Medicaid System.
    • Fight the scourge of predatory lending preying on U.S. 1's less fortunate.
    • Create real 21st Century economy by making solar power and energy efficient technology the fasting growing employers of Northern Virginia.
    • Focusing on jobs, infrastructure and high quality support for our veterans given our proximity to Fort Belvoir and Quantico.
    My track record in both public and private life speaks for itself and I will fight to see these priorities implemented.

    I also need your help.

    Virginia Law prohibits me from fundraising during our session, but you can do two things.
    First, you can sign my petition to show that you support my campaign for state senate and spread it around social media.

    https://act.myngp.com/Forms/8825374506948560640

    Second, you can sign up to volunteer on my campaign.

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZxBYCEA0rIkXMXh_N9GaX-b9DkPx-TIvhxng3efs444/viewform?formkey=dEJQVmNLUTR2VWxVT3R1V3VXaWFPbUE6MQ&hl=en_US#gid=0

    Click on both buttons below to act!
  • VA State Police Funding Falls Off a Cliff
    On Friday, we heard a briefing from the Virginia State Police (VSP)  regarding the status of their budget.  The briefing left my jaw on the floor after I heard about how much they are struggling.

    The Virginia State Police perform many different functions and they interact with the public in different ways in different parts of the Commonwealth.  In Northern Virginia, the provide mainly traffic enforcement, but in other parts of Virginia, the VSP conduct many high-profile and highly technical investigations.

    They have divisions that investigate high technology crimes such as financial fraud, identity theft, and child pornography investigations.  They maintain Virginia's Criminal Information Network which contains criminal histories, run the vehicle inspection program, conduct background checks for concealed weapon permits, and maintain Virginia's Sex Offender Registry.

    You can read the entire proposal below but here are some highlights:

    • VA's population is up 17% over 1.1 million people since 2000
    • VA's registered vehicles are up by 24$ since 2000 - 1.5 million new cars
    • VA has 770,000 more licensed drivers since 2000
    • Incidents to investigate are up from 452,000 to 700,000
    • Trooper investigation hours are up from 325,000 to 583,000
    • Drug arrests are up by 210%
    • Insurance fraud arrests are up 823%
    • Clandestine drug lab destruction is up from 1 in FY00 to 407 in 2014
    • VSP has not added a single new trooper position since FY97
    • Cost of living is way up, while VSP Trooper salaries now lag most other law enforcement salaries in localities
    • 72% of sworn Troopers leaving said it was to earn a higher salary elsewhere
    • VSP has seen budget cut by $90.3 million since FY2006
    As a practicing criminal defense attorney, I see the effects of this on the front lines every day.  Trooper morale is affected, but most importantly, this is not the best way to keep Virginians safe.


  • Statement on Retirement of Senator Toddy Puller
    STATEMENT OF STATE DELEGATE SCOTT SUROVELL REGARDING THE RETIREMENT OF
    SENATOR LINDA T. “TODDY” PULLER
    Senator Toddy Puller has represented me as state delegate or senator since 1991 when she was the first modern Democrat to win the 44thDistrict and I was a junior at James Madison University.  I have had a “front seat” to her dedicated public service since I was a child.
    Senator Puller’s career has been dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life for the U.S. 1 Corridor in Fairfax  and Prince William Counties.  Because of her legislation, the first U.S. 1 Centerline Study was started in 1998 and the $2 million U.S. 1 Multimodal Study would not have been funded or concluded in 2014 without the seniority and wisdom she brought to the process. Tens of millions of dollars are currently being directed to enhancing transportation in Fairfax and Prince William Counties due to her three generations of leadership.

    Growing up as a “military brat,” as the incredibly dedicated wife of a disabled veteran and as the daughter in-law of the most-decorated Marine in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. “Chesty” Puller, there is not member in the Virginia legislature who is more focused on moving our state government to address the concerns of our nation’s veterans and their families. Whether it is government services, tax exemptions or  helping Virginians’ recognize the long-term consequences that combat injuries have on military families, Senator Puller has lived her public life on the frontlines fighting for resources for our community and the larger community.
    Like her predecessor in the 36th District of the State Senate, Joe Gartlan, Toddy stood up for the voiceless as the Chairwoman of the Senate Health and Rehabilitation Committee, led the way to find innovation and efficiency in our healthcare system and helped lay the groundwork for decades of savings.

    Senator Puller’s retirement is a significant loss for the Mount Vernon and Lee areas of Fairfax County, the Occoquan, Woodbridge, and Montclair areas of Prince William County and Northern Stafford County. Her three decades of seniority and policy experience are an irreplaceable asset for her 200,000 Fairfax, Stafford and Prince William County constituents.

    I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Puller as she continues to focus on developing the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the William and Mary Law School and enjoying time with Lewis, Jr., Maggie and her grandchildren. Senator Puller has changed the lives thousands of Virginians. It has been an honor to serve with her and she will be difficult to replace. 
  • Weekly Column: Focusing on U.S. 1, Predatory Lending, Electronic Textbooks and Human Rights
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of January 13, 2015.
    Focusing on U.S. 1, Predatory Lending, Electronic Textbooks and Human Rights
     
    The 2015 General Assembly session starts this week. Last week, I previewed the overall session. This week, I will outline my legislative agenda.
     
    First, I invite you to complete my constituent survey online at www.scottsurovell.org/survey The online version is more comprehensive than the mail version.
     
    One of my top priorities since being elected in 2009 has been the improvement of U.S. 1. In 2012, Senator Puller and I secured $2 million for the U.S. 1 Multimodal Transit Alternative Analysis Study. That study concluded in October when officials signed a resolution recommending a six-lane road, multi-use paths, a median-dedicated bus rapid transit system to Woodbridge and a two-stop Yellow Line Metro extension to Hybla Valley.


    The next phase requires $4 million for environmental reviews and preliminary engineering. My number one priority this session will be securing funds for those studies to keep this project moving along.
     
    Next, the proliferation of predatory lending on U.S. 1 is out of control.  Recently, I discovered that car title lenders have begun evading consumer protections by setting up “consumer finance companies,” which have virtually no restrictions.  These lenders are offering unregulated, even higher-interest products out of the same storefronts. I have introduced legislation to make this illegal. I have also introduced legislation to make it illegal to require someone to install a device on their vehicle to allow a lender to disable the vehicle and prevent it from starting remotely.  These lenders are charging outrageous interest on these loans and preying on vulnerable people.
     
    Fairfax County Public Schools requires all students to use electronic textbooks and access Blackboard online for assignments, although a substantial number of children in the Mount Vernon-Lee community do not have either computing devices or broadband at home. Between 2013-2014, I was able to secure the endorsement of the Joint Commission of Science and Technology for my legislation prohibiting any school system from using electronic textbooks without providing each student computing devices.  I have modified last year’s legislation and hope to gain passage this year.
     
    I am considering legislation suggested by one of my Amundson Institute Fellows to create a uniform statewide high school grading scale. Right now, a 72% is an “F” in some jurisdictions.
     
    Last year, I introduced legislation to make the transmission of sexually explicit photographs between minors or “sexting” a misdemeanor under most circumstances.  After I served on a national panel this summer and heard testimony from expert child psychologists, I decided to introduce legislation requiring children to be taught about online safety and the consequences of sending sexually-explicit pictures and communications as part of their sex education classes.
     
    I have introduced legislation to repeal Virginia’s constitutional and statutory prohibitions on marriage equality. Now that the courts have declared marriage equality the law of the land, we should purge these discriminatory statutes from Virginia’s laws. I have also introduced legislation to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment for my third session. I have also drafted legislation to prohibit employers from discriminating against women who are pregnant.
     
    I will propose bills to allow Virginia governors to serve two terms and remove the state Constitutional requirement that voters submit a social security number when registering to vote.
     
    Bankruptcy trustees have begun seizing child and spousal support arrearages as assets in bankruptcy proceedings. I think this practice is wrong and punishes the wrong people who are bankrupt due to the behavior of guilty ex-spouses or parents. I’ve introduced legislation to ban it.
     
    This summer, a drone-house collision and dispute in Fort Hunt motivated me to introduce legislation to allow local governments to regulate the use of drones.
     
    I am also introducing legislation to decriminalize adultery so that guilty spouses cannot hide behind the Fifth Amendment in divorce proceedings. Adultery is rarely prosecuted in Virginia today, and fights about Fifth Amendment privilege in divorce proceeding unnecessarily cost litigants thousands of dollars and unnecessarily wastes of time in our courts. 
     
    As always, if you have any feedback or want to communicate with me you can reach me at scott@scottsurovell.org. It is an honor to serve as your state delegate. 
  • 2015 Pre-Session Fairfax County Public Hearing
    Every year, the Fairfax County Delegation has a public hearing where anyone from Fairfax County can provide testimony to our entire delegation.  We hold it at the Fairfax County Government Center in the Supervisors' Meeting room.

    These hearings are always a reminder of how broadly our actions are felt and how many people depend on state government safety net to sustain their quality of life.



    Just so you can have a flavor of what we hear, this year we heard from multiple speakers:
    • Chairman Sharon Bulova
    • School Board Chairman Tamara Kaufax
    • Community Service Boards
    • Northern Virginia Training Center Speakers - NTVA Parents + ARC of NOVA
    • Marijuana Legalization & Medical Marijuana Advocates
    • Homeowners' Rights/Anti-Homeowners Associations Speakers
    • Fairfax County Council of PTA's
    • Fairfax Bar Association
    • Veteran's Treatment Docket Advocates
    • Early Childhood Intervention Advocates
    • Anti-Tax Speakers
    • Human Services Advocates - Northern Virginia Family Services, Alliance for Human Services, Social Action Linking Together, childcare service advocates,
    • League of Women Voters
    • NAACP
    • Multiple advocates for autistic children
    • Conservation & Environment Advocates
    • Gun Violence Prevention Advocates
    • Public Employee Advocates - SEIU, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, Fairfax Education Association
    • Environment/Climate Change Advocates
    • Government Ethics Advocates
    These hearings are always a reminder of how broadly our actions are felt and how many people depend on state government safety net to sustain their quality of life. 
  • Weekly Column: Education, Gun Violence Prevention, Budget Shortfall and Redistricting on Legislature’s Agenda
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of January 7, 2015.
    Education, Gun Violence Prevention, Budget Shortfall and Redistricting on  Legislature’s Agenda
    The Virginia General Assembly will convene on January 15 in Richmond for a 45-day “short” session. This article is an overview of the session and my article next week will cover my legislative agenda.
    First, be sure to complete my 2015 constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey.  You can also share your suggestions to the entire 25-member Fairfax County delegation on Saturday, January 10, 9 a.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax 22035)..
    Since we adopt a budget on a two-year cycle, the legislature will only make adjustments to the existing budget this session. Because of a flat economy, the revenue projections used last year were off by $2.4 billion. Last September, the General Assembly reached an agreement with Governor Terry McAuliffe to address a significant portion of those reductions, but we still need to cut $300 million to balance the budget.


    On education, Governor McAuliffe has proposed revisions to school assessments and Standards of Learning (SOLs) tests. His goal is to create a fairer process for evaluating school performance.
    Also, the 2014 launch of Governor McDonnell’s “A-F” school grading system was postponed for consideration to this session and both changes and repeal have been proposed. Although I initially supported the idea, I now favor repealing this system because it creates an unfair stigma for some schools, especially schools in the U.S. 1 Corridor that have many hard-working teachers and students.
    Virginia’s elementary and secondary school funding crisis is festering. Although the amount of money that Virginia sends to Fairfax County for public schools has risen substantially over the last seven years, so has our student population and the amount Virginia spends per child statewide is less today than it was in 2007. Given our budget shortfall, a change in this trend soon is unlikely.
    When this article is in print, Governor Bob McDonnell’s sentence will likely be known. His case has highlighted the need for more ethics reforms. There are already bills pending to limit employment and pensions of former legislators, cap gifts and enhance reporting. Ethics are going to be a major focus.
    The Governor has announced several gun violence prevention proposals including reinstating the “one-gun-a-month” purchase law, revoking concealed weapons permits for people delinquent in child support payments, requiring universal background checks and closing the gun show-background checks purchasing loophole. He has also proposed prohibiting firearm possession for anyone convicted of stalking, sexual battery, brandishing or multiple assault and battery convictions.
    Gun rights advocates are expected to push for lifetime concealed weapons permits and reciprocity among states for concealed weapons permits so that if people are denied a Virginia concealed weapons permit, they can get one in another state to use here.
    Governor McAuliffe has also proposed several initiatives to encourage investments in green energy such as solar and energy efficiency. As he works to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations requiring Virginia to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent, several legislators have proposed bills to obstruct these plans.
    Immigration is also likely to be a hot topic. President Obama recently acted to grant provisional legal status to individuals who register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks and pay fees and penalties. He also proposed creating a path to citizenship for children brought to the U.S. by their parents.
    In light of these changes, Attorney General Mark Herring advised our universities that children who are granted legal status by the federal government will be eligible for in-state tuition if they otherwise meet requirements. Legislation to put this policy into law failed last year, but legislation has already been introduced to prohibit these children from getting in-state tuition. More legislation directed at new residents of our country is likely coming.
    Finally, the General Assembly is under court order to redraw all eleven congressional districts before April 15, 2015. This rewrite is likely to be contentious. I continue to believe non-partisan redistricting is more appropriate than politicians picking their voters, but that approach is not likely to pass. 

    It is an honor to represent you in the House of Delgates. Please contact me any time at scott@scottsurovell.org with your views and suggestions.
     
  • School Boundary Changes Discussed in the FCPS Capital Improvement Plan
    Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has a public hearing tonight on the approval of their Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) which decides how FCPS spends about $155 million per year in renovation and construction monies created by bond referenda passed by the voters. 

    For the first time, this year's CIP included references to possible school boundary adjustments including approximately seven school changes in the 44th District including adjustments at Stratford Landing ES, Hybla Valley ES, Hollin Meadows ES, Groveton ES, the creation of a new GT/AP center at Bucknell ES and a new Arts & Science Focus School at Virginia Hills.

    I lived though boundary changes when I was a student.  My original elementary school (Hollin Hall) was shut down in 1980, my intermediate school (Stephen Foster) no longer exists, and I was at West Potomac HS on the day it opened.  I am very aware of the effects these changes have on students and the interest the community takes in these issues.  These issues are completely controlled by the FCPS School Board.

    Several constituents brought the proposed CIP to my attention last week and an impromptu meeting was held last night at Stratford Landing Elementary School that approximately 200 people attended. 

    I have spoken with Mt. Vernon School Board Member Dan Storck and School Board Chairmen & Lee District Member Tamara Devereaux Kaufax and both have assured me that the CIP is not a an actual vote on boundaries.

    There is a public hearing tonight where the FCPS School Board is taking public testimony regarding the proposed CIP:
    January 6, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.
    Luther Jackson Intermediate School
    3020 Gallows Road
    Falls Church, VA 22042

    I have attached three things below the fold:
    • My letter to the FCPS School Board
    • An email that was sent to Stratford Landing parents by their PTA for with information on the process
    • School Board Member Dan Storck's latest communication to the Mt. Vernon District on the process.




    Email to Stratford Landing ES parents.
    A message from STRATFORD LANDING ES
    Many thanks to the over 200 parents/community members who came out to learn more about the FCPS Capital Improvement Program (CIP)http://www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/cip/cipbookfy2016-20.pdf and listen to our school board member Dan Storck explain the overcrowding issue along the Route 1 corridor on Sunday afternoon.

    If you were unable to attend yesterday, some interesting information shared was the following:

    *FCPS has about 155 million per year for the Capital Improvement Program to pay down the bonds that the public votes on every two years.
    * There are several elementary schools in the cue (including Stratford Landing) that are up for renovation in the next few years. The schools up for renovation in our pyramid are Waynewood, Stratford Landing, Bucknell, Belle View, and Hollin Meadows. This info is on page 10 of the CIP.
    * Any boundary or staff specified changes will NOT be considered part of the motion on Tuesday; the vote on January 22 is just regarding approving schools in the cue. Dan Storck assured us he would offer an amendment that the specific details of the current CIP NOT be considered in this current vote. This includes both boundary and program changes.
    * There will be multiple options for community input at upcoming Town Meetings regarding the details of programs and boundary changes (dates and times TBD)
    * In addition there was conversation that the FPAC (the Fairfax Planning Advisory Committee) meets the first Tuesday of each month and will be discussing the CIP, specifically regarding the Route 1 Corridor this Tuesday, Jan. 6. Public Comment is welcome at this meeting as well as the School Board Meeting, also on Jan. 6.
    * The timeline, as outlined by Dan Storck, our School Board representative, includes the Jan 6 hearing on the CIP, the Jan. 22 School Board vote on the CIP and then community feedback meeting beginning in late February/ early March. The School Board, as explained by Mr. Storck, will likely not vote on boundary change issues until June or July.

    The following resources were recommended for citizens of FCPS to read:
    Tipping Point- http://www.fcps.edu/pla/ope/docs/fcps_tipping-point.pdf
    Capital Improvement Program- http://www.fcps.edu/fts/planning/cip/cipbookfy2016-20.pdf
    FPAC: http://www.fcps.edu/schlbd/committees/fpac.shtml

    Here is a link to the official boundary study proceedings:http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/89SMNR58A671/$file/R8130.pdf

    In addition, we encourage all of our interested parents, neighbors and community members to reach out to our school board members, including Dan Storck, the three at-large members, and the chairman. They can be contacted at:
    Fairfax County Public Schools Staff responsible for boundaries and recommendations to the School Board are:
    • Jeff Platenberg (Assistant Superintendent of Facilities) - jkplatenberg@fcps.edu
    • Kevin Sneed (Special Projects Administration, Capital Improvement & Planning, Facilities & Planning) -kmsneed@fcps.edu
    The Stratford Landing PTA will be sending meeting information and any additional information as we receive it. The best ways to stay in-the-know are to make sure you are receiving KIT messages from Stratford Landing, to join our PTA Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/stratfordlandingpta/, and to ask Dan Storck to be added to his email distribution list for his upcoming newsletters. If you attended the meeting Sunday, and signed the email list, we will also be sharing that list with Mr. Storck and will be using the list as a quantifier at the School Board meeting on Tuesday.
    SLES will have a caravan to Jackson Middle School leaving Stratford Landing at 4:30pm (meeting begins at 6pm) on Tuesday, January 6 for those willing to speak or simply show their support for our school community being heard on these important issues. Please wear green and white to show support and we welcome posters too.
    Finally, if you have questions, feel free to reach out to Sara Jefferies at PTAStratfordLanding@gmail.com or Cathy Hosek atcathyhosek@gmail.com
    Also, here is the latest from Mt. Vernon School Board Member Dan Storck:
    News From Dan Storck
              
    School Facilities Funding Plans and Boundary Changes

    This Tuesday, January 6, 2015, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Jackson Middle School, the public is invited to speak at the Fairfax County School Board’s Public Hearing on the 2016-2020 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP identifies Fairfax County Public Schools’ five-year facility and capital needs and the request to the County for funding. You can sign up to speak by going to the Fairfax County School Boardwebsite or by calling 571-423-1075.  The public hearing will be the School Board’s first opportunity to hear from the community about the CIP and its impact on your school. The Board will consider the CIP and public comments at the January 12 Work Session and is scheduled to vote on the capital program at the January 22 Board meeting. You are also encouraged to share your comments about the CIP with School Board members by emailing those comments tofairfaxcountyschoolboard@fcps.edu.
    Included in this CIP—to meet the Richmond Highway Corridor student growth and facility improvement needs—is funding for a new area elementary school (ES), a new Ft. Belvoir ES (80% federally funded), and additions, renovations and/or planning funding for Woodlawn ES, Bucknell ES, Waynewood ES, Stratford Landing ES, Hollin Meadows ES, Mt. Vernon Woods ES, and Belle View ES. With over a billion dollar shortfall in FCPS’s capital funding needs, these substantial County financial commitments to Richmond Highway Corridor schools will enable our community to meet its new classroom and school renovation commitments, while providing our students with some of the best school facilities in the County. These investments are critical to relieving school overcrowding and providing the additional pre-school development, advanced academic and innovative program spaces crucial to developing each of our students to their full potential. 

    For the first time this year, the staff recommended CIP "include potential capacity and capital solutions to schools which are currently or projected to be over-capacity." While I have been a fierce advocate in getting the capital funding which this CIP provides to address our schools’ overcrowding, I have many concerns about the specifics of the proposed school enrollment changes without first receiving input from community stakeholders. As I have consistently committed to the community, staff and Board members, a deep, transparent community engagement process that includes many meetings, many school enrollment options, over many months of time is essential.
    Since this enrollment study process is to start by early March, the "capacity solutions" included in the CIP are at best premature. I look forward to that process so that I can best represent you. Your views are always welcomed by me and crucial to exceeding the needs of our students. As always, it is an honor to represent you.
               

    Dan Storck
    Mt. Vernon District Member
    Fairfax County School Board