Dear Ms. McClellan,
First, UPROAR applauds your efforts to protect your school’s position on the renovation queue. We want to point out that the queue will not be revised before the bond vote where Herndon HS will be approved for the planning phase of their renovation. You are not in danger!
But please let me point out some incorrect information in your letter to the Herndon Patch editor that I think will help you and the Herndon community better understand UPROAR’s position and the fact that we do not intend to (and actually cannot) affect your placement on the 2013 bond to begin the renovation process for Herndon HS.
The next review of all schools will occur over the summer of 2013. That assessment will be revised, a report will go to FCPS, and a new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) will be presented to the School Board for review and there will be a public hearing on the CIP. That review and hearing will be happening at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year and WILL NOT affect the school renovation bond that will be on the ballot in November 2013.
With that worry out of your way, let us now address reasons why we believe the Herndon community should join UPROAR’s efforts to address the procedures for determining the renovation queue. As a legacy school, you are well aware of the wait for much needed renovations. As such, you should understand how Falls Church HS (actually built several years before HHS), cannot afford to wait 20 more years before STARTING the renovation process.
In our efforts to understand our placement so far down the queue while watching newer schools go through complete renovation we discovered that the independent contractor used a scoring sheet that was flawed in its weighting system. As an example: HHS, which I do not believe has a Physical Disabilities Department, received low scores in the special education scoring components because these facilities did not exist. (Note that the scoring is 1 – 5, with 5 being the best.) This scoring did not account for the fact that the school did not have a need for them because they did not have students with physical disabilities!
However, Falls Church HS, which educates the physically challenged students in the eastern part of Fairfax County, received the highest score for each because the space existed — even though the classrooms did not have adequate heating, the bathrooms are not ADA compliant, and the rest of the school had only limited handicap accessibility. The scoring of the special education section alone created a 17 point differential between FCHS and HHS. That would have put our facilities equal in that first requirements section without any other factor being considered. That is only one example of the flawed scoring assumptions that placed several schools ahead of others based on the lack of facilities – facilities that they DID NOT NEED because these students are served at other schools!
This erroneous scoring system was discussed with Dean Tistadt and he agreed that the scoring system needs to be revised before the next round of assessments (summer of 2013). And indeed, the School Board has begun these discussions and is working to determine how to create a better scoring system. However, to assume that there will be no changes in the renovation queue for schools not already on the bond by 2013 would suggest that there is no need to ever reassess the schools that have already been scored. There will be changes in the queue.
As far as over-crowding, FCPS has not yet determined exactly what weight should be given to this factor. Obviously, if a school has numerous trailers, there is a need for expansion. However, what weight should that need for expansion have compared to the need of providing a basic chemistry laboratory to an older school where the gas lines don’t work, sinks are corroded beyond use, and there is no ventilation? UPROAR does not have an answer but we are working with the School Board and any other high school parents to help figure this out.
We invite you to help out as well. Please be sure to thank your School Board representatives for all they are doing with the limited budget they have. And then please help us to advocate for more funding so that more schools can be excited about their impending renovation just like the Herndon HS community.
By the way, UPROAR is very proud to be responsible for the School Board deciding to renovate all bathrooms in legacy high schools this year, including HHS. We hope this spirit of advocating for ALL students will gain support in the county and hope that you agree that if we work together for all students, FCPS will continue to be the best it can be.
Falls Church HS President-Elect