FOIAs in Fairfax Are Abnormally Expensive
Upon request, with the right words and budget for their fees, the county searches their records and shares the documents with us. This process helps us keep the pressure on and learn what the school board is up to.
Unlike some federal FOIA requests, state and local FOIA requests are not free. In fact, FCPS has one of the most difficult and expensive FOIA offices in the country. Multiple requests have been denied with a response that they would simply cost "thousands of dollars."
Thanks to the contributions of our supporters, we are able to make these requests and learn what's going on at FCPS. When we learn what's going on, we'll post it here.
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Last August, when students were not being sent back to school, FCPS was working on a boundary survey for parents and community members.
Voices of Fairfax FOIA shows that FCPS has a survey for parents about boundaries ready to go. See the draft communication and survey. See the drafts that led up to this point.
FCPS is also working on a draft to send to "stakeholders" and community members -- parties other than parents. That draft communication and survey is here.
See the drafts that led up to this point.
Wouldn't you be interested to know how your school board member(s) responded to these questions?
FCPS claims they are not in possession of any notes, recordings, or responses -- anything indicating what was discussed during the hours spent with the School Board by an outside consultant.
Questions for Interviews with FCPS School Board Members regarding the current FCPS boundary policy
JUNE 9, 2020
1. Please provide your thoughts on the current boundary policy? Please highlight opportunities or challenges. Please list the goals you would like to achieve with a revised boundary policy.
2. What should initiate a boundary change? Some things to consider:
4. What are some factors that we should be considering with overcrowded schools?
5. The One Fairfax policy (November 21, 2017) states that in Areas to Promote Equity: “Education that promotes a responsive, caring, and inclusive culture where all feel valued, supported, and hopeful, and that every child is reached, challenged, and prepared for success in school and life”. What are the most important factors that you would like to see addressed in the boundary policy adjustment to support this?
6. What are the socioeconomic factors you would like to be considered in the boundary policy?
7. Increased capacity can have an impact on the physical infrastructure of a building. With differences in capacity utilization at adjacent schools, do you feel existing boundaries support school resources effectively?
8. Capacity can be impacted by various factors transfers or academic programming. How do you think these policies and regulations should be addressed in the boundary policy?
9. Enrollment size is one factor that may impact the number of elective courses that are able to be offered. How should elective course offerings be addressed with changing enrollment as it relates to boundary changes?
10. What level of community engagement would you like to see addressed in the boundary policy?
11. The next phase of the consultant work is community engagement sessions and the survey for the review of the existing boundary policy. This will include collecting information on the process and factors for consideration. Is there any specific information that would you like us to attempt to gather from the community?
Click here to see the full document.
School board members participate in one on one interviews with MGT Consulting about boundaries. FCPS maintains no records or files of what was discussed in these interviews.
FCPS' boundary consultant drafts a Best Practices document that will be used to help guide the boundary process.
Note: the relevant discussion of boundaries and the presentation begins around 2:40:00, with the presentation discussed around 2:47:00.
The School Board discusses utilizing this presentation, which they attended at the VSBA 2019 Annual Conference, as a model for redistricting. The presentation, by VCU professor Kimberly Bridges, is entitled "Redistricting: When you face a Fight for What's Right" and studies how to manage parents resistance to do what elected officials believe is the right thing, despite the will of voters.
What is a FOIA?
FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act, or in Virginia, VFOIA., a law promoting an increased awareness of government activities. Upon request, with the right words and budget for their fees, a government body such as FCPS searches their records and shares the documents with us. This process helps us keep the pressure on and learn what the school board is up to.