Joint Retreat: Call to Action and Next Steps

A joint retreat of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County School Board was held at the Junior Achievement Finance Park at Frost Middle School, 4099 Pickett Rd. on Saturday, Feb. 25.

You may also review the notes from each topic session and view related presentations by topic.

County Executive Griffin:     The Board of Supervisors has committees of the whole. I would similarly suggest that instead of a smaller committee composed of only a few members of each board, that a committee of the whole should meet quarterly with a different subject to be discussed each time, perhaps a four-hour meeting with a facilitator. The meetings would be staff supported and topic-based.

Sup. Hudgins:     I want to think of today as a starting point. I’d like to figure out what we all said, what it means and how to use it rather than pull a subject out. Think about it as strategic planning, we may need fewer discussions rather than more. Where do we want to go with what we discussed today?

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bulova:     A report needs to come out with a recommendation for what we want to pursue.

Sup. Gross:     We have two upcoming months of budget discussions. The Board of Supervisors usually comes out with budget guidance laying the path for what we want staff to do in the next year. I see this as part of the budget guidelines so we can ask that certain things be further explored.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bulova:     The guidelines could be jointly adopted by both boards. How? Set up a task force? More frequent joint meetings?

Sup. Hyland:     The procedure is fine if we take the topics and have a time when both boards can come back, no longer than six months from today, and continue the discussion.

School Board Member Storck:     We have 22 people around the table here so we can’t have the discussion we need but we aren’t all subject matter experts so we should defer some of this to our peers. I think we need a hybrid system where people prepare the issues for the entire boards; the groundwork can be done by staff and some of our peers.

School Board Member Smith:     Sometimes it’s difficult when we talk with the whole board, subcommittees work well. How do we get to the point where we have something concrete to get results?  Bottom line is a way to get results.

Sup. Smyth:     There are many levels of collaboration; it’s going on every day. Staff is doing a good job without us.  We need to be sure they understand they have our blessing to continue. Individual members of the boards talk with each other but keep the day-to-day collaboration going on.

Sup. Foust:     We should have at least one meeting at a 30,000-foot level, and bring other groups like the Fairfax County Park Authority and library boards in to tell us what they’re doing, like a summit.

School Board Member McLaughlin:     I hope we can meet at least quarterly. It’s rare for me to sit with all the board members.

School Board Member Kaufax:     The opportunity to all come together is extremely important. It was an “aha moment” to find out an all-day joint retreat had never before taken place. Maybe some subcommittees could be formed.

Sup. Herrity:     The budget gets done but the CIP is an area where a lot of creativity could be used, it’s more of a living thing than the budget.  We don’t spend much time on the CIP. Are there creative ways to fund things? Broken-down buildings that need repairs to help us all? Ways to build and finance more efficiently?

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bulova:     There could be the most opportunity for collaboration in the CIP area.

School Board Chairman Strauss:     When we began planning, the CIP was the first thing we put down and is an area where we must intersect and it is an area where we haven’t yet established a good collaborative process.

School Board Member Moon:     We used to hold joint meetings, this is the first joint retreat but we used to meet regularly together.

School Board Member Schultz:     In a county our size and with our budget, we don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know if any ideas are bad because we don’t know, if they don’t work we change it and try something else.

School Board Member Evans:     We should meet twice more this year, set up a group with three from each board to pull together an agenda and choose the top two topics and meet on them before the year is out.

School Board Chairman Strauss:     Top topics are CIP, human services and joint facilities.

School Board Member Reed:     What about workforce readiness? Are we preparing both kids and adults to be active contributors to society?

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bulova:     That blends in with opportunities neighborhoods/schools.

There will be a report coming out within the next week; it will be posted to both schools and county websites. Let’s have a steering committee look at the report and suggest topics to pursue and design agendas for at least two more meetings this calendar year that are topic-based. We’ll have more discussion during budget meetings and our budget guidelines may also identify topics for future in-depth discussion. 

School Board Member McLaughlin:     The steering committee should send the draft meeting agendas out to every member of both boards for review and suggestions so all can own it.

School Board Member Storck:     And the steering committee can report back to the respective boards.

School Board Chairman Strauss:     Our purpose is to serve the community in the most efficient way and serve them in the most effective way to create the quality of life desired.

Parking Lot Ideas

  • Greater public promotion of all the areas of collaboration between the county and schools.
  • Joint task force to tackle difficult problems efficiently.
  • More social workers in schools.
  • Working group on early education.
  • Consider staggered starting and ending times for high school students and integrating with county transit.
  • Police officer safety instruction for elementary school students.

Information Needed

  • Locations where new schools are required.
  • Boards need to be brought up to date by staff so they can keep policy aligned. 

Topics of Interest

  • Early childhood education.
  • Leveraging community and school needs/opportunities as they emerge.
  • Learning from experiences/successes. 
    • How they fit into long-range planning.
    • Short-term wins, too. 
  • Building high school habits starting in elementary school.
  • Identify Opportunity Neighborhoods.
  • Recognize the transportation challenges for families in need and for children not attending schools in their neighborhoods.
  • Align policies with child/family program needs.
  • Involve the community to learn needs and get commitment.
  • Use facilities and knowledge to provide appropriate services.
  • Provide more effective social services in the schools to address students’ psycho-social needs.
  • Address children’s needs at earlier ages.
  • Look at kindergarten readiness opportunities with libraries.

The Path Ahead 

  • More frequent joint Board of Supervisors/School Board meetings.
  • Topic-based joint meetings – quarterly or 2x/year.
  • Set out a longer term agenda of topics as a result of budget discussions.
  • Set up a steering committee (three members from each board) to pull together meeting agendas focusing on top issues, after reviewing the 2/25 joint retreat report. 
  • Possible top issues:
    • CIP/joint spaces.
    • Community needs/services.
  • Working groups prepare information between larger meetings.


Board of Supervisors & School Board Joint Retreat

  Feb 25, 2012

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