Fairfax County Public Schools

The Fairfax County Public Schools system serves all of Fairfax County.

The interim superintendent of the Fairfax County Public Schools system is Steve Lockard, who was appointed by the school board in October 2016.[1]


Although measures were taken by Virginia as early as 1846 to provide public education in Virginia, a public school system was not established in Fairfax County until 1870, when the creation of such a system was enshrined in Article VII of the Virginia Constitution.

The county's public schools opened with an initial enrollment of 1034 students.[2]

Milton D. Hall became the superintendent of the system in 1886.[3] At the time, there were 78 schools in the county, all but six of them one-room buildings, and 3868 students.[3] Less than a third of the county's children attended school.[3]

W. T. Woodson was elected superintendent at the school board meeting held on March 5, 1929.[4] At the time, there 4,986 students attending 65 schools in the system: 44 for white children and 21 for black children, and 29 of these were one-room schoolhouses.[3]

The era of the one-room schoolhouse in Fairfax County came to an end on September 6, 1934, when the school board adopted a resolution to close the Sydenstricker School, moving its students to the Burke School.[5]

In 1953, the county started providing special education classes for mentally retarded children.[6]

By 1954, FCPS had 42 elementary schools and 6 high schools.[7]

FCPS switched from a 7-5 model, where children in grades 1 through 7 attended elementary school and children in grades 8 through 12 attended high school, to a 6-2-4 model in 1958. Children in grades 7 and 8 now attended intermediate schools.[7]

In a 4-2 vote, the school board adopted a plan for desegregating the FCPS system on August 8, 1959. The plan called for desegregating one grade per year, starting with the first grade class in the fall of 1960.[8] This plan was quashed by Federal judge Albert V. Bryan, who on September 22, 1960 ordered the admission of 19 students who had been denied under this plan.[9][10]

W. T. Woodson's retirement as superintendent, effective in June 1961, was announced on November 1, 1960.[11]

On April 4, 1961, the school board appointed Earl C. Funderburk as the new superintendent to replace the retiring Woodson.[12]

The availability of a new pot of state money created by Virginia General Assembly in March 1966 led to the creation of a pilot program offering free kindergarten in seven elementary schools starting in September, 1967.[13][14]

In 1968 the system was decentralized by the School Board into four areas, each having its own administrator.[15] Superintendent Funderburk's original plan for decentralization had called for the system to be split into five areas, and an outside report by consultants Cresap, McCormick and Paget recommended it be divided into three.[7] The school board preferred the plan advocated by Cresap, McCormick and Paget, and Funderburk's displeasure at this was a significant factor in his January 9, 1969 departure.[7][16]

Dr. Lawrence M. Watts was chosen as the next superintendent on April 29, 1969.[16] Unfortunately, Dr. Watts had a bum ticker and died of a heart attack on June 15, 1970.[17] Assistant Superintendent S. Barry Morris was named acting superintendent by the school board on June 18.[18]

S. John Davis was appointed superintendent on September 23, 1970.[19]

Seeking operational efficiency, Superintendent Robert R. Spillane created a third deputy superintendent position, overseeing the system's financial and support services, in 1985. The school board approved the appointment of John P. Hess to this newly-created position on November 7.[20]

In 1995, the number of area offices was reduced from four to three due to budget cuts.[7] Area IV superintendent George E. Stepp retired from FCPS and became the superintendent of the City of Fairfax Schools system.

Year-round schooling, which had long been discussed as a possible alternative to the traditional nine-month calendar, finally became a reality in 1996 when the modified calendar was implemented at Timber Lane Elementary School in Falls Church.[21] Dogwood Elementary School in Reston became the second school to switch to a year-round calendar in 2000.[22]

By an 8-4 vote that was split along party lines, Dr. Daniel A. Domenech was named superintendent on November 12, 1997.[23]

Domenech reorganized the school system from three areas to eight clusters.[7]

Dr. Karen K. Garza was unanimously appointed superintendent by the Fairfax County School Board on April 18, 2013.[24]

In 2014, the school system was reorganized again, with the eight clusters becoming five regions.


  1. Balingit, Moriah. "Fairfax County School Board Appoints Interim Superintendent Ahead of Garza's Exit." The Washington Post. WP Company, 07 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.
  2. "Fairfax to Celebrate 100 Years of Schools." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Jan 01 1970. ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Netherton, Nan. Fairfax County, Virginia: A History. Fairfax, VA: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, 1978. Print.
  4. "Schools' Director Chosen in Fairfax." The Washington Post (1923-1954): 2. Mar 06 1929. ProQuest. Web. 2 Sep. 2014.
  5. "Fairfax County Discards Last of Old Schools." The Washington Post (1923-1954): 2. Sep 07 1934. ProQuest. Web. 3 Sep. 2014.
  6. Smith, Marie. "Fairfax Will Increase Classes for Retarded." The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959): 22. Aug 19 1955. ProQuest. Web. 29 Aug. 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Duke, Daniel Linden. Education Empire: The Evolution of an Excellent Suburban School System. Albany, NY: State U of New York, 2005. Print.
  8. McBee, Susanna. "Fairfax County School Board Keeps its New Desegregation Plan Secret." The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959): 2. Aug 16 1959. ProQuest. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.
  9. "Court Bars Grade-a-Year Fairfax Plan." Evening Star, 22 Sep. 1960, Night Final, p. 1. NewsBank. Accessed 9 Feb. 2018.
  10. "Fairfax Schools Admit Negroes" Evening Star, 29 Sep. 1960, Night Final, p. 22. NewsBank. Accessed 9 Feb. 2018.
  11. "Woodson Will Retire in June As Fairfax Schools Chief" Evening Star, 2 Nov. 1960, Night Final, p. 31. NewsBank. Accessed 9 Feb. 2018.
  12. "Fairfax Names Head of Schools." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Apr 05 1961. ProQuest. Web. 8 Sep. 2014.
  13. Dewar, Helen. "Va. Assembly Abolishes Pupil Placement Board." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Mar 09 1966. ProQuest. Web. 24 May 2017.
  14. "Fairfax Plans Free Kindergartens." The Free Lance-Star [Fredericksburg, Virginia] 7 Aug. 1967: 10. Google Newspaper Archive. Web. 24 May 2017.
  15. Jacoby, Susan. "Fairfax Schools Go Streamlined." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Sep 19 1968. ProQuest. Web. 7 May 2014.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Klose, Kevin. "New York Educator Appointed to Head Fairfax School System." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 2. May 02 1969. ProQuest. Web. 8 Sep. 2014.
  17. "Fairfax Schools Chief Lawrence Watts, 44, Dies." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Jun 16 1970. ProQuest. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.
  18. Bredemeier, Kenneth. "Fairfax Names Morris Acting Chief of Schools." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Jun 20 1970. ProQuest. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.
  19. "System Gets Local Man, Spear Davis." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 2. Sep 24 1970. ProQuest. Web. 4 Oct. 2014 .
  20. "SCHOOL BOARD ACTIONS." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 1. Nov 14 1985. ProQuest. Web. 25 Nov. 2014.
  21. Donahue, Michelle Z. "Year-round Schooling May End in Fairfax County." WTOP.com. WTOP, 4 Aug. 2009. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.
  22. Parker, Andrew. "Modified Schedule Implemented at Dogwood." FairfaxTimes.com. Post-Newsweek Media, Inc./FairfaxTimes.com, 1 Aug. 2000. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.
  23. Benning, Victoria. "Fairfax Schools Hire Long Island Educator." The Washington Post (1974-Current file): 2. Nov 13 1997. ProQuest. Web. 8 Sep. 2014.
  24. Ross, Victoria. "Karen Garza Hired as Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools." Connection Newspapers. Connection Newspapers, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.

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