is taking another look at its free period thanks to increasing student enrollment.
FHS plans to formally reach out to parents regarding the future of its Rewards & Remediation (R&R) program in May. R&R is a 39-minute time block offered every other day for students to use as they please, with limits.
"This time creates opportunities for increased student learning and builds strong student-teacher relationships," said Principal Dave Goldfarb. "It also allows students a higher level of choice in how they manage their time during the school day."
Students can choose to spend the period in the cafeteria, library, senior center or career center. Those who are failing a subject are required to meet with that a teacher to receive extra help.
But the student-choice aspect of the program is making school staff nervous when they consider the number of new students expected to enroll in the coming years.
Fairfax County Public Schools officials are bracing for 4,000 more students than last year's countywide total and 15,000 more than in 2008. FHS is no exception.
This year the high school holds 2,635 students. That number is predicted to increase to about 2,700 next school year, 2,800 in 2013-14, and 2,950 in 2014-15, according to a letter Goldfarb sent out to parents last week.
"As our student enrollment increases, the amount of building space available shrinks and there are more obstacles for our students and teachers," he said.
So far the school cafeteria and library are the most popular R&R destinations, attracting hundreds of students. The same can't be said about some of the classrooms and centers. As students cannot wander the halls, FHS staff faces the problem of letting students choose where they want to spend R&R while keeping the cafeteria and library from getting too crowded.
"This means that during our R&R time, some classrooms have fewer than 10 students and others have over 40," Goldfarb said. "Our cafeteria and library are usually at capacity, with hundreds of students in each."
The high school won't get rid of its time for "intervention and enrichment" but it may take on another form.
What's the solution? FHS staff will be reaching out to parents and teachers in the coming months for suggestions. Stay tuned for an official meeting announcement in the spring.