Shannon Litton, candidate for School Board 2017

Editorial Board

Shannon Litton headshot
Shannon Litton

Shannon Litton

We asked Shannon Litton to prioritize two top issues she would address as a school board member, as well as provide information regarding her background in education.  

New and/or improved high school

I support to bond referendum to build a new George Mason High School.  The current facilities are in a state of disrepair and we need to act to address the pressing space, access, safety, and infrastructure issues at the facility. In addition to the challenges with the current condition of the building, the number of students attending our schools continues to grow and we are reaching maximum capacity at the school, with projections for classroom space deficits beginning next year, if we see the projected 3% growth in student numbers. Passing the referendum is simply the first step in moving forward on a plan on the issue.  While I support the referendum, I believe we must consider plans for commercial development next to the school carefully and cautiously.  Our education system is the hallmark of our community and development should needs to be done in way that ensures the safety and well-being of our students, and provides benefits for the broader community.  Ensuring safe routes for walking and biking to the school, along with adequate green space, are a high priority for me.

 

Growth of student population

The growth of the student population in Falls Church City is both a challenge and an opportunity. The significant growth in students in the schools in recent years has put significant pressure on our school system. This is most evident in our school facilities, which are inadequate for the student growth we have seen.  Additional space is currently being added to Mt. Daniel, Thomas Jefferson is expected to need another addition in the coming years, and George Mason and Mary Ellen Henderson are almost at capacity.  As the student population grows, we not only need more classrooms, but there are other costs such as additional buses, teachers, supplies, and administrative supports.  All of these needs put a significant strain on the school budget.   While there are numerous challenges, there are also positive aspects to the growth.  The growth is a sign that we have a strong system and people want to continue to come to Falls Church.  Additional students may bring new perspectives and interests and with more students, our sports teams may be stronger, more clubs may be formed to address a broader range of interests and the school may be able to offer a wider range of classes.

Experience in Education:
I am the daughter of a school principal and teacher, so I grew up in the world of education.  While I always thought I’d become a teacher, I ended up majoring in political science in college, and went on to work in a state legislature and in Congress, where I focused on education policy.  I also spent time living overseas, where I worked with international students who were coming to the U.S. to study.  Currently, I work for an organization the focuses on assessments and educational research.  My job is to follow education policy at the international, national and state level, and use the information to inform the work of my organization.