On November 3rd, please vote YES for the $300 million in infrastructure improvements for Fairfax County Public Schools. (FCPS)
Fairfax County residents enjoy the benefits of having one of the best school systems in the nation, but with over 196 schools serving over 187,000 students, it has aging infrastructure is in dire need of improvements.
Voting YES on the school bond referendum will allow the county to maintain the “world class education system” which FCPS provides. This is a driving force behind our region's economic success. Nearly 75 percent of high school graduates in Fairfax County schools attend some form of post-secondary education. Many of these students return to Fairfax County to find work after graduating.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is the largest public school system in the Commonwealth and the 10th largest school system in the nation. Recent significant increases in student enrollment have pushed some schools far beyond capacity. Since the 2008-2009 school year, enrollment has increased by more than 22,000 students and continued strong growth is anticipated. On top of that, existing classrooms are in dire need of renovations to assure student safety. FCPS facilities also act as community centers with nearly 2,000 community organizations utilizing FCPS facilities every year.
Bonds are the means by which we provide the funding necessary for our students’ facilities. The use of bonds avoids diverting funds that are critically needed for classroom instruction. They also spread the financing of required school construction over the improvement's usable life, diversifying the contribution throughout several years.
In addition, it is important to note that the School Bond will not increase county taxes. The sale of bonds avoids taking funds that are critically needed for classroom instruction.
The use of bonds will not affect the county’s coveted bond rating. Not only are interest rates for tax exempt bonds at a near all time low, but Fairfax County is also among the top 1% of counties with the highest credit rating possible for a locality. Of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties, Fairfax is among only 40 that have the highest credit rating possible for a local government from all three rating agencies.
Fairfax County is home to 10 Fortune 500 company headquarters, more than 300 trade associations and professional societies, and nine of Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing privately-owned companies. To continue the excellence in education and business that Fairfax County is known for, our schools need to be modernized.
Together, we can pass the 2015 School Bond to make the necessary investments for a brighter future for our students and our county.
Chairman, Fairfax Citizens for Better Schools
From Chamber Member Porro Associates LLC
This piece is produced by Jeff Porro, speechwriter at Porro Associates LLC. www.porrollc.com
Almost every top executive discovers that one of his or her most important and challenging roles is to give speeches and presentations that will move key audiences –employees, customers, investors, and even the business press—to take action.
What too many business leaders don’t realize is that, when it comes to motivating an audience, the ending is the most important part of an engaging presentation. Why? Because all of us tend to remember the last thing we hear a speaker say. A weak ending, therefore, usually means your presentation won’t have much impact, even if the beginning and middle are well done.
Unfortunately, I hear far too many executives finish up their remarks to an audience by saying something like this:
“Well, that’s about all I have to say, and I see my time is about up.”
“So now I’ll answer any questions.”
No listener is going to be moved by that kind of an ending.
To engage and motivate your audience, instead of making their eyes glaze over, here are some much better ways to finish strong.
1. Start with the end at the beginning. When you prepare any kind of speech or talk, start by asking, what result do I want from my audience? What do I want them to do after they hear me? Then look at the way you plan to end the speech, and make sure those final words help achieve that result. This may sound obvious, but far too many executive speeches I’ve heard seem to end not on a high point, but instead just slump to a close when time runs out.
2. Bookend. One of the classic and most effective ways to end a speech is to circle back to the beginning of the presentation at the end. For example, if you start by talking about a problem or challenge facing your organization, return to that challenge at the end – ideally by proposing a solution. If you start by mentioning a company anniversary or milestone, refer to it again as you close your remarks.
3. Do something out of the ordinary. Look for something exciting or dramatic that you can use at the end. You don’t have to go overboard, but you can search out an unusual quote (I found one from daredevil Evel Knievel that I used for one client), or bring in a little known event in history, describe a case of strange bed fellows, etc. The key is to find something that makes the audience sit up and take notice. One warning: remember that using humor in any part of a speech can be risky, and especially in endings. So be very careful with it. More specifically, I advise strongly against finishing with a joke.
4. T.A.P. (Talk About People). Try to end your speech with the human touch. To illustrate the larger point you’re making, find an evocative story or vignette that involves an actual human being doing something. The more specific you can be the better. (“Dr. Jane Williams got interested in cyber security research because of something that happened to her mother…”)
5. Do take questions, but don’t end with them. A Q&A session following your remarks can be an effective way to connect with an audience. The problem is that you can’t control the questions. Therefore, you won’t have much say in which are the last words the audience hears at your presentation. As one of my presentation coaching friends has said, “That last question can lead your whole speech down a rat hole.” Instead, set aside a limited time for Q&A, and then re-assert control. Step to the podium one last time and deliver your final, final remarks.
6. And most importantly, show you know your audience. To engage any audience, and especially the ones that are vital to your organization’s success, you must demonstrate that you understand their concerns. Never use a generic ending. Always finish with a few sentences that make it clear you are know what worries, puzzles, or excites the specific group of people who are listening to you.
By David Notari, CEO of Innovation Health
If you are a business owner in Northern Virginia you are most likely are renewing your health insurance this fall. With all of the options available for your business, it is important to know what to look for in an insurance carrier. To help you navigate the myriad choices, here are my three top tips for choosing the best health coverage for both your employees and your bottom line.
Review all your options
Insurance brokers play a vital role in uncovering and presenting your company with a variety of health plan options. While they remove the burden and headache of uncovering these health plan options, be sure to ask that they present ALL the coverage options available so that you can make your most informed choice. Compare the list of insurance carriers you received last year to this year’s choices. If your list is the same, there is a good chance you are not seeing all your choices. Some brokers receive incentives for endorsing certain plans over others. If you don’t nudge them to look at all the available insurance carrier options, you could be missing out on the one that’s the best fit for your employees and a lower price point.
Be sure your broker understands what your employees want from their health plan. By conducting a simple internal email or survey, you can gather important information from your employees about what they value most in a health plan. Once you have that information, be sure to relay it to your broker. Arming them with this information will help identify specific plans that meet your employees’ needs.
Look for plans that value both cost and quality
Last year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changed the way rates are generated for people on small group insurance plans. Heading into this year’s open enrollment you will find that there are different rates for everyone in your company, depending on their age. For example, recent college graduates will have a much different rate than the executive with 30 years of experience.
As a reaction to this ACA change, some plans now offer something called composite rating for small businesses, where the rates for all employees are blended into a single rate. This is an attractive option for Northern Virginia business leaders because it brings predictability to health costs. Without a composite rate, business owners are forced to evaluate coverage expenses as part of their hiring strategies, which is never ideal. Composite rates free owners to focus on bringing the right people into their business, and accurately planning for the future.
Choice is king
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all health plan option for all your employees. With different ages, salaries and family needs, what might be ideal for one employee is often different than what is ideal for another. This is where looking for an insurance carrier with a variety of options comes into play.
Carriers that offer multiple health plan options might be the best fit for your business, since one plan option may apply to your employees more than another. Also, some of your employees may want a Health Savings Account (HSA) to help cover the cost of their doctors’ visits and prescriptions. Look for plans that offer these accounts as an option so interested employees have the ability to enroll. Your employees will undoubtedly value the selection and will be more likely to find a plan that works best for them. Don’t worry about the cost difference for each of these plans. By offering a flat rate to all employees for what you will cover within their plan, or contribute to their HSA each month, you can ensure that costs are manageable and predictable.
Enrolling for health plan coverage can be easy. By following these three tips, you can make sure that your workforce gains access to the quality health care options their families’ need, while growing a thriving business.
8. Tell us one of your goals for this year. To bring in more new members and to successfully show all current members a positive ROI from their membership investment.
9. Who is someone that you would love to meet (living or dead)? Jesus & Marcus Mumford
10. What are some of your hobbies outside of the office? Water/land sports, running, exploring DC & spending time with family/friends.
11. In your opinion, why is the Fairfax Chamber a great membership organization? I believe that the Chamber is a great organization due to our style of business and the programs we host. The Chamber believes in the importance of bringing businesses together and encourages people from all walks of life to be involved within the community. I love the comradery that our company has with the community – that in itself shows the importance of our Chamber to the DMV.
12. How can we reach you? (Phone, email, social media, etc)
Guest Blog: Jewish Community Center
Camps are more than just playing silly games, making beaded bracelets, and singing crazy songs. In a world with Wii U, iPhones, tablets, and big screen televisions, camp can be a great escape from screen time, and a way to make new friends, get some exercise, and gain important life skills.
Below are the top five reasons to send your child to camp:
1. Connects kids to those they may not normally meet: Kids who attend camp learn the world is a big place with lots of people, who might do things differently than they’re used to. That includes other kids from all over the area and beyond– and counselors and leaders who serve as positive role models and can leave a huge impression.
2. Self-esteem boost: When kids are at camp, they don’t have mom and dad there to help them approach people and make connections. They have to put themselves out there, which boosts confidence and self-esteem. In addition, kids learn new skills that make them realize how capable they are to learn and grow. In fact, according to the American Camp Association, 92 percent of kids who attend camp say that the people at camp helped them feel good about themselves.
3. Creates wonderful memories: Camp builds positive memories for the future. During the summer, kids create tons of memories of the good times, silly shenanigans, and fun activities. It’s a time of discovery and self-improvement that stays with a kid long into adulthood.
4. Gets them active: In this technology-filled world, camps cut back on distractions, so kids can truly take advantage of all summertime has to offer. That means those prone to texting or playing video games are forced to get up and move!
5. Develop interests: Camps are a nurturing environment for a child to explore activities and programs that could turn into lifelong passions. With so much to do at summer camp (swimming, crafts, etc.), there are many fun activities for kids to try and further discover.
At the J, our camps are filled with opportunities for campers to play, explore and experience all that camp has to offer in an environment based on Jewish values and culture. Our camp program includes indoor and outdoor activities, singing, dancing, sports activities, swim lessons, field trips, and more! Learn more about our camps and register today