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Virginia college presidents protest planned rating system

Fifty presidents of Virginia colleges and universities have signed a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan urging the Obama administration to reconsider a proposed federal school rating system.

The Postsecondary Institution Ratings System is under development. Under a plan announced by Duncan and President Barack Obama last year, the ratings would be used to help determine which schools receive federal student aid.

The presidents, from both public and private nonprofit higher education institutions in the state, call the plan “misguided” in a letter addressed to Duncan and Virginia’s congressional delegates. The presidents expressed concern that the system could limit financial aid opportunities for needy students.

George Mason University President Angel Cabrera signed the letter, as well as the leaders of the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and William & Mary.

These presidents joined a growing number of educational leaders around the country who have taken issue with the ratings system, including Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system and Obama’s former homeland security secretary.

FCPS raises meal prices for upcoming year

Fairfax County schools are raising meal prices in their cafeterias for the first time since 2009.

Breakfast prices increased by 15 cents and lunch prices by 25 cents.

In elementary schools, lunch will cost $2.90, up from $2.65. In middle and high schools, lunch will cost $3.00, up from $2.75. The cost of breakfast in all schools has increased from $1.50 to $1.75.

Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals will not be charged.

Parents can access cafeteria menus and their child’s lunch account online or via the FCPS mobile app.

Registration open for 2014-15 school year

The Fairfax County school system is encouraging families to register their children for the 2014-15 school year ahead of the late August rush.

Under Virginia law, any child who will be 6 years old on or before Sept. 30, 2014, must attend school. Any child who will be 5 years old on or before that date must attend school unless opted out by a parent or guardian.

Parents can register their child at a neighborhood school. Families with special circumstances should make an appointment at one of the three Student Registration Centers located in Fairfax County.

More information, including required documents and contact information for the registration centers, can be found online at the FCPS website.

FCPS announces back-to-school night schedule

Fairfax County schools have announced the dates and times for their back-to-school nights for parents and guardians.

The first back-to-school nights will be held on Thursday, Aug. 28, before students return to class. While most schools’ back-to-school nights are scheduled for the first few weeks of the new school year in September, some will not be held until October.

The complete listing for all schools can be found online at http://fcps.edu/news/backtoschool/.

— Kate Yanchulis