Added intersessions would include college prep courses, internships, field trips
This week, Manassas Park City Schools held round table meetings for its community members to address concerns about the district implementing a new balanced school calendar.
The new calendar would begin August 17 and close again on June 20. This new schedule includes week-long breaks in October and March, with the usual 10-day holiday vacation in December. Additionally, two-week long intersessions will be added to the calendar in October and April. Intersessions are optional for the students and would include everything from college prep courses to internships and field trips. They would be of no additional cost to the students.
School Board Chair Brenda K. Foster said that they modeled the new calendar off of Galax City Public Schools, which successfully implemented it last year.
“I am excited about any calendar option that can help improve learning success for our students,” Foster said. The meetings were a way to get parents and community members involved in finding solutions or ideas for potential problems that may arise with the changes. Over the course of the three meetings, 300 people attended, a huge turnout, according to Foster.
Community members raised some concern over the changes, particularly about the effect it would have on finding childcare and the costs involved.
“I’m a little concerned about overall cost and additional effort required by the teachers to implement the sessions,” said Leeann Brogdan, a parent
She added that she liked the concept but wasn’t sure if the execution was the best.
Another concern was how this would affect summer vacations. The meeting participants sat around circular tables and were able to discuss their concerns with others seated at their table. Then, they listed them on flip chart paper and taped them to the wall so that everyone could share ideas and opinions.
Despite parent’s hesitation, teachers seem willing to try out the new format at the risk they’d have to work more.
“I feel like teachers by nature are willing to do extra work to help children succeed,” said Sara Silber, a 5th-grade teacher at Cougar Elementary School in Manassas Park.
Children also supported the change.
“You can prepare for the tests and all of that, but that’s nothing compared to real-world experience,” said high school freshman Alex Petsopoulos said about the proposed intersessions.
Petsopoulos expressed excitement in the type of activities that might be available in that week.
Though he did have some reservations about the start date.
“My birthday’s the 18th, and we start school on the 17th so that can’t happen,” Petsopoulos joked.
Foster and the rest of the school board plan on traveling to Galax City Public Schools on Feb. 11 through 13 to observe their spring intersession before the board votes on the new calendar on February 23.
A fire ripped through a home in the 15000 block of Holleyside Drive on Thursday.
Crews were called to the home in Montclair about 2 p.m. Flames were seen shooting through the roof and a 2nd alarm was called. However, crews on the scene were able to bring the blaze under control and then put it out, negating the need for the second alarm, said Prince William fire and rescue Battalion Chief Curtis Brodie.
The residents of the house were displaced. Brodie said no major injuries were reported.
Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.
January 29, 2015
January 29, 2015
January 28, 2015
January 28, 2015
January 27, 2015
New lanes will be tolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week
There’s a new plan for Interstate 66 that looks a lot like what just happened on I-95.
Virginia transportation officials want to build more of those famous “managed lanes,” or toll lanes between U.S. 15 in Haymarket in Prince William to the Capital Beltway in Fairfax County, just outside Tysons Corner. Two new lanes would be added to each side of the highway and, like the 95 E-ZPass Express Lanes, drivers will pay a toll 24 hours a day to use them. The new lanes would be free to drivers with three or more occupants in their vehicles.
Officials identified this 25-mile “outside the Beltway” stretch of highway as their target improvement zone because federal laws prevent I-66 from being widened inside the Capital Beltway. Arlington residents saw to that when the highway was built.
“For all of us who have ever traveled I-66, w know we have once choice: congestion. And, that congestion is getting worse,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Deputy District Administrator Renee Hamilton.
A round of winter weather forced the postponement the first few in a series presentations held to educate residents on the proposed changes. The agency held a meeting in Prince William and in Fairfax the past two nights, respectively.
After building toll lanes on the Beltway, and opening new toll lanes last month on I-95, VDOT has learned a thing or two about holding these public meetings. Display boards were set up in a large room, transportation experts posted around the room, and a court reporter made available to anyone who wanted to confess their concerns.
New commuter lots will spur slugging, officials hope
As to how the road will be built, the early favored design appears to be adding two new lanes in each direction with the lanes in the center of the highway, much like the E-ZPass Express Lanes are on the Beltway. The early favored plan also calls for the addition of new park and ride lots that would be served by a new bus rapid transit system in Prince William and Fairfax counties.
The new lots, officials hope, will spur slugging – a free, user-organized carpooling system in use on I-95 and 395 since the 1970s, and never yet implemented on I-66. Options to expand Virginia Railway Express or Metro along the corridor as part of this project don’t seem likely.
“For those asking ‘why not Metro,’ we’re not saying ‘no’ to Metro. We’re saying ‘not today,” said Hamilton.
In traffic congestion hot spots on I-66 in Fairfax County between Routes 29 and 50, a fourth auxiliary lane will be added as part of the project to allow drivers more room to merge on and off the highway.’
Land sits in the way
VDOT must take property to make this new vision for I-66 a reality. Segment one of the project between U.S. 15 in Haymarket and Route 28 in Centreville has 430 parcels of land standing in the way of development. Segment two between Routes 28 and 50 has 108, and segment three between Route 50 and the Beltway has 750 homes. About 70 families could be displaced.
The private firm, Australia-based Transurban was hired to build and maintain the E-ZPass Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway and I-95. The company also maintains the Pochohantas Parkway in Richmond.
State officials guarantee this highway expansion, like the previous two in Northern Virginia, will be a public-private partnership – a contract that will be awarded to a company that completes the state’s bidding process. Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board will meet Jan. 18 to discuss what they want in a qualified bidder for the project, and a request for proposals should go out sometime this summer.
Construction of the new lanes is slated to begin as early as 2017. The new lanes will not open before 2021.
A winter weather advisory is not in effect for Prince William County, as well Fairfax County . There could be some rain mixing with some sleet for commuters on their drive home from work.
Here’s what the National Weather Service says about our chances for wintry precipitation this afternoon and into tonight:
* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN. * ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION LESS THAN ONE INCH. ICE ACCUMULATION FROM A TRACE TO A FEW HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH. * TIMING...THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING. THE BEST CHANCE FOR FREEZING RAIN WILL BE BETWEEN 2 PM AND 5 PM. * TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER 30S. * WINDS...SOUTH 5 TO 10 MPH WITH GUSTS AROUND 15 MPH. * IMPACTS...UNTREATED ROADS AND SIDEWALKS WILL BECOME ICY. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.
As mentioned in the weather statement, temperatures will determine how much of any wintry mix we see tonight.
Neighboring counties pay entry-level teachers more
As the Prince William County School Board gears up for another budget cycle, it is timelier than ever to look closely at an important topic in local education – the current state of teacher pay in the county.
The average annual teacher salary, according to Jim Livingston, the Prince William Education Association president is $60,408 – a figure he pulled from a 2014 Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) report.
Phil Kavits, spokesman for Prince William County Public Schools, stated that the average annual teacher salary in the county is a bit higher than Livingston’s figure at $61,525.
These averages are worth noting when considering a quick drive to the surrounding area school divisions can greatly alter the average salary that a public school teacher receives.
“The only school division that is lower in average teacher salary in the area is Manassas Park. The other [counties] are at least $2,800 to $3,000 more than us. For example, if you cross over to Fairfax County…that’s a $7,000 pay increase based on the average,” said Livingston of the county’s low pay-average.
“The reasons that the salaries remain low, particularly at the entry level – that’s where we have the greatest difficulty – is quite frankly that our neighbor [counties] around us have simply determined that it’s in their best interest to try and attract the very best [teachers] that they can. And frankly, we’ve simply just not kept pace…” Livingston said.
The county’s School Board is facing a $20 million budget deficit. On Feb 4, it will meet to discuss some possible ways to fix the problem by proposing new cuts to the division’s billion-dollar budget. The cuts come as county leaders propose a lower tax increase of 1.3% than the original planned 4% hike in property taxes.
Things like transportation for specialty programs at middle and high schools, and full day kindergarten in non-title one schools are all things being eyed by the School Board as items to slash from the budget.
Teacher pay raises, however, are not, according to School Board Chairman, At-large Milton C. Johns.
Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series that examines public school teacher pay in Prince William County.
- Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center
- Address: 9100 Freedom Center Blvd, Manassas, Va.
- Phone: 703-993-8444
- Website: http://www.freedom-center.com/
What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?
The teenager who went missing last night in Stafford County is identified as James “Daniel” Martson.
Here’s more in a press release:
Stafford deputies responded to the area of Belle Plains Road at approximately 5:17 pm last night, January 28, 2014 for a report of a 17 year old male who had left his residence and is considered missing and endangered. The 17 year old, white male is identified as James “Daniel” Marston who was last seen near Vance Way, located in Potomac Creek Estates in the 700 block of Belle Plains Road, which is the White Oak area of southern Stafford County. James “Daniel” Marston is described as 6 feet, 1 inch tall, 155 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He is wearing dark blue jeans, a black hoodie and a plaid jacket.
Numerous units of the Sheriff’s Office, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and Sheriff’s Office K-9 along with a Maryland State Police helicopter searched for James Marston last night. The search is continuing today.
If anyone has any information as to the location of James “Daniel” Marston they are asked to contact the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office at 540-658-4400.
A 17-year-old boy is missing tonight in Stafford County.
Authorities released little information on the missing endangered teenager. They said the boy went missing from the area of Belle Plains Road and The Vane Way south Stafford.
SCSO searching for missing/endangered 17 white male in the area of Vance Way& Belle Plains Road. 6’1 155lbs wearing blk hoodie&plaid jacket.
— StaffordCoSheriff (@staffcosheriff) January 29, 2015
A sheriff’s spokesman did not release the name of the boy, age, or could tell us the circumstances of the teenager’s disappearance. Keep Reading…
Get your dog license in Prince William County yet? If not, Fido needs a tag by Feb. 1.
Here’s more in a press release:
Dog owners are reminded that in Prince William County all dogs age 4 months and older must be licensed by Feb. 1, 2015.
Any dog not having a 2015 license tag by February 1 will be in violation of County Code and owners will be subject to a fine. The license fee is $10 per dog.
If you received a dog license renewal form in the mail, please follow the instructions on the form in order to obtain a license. Forms must be returned by January 15th to ensure that you receive the new license by February 1.
If you did not receive a renewal form, owners must present a valid rabies certificate for each dog to obtain the license. Licenses may be purchased in person at any of the following locations:
– James J. McCoart Administration Building –1 County Complex Court in Woodbridge
– Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building – 15941 Donald Curtis Drive in Woodbridge
– Sudley North Government Building – 7987Ashton Avenue in Manassas
– Animal Control Bureau – 14807 Bristow Road in Manassas
If you prefer to apply by mail, an application form is available on the County’s web site at www.pwcgov.org/tax.
For questions about dog licensing, call 703-792-6710 or email Taxpayer_Services@pwcgov.org. For all other animal control questions, call the Animal Shelter at703-792-6465; after 5 p.m., call 703-792-6500.
Virginia State Police say a 16-year-old girl is missing and that she appears to be in danger of sexual abuse.
Here’s more in a police press release:
THE VIRGINIA STATE POLICE AND THE VIRGINIA MISSING CHILDREN
CLEARINGHOUSE HAS ISSUED AN ENDANGERED MISSING CHILD MEDIA ALERT ON
BEHALF OF THE CHRISTIANSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT ON 1/28/15 AT 1145 HOURS
THE CHRISTIANSBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT IS LOOKING FOR AYSIA MONIQUE LEWIS,
16 YEARS OF AGE, HEIGHT 5’3, WEIGHT 155 LBS, WITH BROWN EYES AND BROWN
HAIR, WEARING: BLUE JEANS, BLACK FLEECE JACKET AND TAN MOCCASISNS.
THE CHILD IS BELIEVED TO BE IN DANGER AND WAS LAST SEEN AT
CHRISTIANSBURG HIGH SCHOOL. THE CHILD MAY BE IN THE COMPANY OF DONALD
QUESENBERRY, WHO IS CONSIDERED A SUSPECT. THE SUBJECT IS DESCRIBED AS, 33 YEARS OF AGE, HEIGHT 5’7
FEET, WEIGHT 195 LBS, WITH BROWN EYES AND BROWN HAIR.
THE SUBJECT MAY BE DRIVING 2002 NISSAN ALTIMA 4D WITH ILLINOIS
REGISTRATION V975074. POSSIBLY HEADING SOUTH TO FLORIDA
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: CHILD IS BELIEVED TO BE IN DANGER OF SEXUAL
Fire officials in Prince William County say they arrested a man in connection to an apparent arson in the Triangle area.
Here’s more in a press release:
On January 26, 2015, at 4:46 AM, the Prince William County Public Safety Communication Center received a 9-1-1 call reporting a fire in a two story home in the 4400 block of Forestburg Lane in Triangle, Virginia. Fire and Rescue units responded and arrived within six minutes of dispatch to find fire on the second floor extending into the attic. Once ensuring the residents were out of the house, Firefighters from Dumfries-Triangle VFD, Prince William County DFR, Occoquan VFD, Dale City VFD, and Quantico MCB, were able to bring the fire under control within 33 minutes of being on scene.
The fire was quickly identified as suspicious in nature and the Prince William County Fire Marshal’s Office was brought in to investigate.
As the investigation began, Prince William County Police took a person into custody in the area for an initially unrelated call. Through the combined investigative work of the Fire Marshal’s Office and the Prince William County Police, an arrest was made for the intentional setting of a fire in an occupied dwelling, by an occupant of the home. Additional charges are pending and more information on the arrest will be forthcoming.
The house was destroyed by the fire and the building was posted unsafe by the Prince William County Building Official. The Prince William Chapter of the American Red Cross was brought in to assist 6 adults that were the other residents of the home.
The suspect’s name was not released by fire investigators.
January 21, 2015
January 20, 2015
January 15, 2015