The Prince William County School Board once again finds itself arguing about transparency, and how to be the best stewards of taxpayer funds.
The discussion comes nearly two years after it approved one of the costliest high schools ever to be built in Virginia.
School officials Wednesday night were tasked once again with voting on a design to be used for the county’s 13th high school to be built in western Prince William County, slated to open in 2020.
The Board voted on April 23, 2014 to build new high schools using cheaper, a 20-year-old floor plan first used in 1991 to build C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, and last used in 2004 to build Battlefield High School outside Haymarket.
School staff on Wednesday urged the governing body to rescind their vote and built a the new school based on designs used at Patriot High School, and the new Colgan High School that will open next fall.
The Battlefield model will cost $13.7 million less to construct. The Patriot model is more modern and includes more windows for natural light — something school staff said helps children learn better, according to a 1999 study cited by school division staff.
Both the Battlefield and Patriot design will accommodate 2,053 students. Classrooms in the Patriot model are 50-square feet larger than the 700-square-feet classrooms in at Battlefield High School.
“The greater square footage drives the greater cost,” said Prince William County Public Schools Associate Superintendent David Cline.
Larger open spaces to include courtyards, cafeteria, gymnasium, auditorium, hallways, and better energy efficiency are all selling points for the newer Patriot model. Cline also pointed to a series of meetings held in September where “the vast majority of about 75 citizens who spoke, the overwhelming majority indicated they liked the Patriot prototype,” said Cline.
“To get this on the on the agenda tonight, someone had to ask for it,” said Neabsco District School Board member Lisa Bell. “We did take a vote, and now were being asked to revisit it. We held two community meetings to stir up the community again.”
The school division held two public meetings last month to discuss where the 13th high school will be located. The locations include a site proffered by a housing developer that would build a the Stone Haven neighborhood in Bristow, still awaiting approval from the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, or on a site off Rollins Ford road bequeathed to the county for use as a public park.
The meetings also dredged up the topic of how the school building should be built. Schools Superintendent Steven Walts said the meetings were held in the name of transparency with the public.
Bell, along with Coles District member Michael Otaigbe said the school design topic should not have been discussed since the Board already voted last year to use the Battlefield design.
“We voted to use the one that was less costly and the community applauded…with that and we learned our lessons, and here we are being told we should go for a higher model,” said Otaigbe.
Bell and Otaigbe opted not return to the School Board next year. Otagibe said this was the first time in his 12 years on the Board he has been asked to revisit a prior vote.
Occoquan School Board member Lillie Jessie said she cannot fathom the cost of the more expensive model when so many students in her district in eastern Prince William County attend classes outside their school buildings in trailer classrooms.
“Do wider hallways serve any instructional purposes?” asked Jessie.
The Occoquan District representative also asked school staff for a study more recent than the 1999 study cited, noting children perform better in schools with more natural light.
“Osbourn Park and Battlefield [high schools] are nationally ranked, and they don’t have glass,” she added.
The School Board is trying to avoid a repeat of the Colgan High School debate, which ignited local bloggers that denounced the division for spending too much on the school, and for including the division’s first school pool. Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart argued then that school pools are not uncommon, and that the pool was necessary to attract more affluent residents to the county
Colgan High School, located on Route 234 near Hoadly Road near eastern Prince William County, will open next fall with a price tag of $111 million — one of the most costliest ever built in the state.
Crowded schools are also a problem in the county, as many new schools are filled to the brim with students as soon as they open.
“We do need to be building larger schools with larger capacity because land is not readily available. I’m more concerned about capacity than lighting at this time,” said Potomac District School Board member Betty Covington.
School Board Chairman Milton Johns opted not to return to the School Board in 2016 after 12 years on the Board. He said overcrowding in county schools is nothing new, and that schools on the eastern side of the county dealt with severe overcrowding issues in the 1980s and 90s.
Johns supports building the Patriot model for the 13th high school.
“We pay a lot of people a lot of money to be expert professionals and advise us, and the message I’m getting is that they think [building the Battlefield model] is a big mistake,” said Johns.
The clock is ticking on the school board to decide not only what the new school will look like, but where it will be located if it will open on time in 2020. A decision on the school design must be made this month, said Cline.
Johns tabled the discussion, and a possible vote to rescind the 2014 decision to build the Battlefield model to the next School Board meeting at 7 p.m. October 21.
Candidates for the Occoquan seat on the Prince William County School Board will meet for a debate hosted by Potomac Local on Monday, October 5 at 7 p.m.
The seat is currently held by Lillie Jessie, who was elected to the chair in 2011, beating out Republican Micheal Wooten. Two challengers are running against Jessie: John Gray and Karen Boyd.
The debate will be held at Occoquan Elementary School located at 12915 Occoquan Road in Woodbridge.
Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser will moderate the debate. The event is held in partnership with the Prince William County Democratic Committee and the Prince William County Republican Committee.
The candidates were briefed on the format of the debate as follows:
— Candidates will be introduced to the audience
— Short bios for each candidate will be read
— A candidate will be asked a specific question
— The candidate will have three minutes to respond
— An opposing candidate will have three minutes for rebuttal
— A new question is asked of different candidate and process repeats
The event is open to the public.
Campaign literature and signs are only permitted outside of the building and must be removed upon event conclusion.
All students at North Stafford have been dismissed.
All students are dismissed. pic.twitter.com/8FpGNZMnhz
— NSHS Wolverines (@NSHSWolverines) September 30, 2015
Students at North Stafford High School are getting out early today.
An operator at the Stafford County Public Schools central office said problems with the air handling system prompted an early release for North Stafford students.
Regular bus transportation has been made available to students.
The school division Tweeted this:
NSHS travel students will return to the school at regular time & ride the 2:15-regular dismissal buses home. https://t.co/W2MDX8DFPr
— Stafford Schools (@SCPSchools) September 30, 2015
Potomac Local was not able to immediately reach anyone at the school division to provide comment on the matter.
Prince William County Schools officials today will cut the ribbon its newest elementary school.
The yet-to-named elementary school will be built on a site proffered to the county by the Ferlazzo family to be used as an elementary school.
The site is located near the intersection of Minnieville and Spriggs roads in Woodbridge.
The elementary school will the 59th school of its kind in Prince William County. A total of 55,000 cubic yards of dirt must be moved to make way for the building, according to a press release.
The new building will resemble an adaptation of Yorkshire Elementary School, will accommodate 924 students, and will include two classrooms for the nearby school at Independent Hill.
“The Ferlazzo school will be a positive learning environment where creativity and technology are immersed in high academic standards—a school where STEAM will ignite unlimited possibilities for all students,” stated Principal Felicia Norwood in a press release, who will lead the school when it opens.
The groundbreaking will be held at 9:30 a.m. and is open to the public. The new school is slated to open in fall 2016.
School officials recently broke ground on another new elementary school in Woodbridge — a replacement for R. Dean Kilby Elementary School that opened in 2005.
Roast marshmallows, play games, hayrides at Fall Family Fun Night at the Manassas Park Community Center
- Manassas Park Community Center
- Address: 99 Adams Street Manassas Park, Va. 20110
- Phone: 703-335-8872
- Website: http://www.manassasparkcommunitycenter.com/
Fall Family Fun Night is Oct. 3
Are traditional family dinners indicative of a well-adjusted family?
Not necessarily according to a 2013 article from NPR. Journalist Alison Aubrey shares survey and research results from a variety of sources where participants agree that family meals are important but nearly half of the respondents don’t have regular family meals.
That finding is completely reasonable. With work schedules evolving from the usual nine to five, and children’s extracurricular activities becoming increasingly important, it’s hard to find even a moment when all the family members are in the house at the same time.
What exactly constitutes a family dinner? For some families, it appears that the traditional definition of everyone at the table every night having a family conversation may not be the only option.
Depending on schedules, some families may still have dinner together with the absence of a few members. Other families set aside a special weekend dinner once a week.
Flexibility also seems to be important as, according to the article, about 25% of the respondents have distractions during dinner time including TV or mobile devices.
Is the act of simply being together, eating together enough? Some families argue that it’s important time to catch up and relax together so no distractions are allowed.
Other families may feel that avoiding rushed dinners and awkward conversation are worth the occasional distractions and may even encourage dialogue.
The important point is that each family feels comfortable with tailoring their family dinner to their family’s needs and not hold themselves to an unattainable standard.
However, family dinner is not the only opportunity to strengthen bonds. Any special time spent together such as family vacations and attending events can be beneficial and possibly easier to coordinate.
One example would be the Fall Family Fun Night at the Manassas Park Community Center. Roasting marshmallows, playing games, and hopping on hayrides are all scheduled activities and all provide unique opportunities for reinforcing family relationships.
The event is only $10.00 per family and must register in advance. This can be done online or in person at the community center.
Attending special events also allows families in a community to connect together. Neighbors can share stories and exchange ideas on how they strengthen their family bonds. Plus having family friends can provide additional opportunities for family time. Play dates, game nights and planned outings with family friends can motivate family members to find time to participate.
With evidence showing that quality family time has a lasting beneficial effect on families such as emotional stability, there is a reason to make it a point to spend time together.
It can come in the form of a family dinner but it’s no longer the only option.
Choosing activities that are convenient for your family makes quality time achievable and, therefore, more likely to motivate family members to come together.
A Woodbridge Catholic high school is starting their own radio station.
Saint John Paul the Great High School, located on 17700 Dominican Drive in Woodbridge, will be launching their FM radio channel – 106.3 JPN – November 1, according to the school’s spokeswoman Jennifer Cole.
“A few years after we opened, we started to talk about ‘How can we take what we’re doing, and the mission of our school’…and give our students a chance to put that into action,” said Cole.
The idea to start the radio channel came in 2012 from a resident named Tom Vetter, who received a post card about a new program.
“This post card from the Catholic radio station caught his eye. It was basically saying that they needed help to help people start these low FM stations,” said Cole.
Vetter reached out to Saint John Paul the Great High School, and donated the money to get the project, said Cole.
“This was a good fit for us, because it got the conversation going on how our students can put into practice, some of the things that they’re learning. And how do we teach a mode of communication, and how would that be ethical and meaningful,” said Cole.
The project came to halt, when the school had difficulties securing a location for the radio antenna, until another local family stepped in and donated the funding to building lights on the school’s athletic field. The school was then able to add the antenna to the lights and continue the project, according to Cole.
When the station is initially launched, the school will be using free Catholic radio content, until the students begin creating content, as part of their curriculum.
“It will be anything, from a talk show format, or broadcasting our sports games live, or maybe broadcasting a class – like our bioethics class…the idea is that the content would speak to our mission as a Catholic school,” Cole said.
The channel will have a seven to ten mile reach, according to Cole.
“We’re excited that we’re going to be able to bring Catholic radio to the commuters on [Interstate] 95 and people in Dumfries, Montclair and Woodbridge…we want to help fill the airwaves with things that we think are good, that could be helpful to people,” said Cole.
The Prince William County Safe Schools Advisory Council held their first meeting of the 2015-2016 school year on Monday Sept 14.
In accordance with the bylaws they voted to select a new chair and vice chair.
Congratulations to Shawn Brann from the Brentsville District and Wendy Dempsey-Cruz from the Woodbridge District on their unanimous selections as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Safe Schools Advisory Council.
Shawn Brann will bring his experience chairing the Piney Branch Elementary School Principal’s Advisory Council to the Safe Schools Advisory Council.
After the election Shawn Brann said, “It’s a great honor to chair the Safe Schools Advisory Council for the 2015-2016 school year.” Brann stated that he “intends to carry on the exemplary work accomplished by Tim Singstock and the entire Safe Schools Advisory Council; the 2014-2015 school year was an impressive collaboration of PWCS parents, school administrators, and safety professionals from the school system and county level. We brought our focus on mental health and internet safety directly to the community with two information nights.”
Tim Singstockterm as Chairman ends on September 30. Singstock is running to be elected the next Prince William County School Board Chairman.
“Safe Schools is an important council and it requires invested leadership. Shawn and Wendy will provide that leadership. The Safe Schools Advisory Council will do great things in the 2015-2016 school year.”
Wendy Dempsey-Cruz quoted Nelson Mandela in her acceptance speech.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Wendy, like Shawn is very involved at her children’s schools.
Singstock was appointed to the SSAC in late 2013.
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10th) today announced an October 1 deadline for students interested in applying for a nomination by the 10th District Service Academy Advisory Board to one of the nation’s military academies for the Class of 2020.
Students seeking a nomination have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, October 1 to have an application into Comstock’s office in Sterling.
“Our country is only as strong as the next generation and that is why the Service Academies are so important to building America’s future leaders,” said Congresswoman Comstock. “This process is open to everyone in the 10thCongressional District who aspires to be a part of the Class of 2020. I look forward to the 10th District Service Academy Advisory Board getting to work and viewing the applications of our future leaders.”
Applications can be mailed or hand delivered to Comstock’s Sterling office at 21430 Cedar Drive, Suite 218, Sterling, Virginia 20164. Interested students can request an Academy Nomination Application from Comstock’s Web site at https://comstock.house.gov/services/military-academy-nominations. The selection process is strictly a competitive one.
For more information about the congressional nominating process, contact Mary Ann Cannon in Comstock’s Sterling office at (703) 404-6903, or go to https://comstock.house.gov/ and click on Military Academy Nominations under the Services section.
Prince William County plans to open its 13th high school within five years.
The school division has three-and-a-half months to get a final location and design approved to stay on schedule.
The first of two community input meetings was held Monday night at Battlefield High School in Haymarket. The 13th high school, if opened as planned in fall 2020, would help alleviate overcrowding at Battlefield, Patriot, and Stonewall Jackson Senior high schools in Prince William.
The county’s 12th high school, Charles J. Colgan High School on Hoadly Road near Woodbridge will include the much debated $11 million aquatics facility, and will open fall 2016.
The Stonehaven site
The school division has two locations available for the 13th high school. The first is on land in a proposed development in the Linton Hall Road corridor called Stonehaven. An 85-acre school site — large enough to accommodate the school building and all traditional sports and practice fields — was proffered to the county by the housing developer in exchange for a land rezoning that would allow the company to construct 1,006 homes.
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors deferred a vote on the Stonehaven rezoning last fall leaving the future of the 13th high school site uncertain.
Prince Wiliam County Public Schools Associate Superintendent David Cline told the nearly 20 residents at the presentation Monday that the division is in need of the new school because enrollment in Prince William – now at 87,000 students — continues to grow about 800 per year.
“This is a sensitive and sometimes political topic,” said Cline.
The Rollins Ford site
With the Stonehaven site uncertain, Prince William County Supervisors Jeanine Lawson and Peter Candland last month offered a 69-acre site off Rollins Ford Road. The land was proffered to Prince William County to be used as a park, and the county has already spent about $4 million to develop the new park.
The school division must reimburse Prince William County that cash if the site is used for the 13th high school. And the school division must give up 60 acres of land — dubbed the Avondale school site near the intersection of Route 28 and Vint Hill Road – where a new elementary and middle school is slated to be built.
The Avondale site would become the site for a new community park, and would be built next to the Grizzly Sports Complex. If the Rollins Ford site is chosen, that leaves the school division searching for new sites for a new elementary and middle schools at the cost of about $10 million.
The Rollins Ford school site also comes with more complications than the Stonehaven site. The soils at the site are not suitable for construction and would have to be dug up and replaced with new soil at a cost of $1 million. The site in the rural crescent — an area largely devoid of water and sewer connections — must also be placed on public sewer if the school is built there.
“We’re still compiling the engineering data on what it would take to do that, but it’s not a small feat,” said Prince William County Public Schools facilities chief Dave Beavers.
School officials don’t yet have an estimated cost for a water and sewer extension that would pipe in from a nearby residential subdivision.
The Rollins Ford school site is not large enough to accommodate all of the practice fields needed for the high school. The school could be built on site without the usual fields, or the school division could spend upward of $2 million more for additional land for the fields. In all, it could cost at least $16 million to address the initial issues with the Rollins Ford site.
The site could also be impacted by new power lines planned by Dominion.
“I want the site that is going to get us a school built on time.” said Gainesville School Board Representative Alyson Satterwhite. “I think that if we were to going the Rollins Ford park direction, Stonehaven might be interested in offering us a middle school site. That’s my personal opinion.”
How should the new school be built?
The Prince William County School Board must also decide how to build the new school.
Two prototypes for the new building are under consideration: a school modeled after Patriot High School in Nokesville and the new Colgan High opening next year, and a model based on Battlefield High School in Haymarket and Freedom High School in Woodbridge.
Nearly all who spoke Monday night argued for the more updated “Patriot” model due to its more modern layout, larger classrooms and open space, and wide windows to allow for more natural light.
Colgan High School will open next year with a final price tag of $111 million, including the aquatics facility. Without it the pool, the price tag is about $90 million.
If the more than 20-year-old Battlefield design is chosen, originally used in Prince William for the design of C.D. Hylton High School which opened in 1991, originally Beavers said it must be brought up to current-day building codes. No matter which design is chosen, the new school could wind up costing about $10 to $15 million more than the $90 million cost of the 12th high school due to increased construction costs, said Beavers.
“This is a no-brainer,” said Jeff Smith, who said he anticipates his children will someday attend the new school when it opens. “It seems pretty clear to me you take the site that doesn’t cost anything” Instead of taking the site that costs $16 million, and you take the money you save to build a better school. I don’t even know why you present a design that was used 20 years ago.”
School Board Chairman candidate Tracy Conroy argues the school system should focus on building new schools at a lower cost, faster, to accommodate the growing student population.
“Looking at the 2005 [Prince William County Public Schools Capital Improvement Plan], it had the high school we’re talking about tonight opening in 2014. It had Colgan [High School] open in 2012, and Patriot [High School open] in 2009. None of those was open on time, and [the need for these schools was] based off of student projections,” said Conroy. “So we spend most of our time saying this is a problem with developers and the county. However, in 2005 we knew these homes were coming, and we projected to build what was needed.”
Beavers said the schools did not open late but opened as planned due to budget and circumstances that changed over time. The school division is on track to present their recommendations to the School Board in three weeks. The School Board must make a decision on the new site by January to stay on track to open the new school in 2020.
A second community input meeting will be held at Patriot High School
tomorrow September 23 at 7 p.m. in Nokesville.
A groundbreaking will be held for a new R. Dean Kilby Elementary School in Woodbridge.
A replacement elementary school will be constructed next to the existing Kilby school building on Horner Road that opened in 1959.
Here’s information from a press release from Prince William County Public Schools:
The School Board, other elected officials, and members of the school community are expected to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the Kilby Elementary replacement school on Friday, September 18 at 9:30 a.m.
The event is open to the community. Overflow parking will be available at Grace Lutheran Church, 1601 Prince William Parkway, with shuttle bus service to the school provided by the School Division.
Multiple truckloads of dirt will be needed at the new school site to make the topography suitable for construction, according to the press release. The county’s growing school division is wrangling with a shortfall of available sites to build new schools in eastern Prince William County.
R. Dean Kilby Elementary School was named for the school’s original principal who served from 1959 to 1971.
School is starting for students at the new Stafford High School on Monday.
Potomac Local got a tour of the new facility from Felix Addo, a school administrator, and Valerie Cottongim, a spokeswoman for Stafford County Public Schools.
Many areas in the school were completed and given temporary occupancy, but when Potomac Local toured the school, areas including the cafeteria were not yet completed.
The three-level building is colored coded with the school’s colors – blue, yellow and white – as a way to help students quickly recognize what area of the school they’re in, according to Cottongim.
Small alcoves are located on each floor for teachers to use for recreation and group work. And there are several career and technical related facilities on-site, including a culinary area, a photography dark room, a newsroom, an emergency services room and an automotive shop.
One big difference between the old and new facility is the usage of classroom space, according to Cottongim.
“One of the ways to make better use of the classrooms and ensure that classrooms are being used every block or every period, is that every teacher will have a space in a teacher planning area. So for the periods that they don’t have a class to teach, they can come in and work on planning, meet with their students, meet with their peers,” Cottongim said.
Potomac Local spoke with several teachers at Stafford High School that were preparing their classrooms, including James Andrews – an English teacher starting his 50th year at the school – and Judy Rossi, a chemistry teacher and science department chair.
Rossi stated that there were several upgrades in her science classrooms at the new high school.
“It’s really nice to have the added safety feature with the hood, where I can work on the backside and the kids can still view it on the front side,” said Rossi.
One concern that some students and parents had, was what would be done about the week delay for the Stafford High School students.
“We won’t tack on the extra week at the end. What we will do is see if we have any options for making up the time – whether it’s a waiver from the state. It might involve, if we have to make up the time, adding time at the beginning of the day in the first semester…if we have a nice, mild winter we already have built in time we can use for that,” said Cottongim.
And more features could be added to the site in the future, including an outdoor rooftop science lab, according to Cottongim.
Governor Terry McAuliffe met with parents, teachers and administrators at an ‘education roundtable’ at Brooke Point High School in Stafford last week.
Meeting in the newly completed library facility at the high school, the roundtable, which was run by Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, gave time for parents to speak to McAuliffe about education.
A lot of the usual topics were discussed – reducing class size, investing more money into education, supporting teachers and adding programs.
“We have to reduce class sizes, and we have to provide our teachers with support – whether it be professional development, administrators that are there to observe and to mentor…in my own elementary school, they wouldn’t be able to make color copies without being scrutinized,” said one parent.
“When teacher’s come into a school, there’s not funding for [teacher development] and that goes into everything…if you can keep your teachers engaged, and excited, and give them time to understand the teaching method, how to more effectively manage their classroom time,” said another parent.
During the roundtable, McAuliffe spoke about the success of the free and reduced breakfast and lunch program in Virginia.
“I want to thank my wife – our ‘First Lady’ – who’s whole effort has been to make sure that every child that goes to school has access to a breakfast and lunch, because we have so many children in the Commonwealth – about 300,000 when I became governor…you can’t learn if you’re hungry,” said McAuliffe.
A final point McAuliffe made during the gathering was that there were jobs available in Virginia, but not enough skilled workers to take them.
According to McAuliffe, he regularly meets with CEOs of large companies, who tell him that there aren’t enough workers with the right skill set to take available jobs at their companies.
McAuliffe stated that students need to be educated and get the skills they need, in order to keep major companies in the Commonwealth.
Severe storms in the area knocked out power to some Prince William County public schools. Some schools also delayed the the regular release of students for safety reasons.
Significant electrical storms reported in some PWCS areas. Dismissal times may be affected for safety. We appreciate your patience.
— PWCS (@PWCSNews) September 4, 2015
A line of storms was moving southwest into Prince William County about 3:30 p.m.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning including Bealeton VA, Haymarket VA, Opal VA until 4:15 PM EDT pic.twitter.com/dkdQPgnlCr
— NWS Severe Tstorm (@NWSSevereTstorm) September 4, 2015
More as we have it.
More information from police about a student who was flashed this morning on her way to school:
*INCIDENT: Indecent Exposure;
On September 2nd at 7:30AM, officers responded to investigate an indecent exposure which was reported to have occurred at 7:00AM in the area of Savannah Dr and Woodway Pl in Woodbridge (22913). The victim, a 17 year old female juvenile of Woodbridge, reported to police that she was walking in the above area on her way to the school bus stop when she observed an unknown man standing in a nearby wood line exposing himself and making obscene gestures towards her. No physical contact was made and the man never approached the victim. Police were contacted and conducted a search of the area. The man was not located.The investigation continues.
Black male, approximately 20 years of age, 6’1”, 180lbs with a muscular build
Last seen wearing a black shirt, black shorts
There is extra police presence in a neighborhood just off Minnieville Road in Woodbridge after a Hylton High School student was flashed.
Use Caution in Woodbridge–PWCS working w/authorities re:report that a man exposed himself to student on route to Hylton (Savannah/Woodway)
— PWCS (@PWCSNews) September 2, 2015
There will be added police presence in the area (Hylton HS Savannah Dr/Woodway Pl). Please be cautious. Report any incidents immediately.
— PWCS (@PWCSNews) September 2, 2015
The incident occurred in Woodbridge. This is all the information that has been released about this incident at this time.
The school year in Virginia has just begun, and that means that school buses will be back out on the road.
Do YOU know the rules for driving and stopping around school buses?
When you see a school bus stopped with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign on the side of the bus, you must stop your vehicle from any direction, if you are on a highway, private road or school road. You must stay stopped until the area is clear, and the bus is moving again.
If a bus is loading or letting off passengers and the signals are not on, you still must stop.
If you are driving on a road in the opposite direction with a road that has a median or a barrier, and the bus is on the other side, then you do not have to stop.
School bus safety is the focus of many this week as children head back to school. The hashtag “#break4buses” is trending online.
Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire wants you to make sure you follow the rules of the road and be safe this school year.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will hold a parent roundtable at a newly renovated media center at Brooke Point High School.
The governor will meet with 13 parents of Stafford County school children. He’s expected to discuss standards of learning tests and holding schools more accountable for student success.
The governor’s roundtable will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. The event is open to the public.
Brooke Point High School is the only school in the county to have a newly refitted library, turned media center. The one-of-a-kind center looks more like a TV studio than a library, and will have large tables designed for student collaboration, and more than 30 computer workstations that allow everyone access to online services.
“It is cutting edge stuff, it really is,” said Stafford County Supervisor of Facility Design and Construction Quintin Sullivan.
Construction of the remodeled library turned media center began June 15, immediately after school dismissed for summer. Library books and other materials were removed from the room and stored inside three classrooms during construction.
The library will keep the same number of books it had before, but school officials say the new media center serves as a model of what new school libraries will look like in Stafford.
“There’re not a whole lot of books because that’s not what we 21st-century learning environment,” said Stafford County Public Schools spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim. “This is the only center of its kind in the county, and I don’t think it will be the last.”
It is the first day of school for students in Prince William County and Manassas.
More than 700 students were welcomed for the frist time to Chris Yung Elementary School in Bristow. The school is named for the only Prince William County motorcycle police officer to die in the line of duty.
“The name of this school will provide an opportunity for Chris Yung’s name to live on,” said Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven L. Walts. “
Yung was responding to a call for help on his police motorcycle when he was struck and killed by another vehicle in front of Sowder Village shopping center in Bristow.
Children lined up outside the elementary school at 9 a.m. were all smiles and characteristcally chattery. School administartors help get students off school buses and into a line that formed in front of the main entrance.
Parents who brought their children to school were met by faculty who waived them into the parking lot.
Chris Yung Elementary School houses 700 students right now, but it can accommodate 150 more over the next few years before it reaches capacity. Building new schools and finding more seats for students continues to be a challenge for the Prince William County School system. Chris Yung Elementary is the only new school to open in the county this year.
Charles J. Colgan High School near the corner of Dumfries and Hoadly roads will open next fall. It will house 2,000 students.
“We have a 10-year plan, so we have schools that we know that will be opening 10 years from now,” said Walts.
Prince William County Public Schools hired more than 700 new teachers this year. The number is higher than in previous years because many teachers retired from the school division last year. Recruiting and retaining new educators continues to be the division’s focus.
“There is a lot of competition for new teachers in this Northern Virginia, Maryland, D.C. region have a lot of opportunities to choose from,” said Walts.
Walts said the county school board will continue to focus on reducing the number of students per teacher in the classroom to provide an overall better educational experience. Additional monies given to the schools by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors will help accelerate that plan, said Walts.
In Manassas, the city school division is not opening any new schools this year, but will open a new 140,000 square foot Baldwin Intermediate School next fall that will house 1,000 students. The three-story building is being constructed on old sports fields outside Osbourn High School.
The old Baldwin Elementary School on Main Street will be torn down once the new intermediate school opens. New sports fields for Obsourn High School will replace old Baldwin Elementary.
Manassas hired more than 88 teachers this year to educate students in the city.
A new iPhone app will be launched by the school division in the coming weeks. The app will allow users to get quick information about city school news, events, and will feature a school contacts directory. The app will come in handy during mornings when when wintry weather forces school delays or cancellations.
Today’s start date is unusual for school divisions that traditionally went back to school after Labor Day. Virginia officials granted the Prince William and Manassas divisions the waiver requested to open before the end-of-summer holiday.
Stafford High School will delay its opening by two weeks. The school was unable obtain a permit to open its doors for the first time.
More in a press release from Stafford County Public Schools:
As of 4 p.m. today, the general contractor (Hess) has failed to meet requirements for temporary occupancy of part or all of the new Stafford High School and the planned move of the administrative offices have been delayed until early next week. Stafford County’s Code Compliance Office has extended every effort in support of this project and is committed to continue to do so until the contractor meets the requirements for temporary occupancy.
In order to provide a positive educational experience for our students in a finished building, we have determined to delay the start of school for Stafford High School students until Monday, September 14, 2015. Instructional plans are being explored in the event that students must make up the time missed during this first week. These options may include making up the time during the second semester, requesting a waiver from the Commonwealth and/or providing on-line opportunities for classroom instruction.
Teachers and staff will have access to the building as soon as temporary occupancy is achieved. Teachers will work from home during teacher work week (August 31-September 4) until access to the building is possible. If the division staff are able to accelerate the moves to earlier dates, it will be done and information on any changes will be sent out to the community using a variety of media.
The Freshman Orientation and Open House scheduled for Thursday, September 3, will now be held on Thursday, September 10, 2015. The freshman orientation will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Open House will be held on September 10 with Seniors and Juniors arriving from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and with Sophomores and Freshmen arriving from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Freshmen who attend the orientation earlier in the day are not expected to attend the open house that evening as they will have received the information needed. Both of these events on September 10 will be dependent upon access to the spaces within the school.
Further details regarding instruction during the first week of school will be shared next week.
Chris Yung Elementary School will welcome students, parents, and teachers for the first time this year.
A ribbon cutting for the new school will take place Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the school located at 12612 Fog Light Way in Bristow.
The school is named after Prince William County Police Officer Chris Yung who was killed in the line of duty on New Year’s Eve 2012. His family will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, according to Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Phil Kavits.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony is open to the public.
Chris Yung Elementary School is the only new school opening this year in the Prince William school division. The elementary school was formerly known as the “Devlin Road elementary school” while it was under construction.
Community members urged school officials to name the new school after the fallen police officer.
Yung, 35, was responding to a call for help on his police motorcycle when he was hit by a minivan, outside a Target store on Sowder Village Way in Bristow.
Yung was a Marine and was known for his kindness and dedication to the police force and the community. His death brought together community members for a series of vigils, a memorial parade, and a massive funeral in remembrance of the fallen officer.
Classes at the new Stafford High School could be delayed at least a week.
County officials did not issue the school division a temporary occupancy permit. That is keeping teachers and administrators out of the new $66.6 million school slated to open this year.
“The contractor did not complete the work as needed to open the school safely, so the county government did not issue the temporary occupancy permit,” said Stafford County spokeswoman Shannon Howell.
School division officials had hoped to be in the new building in May. As the start of the new school year in Stafford County approaches on September 8, the school’s contractor Hess Construction is being fined $5,000 per day until the work is finished.
“If by Thursday we don’t have an occupancy permit, then we will make a decision and announce the decision to, perhaps, delay school for students a week, perhaps more,” said Stafford public schools spokeswoman Valerie Cottongim.
Weather, and “self-inflicted” delays brought on by changes requested by the county school division and approved by the school board prompted the possible late opening of the new building, added Cottongim. The contractor is working hand-in-hand with the he school system to complete the school as soon as possible, she added.
The new school sits next to the old Stafford Senior High School build in the early 1970s. It opened under the short-lived notion of “open” classrooms, where students could collaborate with each other. Gar-Field and Woodbridge senior high schools in Woodbridge opened about the same time, under the same notion.
“That concept went out very quickly. We’ve made some innovations to the building over the years, but it made for some pretty choppy classrooms,” said Cottongim.
Student athletes are still using the old Stafford Senior High School’s gym, fields, and locker rooms to practice for fall sports. Students won’t be able to return to classes in the old building because much of the furniture, to include auditorium chairs and gym bleachers, were moved to the new school to be reused there.
The new Stafford High School is modeled after Mountain View and Colonial Forge high schools in Stafford County. The new school’s three-stroy academic wing is larger than both predecessors by one floor.
When the new school opens, it will have 21st-century amenities to include a lunch counter that will allow students to plug in their personal computing devices to work on assignments while at lunch. The old school will be demolished to make way for new parking lots and sports fields.
Cottongim posted these tentative dates for teachers, parents, and students leading up to the opening of the new school:
Division staff, with contract support, will continue moving operations of items from the existing school through the week of August 24.
SHS administrative staff equipment and materials are now scheduled to be moved into the new building on Saturday Aug 29, 2015. This is a change from moving them the weekend of August 22. Technical (computers/copiers/phones etc.) set up of the school front office and administration will be done on Sunday Aug 30, 2015.
Teachers will be invited into the new school to start unpacking their boxed materials and setting up classrooms on Monday August 31 (if able, we will attempt to allow teachers into the new school on Sunday August 30). Division staff will have support teams in the areas of the school that have been granted a temporary occupancy starting the weekend of August 29, 2015 to assist administration, teachers and staff in preparing the school and assisting with the move in, unpacking and set up of classrooms and other spaces.
New temporary access roads and new on-site transportation patterns will also go into effect on Saturday August 29, 2015. Although the temporary access road is open and the barricades for walking traffic are in place, the transportation patterns will not change until the move of the administrative offices on August 30th.
The Marching Band now is scheduled to move their equipment and materials into the new space the weekend of Labor Day, September 5 – 7. Fall athletic programs currently operating out of the existing SHS will also be moved the weekend of September 5 – 7, 2015. If staff is able to accelerate the move to an earlier date, it will be done and information on any changes will be sent out to the community via e-mail, Blackboard connect and websites.
The Freshman Orientation scheduled for Friday, August 28th, will now be held on Thursday, September 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Open House will be held on September 3, with Seniors and Juniors arriving from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and with Sophomores and Freshmen arriving from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Both of these events on September 3 will be dependent upon access to the spaces within the school.
Central Office and Stafford High School Staff are working together to develop a contingency instructional plan for a potential delayed opening of Stafford High School (the delay could be up to a week with school opening for students on September 14) if the general contractor fails to meet the requirements for temporary occupancy of all or key areas of the building. Staff will evaluate the general contractor’s status with respect to temporary occupancy at close of business on Thursday August 27, 2015.
Over 3,000 students in Manassas Park had their first day of school today.
Going back much earlier than surrounding localities, the Manassas Park Public School system is implementing a ‘balanced calendar’ with a school year that runs from August 17 to June 20.
“Today was our first day, and we had a great opening – just a very, very smooth opening. And we’re really excited to be back in school,” said Manassas Park Public Schools Superintendent Dr. C. Brude McDade.
A law on the books in Virginia known as the “King’s Dominion Law” does not allow schools without a waiver to go back in session until after Labor Day. Prince William County and Manassas City Public Schools did receive a waiver because of missed days due to inclement weather, and will go back on August 31.
Manassas Park also received a waiver, but it was part of the approval for the school system’s new calendar, stated McDade.
According to McDade, the feedback about starting earlier so far has been positive.
“We sensed from [an open house] last week that students and parents were really excited, and were looking forward to coming back,” McDade said.
In addition to starting earlier, students in Manassas Park will have a week long break at the end of October and March, and the standard 10-days off in December.
Along with these, McDade stated that the schools will offer ‘intersessions’ which twice during the year, which will give students time to catch up if they’re falling behind, or a chance to have internships and field trip experiences. None of these activities will come at an additional cost for the students, according to McDade.
“The agrarian-based school calendar just isn’t cutting it anymore,” said McDade.