Opinion ‘If you believe that our testing culture has gotten out of control and that we need to meet the basic needs of movement and play for young children then please…attend the Pep Rally’
I am writing to tell you about an exciting event happening at the [Prince William County] School Board meeting on January 27, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. My name is Barbara Larrimore and I have three young children; two of which are attending Lake Ridge Elementary School. Through watching and volunteering at the school, hours of research, and calling other counties and highly ranked schools in the state of Virginia, that PWC is not allowing best practices for our youngest citizens.American Academy of Pediatrics states that children need 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Half of our children’s waking hours are spent at school so they should be getting 30 minutes of physical activity a day (recess or P.E.). On most days, out of the 6.5 hours, they spend in school, my children will only get 15 minutes of physical activity. This is a staggeringly low number for my exuberant five and eight-year-old.Please, if you believe that our testing culture has gotten out of control and that we need to meet the basic needs of movement and play for young children then please…attend the Pep Rally for more recess on January 27, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. at the school board meeting! Feel free to share this with your family and friends.
Alyson Satterwhite says there will be a special meeting of the Prince William County School Board on Wednesday night.
The Board is expected to discuss the Prince William County Board of Supervisor’s offer to give the schools $21 million in additional funds if the School Board decides to build a larger building capable of housing more students at the site of the planned 13th high school in Bristow.
“Our agenda is not very full so unless we take a long time on board matters, or unless there is a lot of citiznen comments, I think there will be because of everything that is happening, we’ll get started right after the regular meeting,” said Satterwhite.
The special meeting is slated to take about a half hour, she added.
The regular School Board meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 4, at the Prince William County Public Schools Kelly Leadership Center located 14715 Bristow Road.
Rarely does either of us (Lillie Jessie and Loree Williams) write about School Board matters but this constant misleading impression that certain members of the Prince William County School Board (SB) are turning away money offered to reduce overcrowding of our schools by the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) has forced us to speak out.
The fact is, Mrs. Jenine Lawson, of the Brentsville District and Mr. Pete Candland, of the Gainsville District have decided to give the school system approximately $21,000,000 million of your taxpayers’ money but only if $10.6 million of it is used to help fund a redesigned of the new 13th high school in Mrs. Lawson’s district. The cost of this newly redesigned school would be $160 million. By the way, this does not include millions of dollars in operating cost.
Keep in mind that it was at the request of Mr. Gil Trenum that the original design for the Battlefield model was granted by the SB, a design he and Mrs. Lawson now no longer want. They and their constituents now preferred the Patriot Model.
Since Mr. Trenum was unable to bring the Patriot Model back to the floor for a vote (Roberts Rule of Order), he came back to the board with a new design called the “Hybrid” which was the Patriot in disguise.
Mrs. Satterwhite, of the Gainsville district, cited research that children learned better in schools that had light and windows. That rationale was difficult to defend when Mrs. Jessie reminded her that the two local high schools that achieved a national ranking, Osbourn Park, and Battlefield, had few windows and that one of this was, in fact, the Battlefield design they no longer wanted.
Their agenda item failed to get the votes needed for the second time. This time they also cited overcrowding as an issue and renamed the same $160,000,000 model the “PRICE” model (same Patriot Model in disguise).
Since according to Roberts Rules neither Mr. Trenun nor Mrs. Satterwhite could bring this vote up again, a newly elected board member Mr. Willie Deutsch was enlisted to try a third time. Again they used overcrowding as a concern and that per pupil this $160 million school was inexpensive. This third attempt failed to pass also.
They have now found themselves out of options at the school board level and are trying to acquire a new vote for the same agenda item under the BOCS. This time the disguise is “We want to reduce overcrowding county-wide…Give us our redesign; we will pay for the additional debt service cost and in return, we will give you $10.6 million as a goodwill gesture…but only if we get what we want.” This is now the “fourth attempt.”
First and foremost, you the public taxpayers, need to know that the cost for this school has skyrocketed because of delays and actions by Mrs. Lawson. This school is not scheduled to be completed until 2021 because of the following delays:
The first delay took place when Mrs. Lawson replaced Mr. Covington on the BOCS. The delay made sense since she needed time to get acclimated.
The next delays came as a result of Mrs. Lawson because she did not like the proffered deal from Stonehaven. The continued negotiations dragged on and on until Stonehaven pull its offer off the table. This resulted in a loss of revenue for the land, roads, and sewage. We lost approximately $50 million.
The above loss combined with inflation resulted in the cost for the school skyrocketing from $125,000,000 to $160 million. Millions of dollars (double digit) in operating cost is not a part of this.
Keep in mind several members of the BOCS, were appalled at the cost of Colgan High School ($110 million). They even discuss the cost of a $125,000 Steinway piano.
They, and certain SB members, especially, Mr. Willie Deutsh, expressed outrage when the cost to update George Hampton Middle was approximately $500,000. Never mind that Dr. Hampton settled for an old school, allowing the new school to be named after Kyle Wilson at the cost of $28 million.
The School Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the “Potomac Shores” Elementary School attendance area on January 18 at 7 p.m. in the School Board Meeting Room at the Kelly Leadership Center, 14715 Bristow Road, Manassas. The opening of the new school will likely affect boundaries for up to 18 eastern elementary schools.
Members of the boundary planning committee for the Eastern Elementary (“Potomac Shores”) School are scheduled to recommend two proposals, Plan 4 and Plan 6, for School Board consideration at the Board’s January 4 meeting. The School Board is slated to decide on a plan at its regular meeting on January 18 which will follow the public hearing.
Citizens who wish to comment on the boundary plans are invited to do so during Citizen Comment time at the School Board meeting on January 4 and at the public hearing on January 18.
The boundary proposals are online. http://pwcs-ofs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=5a76c19d568b4f30a1a5fbe0a6192ebc (Click on Supporting Documents to see Plan 4 and Plan 6) — referred to as “Eastern Elementary School Boundary Planning.”
The yet-to-be-named school will sit on 21 acres of land in Potomac Shores, and will include one baseball field, two concrete play areas and two mulched play areas.
We hear the school could be named for former Potomac District School Board member Betty Covington.
News School Board calls special session to discuss $21 million funding proposal by Board of Supervisors
The Prince William County Board of Supervisors and School Board are at odds over money that could help to reduce the number of crowded classrooms in the county
From Gainesville School Board member Alyson Satterwhite:
Prince William School Board Members Shawn Brann (Acting Member, Brentsville District) and Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville District) today issued a call for a special meeting of the Prince William County School Board (PWCS) on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 to discuss the Board of Supervisors Resolution for new school construction.
On December 6, 2016, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (BOCS) passed Resolution number 16-860, which provides PWCS with approximately $21.3 million in construction, site acquisition, or renovation funding. As part of the resolution, the School Board is also asked to change current plans for the 13th high school to a larger capacity model called the “PRICE Model” in order to accommodate an additional 500+ students into the new school.
In accordance with policy, Brann asked that a motion to discuss Res. No. 16-860 be added to the December 14, 2016 regular meeting of the PWCS School Board. That request was denied by School Board Chairman At Large Ryan Sawyers. The same request was submitted again for the January 4, 2017 meeting and once again was not added to the agenda.
Brann and Satterwhite feel that the funding from the BOCS is a significant step forward in helping the PWCS School Board to reduce overcrowding in the schools and align with the School Board priority of reducing classroom sizes. The topic of school construction for eastern PWCS elementary schools will also be discussed at this special meeting.
We asked all School Board members for their reactions to the special meeting.
Coles District member Willie Deutsch sent us this statement:
“Many of us ran for office telling the public we believed overcrowding in schools needed to be addressed. Now thanks to a proposal from the BOCS we have an opportunity to significantly address the issue on both sides of the county. For two meetings in a row, the Chairman has used his new power to keep this from being discussed and voted on. I look forward to taking action on this issue as we move forward and address a significant community need.”
The Academic Team at Osbourn High School (OHS) was accompanied by the Screaming Eagles Marching Band when they competed against other teams at the “It’s Academic” quiz show taping.
The OHS Academic team demonstrated their quick thinking while the Marching Band revved up the crowd with their musical talents.
In the crowd to support them were parents, Cathy Benner (OHS Principal), Suzanne Seaberg (Manassas City Schools Board member), and Tim Demeria (Manassas City Schools Board Chairman).
MANASSAS, Va. — The new Baldwin Elementary and Intermediate schools were opened on Tuesday.
The three-floor, 140,000 square foot school building will hold 700 elementary school students in kindergarten through fourth grades. It will replace the existing Baldwin Elementary School built in 1961 by Prince William County before Manassas City formed and took control of its own schools.
The intermediate school will house 300 students. Fifth-grade students will attend the intermediate school beginning Fall 2017, and then sixth-grade students will come a year later.
Today marks the final day of classes before the Christmas and New Year’s break. Baldwin students will return to classes in “new” Baldwin on Jan. 3.
“We’re here!,” Baldwin Elementary School Principal Laura Goldzung said to hundreds of children, teachers, and elected officials assembled in the school’s gym to celebrate the school’s opening. “We made it together.”
Goldzung took a photo of the children all sitting in rows on the gym floor wearing matching yellow shirts. Teachers donned blue jackets, and black and red backpacks all with the Baldwin logo on them donated by U.S. Logoworks.
The school took 18 months to build. It sits in front of Osbourn High School, on the school’s old baseball fields. When old Baldwin is torn down, the school division will replace the fields with a new baseball facility that is “comparable in size” to the old fields.
Goldzung said weekly Friday tours of the new school building will be offered to the public, starting at 8:15 a.m. Jan. 13. School officials welcomed 400 parents and students who came to tour the new school the night before the ribbon cutting.
“Does that not show you community support,” asked Manassas Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Catherine Magouyrk. “On a cold night, in the middle of the holidays, and they stopped everything to be here with us at Baldwin.”
When speeches concluded, officials grabbed an oversized pair of scissors to slice through a red ribbon.
“Cut it! Cut it! Cut it!” the children shouted.
The $37.8 million school is about half the size of its neighbor Osbourn High School. The building is smaller than nearby Mayfield Intermediate and is larger than Dean Elementary, the city’s largest elementary school.
Elementary and intermediate students at Baldwin will share some spaces, including the gym and media center. Each school will have its respective dining spaces served by one cafeteria.
Demolition on the old Baldwin Elementary School is expected to begin Feb. 15. The process will take about a month, to include asbestos abatement.
Forest Park, Potomac high schools tapped to participate
Two centers for higher learning in our area have announced new cyber security initiatives.
Submitted by Prince William Department of Economic Development:
Two Prince William County-based Higher Education Institutes – Northern Virginia Community College and ECPI University – have announced new programs to enhance expanded learning in the field of cybersecurity.
Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia, with two campuses located in Prince William County, received a $100,000 grant from Capital One Foundation to help develop the Cybersecurity Career Pathways Project that will inform and support middle and high school students in the Northern Virginia region who wish to explore and hopefully pursue a career in cybersecurity.
ECPI University’s Northern Virginia campus has expanded its program offerings to include a Master of Science in Cybersecurity and a Bachelor of Science in Software Development. The project aims to entice a future generation of cybersecurity workers and eventually fill a regional and national skills gap.
NOVA will be working as part of a cohort of 14 community colleges in D.C., Maryland, New York and Texas to develop some thematic areas of focus in relation to labor-market data and career pathways to create a pilot program with two Prince William County public high schools—Forest Park and Potomac—both chosen due to their high level of diversity and for the large number of students from underserved populations.
ECPI University’s decision to expand its offerings comes on the heels of Governor’s Terry McAuliffe’s recent call for a greater effort to draw more people towards careers in cyber and network security. Both professions are in great demand, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with employment of software developers projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024 – much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for information security analysts is also on the rise. Consequently, the need for computer and information systems managers is growing as well, with employment of computer and information systems managers projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024.
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From Graham Park Middle School teacher Jennifer Brown:
It was an event run by the club I co-sponsor with Mary Garecht, one of our counselors. Our club is called the FOR club, which stands for Friends of Rachel. This stems from the Rachel Challenge assemblies which were ideas and writings from Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine school shooting. Her ideas and writing were about spreading kindness and compassion, acts of kindness, etc. starting a chain reaction of kindness.
So, we did this event two years ago to raise money for breast cancer research. We raised over $600 that year. This year with the death of my husband’s cousin, Michael Graff, and one of our very best friends, Bruce Diggs, both due to complications of diabetes, I felt strongly about bringing this event back to our school to raise awareness of this disease.
The event happens during each lunch shift (and we have six shifts). We asked for teacher volunteers, and in some lunch shifts, we had two volunteers!
One of our social studies teachers, Matt Powe, said if we raised over $500 he would shave his beard. In the end, we raised over $700.
Students buy one yard of tape for one dollar. They can buy as much as they want.
It ranged from one piece to $20, $25, and one $30 donation to this cause. It was amazing.
The day of the event the students are called up and can administer the tape where they see fit. As you can then see by the pictures how much tape each teacher had.
Our most popular were our last lunch shift with Mr. Powers and Ms. Kerr, but our 6th-grade lunch with Mr. John Tychan and Mr. Cole Mitchell was a great one as well!
The teachers have 30 seconds to get out of the duct tape and ring a bell. If they don’t get out, they get a whipped cream pie to the face from the student who donated the most money in that lunch shift.
STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — The public school division in Stafford County will make available counselors to students at Rockhill Elementary School.
Claire Buckley, 5, was a student at the school. She was killed on Thursday, along with her 17-
year month-old sister Abagail, mother Amy, and her father Lance who is believed to have called 911 to report a murder-suicide prior to taking their lives.
From Stafford County Public Schools:
The entire Stafford County Public School community is saddened about the fatal incident involving Claire Buckley, a Rockhill Elementary School student. Although the incident did not occur on-campus, we know it can have an impact on our school community. The grief responders’ team is available at the school to help students and staff cope with the loss. A letter was sent home to parents and guardians informing them of the incident and steps the school is taking to help students. Supporting our school community is a top priority at Rockhill Elementary and all schools in SCPS.
STAFFORD, Va. — Two Stafford County schools are celebrating wins after being recognized in a statewide contest that encourages children to buckle up.
The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office sent us this information from a press release:
“Stuarts Draft High School in Augusta Co. and Dixon-Smith Middle School in Stafford Co. are the statewide winners of the 2016 “Save Your Tailgate, Buckle Up” (SYT) campaign sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), the Virginia State Police (VSP), and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office in partnership with State Farm Insurance. Stuarts Draft placed first in the high school division and Dixon-Smith placed first in the middle school division.
Liberty High School in Bedford Co. placed second in the high school division and Turner Ashby High School in Rockingham Co. placed third. A.G. Wright Middle School in Stafford Co. was second in them middle school division and Central Academy Middle School in Botetourt Co. was third.
As the statewide winners, Stuarts Draft and Dixon-Smith will each receive $500 and a congratulatory prize banner. Liberty, Turner Ashby, A.G. Wright, and Central Academy will receive smaller cash prizes and a banner.
All prizes for the “Save Your Tailgate” Campaign were funded by donations and by a grant from State Farm.”
“Seventy-two schools participated in the annual campaign that ran from September 19 to October 14.
Winners were selected based on their Creative Event, which was developed by students and emphasized the Save Your Tailgate campaign theme and messaging.”
Should Prince William County Schools officials reconsider the more expensive PRICE model floorplan for the county’s upcoming 13th high school?
Over-crowded classrooms are one of the most significant challenges facing our community. Data in recent years show Prince William County to have some of the most crowded classrooms in the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. This problem isn’t new – overcrowded classrooms have been a problem for several years. This problem has many possible causes; housing policy and th
This problem isn’t new – overcrowded classrooms have been a problem for several years. This problem has many possible causes; housing policy and the lack of education funding prioritization are two obvious reasons. However, finger-pointing and assigning blame are not marks of leadership. We need our leaders to come together on solutions.
The efforts of Brentsville School Representative Gil Trenum and Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland have been great examples of leadership on the development of the County’s 13th high school. Working with Prince William County Schools staff, Mr. Trenum gave the community an alternate design known as the PRICE model. This new prototype for the next high school would increase student capacity at a time when it is greatly needed. PRICE stands for “Patriot Redesign Increasing Capacity Effectively.”
Due to the increased size of a PRICE model there would be additional cost. This model will cost about $9 million more than the Battlefield model, but will provide room for 500 more students. It was that additional cost that was used as an excuse to defeat a bi-partisan effort to approve the PRICE model last June by School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers and the School Board. Yes, it would be more expensive, but the per-student cost in increased capacity would be the most economical solution to address the classroom overcrowding issue. When considering other questionable expenditures by both the existing School Board and the previous School Board, there is clearly a problem with how our schools prioritize funding at a time when government resources are limited.
The Revenue Sharing Agreement between our Board of County Supervisors and School Board is restrictive in allowing additional money to be provided to our schools on an as-needed basis. In previous years, a solution to this problem has been to provide additional funding for the education in the form of grants.
At the October 18 Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) meeting, Supervisor Candland announced that he would introduce a solution to provide additional grant funding for the PRICE model for the 13th High School. Specifically, this proposal will authorize an agreement between the BOCS and School Board and identify funding from the County general revenues to pay for the cost difference between the PRICE model and the previously approved Battlefield model. At the upcoming November 22 Board meeting, the BOCS will vote on this proposal.
Although it is slightly more expensive, passage of this resolution would be a crucial step toward solving the overcrowding of our high schools. We hope you will join us in supporting Supervisor Candland’s resolution at the next Board of County Supervisors meeting on November 22nd.
DJ Jordan and Paul O’Meara are both residents of the Coles Magisterial District. Paul lives near Manassas, and DJ in Woodbridge, and they are both Republicans.
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Ask any teacher, parent, or student in Prince William County today and they’ll tell you school is in session on January 20, Inauguration Day, the day Donald Trump moves into the White House.
Why? The school calendar lists January 20, 2017, as a regular school day.
But school officials and parents might have to rethink their plans.
Following the election of President Obama in 2008, the School Board voted to make Inauguration Day 2009 — and all subsequent Inauguration Days, which happen every four years after a U.S. President is elected — a holiday.
But, memories appear to be short. And the current School Board has, apparently, forgot about this rule it put in place eight years ago.
From Prince William County Schools spokeswoman Irene Cromer:
“[Innaguration Day] is not currently on the calendar but we will let you know of any changes.”
Northern Virginia was a frenzy of anticipation leading up to Inauguration Day 2009. Aside from the fact that the historic event would see the swearing-in of the nation’s first black president, hundreds of thousands flocked to the area to bear witness or to be a part of inaugural festivities.
Virginia State Police closed Interstate 395 and a portion of I-66 at the Capital Beltway, forcing the thousands headed into Washington from Virginia to take Metro or to find another route through Maryland.
Teachers in Prince William County wanted to take off from work to go to the Inauguration. By declaring the date a holiday, Prince William teachers didn’t have to worry about using allocated time off to do so, according to the minutes of the same School Board meeting.
While the inauguration of Donald Trump may not be historical, the political upset that will put him in the White House is. We’ll update you on any changes the Prince William County School Board makes to its calendar.
The vote by the Prince William County School Board in 2008 declaring Inauguration Day a school holiday also made Presidents Day on Inauguration years a regular school day.
Prince William County Potomac District School Board member Justin Wilk says he wants to hear from students on this issue:
Student Poll: We currently have school on Inauguration Day. Do you think the schools should close for students? Please retweet and follow
— Justin David Wilk (@justindavidwilk) November 15, 2016