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Schools Unblock Gay and Lesbian Content

Prince William County, Va. –– Public school students in Prince William will no longer be denied access to Gay and Lesbian content on the internet.

The school division announced today filters that blocked such online content have been removed, and that the removal does not compromise mandatory state and federal obligations to block objectionable information, the school system says.

The students can now have access to the information, as long the content is “information based.”

“Internet filtering is difficult, sometimes imprecise, and constantly evolving. It is nearly impossible to find the perfect balance between the protection of students, freedom of speech, and equal access, said Keith Imon, associate superintendent for Communications and Technology Services. “However, the decision to discontinue the use of the LGBT filter is within this balance.”

The school system received a letter last month from the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union saying the school system’s blockage some LGBT websites also blocked them from accessing issues concerning the Gay and Lesbian communities.

The organization concluded it was against students’ first amendment rights to be denied access to such issues.

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Stafford’s Teachers Will Get Raises

The seal of Stafford County Public Schools.

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Stafford, Va. –– Stafford County School Board officials have approved step raises for most employees in 2011.

The raises are part of the new $237.6 million budget that will begin June 1. The approved budget contains significant changes from the original proposal made in March, which contained no raises and cut 56 positions through attrition, reports Fredericksburg.com.

Additional money to keep the positions was pulled from a health care find, which County supervisors said was over funded.

In addition to the step raises most employees will receive, those ineligible for step increases due to their pay grade will receive 2.5% bonuses.

School Board officials did not vote on contributing to a trust fund to provide post-retirement health benefits, but Stafford County Public Schools Superintendent Randy Bridges has recommended the issue be revisited during the summer session.

News
Area High Schools Among Best in Region

Potomac Senior High School in Woodbridge ranked 40th overall on The Washington Post’s High School Challenge list of the area’s best schools.

By Kristina Schnack Kotlus

Several schools in the Potomac Communities have placed among the top 100 in the area according to the Washington Post’s “High School Challenge”.

The survey ranks high schools in the Washington area. C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge placed number 58 followed directly by Lorton’s South County Secondary School.  Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge came in at number 84, Stafford’s Colonial Forge High School registered just behind that at 86, and Forest Park High School, also in Woodbridge, finished out at 99.

This year’s rankings featured some changes from the 2010 Challenge. Hylton’s position moved 10 places from last year’s 48th position.  South County also moved in the wrong direction from last year’s 44th.   Gar Field was in 77th position last year, although Colonial Forge held steady at 86th. Forest Park made a positive change, however, moving from 101 last year into the top 100 this year.

The annual challenge ratings are based on “a simple formula” according to The Washington Post, with rankings derived from dividing the number of college-level tests a school gave by the number of graduating seniors.  The Washington Post feels this rating “can reveal the level of a high school’s commitment to preparing average students for college.”

Potomac Senior High School in Woodbridge ranked 40th overall on The Washington Post’s High School Challenge list of the area’s best schools.

News
Police Were Also Expecting Usher at School

Woodbridge, Va. –– Students at Woodbridge Middle School weren’t the only ones expecting to see Usher on Friday.

So were the additional Prince William police officers called in for extra security during the school’s day-long celebration for achieving high scores on standards of learning exams.

Everyone hopes were dashed, however, as the pop star was never scheduled to appear at the school.

A school employee working on a committee to help promote the school came in contact with an unauthorized representative from Usher, who said the singer would appear Friday.

That got the attention of students, parents and other members of the community who became excited for the chance to see the performer in their own backyard.

“We had the same information as everyone else,” said Prince William police spokesman Jonathan Perok.

Extra officers were posted Friday in the school’s gym and on an outside field, where school officials told students Usher would take center stage.

Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Ken Blackstone said they are still trying to learn more about what lead to this miscommunication.

They do say Woodbridge Middle School did not pay any money to the authorized agent, nor will they have to reimburse the police department any money for the extra officers that were on hand that day.

In the future, the school system plans to involve more people in the decision-making process when it comes to promoting events, said Blackstone.

News
New School, Teacher Raises in Prince William

Prince William County Public Schools approved an $879 million operating budget for fiscal year 2012.

The budget is $11,000 less than Prince William County’s 2012 operating budget approved last week.

With the Prince William County School Board’s approval of its $879 million FY 2012 budget on May 4, the construction of a new elementary school planned for western Prince William will be begin a year earlier, employees will see a small raise, and many schools will get technology upgrades. The cost of school lunches will increase by 5 cents.

The total compensation increase of 2.35 percent for employees includes a 1.75 percent raise and a 0.6 percent bonus that would be paid in October and January.

Dave Cline, associate superintendent for Finance and Support Services, pointed out in his presentation to the School Board that the general lunch price increase is mandated by the federal government under the Federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Additional revenue from the increase will be used to provide healthier meals that include more fresh fruits and vegetables, which generally cost more.

The scheduled opening of the new school on Devlin Road was advanced from 2015 to 2014 to help address continued growth issues on the western end of the county and to minimize the use of additional trailers, said Cline.
-Prince William County Public Schools statement

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