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Prince William School Board to vote on 13th high school design — again

13th hybrid design

The Prince William County School Board will again vote on what model it will use for the 13th high school.

The $125 million school is slated to be built in the western portion of the county, to open in 2021, and relieve overcrowding at Battlefield, Patriot, and Stonewall Jackson High School. School officials haven’t’ said where the school will be built.

Unlike other schools built on land proffered by developers, there is no such proffered land this time around. A school site proffered by the developers of the now dead Stonehaven development off Linton Hall Road is no longer on the table. Last fall, school board officials ur 

Last year, Prince William County officials offered to use a 69-acre site slated for Rollins Ford Park off Vint Hill Road to be used instead as a school site. School officials have not said if this plan is still being discussed. Unlike last year, an urgency from school administration staff to select a floor plan to use to make sure the school would open on time is no longer there following the Stonehaven site being taken off the table and the school divsiion being allotted more time to acquire land for the new school, said said Coles District School Board member Willie Deutsch.

The school division needs 80 acres to build its high school. If it must buy more land at Rollins Ford or a new site altogether, there are fears the price tag could rise to $140 million, according to Occoquan District School Board member Lilly Jessie.

Colgan High School opening this fall cost $110 million, to include the cost of the county’s first aquatics facility located inside a school, and is the second-most expensive high school ever to be built in the state.

The Prince William County School Board last fall voted to save money use a 20-year-old floor plan modeled after Battlefield High School instead of a newer floor plan used at Patriot High School. However, following an election in November, a majority of new members now sit on the Board and will vote on whether or not to use a hybrid model mash-up of the Patriot and Battlefield models.

“Things are always examined after an election on any legislative body, so there is no shocker there are new votes for this on the Board,” said Deutsch, who brought the school floor plan discussion back to the School Board.

The hybrid model, called the PRICE (Patriot Redesign Increasing Capacity Effectively), is the brainchild of Bresntsville School Board member Gill Trenum who argued last fall for the design. The PRICE model will cost $9.5 million than the Battlefield model, but will have 500 more seats.

“These seats were talking about are the cheapest 500 seats we can build in this County,’ said Potomac District School Board member Justin Wilk.

The school division plans to renovate at Antietam, Springwoods, and Lake Ridge elementary schools in the Occoquan District for about $11 million each, netting a total of 312 new seats in each school. Planned renovations at Rippon Middle School and Belmont and Henderson elementary schools will cost between $7 and $ 9 million per school and net a total of 168, 240, and 240 new seats, respectively.

School officials argue for a larger 13th high school as the school is expected to be full to student capacity when it opens. If the 13th high school and 14th high school (slated to be built on east side of the county) both open with 2,000 seats, the school division will still be short some 2,000 high school seats by the year 2025, said Deutsch.

One change from the PRICE model dicussed last year by Trenum vs. the one under discussion today — the school auditorium. Under the new plan, the new school would be built with a larger audiutorum containing 1,200 seats as opposed to the 800 seats in last fall’s proposal.

Bear spotted at Tyler Elementary School

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

What would you do if you saw a bear outside your school? Here’s what Prince William County Public Schools did today:


WJPN is on the air: John Paul The Great Catholic High School launches FM radio station


John Paul The Great Catholic High School is on the air.

The school near Dumfries debuted a new low-power FM radio station 106.3 WJPN. The radio station will be used to broadcast classes, community information, and to simulcast the EWTN Catholic Radio Network.

“The sky is really the limit as to what we can with it,” said Jennifer Cole, director of enrollment and communications at the school.

A three-minute interview of the Principal Sister Mary Jordan Hoover recorded by two 11th grade students using an iPad was the first content to air on the station. Next year, the school will begin a communications course to teach 25 to 30 interested students about radio broadcasting, and to create more original content for the station that could include broadcasting sports games. The school still must build a radio studio for students to use.

Listeners in their cars can hear the low-power FM station within a 10 to 12-mile radius of the radio station tower affixed to new field lighting at the high school. “The signal is strong here locally, but as it travels farther out things like hills can kill the signal,” said Dave Morales, the school’s technology director.

The school spent four years and $250,000 developing the new radio station to cover permit costs, legal fees, to purchase equipment. The bulk of the expense came with the purchase of stadium lights for their football field, which ended up being the only feasible place to install the radio antenna. 

The seed money for the radio came from Tom Vetter of Montclair, and the donation for the stadium lights from Corrine and Mike Kosar of Woodbridge. Until now, the school regularly rented large lights for outdoor events before the installation of the new lights, said Cole.

The new lights meant the school did not have to build a radio tower. The FM transmitter is now placed on one of the light poles 102 feet above the football field, the highest spot on campus, said Morales.


The school held a ceremony Friday night to celebrate the new lights and the radio station’s inaugural broadcast.

The FCC will not allow the school to sell advertising the same way a commercial radio station does due to its low-power status. However, the school may thank contributing families and businesses on air similar to the way NPR announces its underwriting companies.

“It’s no longer just about what is happening within these four walls. Now we want to share our message with the community,” said Cole.

Anderson will push school funding grants

Millions of dollars of funds for Prince William County Public Schools remain up in the air.

The County’s Board of Supervisors passed its fiscal 2017 $1 billion budget — more than half of which goes to the county school division to provide majority funding for the education of 87,000 students in its 95 schools. The Board of Supervisors budget left the School Board about $7 million short of revenues it had anticipated getting if Supervisors had set and adopted a tax rate, which would have generated a higher average tax bill for county property owners.

Occoquan Supervisor Ruth Anderson pushed a plan to provide nearly $30 million in grant funding from the County to the School Board to make up for the lower tax rate, and funds lost after her proposal to reduce the automatic fund transfer from to the School Board from 57.23 percent of the entire county budget down to 54 percent. (more…)

NOVA Woodbridge students organize nationwide inNOVAtion hackathon


Students from various colleges and universities across the county gathered on the Woodbridge Campus of Northern Virginia Community College to participate in a hackathon event organized by five NOVA cybersecurity and information technology students. The event was held at the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET) on April 8-10. (more…)

What’s in a name change? Officials react to Godwin decision


Officials said the decision to rename Mills Godwin Middle School was the right compromise to make.

There were two failed tied votes during a March 2 Prince William County School Board meeting. The first to name new elementary school near the corner of Spriggs and Minnieville roads after fallen Prince William County firefighter Kyle Wilson, who died nine years ago at age 24. The second was to name the school after 87-year-old Army officer turned educator and community philanthropist, Dr. George Hampton. (more…)

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