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Stafford County eyes redistricting overcrowded high schools

From Stafford County Public Schools:

The Stafford School Board is examining a variety of options, including redistricting, to address the increasing current and projected enrollment of students in the division.

The increasing number of students at Colonial Forge High School is of particular concern at this time. A Community Input and Information Session is scheduled on Thursday, January 26, 2017 (more…)

News
O’Hanlon selected to fill vacant seat on school board

From Manassas City Public Schools:

O’Hanlon Selected to Fill Vacant Seat on School Board

The School Board of the City of Manassas unanimously voted on January 4, 2017 to appoint Peter B. O’Hanlon to serve as its newest member. O’Hanlon was appointed to fill the vacant seat previously held by Pamela J. Sebesky, who resigned effective December 31 to serve on the City Council for the City of Manassas. O’Hanlon will serve until November 2017 when a special election is held to fill the remaining year of Sebesky’s original term (December 31, 2018). (more…)

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NOVA, GW to host Academic Pathways to Technology Careers forum

Submitted: 

Discover a myriad of careers available in the information technology industry at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus open forum, Academic Pathways to Technology Careers on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at 2645 College Drive in Woodbridge.

In partnership with The George Washington University (GW), NOVA-Woodbridge will host an interactive workshop for those interested in exploring a career in information systems technology, integrated information, science and/or technology. Faculty and staff from GW and NOVA-Woodbridge, along with industry partners from the Telos Corporation, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Institute for Defense Analysis, Booz Allen Hamilton and Women in Technology & Enterprise will present information on the skills and qualifications required for new hires in the field. Attendees will also have the opportunity to network with representatives from each organization in addition to speaking with NOVA and GW admissions and financial aid departments. 

During the Fall 2016 semester, NOVA first partnered with GW to offer two bachelor’s degree completion programs in Cybersecurity andIntegrated Information, Science and Technology (IIST) at the Woodbridge Campus. The collaborative effort to form a 2-plus-2 transfer agreement between NOVA and GW has been established to detail the required set of courses to be completed at NOVA in order for students to transfer to GW.  Students who successfully complete an associate degree in IT or Cybersecurity or 60 credit hours of suitable coursework, can transfer to GW with a junior standing.  

Academic Pathways to Technology Careers forum is open to the public and will be held in the Black Box Theatre of NOVA-Woodbridge Arts & Sciences Building (WAS). Parking is free in any B lot on campus. Lunch will be provided for all registered guest. To register, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/academic-pathways-to-technology-careers-registration-30254618378. Registration will be accepted through Jan. 27.

News
‘The school division can and has purchased land for schools with nor need for BOCS involvement’

Lillie Jessie, the Occoquan District School Board representative, penned a post for Potomac Local last week that we titled ‘Instead of giving us money,…provide land needed to build new schools.’

We lifted the words for the headline straight from Jessie’s text. And then we started wondering: Is it always up to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (BOCS) to purchase land, or designate a site on which the Independent School Board should build a new school?

From Prince William County Public Schools spokesman Phil Kavits: (more…)

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‘Computer-brain interfaces can revolutionize the way that disabled individuals can go about their everyday lives’

Submitted:

Interfacing Brains to Electronics will be discussed by bioengineering professor Nathalia Peixoto at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 as part of Galileo’s Science Café, hosted by George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus.

New breakthroughs in computer-brain interfaces can revolutionize the way that disabled individuals can go about their everyday lives. Our ability to see, hear, move, and think is controlled by neurons in our body that communicate by transmitting electrical signals. Scientists are using the electrical properties of nerves, in conjunction with the power of modern computers, to develop computer-brain interface technologies.

While this may sound like science fiction, our neural engineering laboratory is electrically stimulating and recording activity from neurons, developing retinal implants for blind people, and leveraging augmented reality to help people with disabilities.

Date: January 12, 2017

Location: Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Virginia

Time: 
6 p.m.: Doors open, food and beverages available
7-7:30 p.m.: Scientific Discussion
7:30-7:45 p.m.: Q&A
7:45-8:30 p.m.: Meet the Scientist and Networking Reception

RSVP to attend.

News
Baldwin Elementary School clean-up effort ‘extensive’

The new Baldwin Elementary School in Manassas closed its doors Tuesday and will be closed again Wednesday due to a pipe burst.

The pipe burst at about 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to school officials. The temperature at Washington Regan National Airport at that time was 17 degrees

Here’s a statement from Manassas City Public Schools Executive Director of Finance & Operations Andy Hawkins:

Early this morning we were notified that a water pipe had broken at Baldwin Elementary School and water was flowing from the ceiling on the 3rd floor extended learning area down to the second and first floors which house K through 3rd-grade classrooms.

Our Maintenance team and the custodial teams from both Osbourn High School and Baldwin responded. We also contacted an outside vendor (A-1 Flood Tech) to assist us in in the remediation effort.

A review of our security camera footage documented that at approximately 10:15 last evening water started leaking from an Outside Air Unit. This unit circulates fresh air throughout the building.

(more…)

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Baldwin Elementary School students get another day off Wednesday

 

Baldwin Elementary School closed today due to a burst water pipe. The brand new school opened just before Christmas.

We emailed Manassas City schools spokeswoman Al Radford about the closure for tomorrow.

Potomac Local to Manassas Schools: “Do you have any photos of the Baldwin damage? Cost repair estimate? Also, can you tell us how something like this happened in a brand new facility? “

Manassas City Public Schools spokeswoman Al Radford: “No pictures…and not sure of total cost of repairs at this point.  I am copying Andy Hawkins, Director of Finance and Operations…Mr. Hawkins is gathering information from the staff regarding everything that has been done and will provide an update to the School Board at the meeting tonight if you are able to view it.”

News
‘A capital improvement of $10.5 million for a single, primarily white high school in the west’

From a letter from Prince William County School Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers, Vice Chair Lillie Jessie, and Loree Williams to the United States Department of Justice

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“Of current concern to the undersigned members of the [Prince William County School Board] PWCSB is a recent gambit in which the [Prince William County Board of Supervisors] PWCBOCS offered previously-unappropriated funds to the PWCSB for the express purpose of selecting a more expensive and opulent design for a new high school to be built in the predominantly white western portion of the County, which it would then match with an equal amount to be

Jessie

Jessie

generally used in the predominantly minority eastern part of the County.

In other words, a capital improvement of $10.5 million for a single, primarily white high school in the west, along with $10.5 million to be used at dozens of predominantly black/Hispanic elementary schools in the east. Potential funding for predominately minority schools was made contingent upon the approval of a more extravagant model for

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Williams

the new high school in the predominately white portion of the county.

The anticipated enrollment of the new high school in the west is 2,500, which represents $4,200/per student, while the combined attendance of elementary schools in the east is approximately 21,000, meaning that $500/per student has been made available in the primarily minority schools. This proposal was unfortunately accepted by the PWCSB on January 4, 2017, by a vote of 5-3 (with the undersigned providing the three votes against).”

Updated

Reaction from elected officials in Prince Willaim County: 

News
‘No school for Baldwin Elementary School students today…because of standing water in the building due to frozen pipes and no heat’

From Almeta (Al.) Radford Director, of Public Communications, Manassas City Public Schools

There will be no school for Baldwin Elementary School students today, Tuesday, January 10th, because of standing water in the building due to frozen pipes and no heat. A clean-up crew is on site to remove the water.

We will provide an update regarding the status of the building later today.  We appreciate the flexibility and understanding of Baldwin parents as this matter is addressed.

‘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’

Submitted:

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. 

News
Game on! Satterwhite says Prince William School Board special meeting is happening

Alyson Satterwhite says there will be a special meeting of the Prince William County School Board on Wednesday night.

The Gainesville District School Board representative called the meeting last week, but then Board Chairman Ryan Sawyers reportedly canceled the meeting.

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. 

News
‘Instead of giving us money,…provide land needed to build new schools’

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.

(more…)

News
Who will go to Potomac Shores elementary school?

Submitted: 

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.”

 

News
Osbourn High School appears on ‘It’s Academic’

Submitted:

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).

News
$37.8 million Baldwin school opens in Manassas

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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.

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Grant allows NOVA to develop Cybersecurity Career Pathways Project


Forest Park, Potomac high schools tapped to participate 

Updated

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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