Schools

Public hearing on Stafford school redistricting postponed

The public hearing for Stafford school redistricting plans scheduled for tonight is postponed to February 24 at 6p.m.

This public hearing is one of many held by the Stafford School Board in the past month, as they make plans to implement three redistricting plans – two for elementary schools, one for middle schools – for the upcoming 2015 school year.

According to Patricia Healey, a School Board member in the Rock Hill District, the redistricting plans are a way to distribute students more evenly across the county, as some of the schools are experiencing overcrowding.

“We have different reasons that the schools get more populated. Some of it is because of people moving into the neighborhood. Some if it is because of [the location of] new homes being built. And sometimes it’s just the way that the neighborhoods age out,” Healey said, continuing, “I think we have the capacity in our schools – in our elementary and our middle schools – we have the capacity. I just think that it’s not where the students are today.”

The redistricting planning process began last summer, and committees comprised of school administrators and parents have been regularly meeting for the past several months to develop options for the redistricting.

More than 13 redistricting options were offered to the public at the previous public hearings, and the postponed meeting is meant to address the most recent proposal for elementary school redistricting. The committees have already made their recommendations to the School Board.

“The public hearings were a chance for the public, mainly the parents and in some case the students, to take a look at the proposals that were being considered, and come to the [Stafford] School Board and give us their feedback,” said Healey.

There have been several parents with concerns about the changes ahead for their students, including transportation and adapting to a new school environment.

“It is an extremely emotional process because we are talking about children that are between 5 and 11 years old that will have to adjust to a new school environment. There have been concerns expressed by residents that live in the neighborhoods that are proposed to be moved. I certainly understand and have empathy for their concerns. My commitment to them is I want to do everything in my power to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and the well-being of the children is the number one priority,” said Scott Hirons, School Board member for the Falmouth District.

Another hurdle that the schools may face is increased transportation cost, to move students to different locations in the county, but Healey does not feel that there will be a major cost increase.

“Ultimately I doubt that it’s going to require any more buses because we’re still moving the same number of students, from their homes to the schools. It’s just that some of them will be going to a different location,” said Healey.

The original plan was to have the School Board move forward with a vote for action at their February 24 meeting, but will be moved due to the postponing of the public hearing.

 

 

The latest on the winter storm

vadem snow forecast

Know now: Our full list of closures

Potomac Local will keep you updated on the latest winter weather information, including forecasts, closings and outages in the area.

4:41p.m.

Stafford County Public Schools are closed on February 18. Employees are Code 2.

For Stafford County employees, liberal leave is in effect for Wed., Feb. 18. Admin offices opening up at 10 AM.

 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is reporting that many of the roadways are now clear.

More from a VDOT release:

Motorists will find clear travel lanes and ramps on Interstate 95 in the Fredericksburg area, and commuter parking lots are being cleared and treated for tomorrow morning’s rush hour.

Primary roads and high-volume secondary roads in the Fredericksburg area, Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula are mostly clear, with isolated areas of snow and ice remaining. 

This afternoon, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews pivoted to plowing subdivision streets and low-volume secondary roads. Crews are making steady progress now, and work will continue in residential areas overnight. Crews will be plowing and spreading sand for extra traction. 

Any remaining moisture on the roads this evening is expected to re-freeze. Crews will be applying chemicals to the road to melt ice and improve traction, especially on areas likely to freeze due to lower pavement temperatures. Motorists are advised to use additional caution on hills, curves, bridges, overpasses, and interstate ramps. 

3:04p.m.

As a result of improved road conditions, PRTC buses will resume service.  

More from a PRTC release:

PRTC’s Winter Weather Emergency Service Plan, ESP (including Snow Routing), will be in effect for the remainder of TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17. BUSES WILL BEGIN OPERATING AT APPROXIMATELY 12:00 NOON, then continue as close to published schedules as conditions permit.  Rides on PRTC buses will be FREE.  

These locations along OmniLink Routes are currently NOT SERVICEABLE:

The Ferlazzo Building will not be served.

River Ridge Boulevard and Powells Creek Boulevard will not be served. Buses will serve stops on Route 1.

Darbydale Avenue will not be served. Buses will serve stops on Dale Boulevard.

Old Triangle Road will not be served .  Buses will serve stops on Route 1.

The Town of Quantico will not be served. The stop at Fuller and Route 1 outside the Quantico gate will be served as the timepoint.

12:30 p.m. 

Your photos and videos: 

 

Macey loves the snow [Jen Jones / Facebook]

Macey loves the snow [Jen Jones / Facebook]

 

Snow baby [Terrica Marsh Turner via Facebook]

Snow baby [Terrica Marsh Turner via Facebook]

9:18 a.m. 

The National Weather Service has issued some snow totals for various spots in the region

...PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY...
   5 S MANASSAS           5.0   430 AM  2/17  BROADCAST MEDIA         
   GREENWICH              4.8   808 AM  2/17  PUBLIC                  
   GAINESVILLE            4.0   700 AM  2/17  PUBLIC                  
   2 SW WOOLSEY           3.9   519 AM  2/17  TRAINED SPOTTER         
   3 NNW WOOLSEY          3.5   802 AM  2/17  TRAINED SPOTTER   

...STAFFORD COUNTY...
   2 WNW ROSEVILLE        6.0   500 AM  2/17  TRAINED SPOTTER         
   2 ENE ROSEVILLE        5.2   543 AM  2/17  TRAINED SPOTTER        

...CITY OF MANASSAS...
   1 NE MANASSAS          4.8   811 AM  2/17  TRAINED SPOTTER         
   1 SW MANASSAS PARK     4.2   726 AM  2/17  TRAINED SPOTTER         
 

 

9:05 a.m. 

1_WelcomeTullipsManassas City canceled trash pick up today due to snow. Here’s the latest info: 

City of Manassas Public Works recommends the following tips to help ensure trash is contained during bad weather conditions.

  • Set trash and recycling out in hard-sided containers with tight fitting lids. If you have a smaller recycling bin, make sure that heavier items are on top, so that papers and lighter objects don’t blow away.

  • Do not set out loose trash bags.  Loose trash bags can rip and blow into the street making it unsafe for drivers and pedestrians. Always use your trash and recycling containers.

  • Double bag your trash. Cold weather and ice can weaken plastic and make it brittle. Double bagging can prevent bags from sticking to the bottom of the trash cart and from ripping as the trash crew moves the trash to the truck.

  • Check with your collection service. Snow, ice and high winds can delay or suspend service. Remember that the trash crew must navigate through many private residential areas and roads that might be untreated and unsafe for crews to collect trash and recycling. Call the Manassas Trashline or check the manassascity.org/trash for trash information.

  • When in doubt – don’t set it out.  If it’s snowing heavily, if  there are high winds, or if it’s so icy that you stand the chance of slipping or falling as you set out your trash and recycling – then don’t do it. Call the Trashline for the latest trash pick-up updates. Trash collection was cancelled Feb. 17 due to snow and may be cancelled in the future due to road conditions associated with winter weather.

9 a.m. 

Potomac Local's very own "weather girl" Elsa plays in her back yard.

Potomac Local’s very own “weather girl” Elsa plays in her back yard.

 

snow our deck 021715

About five inches of snow fell at Potomac Local HQ.

8:51 a.m.

It was so cold yesterday at Washington Dulles International Airport, a new record cold temperature was set. A record low of 16 degrees was recorded, breaking the previous record of 22 degrees in 2003.

8:37 a.m. 

Michelle O'Brien posted this photo to our Facebook page. The photo was taken in Quantico, Va.

Michelle O’Brien posted this photo to our Facebook page. The photo was taken in Quantico, Va.

8:36 a.m.

This photo was shared with us on our Facebook page by April Bratz-Hamilton in Dumfries, Va.

This photo was shared with us on our Facebook page by April Bratz-Hamilton in Dumfries, Va.

8:33 a.m.

8:20 a.m.

Authorities say you should stay off the roads today if you can. Conditions are pretty bad on the street surfaces, as the snow and ice could lead to slick conditions causing you to slide off the road or into another car.

Here’s the latest from the Northern Virginia headquarters of the Virginia Department of Transportation:

  • HOV restrictions are lifted on I-66, I-395 and the Dulles Toll Road. HOV-3 requirements still apply on the 495 and 95 Express Lanes.
  • Eastbound I-66 X lanes will be unavailable for the morning rush hour, as crews continue to clear shoulders.
  • Crews continue to clear interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets concurrently. Check www.vdotplows.org to see the status of plowing in neighborhoods.
  • If you can, park in your driveway or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • After a plow has passed, roads will be passable, but will not be bare pavement and may remain snow-packed.
  • Stay off the roads or delay trips to allow crews time to safely treat the roads.

Posts from Monday, Feb. 16 are below

Keep Reading…

Bull Run Rotary Day is Feb. 21 at the Capitol Steps Concert for charity

Rotary Day is typically a fun, informal event to introduce the community to Rotary and their local beneficiaries.

Rotary Day is not just for a club or district. There are National Rotary Days in many countries and even an International Rotary Day at the United Nations. The Rotary Day events convey the Rotary’s relevance and highlight the good work and involvement.

The theme for Rotary International, this year is “Light Up Rotary” so there is increased effort this year to illuminate the great things that Rotarians facilitate. This year is also the 25th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Manassas Bull Run, so there is extra pride in this year’s Bull Run Rotary Day.

This year’s Bull Run Rotary Day will be on Feb. 21 at the elegant Hylton Performing Arts Center and is called “Love and Laughs.” It is on the eve of Rotary International’s 110th Anniversary and just a week after Valentine’s Day for those couples that couldn’t make a date night. The evening entertainment will feature DC’s Capitol Steps.

Purchase your tickets online.

They couldn’t solve the graphics problem in house, so JTC used their expansive network to find a solution

  • JTC, Inc.
  • Address: 9720 Capital Court, Suite 305, Manassas, Va. 20110
  • Phone: 703-794-1225
  • Website: http://www.jtcinc.net/

An architectural firm relies on graphics. When they can’t access them, that can be a problem. 

Alexis Peck is the Vice President of Design at Peck Peck & Associates, an architectural firm located in Woodbridge, Virginia that has been in business for 42 years.

Peck also heads the marketing and IT department and is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Peck Peck and Associates needed Jewell Technical Consulting, Inc. (JTC, Inc.) to assist them with the recovery of data, lost from corrupted hard drives.

Peck explained in detail the entire process.

“We had a couple of backup hard drives for some graphics of ours from archive projects and one day when we tried to access the backups, all of the actual hard drives had been corrupted,” said Alexis Peck. “I’ll note that it was not equipment that we bought through JTC, it was something we bought years and years before they came on board and so we contacted them to see if they could help us recover the data….”

JTC, Inc. was unable to solve the problem in-house and reached out to another company for extra assistance.

“…Through JTC we worked with another company and sent the hard drive out and they were able to recover some of it (not all)…” said Peck. “It wasn’t any client information or anything like that, it wasn’t anything critical to our operations, it was just something we wanted to keep for nostalgic reasons.”

Though the other company was located out of state, Peck said overall experience was very easy.

“We did everything through JTC so they came, picked up the hard drives from us. We paid everything through them, they took care of everything.”

Peck also noted that without JTC, Inc.’s network, they would not have known what company to contact. 

Peck Peck and Associates have worked with JTC, Inc. for over four years and originally chose JTC, Inc. for two reasons:

1. JTC, Inc. had been recommended by the previous company Peck Peck and Associates employed for their IT services

2. JTC, Inc. offered the best agreement to their firm

JTC is a Microsoft Certified Partner and a Dell Authorized Partner and utilizes Microsoft and Dell technology.

The preceding post was written by Potomac Local under an agreement with Jewell Technical Consulting.

Hilarious, heartfelt: ‘Laughs and Love’ — A night you will remember!

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

Updated 

On Saturday, May 23, don’t miss Bull Run Rotary’s Laughs and Love benefit, at the beautiful Hylton Center featuring the Capitol Steps.

Why laughs and love? Here’s the love:

One of the greatest benefits of business ownership is being able to be part of give back to our community. Those who have faced hardship are struggling and in need.

Washmydeck.com is a seasonal business. We have a small fleet of vehicles that get lots of use eight months of the year. This leaves four months that where we can use our vehicles to help families in need have reliable transportation in order to help them work and get on their feet. We just look at it as doing a small part, with the resources we have.

Bull Run Rotary is doing it BIG by celebrating five hero organizations whose hard work day in and day out enriches the lives of those around us.

On one night, we set an ambitious goal to raise $50,000 to help abused children find security, battered women feel safe, families who have had hardship achieve the American dream of home ownership, and help feed our neighbors who live in tents in the woods.

Please help Bull Run Rotary in supporting CASA, Calling All Souls, Habitat for Humanity of Prince William County, Transitional Housing BARN, and Therapeutic Riding Rainbow Center, it promises to be a night to remember.

Oh yeah, there will be laughs!

Have you seen the hilarious Capitol Steps? They put the MOCK in Democracy with their song parody of political current events. The night will also have some surprise big VIPs. Regardless of your political leanings this is sure to be a night you will be talking about for some time.

Purchase tickets online at the Hylton Performing Arts Center box office.

See you there,

Steve Chapman, Founder, and President Washmydeck.com

Top ranked Stonewall girls loss won’t hinder teams’ vision

stonewall

Stonewall Jackson High School Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team’s most recent and first loss of the season to the Battlefield Bobcats was unexpected, to say the least.  

The Cardinal District team is ranked number one in the Washington Post’s “All Mets” section of high school sports and a team who boasted a 20-0 record prior to the game that took place on Tuesday. The loss briefly demonstrated a flaw in the Lady Raiders’ fortress.

“We came out each quarter fast and then slowed,” states Head Coach Diana Martinez.  “Our kids played hard and fought to get back into that game, but, unfortunately, the ball went the other way.”

Any team with a 20-game win record can’t stay down for long.  

“We are family,” said senior and guard, Rachel Burns.  “They [the team] are like my sisters.”  

And with that simple, yet powerful statement, the Raiders march on — their final destination, an opportunity to play and win the Virginia State Championship.

The Lady Raiders have an arsenal of coaching weapons at their ready.  Coach Martinez is a former Woodbridge Senior High School player.  Graduating in 2003, she went on to play Division II basketball at St. Andrew’s University (formerly, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College) located in Laurinburg, N.C.  

Upon her graduation, she coached for a year at her Alma Mater, later moving back to Prince WIlliam County and becoming an assistant coach at Woodbridge Senior High School.  

An open opportunity and the urging of friends landed her at Stonewall High School coaching the girl’s basketball program. Keep Reading…

Prince William School Board ire follows lower revenue projections, possible full-day kindergarten cuts

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

Some members of the Prince William School Board don’t want to see cuts in full-day kindergarten. This year’s budget picture, however, could make those cuts a reality.

The Board last night gave Prince William Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts some direction on how to best go about finding needed cuts in the division’s 2016 budget.  This decision met resistance from board members who said that they would not approve of cutting full day kindergarten.

They want more funding for increased salaries for employees and a decrease in class sizes. Prince William has some of the largest classroom sizes in the Washington area.

School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns clarified that the cuts were not something they wanted but a situation they had been forced into when a promised 4% increase on county property tax bills was dropped to an anticipated 1.3% growth rate.  This translates into an $11 million cut for Prince William schools, which does not account for increased costs related to the growth of the county’s school system.

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors sets the tax rate, and will ultimately decide how much the average property tax bill will increase next year by late this spring.

Johns also addressed constituents’ claims that money used to build $10 million dollar swimming pool at the county’s soon-to-open high school on Hoadly Road would be better served elsewhere. He said no checks have been issued regarding to the pool.

“We have underpaid teachers and overcrowded classrooms whether we build the pool or not,” Milton said.

In regards to cutting full day kindergarten, Milton said, “No one has been more committed to full day kindergarten than I have been, but at the same time we are in a very bad situation and there are only so many places in our budget where we can get millions of dollars at a time.  We’re at the point where we can’t continue to offer the same school system if we continue to not stick with 5 year plans for more than one year.”

After Neabsco District Board member Lisa Bell suggested the new proposal, Potomac District Board member Betty Covington spoke out against cutting full day kindergarten.

“I will not, under any circumstances, cut full day kindergarten,” Covington said.  “Having been an elementary school principal, I know how important it is to get these youngsters into full day school as soon as possible.  Today’s kindergarten is what first grade used to be.”

Occoquan District representative Lillie Jessie agreed.

“I can not believe there is no outrage about cutting full day kindergarten,” said Jessie, who broke down what the tax increases would be for each household.

Under the 1.3% property tax increase, yearly costs would be $49 in comparison to a $149 increase under the 4% growth, she said.

“I don’t play politics with kids,” Jessie said.  “I think you go back to the Board of Supervisors and tell them to keep their word.”

Woodbridge District Board member Loree Williams called for her constituents to voice their concerns, both to the board members and to the Board of Supervisors.

“We have to work together, it’s the only way to solve this problem,” said Williams.

On Feb. 23, there will be a schools budget meeting open to the public.

*This story has been corrected.

Kaine speaks to Woodbridge students about career education

Senator Tim Kaine met with students from Woodbridge Senior High School on February 3 at a reception for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Student Fair.

Held at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. the fair was part of a celebration for CTE month, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education’s website.

The Woodbridge Senior High School students were in attendance to present their projects based on career and technical education, and how it is impacting the workforce.

Kaine is a co-chair for the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus, and this gave students the opportunity to show the lawmaker their work on their technical education projects.

Participants from the Association for Career and Technical Education, and Project Lead the Way were also in attendance for the reception.

Year Up and NOVA Woodbridge: Bridging the Opportunity Divide

NOVA president, Dr. Bob Templin (left), and Year Up president, Garrett Moran, at the MOU Signing Ceremony on Jan. 29 at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus.

Partnership to Strengthen Educational, Economic and Workforce Opportunities

The NOVA Woodbridge Campus and Year Up, a national training initiative for 18-24 year olds, held a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Signing Ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 29, in the Black Box Theatre at NOVA-Woodbridge. NOVA President Bob Templin and Year Up President Garrett Moran signed the MOU at the event to officially launch an Associate Degree and internship partnership, which will begin in the fall of 2015.

This partnership will provide NOVA students with training in the professional, interpersonal and technical skills they need to begin successful careers upon graduation. Internships with corporate partners will allow students to gain invaluable experience and local businesses to add competent, skilled professionals to their workforce.

Year Up is a national organization that offers an intensive training program that provides young adults, with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits, corporate internships, and support. Year Up envisions a future in which every urban young adult will have access to the education, experiences, and guidance required to realize his or her true potential and meaningful employment.

This partnership with NOVA Woodbridge and Year Up is the fourth of its kind nationally.

To learn more, watch this 60 Minutes segment about how Year Up and Community Colleges are bridging the opportunity divide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw2_90N2464. Also, watch this compelling success story by a Year Up graduate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSvI1L69Km8&feature=youtu.be.

Manassas School Board to fill vacant seat Feb. 17

The Manassas School Board is seeking to fill a vacant seat after the resignation of Board member Ilka Chavez at their January meeting.

The School Board posted the vacancy on their website and has nine confirmed applicants for the position, according to Erin Gibson, the Public Communications Assistant for Manassas City Public Schools.

All nine candidates will present their qualifications to the School Board, at a public hearing before a decision will be made, Gibson said. The hearing will take place on February 17, at 7p.m. at 8700 Centreville Road in Manassas.

This appointee will serve on the Board until November, when a special election will take place to elect a School Board member to serve out a regular term.

6 tips for good health from Mary Washington Healthcare

Dr. Vranian’s Quick Tips for Good Health

1. Minimize meat consumption

2. Avoid “white” foods — Foods that have had the shell of the grain removed

3. Eat plenty of colored vegetables

4. Stay away from saturated fats, like heavy dressings and sweets

5. Exercise 30 minutes/day at least 3 – 5 days per week

6. Find some thing or somebody to love

– by Dr. Robert Vranian, Cardiologist, Mary Washington Healthcare

KO Distilleries opening in the City of Manassas

KO Distilleries

On Jan. 29, KO Distilleries, a new business in the City of Manassas, opened their doors for a “keel laying.” This is a nautical term for the start of a ship’s construction and is appropriate for this business as both owners are graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Mayor Harry J. Parrish II as well as other City Council members, business owners and residents were onsite to welcome this new industry to the City of Manassas. KO Distilleries, located at 10381 Central Park Drive, will manufacture, store and sell distilled spirits, including bourbon, rye whiskey, corn whiskey, gin, vodka and rum. The distillery will have a visitors center for tours, tastings, merchandise sales and special events.

Owners Bill Karlson and John O’Mara will open their doors in the spring of 2015. This is only the 19th distillery in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is on the forefront of an emerging industry trend. Historic Manassas, Inc. helped the City and KO Distilleries with the event and many members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce welcomed the new owners as members of the Chamber.

manassas-ko-distillersmanassas-ko-distillers2

The preceding post was written by the City of Manassas. 

Governor presents Manassas Park student with essay award

Logan Kurtz, a Manassas Park resident, received an award from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for an essay she wrote for the “If I Were Mayor” writing contest. The contest was hosted by the Virginia Municipal League. Kurtz, a seventh-grader at Manassas Park Middle School, was one of eight regional winners across Virginia.

Kurtz and the other contest winners were presented with the essay award on January 28 in Richmond at the Lecture Hall of the Library of Virginia.

In Kurtz’s essay, she spoke about making improvements to her neighborhood, like planting more trees and adding a sidewalk leading to her school if she were mayor. She also spoke about giving raises to teachers, firefighters and policemen and bettering recycling services.

Each student was given a certificate, and a check for $150 for being a regional winner. The statewide winner, Na’Seem Hopson, was given a certificate and $250.

Before the award ceremony for the students, McAuliffe spoke to more than 200 government officials that were taking part in the Virginia Municipal League’s Day at the Capitol program, where local government officials were able to meet with members of the General Assembly.

Help CASA save children at Capitol Steps comedy show

All proceeds raised for show help CASA, other area organizations 

capitol steps, hylton, rotary

The Capitol Step will perform at the Hylton Performing Arts Center thanks to Bull Run Rotary.

The Capitol Steps are coming to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Feb. 21. Its’ a show organized by the Bull Run Rotary Club in Manassas, and a sell-out show will raise funds for organizations helping our neighbors in need. 

Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, is one of those organizations helping children in Prince William.

CASA Children’s Intervention Services has been appointed to and worked with over 3,000 abused, neglected and abandoned children in Greater Prince William since 1994.

More than 150 specially trained advocates gave over 20,000 hours to help insure that nearly 500 abused children, before the court, are kept safe, are provided needed services to overcome the impact of their maltreatment and have all they need to become physically, mentally and emotionally strong. CASA investigates, monitors, reports and is a special friend to child victims who have been beaten, starved, burnt, raped, trafficked, born drug exposed, imprisoned in their homes and more. CASA advocates providing hope, help and advocacy for these hurting children. According to a report by the Attorney General, children with a CASA spend less time in foster care, receive more services, are less likely ever to be reabused and are more likely to be adopted if they cannot return home.

CHILDREN STARVED, ABANDONED Cassie lived in fear that she would starve, she was 4. One day Cassie did not get dressed quickly enough. Cassie’s mom told her she could not have any food that day as punishment.

Mom made her sit and watch as she prepared and ate breakfast, lunch and dinner for herself. The longest she remembered not eating was 3 days. It was reported, the court appointed a CASA for Cassie. Mom told the court she did not want Cassie anyway.

The CASA advocated for help for Cassie. She lived in fear of not surviving and not being loved. The CASA visited this child, every week for over 2 years, met regularly with her service providers and foster parents, advocated at all the hearings, and worked to help insure a successful adoption where she was asked by the adoptive parents with whom she had worked so closely to be Cassie’s Godmother.

CHILDREN RAPED A mother had some evidence that her three year old child had been sexually molested by her new husband. The advocate began an investigation for more information which took her by phone to six states and uncovered eight previous girlfriends or wives, whose children had allegedly been sexually assaulted by this same man. Some were never proven in court, for lack of sufficient evidence, and therefore not on record.

Finally, in one state, her investigation found a mother who had discovered this man in bed with her 12 year old daughter and had successfully prosecuted him. She found reports of this man’s regular presence outside a local school and his picking up a young girl to take her home.

This information, not previously known to the court, helped to keep the child in Prince William from further harm as the man fled the state and was later asked for by a neighboring state as they sought to prosecute him for offenses in their state.

CHILDREN BORN SUBSTANCE EXPOSED Two children were removed from their parents. The parents were drug abusers whose last child was born substance exposed and who were reported several times for being under the influence for days at a time leaving their 3 year old to fend for himself. The parents took the children from their placement and disappeared.

Weeks passed and they were not found but there was serious concern for their safety. The advocate journeyed from door to door following lead after lead to help find the children. After three weeks of diligent searching, he found them hiding with the children in a shack in the middle of debris with no electricity, running water or heat for the cold winter weather. The advocate alerted police and the children were safely retrieved.

CHILDREN BEATEN When a Prince William child, severely physically and mentally disabled from severe physical abuse, was moved to a facility in another state, the presiding Judge was very concerned that he could not be certain how the child was doing when he was so far away from the court that sought to protect him. The advocates, a husband and wife team, at their own expense, traveled each month to the institution to visit him.

Well after the court was involved, the couple continued to be the only “family” the young man had still visiting on his birthday, Christmas and several other times each year.

The goal

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of. They cannot do it alone!

Order tickets online or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event please contact Steve Chapman, steve@washmydeck.com by Feb. 10.

Manassas Park wants to extend school year, increased costs a concern

manassas-park-1manassas-park-2

Added intersessions would include college prep courses, internships, field trips

Brenda K. Foster

Foster

This week, Manassas Park City Schools held round table meetings for its community members to address concerns about the district implementing a new balanced school calendar.

The new calendar would begin August 17 and close again on June 20.  This new schedule includes week-long breaks in October and March, with the usual 10-day holiday vacation in December.  Additionally, two-week long intersessions will be added to the calendar in October and April.  Intersessions are optional for the students and would include everything from college prep courses to internships and field trips.  They would be of no additional cost to the students.

School Board Chair Brenda K. Foster said that they modeled the new calendar off of Galax City Public Schools, which successfully implemented it last year.

“I am excited about any calendar option that can help improve learning success for our students,” Foster said.  The meetings were a way to get parents and community members involved in finding solutions or ideas for potential problems that may arise with the changes.  Over the course of the three meetings, 300 people attended, a huge turnout, according to Foster.

Community members raised some concern over the changes, particularly about the effect it would have on finding childcare and the costs involved.

“I’m a little concerned about overall cost and additional effort required by the teachers to implement the sessions,” said Leeann Brogdan, a parent  

She added that she liked the concept but wasn’t sure if the execution was the best.

Another concern was how this would affect summer vacations.  The meeting participants sat around circular tables and were able to discuss their concerns with others seated at their table. Then, they listed them on flip chart paper and taped them to the wall so that everyone could share ideas and opinions.

Despite parent’s hesitation, teachers seem willing to try out the new format at the risk they’d have to work more. 

“I feel like teachers by nature are willing to do extra work to help children succeed,” said Sara Silber, a 5th-grade teacher at Cougar Elementary School in Manassas Park.

Children also supported the change.

“You can prepare for the tests and all of that, but that’s nothing compared to real-world experience,” said high school freshman Alex Petsopoulos said about the proposed intersessions.

Petsopoulos expressed excitement in the type of activities that might be available in that week.

Though he did have some reservations about the start date. 

“My birthday’s the 18th, and we start school on the 17th so that can’t happen,” Petsopoulos joked.

Foster and the rest of the school board plan on traveling to Galax City Public Schools on Feb. 11 through 13 to observe their spring intersession before the board votes on the new calendar on February 23. 

How Prince William schools stack up, on average, for teacher pay

School teachers lined the sidewalks at Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road in Woodbridge Friday to protest a plan to freeze teacher pay rates for the next three years.

Neighboring counties pay entry-level teachers more

As the Prince William County School Board gears up for another budget cycle, it is timelier than ever to look closely at an important topic in local education – the current state of teacher pay in the county.

The average annual teacher salary, according to Jim Livingston, the Prince William Education Association president is $60,408 – a figure he pulled from a 2014 Washington Area Boards of Education  (WABE) report.  

Phil Kavits, spokesman for Prince William County Public Schools, stated that the average annual teacher salary in the county is a bit higher than Livingston’s figure at $61,525.

These averages are worth noting when considering a quick drive to the surrounding area school divisions can greatly alter the average salary that a public school teacher receives.

“The only school division that is lower in average teacher salary in the area is Manassas Park. The other [counties] are at least $2,800 to $3,000 more than us. For example, if you cross over to Fairfax County…that’s a $7,000 pay increase based on the average,” said Livingston of the county’s low pay-average.

Kavits stated teachers in nearby Fairfax County average $66,782 per year, and a Loudoun County teacher receives an average of $63,013 per year.

“The reasons that the salaries remain low, particularly at the entry level – that’s where we have the greatest difficulty – is quite frankly that our neighbor [counties] around us have simply determined that it’s in their best interest to try and attract the very best [teachers] that they can. And frankly, we’ve simply just not kept pace…” Livingston said.

The county’s School Board is facing a $20 million budget deficit. On Feb 4, it will meet to discuss some possible ways to fix the problem by proposing new cuts to the division’s billion-dollar budget. The cuts come as county leaders propose a lower tax increase of 1.3% than the original planned 4% hike in property taxes. 

Things like transportation for specialty programs at middle and high schools, and full day kindergarten in non-title one schools are all things being eyed by the School Board as items to slash from the budget.

Teacher pay raises, however, are not, according to School Board Chairman, At-large Milton C. Johns.

Editor’s note: This is the first in an ongoing series that examines public school teacher pay in Prince William County.

Popular ‘Attack the Fat Challenge’ starts Monday at Freedom Aquatic & Fitness Center

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Do you know about the Attack the Fat Challenge? It’s one of the most popular, effective, and fun weight-loss programs at the Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center
 
It’s open to anyone, at any fitness level.
 
Robin Frey is a fitness program coordinator, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and the director of Freedom Attack the Fat Challenge at Freedom Aquatics and Fitness Center in Manassas. We spoke with her to get the 
 
Frey

Frey

What is the Attack The Fat Challenge?

 
“It’s more of a full spectrum weight loss program and it runs for eight weeks…it’s based on focusing on weight loss but the overall effort that we do is that we want to promote and create lifestyle changes, not just during the eight weeks. For most people it’s just the starting point. A lot of people do it repeatedly because it works for them…and depending on the amount of weight they wish to lose, it may not happen in eight weeks.”   
 
What do participants do while in Attack The Fat Challenge? 
 
“Well actually the whole concept is they do train…and it’s based on percentage of weight loss…we make it a challenge so that it has some competitive edge to it but the overall focus is just to create a balance of accountability…to continue with fitness efforts for health, not necessarily for fitness. In other words, this is based on health and wellness, getting people appropriate nutrition and just trying to create a consistent effort with lifestyle change, it’s long term.”
 
 How much does the program cost?
 
“It [the program] breaks down to 20 dollars a session and the total cost is $480 but you’re getting 24 sessions, 24 full one-hour sessions…then in addition to that they get the support through nutrition tips and guidance…and body composition testing as well.” Frey also mentioned that there is an additional cost to non-members of the Freedom Center. 
 
 Attack-the-Fat-2015-flyer-791x1024How long does the challenge last? 
 
“Participants train three days a week with a trainer so it’s three one-hour sessions so they’re basically getting 24 training sessions as a group within that eight weeks, three times a week. In addition to that support that we offer is through our smart lab for evidence based testing for body composition or those types of things and also we do weekly weigh-ins”.
 
Is the Attack The Fat Challenge a seasonal program? 
 
“It’s twice a year, typically we do it  in February, March and then again in September.”
 
Is it too late to sign up? 
 
“The Attack The Fat Challenge  starts on Monday, Feb. 2. Registration does require you to be registered prior to the program but we work with people as well.”
 
Why did Frey get involved with the Attack The Fat Challenge?
 
“Well I started it, actually it’s been six years running now. I just felt that there was a need here at the Freedom Center to create programming in small groups that could be something that could bring more of an effort of accountability to each other, that tends to help. People can do training all the time but when they have other people depending on them to be part of their team, their group, it’s very successful. The success rate is much higher as far as them making the sessions, having to be responsible for that weekly weigh-in and then they bond and create groups that continue to train after that. We just didn’t have anything happening here in that capacity in programming.”
 
How does the Attack The Fat Challenge stand apart from similar programs?
 
“We were probably the original in this area. I know other facilities have programs similar to what we do, it’s a basic concept of accountability, through training, weigh-ins, and nutrition information…it’s just been very, very successful for us here. This our sixth year I believe, might even be longer. It tends to work. We provide a variety of workouts through different types of training. We may have them in the pool, TRX suspension training, circuit training, functional core…in other words we do a little bit of everything that we offer here…within those 24 sessions they’re getting a very large variety of different modalities of training.”
 
Why do people sign up?
 
Participants will] form groups and become friends and bond in that respect and want to continue to do it again, that kind of thing….plus we’ve had people that have lost over 100 pounds…it’s been very effective overall.” 

Keep Reading…

Come see the Capitol Steps at Hylton Arts Center & help Cecily replace the asbestos-laden siding on her home

When Cecily was in her 20’s she immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua.

capitol stepsTaking a job at Home Depot in Springfield, Cecily met her future husband, Eddy, who had emigrated from Palau. Cecily and Eddy married in 2008 and now share their Woodbridge home with their two children, Cecily’s mother, and grandmother.

A tight-knit family, everyone pitches in to help. Cecily operates a daycare from her home while also attending school at Northern Virginia Community College.

Cecily’s mom is a certified nursing assistant with a job in Washington, D.C. Eddy continues to work at Home Depot and he and Cecily’s mom and grandmother all help care for the children, too.

Habitat for Humanity Prince William County is looking forward to giving this hard working family a hand up with much-needed critical home repairs that will make their home safer, more comfortable and affordable.

Habitat for Humanity will replace the boiler that is original to the home, replace asbestos siding from three sides of the exterior and replace non-functional windows throughout the home. The deck must be rebuilt for safety. And the home will be weatherized for energy efficiency.

Habitat for Humanity thanks you for your support of the Capitol Steps event and welcomes you to join them on their work sites as a volunteer!

To learn more, visit Habitat for Humanity’s website at habitatpwc.org.

Mark your calendars for Laughs & Love benefit February 21 at 7 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Not only are we having the hilarious Capitol Steps come to the beautiful Hylton Center, but our Rotary Club has proudly partnered with Casa, Habitat for Humanity, Rainbow Center Therapeutic Riding, Calling All Souls and Transitional Housing Barn as the beneficiaries this year.

The goal?

By selling out the 1,200 seats at the Hylton, we will raise $50,000. All proceeds raised will go directly to organizations that are on the front lines helping care for, encourage, lift spirits, give hope and opportunity to our struggling neighbors. These organizations are the unsung heroes in our community whose compassion makes our community a place we can be proud of.

They cannot do it alone!

To order tickets go to Hyltoncenter.org or call 1-888-945-2468. If you or your business would like to sponsor the event, please contact Steve Chapman, steve@washmydeck.com by Feb 10.

The preceding post was sponsored by Rotary Club of Bull Run.

Full day kindergarten, specialty busing all on chopping block at Prince William schools

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For the first time, Prince William County’s School Board will provide budget guidance to Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts.

The elected board will tell Walts of key items they would like to see funded as well as areas that could be cut to help make up for a coming $11 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2016 schools operating budget.

The move comes as the Prince William County Board of Supervisors directed officials to create a budget based on a 1.3% growth rate in the average real estate property tax bill, not the 4% tax growth rate as was approved last year. Since the county gives 57% of its entire budget to the school division, the lower rate means fewer tax fewer resources for county schools.

On the chopping block cutting full-day kindergarten for non-Title 1 schools, something that’s been the norm for the past 10 years. Slashing transportation funding for high school and middle school specialty programs, which provides buses for students to attend classes at selected school sites across the county that provide a student’s specialty program like arts, math, and sciences, is also on the table.

The resolution also calls for halting some $52 million in capital improvements to schools that were to take place this year. Things like renewal of six elementary schools in eastern Prince William, HVAC repairs and replacement, window replacement, and energy infrastructure improvements are all on the list.

The Board is expected to tell Walts to find ways to continue to fund class size reduction plans, as well as to find a way to fund a salary step increase for schools employees.

“If we want to do these two things which we told the Board of Supervisors are priorities for us, we’re going to have to look at other areas to cut, said School Board Chairman Milton C. Johns, who proposed the new budget guidance measure.

Johns called this a “watershed year” for the school division as it looks to make up an overall $20 million shortfall, with the $11 million deficit included following the county’s 1.3% tax bill growth.

“I hate this. We’ve pushed off orders for replacement buses. We’ve pushed off technology upgrades. But we’re going to have to make some tough decisions – and it’s not just $11 million one time, its $11 million each year over the course of the next five years,” said Gainesville School Board representative Allison Satterwhite.

The stalled technology upgrades Satterwhite mentioned were supposed to cost $4.5 million and included upgrades to phone systems, computer servers, and interactive projectors.

The School Board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4. The Board also expects to hear from Dr. Walts at that meeting about the state of the upcoming budget.

Manassas First Friday February: It’s the ‘Souper Bowl’

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  • Historic Manassas, Inc.
  • Address: 9431 West Street, Manassas, Virginia
  • Phone: 703-361-6599
  • Website: http://visitmanassas.org/

Historic Downtown Manassas is putting on the Soup for First Friday February.

On Feb. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., city restaurants are pairing up with downtown merchants to offer a soup for sampling. Five-dollar wristbands allow participants to sample the soups from each location and vote to name a champion of the “Souper Bowl.”

A list of participating merchants for Manassas First Friday is available at visitmanassas.org.

Inspired by the success of the monthly event concept held in other localities, First Friday in Historic Downtown was created by the Historic Manassas, Inc. promotions committee to enhance tourism and entertainment offerings in the City of Manassas. The initial First Friday event was held in February 2014 and has grown and evolved. Some months feature roving musicians and caricature artists, while other months feature sidewalk art or special foods, like this month.

The preceding promoted post was written by the City of Manassas.

Manassas students will head back to class before Labor Day

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Now that Prince William schools will start classes prior to Labor Day, Manassas schools will do the same.

Here’s the latest in a press release from the city’s schools office:

On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, the School Board approved a revised 2015-16 calendar that now includes an August 31, 2015 start date for students.
Virginia law typically prohibits school divisions from starting prior to Labor Day. However, the Virginia Board of Education waives the requirement if a school board certifies that it meets one of the good cause requirements set forth in the code. Recently Prince William County Schools (PWCS), adopted a start date prior to Labor Day for 2015-2016 by meeting exemptions as indicated in the Code of Virginia.

The decision by PWCS now enables Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS) to meet one of the “good cause” options of Section 22.1-79.1 of the Code of Virginia, which states “if a school division is entirely surrounded by a school division that has an opening date prior to Labor Day in the school year for which the waiver is sought, such school division may open schools on the same opening date as the surrounding school division”. Therefore, the previously approved MCPS school year calendar for 2015-2016 has been amended to include a pre-Labor Day start (August 31, 2015) for students.

Please note that this change still fulfills the 180-day requirement for students with the last day of school now listed as June 16, 2016.

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