Prince William students running out of snow days

(Photo: Prince William County Public Schools)

Thursday’s snowfall broke records, and classes in Prince William County Public Schools were canceled yesterday and today.

Now, with spring on the doorstep and summer not far behind, many parents wonder how if their children will need to make up school days missed due to inclement weather.

This statement was sent out by Prince William County Public Schools on Wednesday afternoon:

As of March 5, we will have closed school 8 times and opened late 9 times. Given that PWCS began the school year with time above the state requirements, about 15.6 hours or just over 2.6 days remain available for weather closing/delay time before we fall short of Virginia’s 990 hour minimum requirement for instructional time.

The reason PWCS has additional time this year is because the School Board approved the addition of 10 minutes to the instructional day for the 2014-15 school year and beyond. This added an additional 30 hours to the 2014-15 calendar compared to previous years. If PWCS had maintained the previous instructional day, we would currently be more than two full day’s worth of hours below the state minimum and would already require make-up time.

The calendar has two remaining built-in make-up days: Monday, April 6—the Monday at the end of Spring Break—is designated on the calendar as a make-up day, as is June 19, the day after school ends, should these become necessary.

Bottom line: If  students don’t want to begin making up school days, they better start thinking spring.

Improvement projects slated for three Stafford high schools


Within the next three years, three Stafford high schools – Brooke Point, Colonial Forge, and Mountain View – will be undergoing improvement and expansion projects.

The programs have been slated for completion as part of Stafford’s capital improvements program for several years.

“These additions have been in the capital improvements program for a number of years. But student growth [prompted the additions],” said Valerie Cottongim, Public Information Officer for Stafford County Public Schools.

The Brooke Point project will add eight classrooms and labs, two wellness rooms, an orchestra room, and update the culinary arts space and the library, according to Board documents.

The Colonial Forge and Mountainview expansions will also offer similar updates to the building, with the addition of a security entrance, according to board documents.

Currently, the construction of the projects is out for bid.

Brooke Point’s improvements will cost $6,611,000 and will be completed by September 2016. The Colonial Forge improvements will also be completed in September 2016 and will cost $7.3 million.

The Mountain View project will not start until the other two high school’s projects have been completed, but it’s estimated start date is 2017, slated for completion in September 2018.

Cottongim stated that the bond-funded improvement projects would help accommodate current students, and provide more quality education in Stafford.

“It’s going to allow us to accommodate the students that are attending these schools. The expanded rooms, and fine arts suites will provide extra space for those areas of the curriculum. At Brooke Point, the expanded media center will allow our students and staff to take advantage of more modern technologies than a library that was designed and built 25 years ago,” Cottongim said.

House passes bill to remove A to F grading system of schools in Virginia


The House of Delegates in Richmond has passed bill HB 1672 – legislation that will remove the A to F grading system of school districts in Virginia.

The grading system is for school districts, not for individual student’s grades.

The A to F grading system for school districts was first implemented after bill HB 1999 was passed during the 2013 General Assembly session.

Support for the new legislation to remove the earlier grading system was immense, as the system had unintended consequences on schools.

“When the [original] bill was passed a couple of years ago, we were all concerned about what it would do to some of our schools – and the various categories they would be placed in. [We felt] that some of our schools and students would be disenfranchised by this piece of legislation, and it had the potential of penalizing some schools in a way that would not be reflective of the [school’s] efforts and their stance academically,” said Delegate Luke Torian.

The grading system was used on school districts, based upon their “student growth” defined in HB 1999 as maintaining proficiency on state assessments and growth and improvement based on a statewide average.

Schools with a low-grade rating on the scale would be in jeopardy of losing their accreditation, according to Torian.

“[Schools] were given a particular rating, based on certain criterions that were presented in the [earlier] legislation…The legislation was just too broad, in general,” said Torian.

Now that the bill has passed the floor of the House, it will now be moved to a Senate floor vote, before being placed in front of Governor McAuliffe for final approval.

While the legislation removes the current school district grading system, it does not articulate a new one. Torian stated that the originating legislator of the A to F system, Delegate Thomas Greason, will be working on legislation to implement a new system.

“I think what Delegate Greason is doing – he’s looking at some other alternatives…He will be talking to the leading educational organizations here, to design a new bill that will serve his intent. But right now what we don’t want to do – we don’t want to put forward something that is going to adversely impact schools,” Torian commented.

The legislation is considered a relief for many school districts, such as Manassas City Schools, whose school board outlined the removal of the A to F system as a legislative priority for 2015.

“The Board believes it does not indicate a division’s success in preparing students for career/college readiness,” said Almeta Radford, Public Communications Coordinator for Manassas City Schools.

Manassas Superintendent presents budget, speaks to parents at Saturday meeting


As part of the Saturday with the Superintendent series, the Manassas City school’s superintendent, Dr. Magouyrk, spoke with parents about the school budget and took questions from the community last Saturday.

The meeting was well attended despite the snow, according to Magouyrk.

“We had great attendance, even though the snow was coming down like it was,” Magouyrk said.

The Saturday with Superintendent events take place about every six weeks and serve as a primary way for parents to interact with administrators.

“It’s just an opportunity for the community – for families – to know what’s taking place,” Magouyrk stated.

One of the main topics for this meeting was the budget, which is currently in progress for the upcoming fiscal year.

“We talked about the Superintendent budget presentation – that is right now what the school board is working on. We talked about the new Baldwin [school], and our school calendar for next year,” Magouyrk said.

Magouyrk also spoke to parents about the Career and Technical (CTE) initiatives taking place in Manassas City schools.

Overall, Magouyrk stressed that the meetings are an opportunity for parents to ask questions and get information they need from their children’s schools.

“We had a parent of a gifted student [at the meeting], and she wanted to get more information about our gifted program. So they were able to ask me questions,” Magouyrk commented.

For the remainder of the school year, two more of these meetings are scheduled – one on March 21 at Jennie Dean Elementary and one on May 16 at Baldwin Elementary.

Cancellations Sat. Feb. 21 and Sun. Feb. 22, 2015


Tweet your closings and cancellations to @PotomacLocal

@MCB_Quantico is Code Red. The base is closed. Only emergency and essential personnel are required to report to work.

— MCB Quantico (@MCB_Quantico) February 21, 2015

Kiefer appointed to Manassas City School Board


072914-First-on-plKristen Kiefer was appointed as the newest member of the Manassas City School Board last Wednesday night.

Kiefer, who is the Chief of Staff at The National Council on Aging, was selected from a list of nine qualified candidates.

The Board needed to appoint a new member when incumbent Ilka Chavez decided to step down for personal reasons back in January.

According to Tim Demeria, Chairman of the Manassas City School Board, the board was primarily looking for a competent and passionate individual to fill Chavez’s seat.

“Of the nine candidates we had, we were looking for someone who was passionate about our schools, who was involved in our schools,” Demeria said, continuing, “My concern when we first discussing [appointing a new member] we were worried we weren’t going to have candidates worthy of the position, but that surely didn’t become a problem for us.”

The board interviewed each of the nine candidates, and after several hours of deliberation, there was a unanimous vote to select Kiefer, said Demeria.

A graduate of Ohio University and Georgetown University, Kiefer is known in the community for her extensive involvement in the school system. She has two children in Manassas City schools, and her husband was also a graduate of the school system.

For Kiefer, her commitment to education started at the very beginning of her life, with her mother’s influence as an educator.

“My mother was an educator and an administrator in schools her entire life…My parents taught me the value of education, and that it was a gift – but that it was also something you were accountable for, in terms of how much you put into it,” Kiefer said.

Kiefer started her involvement with the school community by reinstating the Baldwin Elementary PTO, and later working on the PTA at Mayfield Intermediate School. She also serves as a member of the ‘Gifted and Talented’ advisory group.

She became well known in the community for her tireless efforts working with the schools after organizing the first Movie Night on the Manassas Museum lawn. It is now an annual community event.

Her interest in applying for the vacant board seat came when she was encouraged to apply during her time at the Manassas City Public Schools Community and Parent Leadership Academy.

Kiefer admitted to being nervous and needing some reassurance about applying.

“I was nervous…the thing about it was that I had no idea what I was walking into. And I went through a lot of soul searching. I spoke with teachers, principals, colleagues, parents, to hear them saying, ‘You need to do this.’ I think for me, in terms of the decision process, my mother…said ‘You have got to do this’ [and it helped push me],” Kiefer stated.

Despite being new to the board, Kiefer will be involved in this year’s budgeting process for the schools – not an easy task. But Kiefer feels confident in her ability to transition to the board and assist in the budgeting process.

“My job is one where I’m thrown into something new each and every day, and I’ve got to adjust, and I’ve got to study and I’ve got to prepare – and it doesn’t matter what the topic is – you’ve got to go in there, and you’ve got to roll up your sleeves, and that’s just who I am as a person,” Kiefer stated.

The appointment will run out in November 2015. Kiefer intends to run in the upcoming special election to keep her seat after the appointment period ends.

Kiefer will be sworn into the board at the next Manassas City School Board meeting.

More to the Story: See all of the resumes submitted for the open School Board position below: 

Richard Bookewalter

Roy Caracciolo, Jr. 

Theresa Coates Ellis

Norman Hertz

Kristen Kiefer

D. William Sandstrom

Suzanne Seaberg

Elizabeth Skaggs

Lawrence Warkentien

Prince William Wildflower Society donates books to county schools


The Prince William Chapter of the Wildflower Society has donated 61 copies of a children’s book to Prince William County Public Schools and additional copies to local libraries.

The book, Isabella’s Peppermint Flowers, was written by Susan Leopold and illustrated by Nicky Staunton, said Nancy Vehrs, President of the Prince William Wildflower Society and the Virginia Native Plant Society.

The book was designed to complement the fourth grade SOLs in Virginia, which includes a segment addressing botany and plant life.

Staunton is a former resident of the City of Manassas and a past president of the Virginia Native Plant Society. Living in the area, and the experiences she had with the Society motivated her to illustrate the children’s book, said Vehrs. Leopold grew up in Prince William County in Woodbridge.

According to Vehrs, it is important that children learn about the world around them.

The Wildflower Society has held several presentations of the donated books in county schools and is also intending to donate copies to the City of Manassas.

The group does other community outreach events to help educate the residents of Prince William County, including lectures and informational sessions from authors and experts on plant life.

They recently hosted a lecture with well-known author and landscape designer Rick Dark, who recently published The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden.

Closings and delays Friday, Feb. 20, 2015


Public 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.


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. 


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

   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   

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

   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 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 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:

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.


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. 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

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


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: Also, watch this compelling success story by a Year Up graduate:

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.


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.

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