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Do Prince William schools offer a ‘world-class education?’

MANASSAS — The Prince William Committee of 100 will turn its attention to schools this month.

The committee will hold a panel discussion called “What is a world-class education and does Prince William County offer one?”

“The county school division’s motto is “a world-class education.”

Panelists will include

  • Riley O’Casey, Prince William County Education Association President
  • Alyson Satterwhite, Gainesville District School Board member
  • Rita Goss, Prince William County Public Schools Associate Superintendent for Learning and Accountability
  • Charles Ronco, a math teacher at Stonewall Jackson High School

I’ll be moderating the event.

Last month, the committee held a panel discussion on transportation and regional development.

I asked Prince William Committee of 100 President Ann Wheeler about why the committee wanted to this month focus on education.

PL: Why did the Committee of 100 (C of 100) choose to talk about schools this month? Is there a sense that county schools are underperforming?

Wheeler: The C of 100 often has forums on schools this time of year because of the budget season. Last year we held a forum on the Revenue Sharing agreement which funds the schools and whether it should be revised. The fact that there are many people in the county involved in school advocacy (both social and fiscal) indicates that it’s a topic that might be of value to present to the community and that the C100 members would like to learn more about.

PL: It’s county budget season, and for years I’ve covered the Board of County Supervisors find new ways to fund the school system. This year, it seems the funding focus has shifted to other county agencies like public safety. Has the C of 100 discussed/have concerns about school funding?

Wheeler: As you mentioned it is the budget season and the schools receive over half of the county revenues, so schools are always a focus. Many of the people posting on social media outlets about the PWC budget are concerned with teacher pay and school overcrowding. I believe this is also reflected at the School Board level.

While the importance of public safety funding is being discussed this year from the county executive, the school funding issue has never gone away. The C100 has no position on whether it’s underfunded, but the question of whether it’s world class or not is possibly a reflection of adequate or inadequate funding.

PL: Obviously those parents who have children in school care about the school division, but what about those whose children have graduated, or who don’t have children in public schools? Why should they care?

Wheeler: Everyone throughout the county should care about school performance. School performance is one of the main drivers behind community attractiveness which drives home prices. We have many over 55 communities that are filled to the brim with grandparents who moved here to be near grandchildren, grandchildren who are in our school system. Finally, corporate businesses look at the success of the school system as a criterion for locating here, because they want an excellent school system for their employees who will live nearby.

The event will be held Thursday, March 15 at City Tavern, located at 9550 Center Street in Manassas.

A social begins at 6:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 7 p.m. The cost of the dinner is $30 for Committee of 100 members, $35 for nonmembers. (Dinner is sold out).

Those who wish to come for the panel discussion may do so at no charge starting at 7:45 p.m.

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