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Prince William Picks Teachers of the Year

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Three exceptional educators have been awarded the title of “2012 Prince William County Teacher of the Year.” The latest edition of “School Focus,” now airing on PWCS-TV Comcast Channel 18 and Verizon Channel 36, visits these educators’ classrooms to show how they share their passion for teaching and expertise at motivating students to pursue excellence.

A panel of parents, teachers, administrators, and support staff selected Kelly Haynes, Ashland Elementary School; Philip Keirstead, Marsteller Middle School; and Lydia Stewart, Osbourn Park High School, as the Teachers of the Year. Recognition at three levels is a new element of the School Division’s awards program to spotlight World-Class teachers.

Of these three, Stewart was also selected as the recipient of The Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

Click here to see more and watch the video

-Press release

$5 Million in Cuts to Fund Teacher Pay Increases

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Prince William County School Board approved an $861 million operating budget Wednesday night, directing the Superintendent to find $5 million in new spending cuts to cover the cost of providing a step increase to employees on the current pay scale.

Budget approval came a week later than originally expected, as Board Members debated how best to afford enhanced pay increases. The new plan builds on the foundation of the spending reductions originally proposed to pay for an across-the-board raise in the budget plan rejected during last week’s Board mark-up session.

By a 5-3 margin, Board Members voted this time to provide the widely sought step increase based on a 7.5 hour instructional day. The step will provide an average 2.85 percent pay hike, but actual amounts will vary according to each employee’s position on the current pay scale. In addition, all employees will receive an added one percent increase to offset the cost of a new state mandate that will require each PWCS employee to make a one percent contribution to the Virginia Retirement System over the upcoming school year.

Board members also approved an amendment directing the Superintendent to use any additional funds that could be received toward reducing class sizes and/or adjusting the budget-diminished Capital Improvements Program, according to future Board directions.

The immediate challenge for the School Division will be finding $5 million in cuts beyond those already included to fund pay increases in the Superintendent’s previous proposal. Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven L. Walts conceded that it will not be easy to find those additional cuts but noted, “We will make every effort not to lay off any employee.”

Though passed, the Budget is not yet final. It immediately goes to the Board of County Supervisors for their approval. Additionally, the county has yet to finalize the tax rate on which the budget revenues are based; the tax rate advertised last month can still decrease, but not increase, meaning PWCS could face further shortfalls. The state budget picture is uncertain as well. Clarifying legislative action could come as early as Friday, but might still require adjustments to the spending plan.

-Press release

Civil War Exhibit Rolling to Stafford

STAFFORD, Va. — The Civil War is coming to schools in Stafford County by truck.

The Civil War History Mobile will visit Colonial Forge, Stafford, and Mountain View high schools this week as part of the traveling exhibit show. High school students as well as 5th grade students will get to see the display.

Here’s more from the event press release:

The Civil War 150 History Mobile is an interactive “museum on wheels” housed in a 53’ expandable tractor-trailer. The four-year tour launched on July 21, 2011, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary commemoration of the First Battle of Manassas. The HistoryMobile will visit museums, parks, fairs, schools, and other sites throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.

The HistoryMobile draws together stories from all over Virginia and uses state-of-the-art technology and immersive exhibit spaces to present individual stories of the Civil War from the perspectives of those who experienced it—young and old, enslaved and free, soldiers and civilians.


Pr. William Schools Set Graduation Dates

Adult Ed & Summer School Thursday August 2 7:30 p.m. Stonewall Jackson HS Gym

Battlefield HS Friday June 8 7 p.m. Jiffy Lube Live

Brentsville District HS Saturday June 9 10 a.m. Jiffy Lube Live

Forest Park HS Saturday June 9 2:30 p.m. Patriot Center

Freedom HS Saturday June 9 7 p.m. Patriot Center

Gar-Field HS Friday June 8 7 p.m. Patriot Center

Governor’s School Awards Ceremony and Banquet Saturday, June 2 4 p.m. Kelly Leadership Center

Hylton HS Saturday June 9 9:30 a.m. Patriot Center

Independent Hill School Thursday June 7 1 p.m. IHS Gymnasium

New Directions Alternative Ed Center Senior Awards Thursday June 7 5:30 p.m. Hylton Performing Arts Center

Osbourn Park HS Friday June 8 6 p.m. Osbourn Park HS

PACE East Senior Awards Friday June 1 9:15 a.m. IHS Gymnasium

PACE West Senior Awards Luncheon Thursday June 7 12:30 p.m. PACE West Gymnasium

Potomac HS Saturday June 9 7 p.m. Jiffy Lube Live

Practical Nursing Program Friday June 1 6:30 p.m. Osbourn Park HS Auditorium

Stonewall Jackson HS Tuesday June 12 7 p.m. Jiffy Lube Live

Thomas Jefferson HS for Science & Technology Saturday June 16 7 p.m. Patriot Center

Woodbridge HS Saturday June 9 9 a.m. Woodbridge HS

-Press release 

School Official Spends 50 Years on the Job

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Prince William County School Board will honor one of its own on March 29, as Chairman At-Large Milton C. Johns presents a 50-year pin to Board Member Betty D. Covington (Potomac) for her service to children and the School Division for 50 years. Over the years Covington has been a teacher, administrator, and School Board member.

She is among 259 Prince William County Public School (PWCS) employees who will be honored during at a ceremony at Hylton High School.

Covington is currently serving her third consecutive four-year term on the School Board, having been elected in 2003, 2007, and 2011. She first served on the School Board from 1996 to 1997 and in 2010 and 2011, she was elected and sworn in as a Member At-Large for the Board of Directors of the Virginia School Boards Association.

Covington was a classroom teacher for 11 years, nine of which she spent at Dumfries Elementary School. She retired from Kilby Elementary School in 1995 after 19 years as its principal. In 1997, she returned to the School Division as principal of Dumfries Elementary School, where she remained until her retirement in 2003. She has received numerous civic awards, including Educator of the Year, Distinguished Woman of the Year, Star Award for Endless Dedication to Youth, and Human Rights Award.

Other honorees include 10 employees with 40 years of service, 16 employees with 35 years of service, 43 with 30 years, 89 with 25 years, and 100 with 20 years of service. Another 1,547 employees reaching milestones of 5, 10, and 15 years will be recognized for their continued service at their schools and offices.

The employees we are honoring have brought our School Division to where it is today, and are leading our effort to provide our students with a World-Class Education,” said Superintendent of Schools Steven L. Walts.

A list of all of the employees who will be honored at the March 29 can be found by clicking here.

-Press release 


Revised School Budget Fails

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. –– A proposed measure that would have given all Prince William County Public Schools employees a raise has failed.

Prince William Schools Superintendent Steven L. Walts put forth a revised budget that included a two-percent raise for all school employees. But the county’s School Board denied passage of the newly proposed budget in a meeting Wednesday night.

Instead, At-large School Board Chair Milton Johns called another meeting next Wednesday where the Board is expected to explore more ways to cut spending in order to fund pay raises, said Prince William County Schools Communications Director Philip B. Kavits.

The Board has until April 1 to approve a new spending package.

This latest move comes after teachers in Prince William County have staged protests and so-called “work to the rule” campaigns in order to draw attention to the lack of pay raises over the years.

Teachers say they would like at least a three-percent increase in pay, as many have gone years without a salary increase. Teachers also said they dip into the own pockets to pay for supplies, and work evening and weekend hours just to meet the demands of the job.

Student Named Statewide Scholar

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Heather Kirkpatrick of Woodbridge has been named the 2012 New Century Scholar for Virginia.

Kirkpatrick is a student at Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge Campus and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

The award goes to just 50 community college students from the United States, Canada and Guam. Each scholar will receive a $2,000 scholarship and a plaque. In addition, they will be recognized in the April 23 edition of USA TODAY.

“I am humbled by this honor and will always treasure it,” Kirkpatrick said. “This award makes all the sleepless nights and hard work more than worthwhile.”

Kirkpatrick was young when she graduated high school and didn’t feel ready for a four-year college.

“Starting at NOVA was the smartest decision I have ever made,” she said. “NOVA gave me a second chance, one that has allowed me to completely transform into a motivated, well-rounded and educated individual. My time at NOVA has been wonderful and has prepared me for the next chapter in my life. I can’t wait!”

Kirkpatrick will graduate this spring and will introduce the keynote speaker during NOVA’s Commencement ceremony. This fall, she plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University to study sculpture and extended media.

More than 1,700 students were nominated from more than 800 community colleges. Judges consider grades, leadership, activities and how students extend their intellectual talents beyond the classroom. New Century Scholars are the highest scoring students in each state, plus one student from Canada and one student from the seven sovereign nations where Phi Theta Kappa is represented internationally.

-Press release

Eatery Emptied After Dumpster Fire

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — A smoke-filled dining room forced restaurant goers outside Thursday night.

Stafford fire and rescue units were called to Jimmy the Greek restaurant on Va. 610 in North Stafford about 6:30 p.m. after a fire ignited in an outside dumpster.

No one was injured, but smoke did billow into the building from the outside causing a nuisance, said Stafford Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Mark Doyle.

Two of the three lanes of the westbound portion of Va. 610 were briefly blocked by a sheriff’s deputy while fire crews worked the scene. All emergency personnel wrapped up their work shortly after 7 p.m.

Jimmy the Greek restaurant is an institution in Stafford County, around since 1979 serving Greek, American and Italian foods.


Planners Showcase Road Improvements

By Uriah Kiser

STAFFORD, Va. — A road that carries commuters and thousands of school children is about to get an improvement.

Stafford County transportation officials Thursday held a public meeting about improvements to Mountain View Road. Last night, officials showed plans for improving about a half-mile stretch of the two lane road between Rose Hill Farm Drive and Pickett Lane. It’s the second section of a two-phase project aimed at modernizing the road, a thoroughfare which carries students to Margaret Brent Elementary and Mountain View High schools.

“This project was born out of our Youth Driver Taskforce, which identified potentially dangerous roads in the county that needed to be fixed,” said Stafford County Public Works Director Mike Smith.

During a public hearing last year held for the first phase of the project – a $7.6 million, 1.4 mile stretch of Mountain View Road west of Rose Hill Farm Drive — residents told transportation planners they also wanted to improve the portion of the road closest to the schools.

The road will still be two lanes when complete, but both phases will have 12-foot wide lanes and, for the first time, the road will have an eight-foot wide shoulder along one side of the road. It’s an improvement to a street that in many places has sharp curves and poor sight distance, a factor that has lead to many crashes on this road over the years, said Smith.

Planners said 3,400 cars per day traveled Mountain View Road in 2010, and the number is expected to increase to more than 5,300 by 2032.

Construction of the first phase of the project is scheduled to begin next spring. Public comments about the project will be accepted at until March 26.

Stafford School Board Wants Deep Cuts

STAFFORD, Va. — Stafford County teachers may not get a pay raise next year.

Educators in the county were told this week the school system was looking to cut $40 million from

Stafford Schools Superintendent Randy Bridge’s proposed budget, reports In addition, about $19 million more in cuts need to be made just to maintain the current level of service from the county schools, the School Board told the website.

Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello’s proposed $246 million budget includes $4 million for the county schools. While looking at the overall proposed county budget, Romenllo called it the largest investment from the county government to the school system in Stafford’s history.

If teachers in Stafford County don’t see raises in the next year, they could be joining their counterparts in Prince William County. Teachers there have held rallies andsit-in demonstrations in recent weeks to show their opposition to proposed teacher salary freezes.

There are 26,500 students enrolled in Stafford County Public Schools, and 81,600 students enrolled in Prince William County Public Schools.

Vikings will Host Percussion, Guard Competition

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Woodbridge High School will host the Woodbridge Viking Invitational Indoor Percussion and Winter Guard competition on Saturday. The competition, which opens to the public at 8 a.m., will be held at the high school, located at 3001 Old Bridge Road in Woodbridge. More than 60 groups from high schools and colleges have registered to compete.

Tickets are $10 (cash only) payable at the door. Concessions will also be available for sale. Winter guard and indoor percussion are the fastest growing of the marching arts, and high school marching bands benefit from the skills developed in these winter programs. These include elements of music, choreography, and theater in color guard and percussion units.

Saturday’s competition is sponsored by the Atlantic Indoor Association (AIA), which was formed in 1994 to support and benefit organizations which engage in, or support, youth activities in the performing arts. AIA currently offers contests throughout Virginia and North Carolina. With more than 300 member units, AIA is one of the largest circuits in the nation.

For more information, contact Nancy Ro, Woodbridge Band Boosters president, at

-Press release 

Moncure Elementary will Get a New Home

By Uriah Kiser

NORTH STAFFORD, Va. — A 40-year-old school building along the busiest road in North Stafford is reaching its end.

Anne E. Moncure Elementary School sits at 75 Moncure Lane off Va. 610, and the building is aging. To replace it, Stafford County officials will spend $1.7 million for 22.3 acres of property on nearby Juggins Road in North Stafford, behind the Doc Stone and Stafford Marketplace shopping centers. There, the School Board will build a new Moncure Elementary School.

The current school building sits alongside busy Va. 610, and the site of the building is better suited for mixed-use commercial development, county documents state.

“The building is more than 40-years-old and its in need of renovation or a rebuild, so the notion is let’s build a new school on property that off of the Garrisonville Road corridor, and lets take the property that’s right in the middle of economic development purposes,” said Stafford County Administrator Anthony Romanello.

As part of the deal between the Stafford County Government and the county’s independent School Board, the county will lease the new land to the School Board for no monetary consideration. Once a new elementary school is built, the School Board intends to declare the old school “surplus” and will give the property at 75 Moncure Lane to the county, again for no monetary consideration, according to Stafford County documents.

Romanello said it’s too soon to tell how much money the county will gain from the sell of the land to a future developer. In addition to shopping centers, the current Moncure Elementary School sits near a popular commuter lot that is being expanded.

About 680 students are enrolled at Moncure Elementary School.

Pr. William Teachers ‘Grade-in’ at Mall

By Uriah Kiser

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Prince William County teachers brought papers to grade to Potomac Mills mall this weekend.

About 60 county public school teachers staged a “grade-in” at the mall’s busy food court on Saturday. The event was used to showcase how much work teachers must do outside the traditional school day.

Some sat with laptops and while others sat and ate lunch and chatted with friends and coworkers. It was one of two grade-ins held in the county Saturday. The other sit-in was held at a Wegmans grocery store in Gainesville.

Participants here wore blue t-shirts displaying PWEA, for the Prince William Education Association.

The sit-in comes as school officials are looking for ways to provide Prince William teachers a pay raise in the next budget year, something they didn’t get last year. The pay raise issue has been a sticking point with educators who banded together two weeks ago along busy Prince William Parkway to protest the lack of a pay raise in the upcoming budget that’s still awaiting approval.

“I don’t think the [Prince William County Board of Supervisors] has adequately funded schools in this county. We’re the ninth wealthiest county in the nation yet we have the largest class sizes in the state, and I don’t think the parents in this community want that,” said PWEA President Bonnie Klakowicz.

Class size in Prince William County averages about 27 students per class, according to the school division’s profile. Average class sizes in Fairfax County are about 22 students per class, according to 2010 data. Stafford County schools does not include their average class size its division profile posted to the it’s website.

So, how much of a raise to teachers want? Klakowicz says at least a three percent merit increase. The last time Prince William teachers got one was in 2008, she added.

During the 2009-2010 school year, Prince William teachers got a 2.4 percent market raise, said Klakowicz.

Teachers plan to sit in again, this time at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday in Woodbridge to draw even more attention to their cause.

Woodbridge Students Help Celebrate Foreign Language Week

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Small Town USA this isn’t. Our town today is the world, made smaller through the Internet. Today’s global melting pot is in our schools, where the universal language is an encouraging smile; language barriers are overcome with laughter; and eyes open wide with wonder.

Such expressive means to communicate are often the first resort for newcomers who represent over 105 languages and 160 cultures that are thriving in the homes of Prince William County Public School (PWCS) students.

During National Foreign Language Week, March 6-11, we salute those who teach and learn world languages that reflect the rich diversity of our community. The School Division’s 185 world language teachers put the week’s theme, “You’re Connected…Now Communicate” into practice every day. Instruction in French and Spanish begins at the elementary school level in six schools and continues in middle schools and high schools. Other languages studied in high school are American Sign Language, German, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and the classical language, Latin.

A variety of presentations, events and collaborative activities have been planned during March to celebrate Prince William County’s cultural and language diversity.

“We believe school activities that offer a deeper understanding about the countries and peoples of the languages our students are learning will encourage them to more fully engage in these cultures and hopefully inspire a lifelong interest,” says Carol Bass, PWCS supervisor of World Languages.

About 50 Battlefield High School French students coordinated a community service project for children in the school’s Head Start preschool program. The students assembled and decorated “card stock shoes,” stuffed them full of hats, mittens, pencils, crayons, and children’s books, and presented them to the youngsters. “We received thanks by way of pictures and thank you notes….I think that both big and little kids alike loved the activity,” said French teacher Marilyn Clemence.

At Lake Ridge Middle School, students celebrated Mardi Gras in true New Orleans tradition by making masks and “shoebox” parade floats, with the help of Assistant Principal Krsunthia Childs. “Students of French learned about New Orleans culture as part of the Francophone world,” says French teacher Kim Maynard. “Every grade level had a different activity. Eighth-graders learned about jazz bands and the Krewes (crews that put on a parade) and elected a King and Queen of Mardi Gras.”

Woodbridge High School German students recently attended the two-day annual conference of the Virginia Organization of German Students, where they learned in a workshop how to cook potato latkes (pancakes), a traditional dish of Germany and the Baltic states, and enjoyed all kinds of German customs, traditions, and academic competitions. They placed second in the Battle of the Brains contest, a quiz in English and German that tests their knowledge of German culture, language, and history. “All are looking forward to attending the convention next year, as they had a wonderful, enriching experience,” said German teacher Carol Butler.

Cross-cultural communication skills are invaluable in preparing students for the global world in which they live and will one day work. Students who study a second language learn that second-language acquisition is a lengthy process; for many, this builds tolerance of recently arrived immigrants who are also learning a new language.

The United States, a nation of immigrants, has historically benefited from the contributions of people born in other countries who have excelled in careers that affect the quality of life–medicine, science, technology, the arts, education, sports, and government. Possessing the ability to communicate in another language and understanding other cultures can help to ensure our nation’s future economic, business, and political success on the world stage.

-Press release 

Chamber Scholarship Deadline Extended

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — The Prince William Chamber has extended the deadline for its 2011-2012 Scholarship Program. Application packages are now due to the Chamber no later than Monday, March 19.

Through this program three scholarships of up to $2,500 each will be given to high school seniors who have shown a commitment to academic excellence and community involvement. Additionally, to be eligible, students must be an employee of a Chamber member company or the dependent of an employee.

“We have long supported academic success and giving back to the community through our scholarship program. Now, we are also able to reward the members of our local business community for all that they do to enhance the economy and quality of life in the Prince William region,” said Prince William Chamber President and CEO Rob Clapper.

The Prince William Chamber is the largest chamber in the Metro Washington, DC area, representing nearly 2,100 organizations and their more than 90,000 employees. Clapper noted that every employee of a member company is in fact a member of the Chamber, and can take part in programming and services.

“We look forward to learning more about the extraordinary young people living and working right here in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park and helping them to achieve educational success,” said Clapper.

Information on the scholarship, including the full criteria and application packet can be found at by clicking the “Scholarship Info” button. The Chamber will also host its annual Frostbite Scramble golf event and luncheon on March 21 to raise funds for the program.

Members of the public are invited to participate. Registration information can be found online under “events” or by calling 703-368-6600.

-Press release

Teachers Protest Pay Freeze

Woodbridge, Va. — Prince William County school teachers banded together to protest the lack of pay raises over the next three years.

In cold and rainy weather, about 200 participants at the “Rally for a World Class Education” lined sidewalks at the heavily traveled intersection of Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road holding signs stating “no teacher left behind” and “support Prince William teachers.”

The rally comes after Prince William Public Schools Superintendent Steven L. Walt’s proposed 2013 $932.3 million budget would freeze teacher pay raises. After years of stagnant pay raises, about two percent a year according to a report in The Washington Post, a once enthusiastic English teacher, Bryan Haney, has turned to the web to research teaching jobs outside in other jurisdictions.

“When the county basically suggested this year they were going to freeze pay for another three years that would mean I would be making my second-year salary going into my sixth, seventh, eighth year, possibly,” said Bryan Haney, who teaches at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge. “I’m also getting married this summer to another teacher who’s pretty early in the pay scale, too. When you start to think about raising a family…when you start planning long term, you expect certain things.”

While teachers are contracted to work seven hours a day, many stay after school, take work home and grade papers on weekends. When Prince William teachers began a “work to the rule” protest last week, Walt reminded them through a letter their contract requires them to be involved, even lead extra circular activities.

The teachers rallied Friday were prideful in Prince William schools, and many said this show of solidarity expresses those feelings.

Some passing drivers blew horns in support of the teachers’ plight and asked how they could help their cause. Another driver heckled the teachers and said he was against union workers – though Virginia’s right to work laws prohibit teachers from forming a union.

“I think I know someone who was a teacher in Virginia and was in a union,” he yelled from his car window.

“This is Virginia and we’re not allowed to form a union,” teachers responded.

Residents Invited to School Food Show

Prince William County, Va. — The people charged with feeding schoolchildren in Prince William County are looking for a few good tasters.

The county’s public school system will hold its’ 22nd annual Food Show at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. March 13 and March 15 at Patriot High School in Nokesville.

It’s free to attend the show and taste a wide variety food items that could one day make it on the menus at area schools. Feedback gathered from the tasters will be used when the school system decides what foods to purchase for the 2012-13 school year, said School Food & Nutritional Services Director School Food & Nutritional Services Serena E. Suthers.

Those who want to come to the show should call 703-791-7314 to make reservations.

According to the proposed 2013 fiscal year school budget, $37.9 million has been allotted for school food services. Most of the funds come from food sales and through federal and state subsidies.

The school system’s food services division employs nearly 600 people.

Teachers Plan Protest on Highway

Prince William County, Va. — Teachers are expected to take to the streets Friday afternoon in protest.

Educators said they will gather at Va. 234 Prince William Parkway and Minnieville Road near the Prince William County Public Schools administration complex to once again let school leaders know they’re not happy about the prospect of not receiving a raise.

The rally, sponsored by Concerned Teachers of Prince William County, will gather between 3 and 6 p.m. with hopes to draw commuters’ attention to their plight.

“The teachers of Prince William County are coming together to Rally for Education. We want to draw attention to the current budget situation – and the overall lack of support financially for education and educators in Prince William County,” stated an email notifying media of the event.

The group stated they’re not involved with any political organization.

Prince William schools Superintendent Steven L. Walts’ $932 million proposed budget does not account for any new teacher pay raises for the next three years but will keep staffing levels the same.

Outraged, some Prince William teachers protested inside the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chambers, and some began “working to the rule” – only working the mandated seven hours per day that’s mandated by their contracts.

In response to the “work to the rule” protests, Walts sent a letter to teachers reminding them strikes are not allowed in Virginia, and that teachers, per their contract, must participate in afterschool activities.

*This story has been corrected. Original information provided to noted the planned rally’s location on Va. 234 near The Prince William County Public Schools Administration Complex.

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