Gainesville District Supervisor Peter Candland held a town hall Thursday night at Alvey Elementary School in Haymarket to speak to area residents about what he said is the need to “act right away” to provide more funds to the county school board to cut class sizes, which are now at their maximum capacity, he said. The number of students in classrooms is larger than those of schools in neighboring Loudoun and Fairfax counties, according to a Washington Area Board of Education report.
Candland advocates raising the amount of money the School Board automatically gets from the county in an annual budget transfer, which is currently 57.23% of the county budget, to allow the Board to hire additional teachers and to pay them salaries comparable to what educators earn in surrounding counties.
When students at Fairfax County’s Mount Vernon High School return to classes next week, they no longer will be allowed to wear “jeggings” as pants.
What exactly are jeggings? They are the fashion cousin of leggings, the skin-tight staples found in many high school hallways. Jeggings are leggings with a faux-denim appearance, providing the tailored jean look that is in vogue among teenagers. To dress in leggings or jeggings, Mount Vernon students must wear them underneath shorts, dresses or skirts that are at most three inches above the knee, according to school regulations.
Mrs. Caddigan restates the obvious–too much building and not enough of a commerical base. If she could only arm-twist the rest of the guys to stop rubber-stamping the development. “Slow down the construction of the new homes and concentrate on the commericial” is more than fair….
Growth exceeds the rate of revenues. That’s the way it has always been.
The BOCS needs to slow the growth. Good for Pete Candland for echoing her remarks….before he went off the deep end on zero base budget approach.
For the record, Prince William County, at least in modern times, has never required teachers to buy their own supplies. Most of them do buy things they want for their own instructional purposes, but they don’t have to. Many years ago, a secretary at a mid county elementary school used to hand out one strip of staples at a time, or so I have been told. Perhaps in that case…..
Even though Easter has past, I still hear the echoes of Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! resonating across Prince William County. No, that isn’t the sound of baby chicks. It’s the sound made by the Board of County Supervisors.
Note a few facts:
Per Classroom indicators show that Prince William County has the highest teacher:student ratio in the DC metro area:
Upon further inspection, we see that Prince William county also spends very little per student compared to many of its neighboring jurisdictions.
One of my husband’s favorite sayings is “Captain Obvious” when someone says something so incredibly, well, obvious. There are parents in the PWC community that have suddenly come to the realization that our class sizes are woefully too full, so full, that quality instruction is being jepoardized. PWC school has reached the state’s legal limit for class size.
PWCS raised class sizes to the state limits this school year in response to current budget constraints. In the executive summary of the 2014 budget, Walts notes that reductions of teacher staffing ratios (or increases in class sizes) have led to savings of $4.3 million at the middle-school level and $5.3 million at the high school level. Walts also notes that next year’s budget does not restore those cuts.
In response to concerns about class sizes, Walts’s office has said it would cost $15 million annually to reduce average class sizes by one student at all levels. The Code of Virginia sets the following maximum class-size limits: 29 for kindergarten classes; 30 for grades one through three; and 35 for grades four through six. English classes are limited to 24 in grades one through 12, otherwise there are no state maximum class-size limits for grades seven and above, according to Dena Rosenkrantz, an attorney with the Virginia Education Association.
Prince William County teachers plan to attend the BOCS meeting tomorrow en mass. Prince William County teachers have not had a step increase in 3 years. They are not expected to get one until 2016. They have had a couple of very small raises. They will once again ask for the supervisors to set an advertised tax rate that sustains a teacher raise and reduced class sizes.
Teachers want the Supervisors to set a tax rate high enough to accommodate a step increase, raise, and reduction in class size. The uninformed often wonder why teachers don’t approach the PWC School Board for this raise and reduction, rather than the BOCS. They do. However, school boards, in Virginia, do not have the power to tax so they must get the funds from the governing body, in this case, the Board of County Supervisors. The BOCS sets the tax rate and so they are who the teachers must appeal to.
A local leader is changing his mind about the presence of officers in schools in the wake of the school shooting that killed 26 people last month in Newtown, Conn.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Cory Stewart originally pushed to cut the number of police officers in county schools due to budget problems. He estimated the cuts could save around $500,000 in the new fiscal budget.
However, Stewart is now pushing to increase the number of school resource officers throughout the county.
A black helicopter hovering overhead can lead those below to become worried, scared or suspicious. But when a large aircraft positioned itself over a Prince William County high school’s football field last Wednesday afternoon, students who had just been released for the day excitedly watched as a stuffed bulldog with a red-bandanna parachute emerged.
The big-eyed pup drifted to the turf, delivering a message from a junior boy to a senior girl: “Fall Fest?”
From the Superintendent of Schools, Prince William County, Dr. Walts:
This is the first year that the COB is being distributed primarily online, saving significant educational funds.
Print copies are available only upon request. Still, it is necessary that a parent or guardian for every student complete, sign, and
return the form sent home the first week of school, acknowledging COB content and availability. If you do not have a form, it
may be obtained—along with other important documents—by request at your child’s school office; or on the pwcs.edu Web site, by
clicking the home page button for Code of Behavior/Forms.
I am disgusted that Prince William County Schools have not prioritized this document. This document should be kept in every students binder all year long. It should be in a place where it can be whipped out at a moment’s notice for reference, either by an individual or a group or a class. Without easily accessible rules, it is difficult to insist on enforcement.
From the Washingtonpost.com:
Several Prince William County teachers, some of whom were placed on administrative leave, will have to undergo retraining after giving students inappropriate help on state-mandated exams, and students were required to retake tests, according to a school official.
County schools spokesman Phil Kavits said the teachers, who were supposed to interact minimally with students during testing in the spring, were overzealous in offering assistance
Twenty-eight students had to retake tests, Kavits said. He could not say exactly how many teachers were involved.
The testing problems were first reported Tuesday in the Washington Examiner.
In 2001, Time Magazine named Stonewall Jackson High School “ School of the Year.” Everyone on this end of town crowed and preened themselves over the recognition. How far they fall in a decade. Today, Stonewall Jackson HS barely ranked in the Washington Post High School Challenge. SJHS came in at a 92 rank of all area high schools in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Osbourn Park ranked the highest of any of the Prince William County high schools. It came in at 45.
Osbourn and Manassas Park High Schools sure didn’t set the world on fire either. However, neither of these schools has the maneuverability that county schools have. As PW residents we should be asking why our top ranking high school comes in 45th behind other area schools. That doesn’t sound very world class to me. Loudoun County, Arlington, and Fairfax counties all had schools ranking much higher than Prince William County.
We have to start asking ourselves why this is. I say it is because Prince William County always wants to go on the CHEAP. It always wants to appear to have the lowest taxes. Are other jurisdictions putting more money into the school system so they can attract high quality teachers and keep class sizes low? PWC has the least competitive pay for teachers and also spends the least money per pupil than any other school system in Northern Virginia.
RICHMOND, Va. –
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia announced Monday that its executive director, Kent Willis, will be leaving his position when a replacement is found.
In a statement, the ACLU said Willis announced his intent to leave last fall and that the organization began a nationwide search for his successor. Willis was hired as associate director in October 1987 and promoted to executive director in March 1989.
“I could not have had a more rewarding job,” said Willis in the statement, “and I am proud to have been part of the ACLU’s many accomplishments and enormous organizational growth over the last 25 years. But something told me it was time to move on.”
Willis really has been there a long time. The Times Dispatch has a list of his major accomplishments. People seem to think that the ACLU picks up every liberal gig it can. That isn’t always the case. Several of Willis’ accomplishments caught my eye:
- Defended the right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to avoid government loyalty oaths, the right of ministers to use public parks for baptisms, the right of Wiccans to perform marriage ceremonies, and the right of churches to feed the homeless.
- Launched a successful challenge to the widespread practice of local governments opening their meetings with sectarian prayers (Currently litigating such a case in Pittsylvania County.).
I sure didn’t know all that happened under bullet #1. Who would grouse about churches feeding the homeless? What loyalty oaths must we take? I can’t think of any. I also didn’t realize Wiccans can perform marriage ceremonies although it makes perfect sense that they can.
School Days School Days….dear old golden rule days. Readin’ and Ritin’ and Rithmetic…Taught to the tune of a hickory stick…
There is a nasty little rumor circulating around PWC schools. That rumor deals with the School Board and the Math Textbook Selection Committee. Rumor has it that the school board selected its own text books and disregarded the work of a committee that had spent 5 months meeting and collaborating. When one hears rumors like this, it’s best to turn to videos to see if the rumor is true.
On February 1, the PWC Math Department presented the recommendations of the math textbook adoption committee to the PWC School Board. Mrs. Knight, math supervisor for the county, gave a slide presentation which included committee history, methods utilized, and recommendations. School Board members asked questions for clarity regarding the process and the recommendations. Mrs. Knight answered a continual stream of questions regarding method, participants, conclusions. Her answers appeared honest and direct.
The Textbook Committee involved well over 100 teachers, principals, and parents representing all different grade levels. There were sub committees that matched content from each text book series to the curriculum, compared and contrasted grade level content , evaluated vertical strands, and held on average 16 hours per person of collegial discussion about the text books being scrutinized. Evaluations were put in rubric form and recorded anecdotally.
About 60 teachers gathered at the food center at Wegmans in Gainesville for an old fashioned grade-in. What’s that, you might ask? Those damn union teachers!!!! Actually, they met at Wegmans, ate lunch, and spent several hours grading papers and making lesson plans. Their goal was to show the public some of the things that they have to do outside the regular school day. PWC teachers have not had a step increase in 3 years.
The public has been very supportive. The County needs to stop poor mouthing. First class quality education starts with teachers with good morale. People who haven’t had a raise in 3 years generally feel under appreciated. The housing market is coming back. Businesses are returning.. The Board of Supervisors needed to set the tax rate high enough to support the County school system. Trying to educate OUR children on the cheap just isn’t going to fly.
According to insidenova.com:
Some of those shirts even had a roadwork sign emblazoned on the back that read “Educator at Work.”
PWEA and other teacher groups have been lobbying the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, the School Board and even state legislators for additional funds for the school division after learning in February there are no plans for pay step increases in the 2013 budget and perhaps not until 2016.
“The grade-in is designed so that the public can see that there is a lot more in the daily life of a professional educator than just 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 7 to 2,” said Jim Livingston, a PWEA board member. “There’s a lot of activity that has to go on outside of the contract day.”
David Foose, a music teacher at Sinclair Elementary School, brought a thick, black three-ring binder full of lesson plans and papers to grade.
“This is all work that’s done outside of the school day,” he said.
“We’re expected to do more and more with less pay,” said Trish Purschwitz, a second-grade teacher at Sinclair. “This is just to show the public that teaching isn’t just done at the school.”
Riley O’Casey, a civics teacher at Bull Run Middle School, said although it varies week-to-week, she works up to 12 hours a week beyond her contract hours.
Teachers walked out of Forest Park High School as a group to the sound of applause at 2:18 p.m. Monday.
As the teachers made their ways to the faculty parking lot, students stood outside the school and showed support for their educators.
Teachers at Forest Park, Battlefield and Patriot High Schools, as well as Potomac Middle, started a “Work to Rule” campaign Monday in response to the recent school budget proposal.
Superintendent Steven L. Walts’ proposed budget does not include a step increase for any schools employees for a third year in a row. There are no plans for staff or program reductions, either.
The budget, which was discussed at two recent School Board meetings, also indicates that there are no plans for raises until 2016 at the earliest.
On Monday, teachers entered their respective schools as a group at the same time — 7:15 a.m. at the high schools — and left schools when their contract hours ended at 2:15 p.m.
A crowd of about 30 teachers walked out the front door of Forest Park to their cars shortly after that scheduled time, many of them wearing “Work to Rule” pins.
Nicholas Watkins, an English teacher for 10th and 11th grades at Forest Park, said around double that number walked in together in the morning.
“There were 50 to 60 teachers,” he said, wearing a “Work to Rule” badge.
Teachers and staff members who receive stipends or other compensation for coaching athletic teams or other like commitments remained at the school as required. Watkins said that contributed to a lower turnout at the end of the day.
This is the third year that teachers in Prince Willliam County have not had a step increase. This year they will not get a raise and it is predicted that there will be no raise through 2016. This is absurd. In the same newspaper was an article saying Prince William County was the 9th wealthiest county in the United States. 9th wealthiest? Pay your teachers and pay them well. They also have the largest class sizes in the state of Virginia, on average.