April 18, 2018
Posted on 04/20/2018
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School Board Meeting April 18, 2018 

Select this link to view the agenda on the Electronic School Board web page. 

Select this link to watch the School Board meeting on PWCS-TV 

The School Board Approved:

  • The appointment of Babur B. Lateef, M.D. as Interim Chairman At-Large;
  • May 6–12 as Teacher Appreciation Week and May 8 as National Teacher Day;
  • Contract award to Keany Produce Company for fresh produce;
  • The revision of Policy 060, “Nondiscrimination and Commitment to Equity,” Policy 501, “Employment-General Policy State,” and Policy 507, “Nondiscrimination in Employment”; and
  • School Board meeting minutes of April 4; 

Student Matters:

Kate Arnold, student representative, made the following remarks:

  • Congratulations to Babur B. Lateef, M.D., who was selected as the Interim Chairman At-Large to the Prince William County School Board.
  • It can be a stressful time for students who are graduating and transiting from high school to college. Ms. Arnold suggested that teachers, counselors, and administrators make a special effort to reach out to seniors with words of encouragement and support.
  • Upcoming town hall meetings are scheduled for April 19 at Woodbridge High School, May 9 at Freedom High School, May 15 at Garfield High School, and May 24 at Brentsville District High School.
  • Ms. Arnold met with Mrs. AJ Phillips, director of Information Technology Services, about students’ questions and concerns with technology in Prince William County Public Schools.
  • The student spotlight this week is Emily Elston, a junior from Hylton High School, who led a state project to raise funds to replace steps and stair rails for the Virginia landmark, the 1774 Pohick Church in Lorton. She also assisted with securing donations for upgrades to the building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Ms. Arnold also congratulated Alexa Zaldivar and Genesis Villanueva, who won state awards in the VHSL state forensic championship tournament.

Magin Sanchez, alternate student representative, made the following remarks:

  • There is a lot of  excitement for students who are college bound, but it is also just as exciting for those students who have selected to enter the military after graduation. Mr. Sanchez asked that all students keep up the good work and finish the year strong.
  • The 2018 Virginia Future Business Leaders of America state leadership conference was last weekend and Prince William County was well represented throughout the conference. He  wished the winners luck as they get ready for the national competition to be held in Maryland.
  • Mr. Sanchez also praised school organizations that impact students in a positive way but said that most student organizations lack proper recognition. One particular organization is the Black Student Union at Woodbridge High School. Mr. Sanchez attended one of the meetings and was impressed with how interactive and welcoming the group members can be. In May, Mr. Sanchez plans to attend the Acts of Random Kindness Club at Battlefield High School.
  • He also congratulated Babur B. Lateef, M.D., on his appointment to the School Board.

Citizens’ Comment Time:

Citizens addressed the School Board on the following topics:

  • Importance of libraries;
  • Reagan Middle School leadership;
  • Bullying in the schools;
  • Communication, collaboration, and respect;
  • Leadership in the schools;
  • Tobacco free zones; and
  • Classroom Trailers.

Superintendent’s Time:

Dr. Steven L. Walts, superintendent of schools, started with his continuing effort to keep the School Board and Community aware of the progress in meeting the annual objectives the School Board assigned to him. (Select link to view PowerPoints and the Superintendent’s goals.) Dr. Walts made the following comments:

Slide 1 – As I’ve mentioned before, our score card shows a red check mark for items I’ve already reported on. If the check has a red "P" after it, that means the reported work remains in progress. And a white check means it’s an item we’ll be discussing tonight.

Slide 2 – So first up, under the instructional leadership category is the expectation that I work with staff to identify instructional needs and develop action plans based on last spring’s reports from our key advisory councils.

Slide 3 – We covered this at length in a report to the School Board back in October. It highlighted a wide array of results stemming from the reports of the Gifted Advisory Council, the Superintendent’s Advisory Council on Instruction, and the Special Education Advisory Council. Without going into a lot of details, I will say that we are continuing to build on many of those recommendations. For example, the Advisory Council on Instruction wanted us to help parents better understand what grades say about subject mastery. And our response is going further. We’ve rewritten grading regulations to embrace the best feedback and grading practices demonstrated in several of our schools. That means that beginning next year, gradebook entries will provide families with better information about their students’ performance. Instead of reporting on quiz number one or project number two, we’ll be providing more feedback on how students are doing on specific course objectives, and what they can do to move toward greater mastery. It will mean more opportunities for students to show what they’ve learned, and to improve. We’ll be rolling out much more on this in the weeks ahead, but it’s one of many examples that demonstrates how we have met the expectations of Indicator 3.7, and used our Advisory Councils to plant seeds of improvement.

Slide 4 – Moving to indicator 5.4, We were one percentage point short of achieving an overall satisfaction rate goal of 85% in how Divisionwide administrators evaluate the executive administration.

Slide 5 – Our last Divisionwide survey said 84% of all our administrators reported satisfaction with executive administration. That’s up one point from the previous year. I’m also encouraged that the rating given by school-based administrators was 87%. We will continue to work toward improvement. 

Slide 6 – There’s one other objective we need to discuss tonight. The Board charged me with making sure the teacher turnover rate stays below 12 percent. 

Slide 7 – For the latest year, teacher turnover was 8.8 percent. It means that, thanks to strong mentoring and support, we are retaining more than 91 percent of the people who are most important to the education of our students. (End slides).

Moving on to other announcements:

  • I have news of big robotics wins for Battlefield High School at the Chesapeake District FIRST Championship. It’s ILITE Team 1885 brought home the Chesapeake District FIRST Championship. The team won the Chairman’s Award—the tournament’s most prestigious award; and was the highest-ranking team in the Chesapeake District. The Battlefield team earned a spot at the World Championship games in Detroit next week. Congratulations and good luck to team members, sponsors, and coaches, led by Dr. Gail Drake.
  • Our School Division is producing finance whiz kids. Students from Freedom, Patriot, and Woodbridge High Schools qualified in all three divisions of the championship rounds of the Governor’s Challenge in Economics and Personal Finance. Out of 2,300 students, they are among just 140 who qualified for the finals in Richmond on April 20. 
  • Congratulations to Freedom High School’s Forensics Team, which fared well at the State Forensics Championship. Alexa Zaldivar placed second in original Oratory and Genesis Villanueva placed third in Poetry Interpretation. The Freedom Forensics team tied for ninth place in the state. Freedom was the only school in the Division to qualify for the State Tournament. 
  • Benton Middle School language arts teacher, Mr. Mark Shiring, was named Advisor of the Year at the Virginia Student Councils Association conference, recognizing his decades of advocacy and leadership. Benton’s Student Council also brought home the Achievement Award for the sixth consecutive year. Congratulations to Mr. Shiring and to the young leaders at Benton Middle School.
  • I recently had the privilege of attending Career Day at Saunders Middle School and joining School of Excellence celebrations for Coles, Buckland Mills, Pattie, and Piney Branch Elementary Schools. All the events were very impressive, and the honors were well-deserved.
  • I encourage everyone to come out to Colgan High School on Saturday, April 28 to the School Division’s Fine Arts Festival. More than 10,000 works created by our talented students in all grades across the county will be on display.  Visit the auditorium throughout the day to watch performances by drama, choral, orchestra, and percussion ensembles.
  • Congratulations and thanks to the more than 244 employees who are retiring this year. I look forward to personally honoring them at the reception and ceremony next Tuesday at Colgan High School. We would not be where we are as a School Division without your dedication and expertise. I wish all our retirees the best as they move toward a great new chapter in their lives.
  • And finally, Congratulations to Vice Chairman Lillie Jessie. She was just honored by the Prince William County Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Ms. Jessie is the recipient of their “Courageous Generation Women’s Leadership Award” for Promoting and Enhancing the Quality of Life Through Political and Non-Political Processes. 

Volume 13, Number 15 – Publication date: April 20, 2018