February 19, 2020
Posted on 02/21/2020
Board Briefs Banner Icon

School Board Meeting of February 19, 2020

View the agenda on the Electronic School Board webpage.
Watch the School Board meeting on PWCS-TV.

Positively PWCS:

Each School Board meeting begins with presentations about the good things that our schools are accomplishing. These presentations are intended to focus on how we are preparing our students academically and socially for success in college and careers.

  • The Fred Lynn Middle School Step team performed. The step team is organized and executed by the Omega U Program with the support of Principal Hamish Brewer, administration, teachers, and staff. This is the first year for the co-ed step team at Fred Lynn. The team is coached Rae Belle, Shannon Davis, Ahmad Andrews, and Michael Frazier. 
  • Kevin Smith, principal, Brian Coleman, assistant principal, Ted Rosiak, teacher, and Faiza Benyoussef, teacher, and students from the Potomac Middle School Urban Agricultural Club presented what they are accomplishing and learning through their aquaponics program.

The School Board Approved:

Citizens addressed the School Board on the following topics:

  • The proposed Fiscal Year 2021 CIP/ Budget;
  • Assignment of administrative oversight of the clerk and deputy clerk to a Board designee;
  • Revision of Policy 681, "Nontraditional Education Programs," Policy 743, "Student Discipline," Policy 744, "Short-Term Suspension of Students," Policy 745, "Long-Term Suspension or Expulsion of Students," and Policy 747, "Office of Student Management and Alternative Programs";
  • Board poll concerns;
  • Resources for economically disadvantages students at Stonewall Jackson High School;
  • Evaluative relationship concerns expressed by employees;
  • Woodbridge High School concerns;
  • Racial inequity and leadership concerns;
  • Grading standards for elementary school;
  • Definition of poverty and costs for childcare; and
  •  Threat assessment procedures.

Student Matters:

  • Later start times possibly being implemented by the 2022-2023 school year;
  • Updates on the Student Senate committee goals;
  • Prom for special education students;
  • Educating eighth graders about specialty programs available in high schools;
  • Information being collected about student mental health; and
  • Mental health days.

Staff Presentation Topics:

Superintendent's Time:

  • Keith Imon, Deputy Superintendent, Denise Huebner, associate superintendent for special education and student services, and Rebekah Schlatter, director of student services, recently represented our School Division at the National School Boards Association Equity Symposium held in Washington DC. Their attendance is a small part of the work we are doing Division-wide on equity. This year the Superintendent’s Advisory Council on Equity began meeting and I look forward to hearing more about their recommendations.
  • The Virginia Department of Education recently released data on state performance on Advanced Placement exams in 2019. Prince William County Public Schools had a higher percentage of graduates earning qualifying scores on one or more advanced exams than the nation, Virginia, and even Massachusetts.
  • Congratulations to Jerome Hruska, technology educator from Stonewall Jackson High School, and Jenna Conner-Harris, gifted education teacher from Lake Ridge Middle School, who have been named Teachers of the Year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7916 located in Occoquan. They were recognized earlier this month for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism, flag etiquette, and instill patriotism in their students.
  • Kudos to Annabelle Kier, seventh grader at Ronald Wilson Reagan Middle School, whose article “The Life and Times of a Sixth-Grade Student” was the cover story for the February 2020 Association for Middle Level Education magazine. The article echoes Annabelle’s encouraging words to fifth-grade students who attended the Ronald Reagan Middle School orientation session over the summer.
  • February is the American Heart Association Heart Month. Cameron Barb, a kindergarten student at Kyle Wilson Elementary School, was born with a congenital heart defect. In recognition of February’s Heart Health Month, he shared his story with fellow students in Ms. Sumter’s class. Cameron’s mother, Jessica Barb, twin sister Stella, and older sister Kennadie, helped with the presentation to his class. Cameron’s mom hopes that sharing Cameron’s story will help students understand the importance of fundraising for charities such as the American Heart Association. In the past three years, Kyle Wilson Elementary has raised over $20,000 for the AHA through their Jump Rope for Heart donation drive. The AHA provides doctors with knowledge and resources to help children like Cameron.
  • PWCS will hold a Parent Summit for parents of high school and eighth grade students at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 14, at Potomac High School.
    Sessions will focus on transitioning to high school and college, getting the most out of high school, as well as college planning, financial aid, workforce opportunities, trade and technical programs, and much more. Parents can choose from more than 25 different sessions. Go to www.pwcs.edu for more information.
  • Governor Northam announced that Prince William County Public Schools has been awarded a $125,000 grant to advance computer science education in our schools. The School Division plans to use the grant funding to increase the awareness of the importance of computer science knowledge and skills in a wide variety of careers; provide high-quality professional development opportunities for teachers; and increase the number and variety of courses offered to PWCS students. PWCS is one of only seven school divisions in Virginia awarded this grant.
  • The County Executive recently presented his proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the Board of County Supervisors. His presentation showed a budget that was $15.3 million less than the budget proposal I provided to the School Board during our last meeting. It is important to understand the scale of this potential gap and the reductions that would be necessary if this gap remains when finalized.
  • For example, if this amount was unchanged, it would be approximately equivalent to the Cost of Living Increase proposed for staff. Or it would require multiple reductions, such as Economic Disadvantaged Funding plus removing additional Pre-K classrooms, combined with cuts to Digital Equity, Special Education Teaching Assistants, and new social workers.
  • However, I am optimistic and pleased by the actions of the Board of County Supervisors who voted to advertise a tax rate that, if realized, would nearly fully fund our schools. I am also pleased to see the potential for additional support from the General Assembly. I believe that our community will continue to advocate for the needs of our children, as our teachers and students deserve a World-class education, and World-class funding. We will provide the School Board a detailed update on the financial picture at next week’s work session.

Policies:

First Readings- No action is required on first readings.