Prince William County Public Schools

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  • February 21, 2018

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    School Board Meeting February 21, 2018

    Select this link to view the agenda on the Electronic School Board webpage.
    Select this link to watch the School Board meeting on PWCS-TV

    The School Board Approved:

    • March as Irish-American Heritage Month, Music in our Schools Month, National Athletic Training Month; National Bike to School Day; Purchasing Month; National Social Work Month, Theatre in our Schools Month, and Youth Art Month;
    • March 4-10 as National Foreign Language Week;
    • March 25 as Greek Independence Day;
    • April 23-27 as National Playground Safety Week;
    • April 23-29 as National Environmental Education Week;
    • The amendment of the 2018 Legislative Priorities to include support of the concept of legislation implementing school bus arm camera ticketing program;
    • The Career and Technical Education mathematics textbook adoption timeline and evaluation criteria as proposed;
    • The interagency agreement between PWCS and the Judge Patrick D. Molinari Juvenile Shelter to establish collaboration and coordination of interagency efforts that will help eligible students housed in the Molinari Juvenile Shelter;
    • Payment from the School Board budget for a FOIA request by Chairman Sawyers;
    • Policy 405.02, "Vandalism," to incorporate the information from Policy 405.4, "Vandalism/Loss/Incident Report";
    • Policy 751, "Student Insurance Program";
    • Policy 771, "Child Abuse and Child Abuse Reporting Procedures";
    • Policy 794, "Resolution of Conflicts Between Parents Over School Issues";
    • Restoration of minutes from January 4, 2017, School Board meeting; and
    • School Board meeting minutes of February 7.

    Student Matters:

    Kate Arnold, Student Representative, stated that she hosted the first student town hall meeting at Battlefield High School. A summary of the discussions follows:

    • Students were glad that the budget for next year will include a step increase for teachers, the addition of a school psychologist, a mental health professional, and a social worker. Arnold felt that while information on certain topics is available, it may not be easily accessible for the students. She stated that one of her goals would be to make information more accessible to students.
    • While some students have access to Wi-Fi, there is a lack of Wi-Fi access in certain schools and students are often forced to use their own personal cell phone to participate in online class activities.
    • Students praised educators and staff that were involved in their lives and felt that PWCS had the best teachers in the world. While some students felt their administrators took an active role in their school community, others felt they hardly knew them. Students felt that by allowing the student to follow administrators on social media, principals could show students what role they are taking-on in the school and maybe get to know them better. Students want to hear from their principal and the administration.
    • Arnold felt that the most impactful conversation was mental health. She stated that every student in this county, regardless of GPA, deserves all the help they can be given to learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stressors such as work, family, and friends. Arnold said that countless students have reached out to her asking about disciplinary action if they were to participate in a walkout protest. Students discussed a possible facilitated walkout. This facilitated walkout could be in the last 10 minutes of the school day, to minimize disruption and still allow students to make their concerns known.

    Student Spotlight: Catherine Purnell, sophomore swimmer at Stonewall Jackson High School, is in the running to be an All-American in the 500-meter freestyle. She recently broke her own record in the 200-meter individual medley.

    Magin Sanchez, Alternate Student Representative, spoke about students' concerns of safety in the classrooms because of the recent event in Florida. Sanchez also thanked the School Board for all they do for the students.

    Citizens' Comment Time:

    Citizens addressed the School Board on the following topics:

    • March as Music in our Schools Month;
    • History of Prince William County Public Schools;
    • Critical needs assessment for the proposed budget;
    • The tax rate and the BOCS;
    • Salaries and pay increases;
    • Facility improvements at Woodbridge High School;
    • Reagan Middle School administration;
    • A facilitated walkout for students; and
    • A secure school entrance for students.

    Staff Presentation Topics:

    • A PowerPoint on Assessment and Testing was presented by staff from the Department for Student Learning and Accountability.
    • A presentation on the financial audit of the School Division's FY 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    Superintendent's Time:
    Dr. Steven L. Walts, Superintendent of Schools, made the following comments:

    • I could not start my remarks without mentioning last week's tragedy in Florida. The loss of 17 lives at a school is almost beyond comprehension. And it is everyone's worst nightmare.
    • Last week we expressed our sympathies through the website, and reminded you that we work constantly to assure safety. We didn't say more because--at that moment--nothing we could say short of announcing that we were making our schools into fortresses, would seem adequate.
    • Now that's there's been some time to reflect, I wrote each of you today to remind you that safety is really is our top priority.
    • I spoke with the Prince William County police chief just this morning, and he remains committed to working with us every step of the way. That relationship with law enforcement is just one element of our security efforts.
    • We provide student and staff training for dealing with even worst-case scenarios. And we continue to upgrade our school buildings with new features designed to offer the greatest possible protection for our students and staff. Some of those upgrades are in my current budget proposal, and come from the recommendations of the Safe Schools Advisory Council.
    • As I mentioned in my letter, I don't think it's wise to talk publicly about details of security measures at specific schools. That's because it could provide information to someone who doesn't have our best interests at heart.
    • But the people who do take those interests seriously are at the heart of our safety efforts. We look to students, and staff, and community members to be our eyes and ears. It might sound like a cliché, but we take, "if you see something, say something," very seriously.
    • Any possible threats will be investigated. If there's legitimate reason for actions, precautions, or even to share information, we will let you know.
    • Maybe something positive can come out of last week's tragedy if it continues to focus attention on school safety nationwide.
    • For now, rest assured that Prince William County Public Schools' students, staff, and community members are working together to ensure safety in our schools. That's what lets me talk about the positive stories I'm going to share.

    Dr. Walts congratulated the following staff, students, and schools:

    • Woodbridge Middle School is one of 26 schools nationally that has been re-designated as a 2017 Breakthrough School by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. The school received this continued recognition after sustaining its student achievement rates since originally being recognized in 2011.
    • Two Brentsville District High School student artists are winners in the high school division of the Virginia Youth Art Month flag contest. Colette Vaughan took first in the state, and Emma Downes was third.
    • Gail Charnick, instructional technology coach at Swans Creek Elementary School, earned the innovative educator award from Tech-4-Learning. She was recognized for using Wixie, a cloud-based Tech-4-Learning tool to increase student engagement and build literacy and critical thinking skills.
    • Brad Qualls, director of student activities at Patriot High School, has been named 5-A/6-A Athletic Administrator of the Year by the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
    • Kelly Gardner, PWCS supervisor of student activities, has earned credentials as a Certified Athletic Administrator from the Virginia Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
    • Nicole Clarke, third grade teacher at Old Bridge Elementary, has been named the William C. Lowry Mathematics Educator of the Year for the elementary school level by the Virginia Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
    • Several school teams concluded an exceptional season of CyberPatriot, the Air Force Association's National Youth Cyber Defense competition.
    • Two Battlefield High School teams advanced to the national semifinals at the platinum level, representing the highest-scoring teams. Three Benton Middle School teams progressed to the national semifinals. At the gold tier level, two teams from Forest Park High School qualified for the semifinals; team one earned second place and team two placed eighth in the state. The Forest Park JROTC team earned a first-place gold tier award and advanced to the semifinals. A JROTC team from Osbourn Park took second place in the Interservice State Round for Virginia in the platinum category.
    • And speaking of great achievements, Fatima Dyfan, 2017 graduate of Woodbridge High School, did so well on the AP Research Exam in May 2017 that her performance falls into a select category. Fatima not only received the top score of 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam, but was one of 176 students in the world to earn every point possible on the exam, receiving the maximum score on each portion. In congratulating Fatima, Mr. Trevor Packer, Senior Vice President of the College Board, said, and I quote: "This outstanding accomplishment is likely a direct reflection of the top-quality education being offered at Woodbridge Senior High School. We applaud Fatima's hard work, and the AP teacher responsible for engaging students and enabling them to excel in a college-level course." End quote.
    • Forty works of art by students representing 24 schools are on exhibit through March 10 in the Buchanan Partners Gallery at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. The exhibit is free and open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Our annual food show will be held on March 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Colgan High School. Please help us select lunch and breakfast items for next year. You can reserve your seat by calling 703-791-7314.
    • The School of Excellence presentations are currently underway at our schools.
    • Finally, Zuill Bailey, a 1990 graduate of Woodbridge High School, Peabody Conservatory, and Juilliard, is widely considered one of the premiere cellists in the world. This Grammy winner took his cello and other performers on a winter tour to out-of-the-way places. Zuill gave a concert in Alaska in a little village of 200 people, where the reindeer outnumber the people, and was featured on KTVA Alaska. This is a wonderful, uplifting story.

    Volume 13, Number 11 - Publication date: February 23, 2018