Dr. McDade

Dear PWCS Families, Employees, and Community,

Happy Friday and happy St. Patrick's Day to those who celebrate!

We are excited about the progress in construction of our newest elementary school. The next step toward opening is the School Board’s selection of an official name. I invite you to join us for one of two virtual community input sessions on the naming of “Rosemount Lewis” Elementary School held from 7-9 p.m. next Wednesday, March 22, and the following week, March 29. If you are unable to attend one of our sessions, please submit your name suggestion in writing by completing the name suggestion form by 12 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2.

Another important topic we are seeking your feedback on is the prospect of utilizing the preventative security screeners demonstrated at our recent Safety and Security Briefings. Please submit your comments or questions on our official form by March 31. More information about security scanners may be found on our website. The division will review the feedback and present the findings and recommendations to the School Board in April.

Further related to the safety of our students, in partnership with PWC Community Services, the Student Health and Wellness Department is hosting a REVIVE! training session for parents and families on Thursday, March 23, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Kelly Leadership Center. Participants will learn how to recognize and respond to opioid overdose emergencies with Naloxone. All participants are eligible to receive free Narcan nasal spray upon training completion. Please complete the registration form to attend.

On Wednesday evening, the School Board approved the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget aligned to the PWCS Vision 2025 Launching Thriving Futures Strategic Plan. The School Board will present the budget to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors on April 4, with final approval on April 25. Our students and staff are our core business, and the budget dedicates about 80% of expenditures to supporting the instructional core: students, staff, and curriculum. PWCS employees will earn an average 5% pay increase. We are very thankful to the support of the community for our students and teachers, and over the past five years, our average teacher salary increase will total 27.3% [compounding effect].

Also on Wednesday evening, the PWCS Research, Accountability and Strategic Planning Department presented an update on Quarter 2 data, which included an overview of the updates to the accreditation ratings process by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Virginia public schools receive a rating each year based on their performance on multiple school quality indicators, which include both academic proficiency and growth, closing achievement gaps among student groups, and student attendance. The VDOE has also directly tied this year's attendance rates, excused or unexcused, with school accreditation ratings. Previous rating standards maintained an average rating over three years, rather than just the current year.

In the area of attendance, the VDOE has defined chronic absenteeism as missing 10% or more of the academic year for any reason, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and suspensions. Based on a 180-day school year, that means approximately 18 days per year or two to three days per month.

When a student accumulates multiple days of absences, excused or unexcused, parents and guardians can expect to see increased communication from school staff. This increased communication is designed to build a partnership with families to ensure every student has the support necessary for regular attendance.

An engaging school climate and positive relationships with students and families help encourage school attendance. We can, and we must, do better together as a community to ensure our students are attending school. Students who are in class every day are best positioned for academic success.

Thank you for partnering with PWCS in our mission of Launching Thriving Futures.

Dr. McDade signature
LaTanya D. McDade, Ed.D.
Prince William County Public Schools