School Board Report – March 13, 2013

School Board Report for March 13, 2013.  This was the meeting that was rescheduled from March 6, 2013 due to school closures for snow.

The meeting began a 7:25 with all members present.

Consent Agenda

All items on the consent agenda were approved unanimously.  The items on the agenda include the following:

  1. Adoption of the Consent Agenda
  2. Healthy Communities for Healthy Youth Week
  3. Library School Media Month
  4. School Food and Nutrition Services Employee Recognition Week
  5. Special Warrant for School Board Review and Approval of January 2013 Payroll
  6. Documents Necessary or Convenient for the Construction and/or Operation of the Haymarket Drive Elementary School
  7. Acceptance of the Endorsement Mechanism from Prince William County (PWC) for School Board Payments
  8. Approval of School Board Meeting Minutes for February 20, 2013
  9. Approval of Disciplinary Hearing Minutes from February 27, 2013

Citizen Comments

17 Citizens addressed the board. As is school board practice, speakers who signed up in advance spoke first followed by speakers who signed up at the door.  Ten speakers were allowed to address the board during citizen comments.  The rest were allowed to speak after the regular meeting had concluded.

The first speaker is a parent of students in PWCS and a PWCS English teacher.  She cited her son’s experience with the 11th grade research paper and stated that requiring students to independently write a research paper for graduation was archaic and an unreliable measure of whether students were ready to graduate.

The second speaker supports the pool in the 12th high school.  She said that swimming prepares people for a lifetime of fitness and good health.

The third speaker is a student at OP who supports the pool in the 12th high school.  He’s is a swimmer on the OP team, said swimming has taught him about life, and that additional swim lanes are badly needed in the county.

The forth speaker believes we need additional swim lanes in the county, but questioned the wisdom of forcing the school system to pay for an indoor pool when that’s the parks responsibility.  She asked how the school division could justify the expense when the school’s budget has been cut to the bone, students are going without needed services, and teachers are forced to buy supplies for their own classrooms or beg for them from from their students’ parents.

The fifth speaker supports the pool in the 12th high school.  He said that education does not stop at the dismissal bell.  He provided a petition signed by over 600 people in support of the pool and stated that the bloggers against the pool are in the minority.

The sixth speaker is a PWCS teacher.  She asked how the budget can be cut to the bone, but we can afford to put a $10.5 million pool in a school.  She asked how we can afford to build such expensive schools, like Patriot , when our students are crammed into classrooms.  She said that teachers help students learn – not buildings.

The seventh speaker is a PWCS teacher, parent, and a swim team Mom.  She said her desire for more lanes in the county won’t override her desire for her children and all children of PWC to receive a good education.  She said the business of the school system is education and that the BOCS should foot the bill for the school pool.  She said that classes in the county are too large and cited studies on small class sizes from Stanford University.  She said that in Finland there are 19 -21 students per teacher overall, and 16 students to every teacher in Science.  In PWCS, we’ve got 35 – 40 students to one teacher in middle school and high school.    She said the school division needs to commit to smaller classes.

The eighth speaker is the Director of Student Activities at Patriot High School.  He expressed concern about 8th graders playing on high school JV teams with 10th and 11th graders because of the size difference.

The ninth speaker is a PWCS teacher.  She said we need to reduce class sizes.  She said budgets at the school level are so tight that supplies are inadequate and programs are having to be curtailed or eliminated.  She asked how we can claim that providing transportation to New Directions is too expensive but accept paying for a $10.5 million pool.

The tenth speaker is the Director of Student Activities at Potomac High School.  He expressed concern about 8th graders playing on high school teams from a legal perspective.  He said the law is that schools must provide reasonable care and caution with student athletes.  He said that younger kids need a greater level of care, that putting an 8th grader against a 10th or 11th grader might not be considered providing reasonable care.  He said coaches will have to adjust their practice schedules for 8th graders because practice is where techniques regarding safety are conveyed and 8th graders might miss that instruction.

The eleventh speaker supports the pool in the 12th high school.  He said the pool could be a revenue generator.  He said the pool should be open to the entire county, not just high school swim teams.  He said lanes cost about 4 times as much in this area versus the rest of Virginia.  He said there are many people who can’t or don’t swim because of the prohibitive cost of lanes.  He said the pool will create jobs for high school and college students.

The twelfth speaker supports the pool in the 12th high school.  He said that swimming is a valuable sport that encourages a healthy lifestyle.  He said that spectators pack venues for meets, that swimming is open to everyone of all shapes and sizes and ability levels, and that no one has been cut from a swim team.  He said swimmers are less likely to be burdens on society because they are healthy.

The thirteenth speaker is the President of PWEA.  He reminded the board that the NEA created Read Across America 15 years ago .  He said that ate per pupil spending has declined 20% since 2009 but that county allocations to the school system have been inadequate to fill the gap.  He said that funding the schools needs to be a priority for the county and all of our residents.

The fourteenth speaker supports the pool in the 12th high school.  She said that swimmers are good students and don’t get into trouble.  She said we wouldn’t build a school without a football field and asked why we’d build a school without a pool.

The fifteenth speaker is a PWCS teacher who supports the pool in the 12th high school.  She said year round swim teams are overcrowded with wait lists because lanes are inadequate.

The sixteenth speaker supports the pool in the school.  She said that swimming is good for health and ought to be part of our high school PE curriculum.  She said pool would generate revenue for the school system.

Regular Meeting

Eighth Grade Participation in VHSL JV-Freshman Sports

A revision to the regulation governing student participation in sports that would allow 8th graders to participate in in VHSL Freshman and JV level sports was read.  This was an information only item so no vote was taken.

Superintendent’s Time

Superintendent Walts noted that the VA DOE has highlighted PWCS’s receipt of an award from the College Board for the improvement in our students’ overall AP scores and the increase in the number of students taking AP courses.

He said that Piney Branch Elementary and T Clay Wood Elementary had received Silver LEED certification.

He also reported that PWCS still has 3 days available for closings before the calendar will have to be adjusted.

Board Comments

Mr Keen.

Mr Keen noted that the proposed pool is not part of the CIP and that the school board will have to vote to add it, not to remove it.

Ms Satterwhite

Mrs Satterwhite kept her comments brief in deference to the budget work session that was to follow.  She congratulated schools for achieving SOE.

Ms Bell

Ms Bell congratulated a number of schools on making SOE.  She reminded citizens of the upcoming job fairs with the parks. She asked the school division for the following items:

  • She asked for a list of additional funds received since June 2012.  She noted that in June 2012 the board had signed a declaration committing to providing any and all additional funds received towards reducing class sizes.  She asked for a list of the additional funds received and how they were spent.
  • She asked for a timeline regarding the 12th high school, from the moment it was conceived up to today.  She said that transparency in school construction is needed.  She said that any changes from the standard design, like adding pools, should be brought to the attention of the board for consideration.  She said they haven’t seen anything about the 12th high school yet.
  • She noted that she became concerned about the environment where we’ll be placing the 12th high school after watching the BOCS meeting and learning that the fields near the dump at Independent Hill have been closed due to health concerns from the bird droppings and bones from animals birds have eaten {editor’s note: the 12th high school will be built near the dump at Independent Hill close to where the closed fields are located}.

Mr Johns told Ms Bell that this issue would have to be brought up in closed session.

Dr Otaigbe

Dr Otaigbe mentioned Roboticon, congratulated the PWCS teams that will be advancing to the national finals in Anaheim CA, and commented on Read Across America.

Ms Covington

Ms Covington congratulated Pattie, Fitzgerald, Williams, and Forest Park for achieving SOE.

Mr Trenum

Mr Trenum congratulated Marsteller for achieving SOE.

Ms Jessie

Ms Jessie said she promised she’d commit herself as a board member to stand up for student learning. She said “Smart is not what you are, it’s what you become”.  She mentioned the success New Directions has had and congratulated the faculty and staff at New Directions for doing such a good job.

Chairman Johns

Mr Johns said that the pool had been brought to the school board’s attention in the Fall meeting on the CIP. He said the pool will be a bid alternative to the contract, so the school board will have a couple of hits at the apple on that.  He said he doesn’t think the school board has ever voted on individual elements in schools before and noted that it took 2 votes for Patriot to pass.

Mr Johns stated that he supports the pool.  He said the school division won’t write a check for $10.5 million but will have to pay off the $10.5 million over 20 years, which, per his math, is about $500,000 a year.  He said he doesn’t yet know what the operating costs will be but that $500,000 a year out of a nearly $1 billion budget was small.  He said he believes annual operating costs are likely to be covered by usage fees from the public, that while swim teams are the obvious beneficiaries of the pool,  the high school will be able to hold swim lessons as part of PE and that SPED programs could provide hydro-therapy to disabled students in the pool.

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3 Responses to “School Board Report – March 13, 2013”

  1. The Derecho Says:

    1. “Mr Johns told Ms Bell that this issue would have to be brought up in closed session.” – I would question the legitimacy of having that discussion in closed session and would love to hear the statutory authority for such a closed session discussion.

    2. “He said the pool will be a bid alternative to the contract” – If that is the case then why has the school system already absorbed sunken costs like engineering and design costs? Sorry Milt, we’re a little smarter than that.

    2. “He said the school division won’t write a check for $10.5 million but will have to pay off the $10.5 million over 20 years, which, per his math, is about $500,000 a year.” – If it were a straight calculation it would be $525,000 a year but I guess in Milton-ville they round down to the nearest hundred thousand and interest doesn’t exist. Does he really expect anyone to buy that logic or did we actually elect a moron of that caliber?

  2. pwceducationreform Says:

    Good questions, Derecho!

    • The Derecho Says:

      Typical Milt, only tells people half the story and even that half is incomplete. It is reasonable to assume that the actual debt service over twenty years would be roughly $600,000 under prevailing conditions so Milt was only off by $100,000. What he has failed to include are the administrative and maintenance costs that are unlikely to be recovered through usage fees, particularly as a lot of the usable hours will be consumed either by school-based swim teams or occur during instructional hours when one would presume the pool won’t be open to the public. If you look at Arlington’s budget for pool operations and adjust for one PWC school pool that will still require a full administrative layer, a conservative estimate on admin and maintenance costs is at least $600-$700,000. Funny how Milt left that out of his calculations. In truth that single pool will likely chew up somewhere north of $1 million annually. In the grand scheme of the school budget it amounts to a spit in the bucket but it is practically the equivalent to the “loss” in funding created by the current tax rate. A “loss” amount that both Milt and Walts are howling about. So I guess the impact of $1-$1.3 million is a matter of convenience for Milt and Dr. Walts.


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