School Board Report – May 7, 2014

The meeting began at 7 PM with all members present.

One item was added to the agenda – recognizing the anniversary of Brown versus Board of Education.  Several items were emoted from the Consent Agenda to the Regular Agenda.

Consent Agenda

  1. The Consent Agenda consisted of  the following items and was approved unanimously:
  2.  Designating June, 2014 as “National Caribbean American Heritage Month”
  3. Recognize May 15 – June 15, 2014 as “National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month”
  4. Adopting of the local plan for Career and Technical Education (CTE Perkins Fund) as required by the Va. Dept of Ed.
  5. Authorizing the superintendent to execute documents necessary to begin constructing additions at Featherstone Elementary and Rippon Middle School
  6. Increasing the budget for the Regional Special Ed School by $1,478,315 to expand the program
  7. Approving payroll for March 2014
  8. Approving minutes form the last school board meeting

Comments from Chairman Johns before Citizen Comments

Chairman Johns noted that the administration had revised their recommendation for the boundaries for the 12th high school.  The new plan does not move the neighrbohoods west of 29 along 15 to Brentsville from Battlefield and moves several other communities to the 12th high school.  The new plan can be found here.

Citizen Comments

A number of people signed up to speak; so many that only those who’d signed up in advance were allowed to speak during citizen comment time.  The rest were allowed to address the board after the meeting ended.

One student addressed the board about the Governor’s school.

One gentleman introduced himself to the board and stated that he and his partners are interested in purchasing the Nokesville School and turning it into a private school.

The other speakers addressed the board about the boundary plan for the 12th high school.

Regular Agenda

12th high school boundary plan (presented for information only)

Staff presented the plan for the boundaries for the 12th high school (see revised plan here).

Questions from Board members:

Mr Trenum

  • What are your recommendations for students enrollment in CTE or specialty programs in 9th – 11th grade who would not be grandfathered into their old school?
    • Answer – Cartlidge – we have looked at the specialty programs at the 12th high school and have incorporated those into our recommendation.
  • OK, but what about kids already in programs?
    • Answer – Cartlidge – yes.
  • Yes to which?
    • Answer – Mulgrew.  It has been a tradition that students can remain in the specialty programs they are in, provided they meet the academic requirements.  Transportations, however, may not be provided.
  • I’d like to suggest that the decision on this be pushed back a week so that more comments can be received and the plan fine tuned to meet those concerns.  I think the inadvertent publication of the report ahead of schedule may be creating a lack of trust and providing more time might help restore that trust.

Chairman Johns

  • Any position on moving the vote back to June 4?
    • Answer – Waltz – I think the plan is pretty well out there.
    • Answer – Cline – I don’t think there are nay technical reasons that it could not be delayed.  I think the plan is out there, you have 2 weeks before the next meeting, but that’s a decision for the board.
    • Answer – Beavers – we have prepared today to advertise for the public hearing, so we may have an advertisement going out that isn’t tied to reality if we change these dates.
  • Does the advert state the time for the public hearing?  Could we have the public hearing on the 21st and the vote on the 4th?
    • Answer – Beavers – the requirements is that the public hearing must be advertised at least 10 days prior to the vote.
  • So we could have the hearing on the 21st and the vote on the 4th.
    • Answer – Waltz – does the advert also indicate when eh vote will be held?
    • Answer – Mulgrew – no it does not.
  • Let’s get back to this a bit later on.

Dr Otaigbe

  • I know there was talk about the demographic balance at the school.  Can you comment on that?
    • Answer – Cartlidge – thank you.  The question was raised at the meeting.  In terms of the demographics for high schools division wide – LEP lis 8.3%.  ED is 30.9% Minorities is 64.1%.  The revised boundaries make the demographics at the school more representative of the county as a whole.

Mrs Covington

  • We have a significant number of students at FPHS who have transferred from Potomac for the IT program.  We will be adding an IT program at Potomac, which will hopefully lessen the enrollment at FPHS.  Is that correct?
    • Answer – Mulgrew – Yes.
  • So we could look at a reduction at FPHS?
    • Answer – Mulgrew – Yes.  The other students would be a decision we’d have to make.

Mrs Bell

  • I’d like to echo Mr Trenum’s idea of pushing it back.  I still have questions about the demographics and the process.
  • I have gotten significant emails from Ridgewood estates and Queen Chapel.  They have issues with going to OP.  If you could consider moving them to a closer school than OP that would be good.
  • There’s been a lot of talk about progression, but progression isn’t part of our policy.  I look at Beville, and it goes to 3 different high schools.  Many of these students will pass several schools to get to their school, just like the schools in the western end.  I have concerns with that.  I will chat with you about this later.

Mrs. Jessie

  • I want to compliment the staff on the professional manner in which this was done.  I want to compliment yo to being receptive to changes that parents requested.  You were very responsive and visible.
  • One group that does what change is River Falls.  They were happy with those changes.  There was a Laurel Hills – do you recall that gentleman.  Have you worked that out?
    • Answer – Cartlidge – we are working on that.
  • There was a question abut transfers and whether the overcrowding was the result of transfers.  Is it different at the high school?
    • Answer – Mulgrew – it’s a little more involved.  When we built some of the speciality programs they were enlarger than the in house population need to fill the program.  We’re not sure if the base school’s population is large enough to fill the programs.  We look at it every year.  The high school Principals will be deciding when to shut down.
  • I could see a parent being concerned if their child was moved because of transfers.  I have heard questions about the demographics in relation to Benton.  Does the 12th reflect Benton?
    • Answer – the 12th high school does reflect Benton’s demographics.  We’re trying to balance OP’s enrollment and provide enhanced progression from middle school to high school.  Progression isn’t a required item, but it’s a perk.

Mrs. Satterwhite

  • Thank you for being so responsive to the Battlefield community.  Thank you to parents for communicating.

Mrs Williams

  • Thank you for doing your job so well and being so prompt in responding.

Mrs Covington

  • I want to comment about the speakers who indicated that they live so close that they can walk to a school and see the lights for it, we should be looking at keeping them at that school.  It makes no sense to bus them away.  Mr Cline – you said it was 2000 studnts
    • Answer – Cline – when the school is filled 2000 students will be there.
  • We know that out of 2000 people, someone will be unhappy.  I feel strongly about neighborhoods close to the school, that we should try to keep them together.
    • Answer – Cartlidge – in terms of distance, some people were happy to move from FPHS to the 12th and some were unhappy.  We’re trying to balance distance and neighborhoods and numbers.

Dr Otaigbe

  • I want to join Mrs Covington to highlight what is happening at Potomac.  Is it correct that we are brining IT to Potomac?  Which means what we have at FPHS we will have at Potomac?

Chairman Johns – I am going to ask you to be brief in your response because it’s not related to the agenda item.  We can add an agenda item if needed to discuss it further.

    • Answer – Mulgrew – we are working on that and investigate that further.  It hasn’t been finalized, we’re trying to do what we can.

Dr Otiagbe

  • With all due respect, we are talking about boundaries here and there are some parents who are trying to transfer away from Potomac.  Knowing that IT will be coming to Potomac, may convince them to stay.

Ms Bell

  • I have concerns with overcrowding at Patrtiot.  This reduces them by 104.  I still have concerns there.  When I look at the overall process, it’s too late to do it for this school.  Maybe in the future we need to look at doing the entire county as a whole and looking at feeder patterns countywide instead of scattering kids everywhere.
    • Answer – Cartlidge – we’re trying to embrace that and are aware of it.   There is a desire for it from parents.  Rapid growth makes it difficult.  If that’s something the division is passionate about we will work with you on it.
    • Answer – Cline – there is a consensus that feeder patterns are desirable, but as we build new schools we change the boundaries and patterns.  Until you get out of sustained and rapid growth, feeder patterns will not align.

Chairman Johns

  • From an agenda standpoint, we will proceed with the public hearing on the 21st and push the vote back to June 4.  I don’t know that there will be any changes between now and then, but that will provide 2 additional weeks for public input.  So I think what we’ll do is I’ll move the vote from the 21st to the 4th of June and leave the hearing on the 21st.

Revision to the Code of Behavior (information only)

See attached

3rd Quarter Budget Review

See attached

State Budget Resolution

Several weeks ago the school board approved a resolution that was sent to the General Assembly asking them to pass a budget and requesting that if decoupling expanding medicaid from the budget was necessary to do that, then they should decouple.  Mrs Williams asked that the resolution be rescinded because of feedback and concerns she’s received from her constituents.

She made a motion asking that the prior resolution be rescinded.  That motion was seconded by Mrs Jessie.

Chairman Johns ruled that the motion was out of order because it related to a resolution that had already been executed and sent (per Robert’s Rules of Order).  He said it was like un-ringing a bell that had already been rung.  He told Mrs Williams that she could ask the board to overrule him on his ruling, if she still wanted her motion on rescinding the resolution be considered.

Mrs Williams made a motion to overrule the Chairman’s ruling.  Her motion was seconded by Mrs Jessie.  Mrs Jessie commented that Mrs Williams should have been told she was out of order before the item was added to the agenda, rather than in public.  Chairman Johns said he felt it was more in the interests of the community to allow the item to be added so that his ruling could be overturned and the item discussed and voted on again, rather than him refusing to add the item to the agenda.

The Chairman was overruled and the discussion on rescinding the resolution asking the General Assembly to pass a budget even if that meant decoupling the medicaid expansion from the budget, be rescinded.  The vote on overruling the Chairman was 4 yes (Jessie, Williams, Bell, Otaigbe), 3 No (Johns, Trenum, Satterwhite), and 1 Abstain (Covington),

Editor’s note:  This issue is complicated and politically charged.  Rather than provide truncated notes and risk misquoting individuals, I encourage concernes citizens to watch that portion of the school board meeting or to contact their elected representative to determine his / her opinion on the issue.

The final vote on rescinding the resolution was 2 in favor (Jessie and Williams) 3 opposed (Johns, Trenum, and Satterwhite), 2 abstaining (Otaigbe and Covington) and 1 recusal / abstain (Bell – Ms Bell works for an organization that is funded by Medicaid and left she should recuse herself from the vote).   The resolution was not rescinded.

Increase the FY 2014 Operating Fund

See attached.

Editor’s note:  Rather than discuss what was said, I’ll reiterate when I said during the budget discussions.  For the past 4 years PWCS has consistently under-budgted Other local revenues by about $4 million.  Each year they increase the operating fund budget for these revenues, but have refused to budget revenues that bear any resemblance to actual revenues (see chart here). Student parking fees and antenna rental fees are two examples.  These revenues, whether encumbered or not, could free up unencumbered money to be used elsewhere. The school board needs to demand that PWCS adjust the other local revenue budget for reflect more realistic projections of actual receipts.  Until they do that, further commentary is a waste of time.

Proposed Rezoning for StoneHaven

See attached.

Vote to send the letter on the impact of Stone Haven was unanimous.  The board strongly supports the Stone Haven development because it includes proffered land for the 13th high school.  The developer was very responsive to community and school division concerns.

Editor’s Note:  The 13th high school is projected to open in the fall of 2019 to relieve overcrowding at Battlefield, Brentsville,  Patriot, and Stonewall.  It is already overcapacity – five years before it opens and before land for it has been acquired.  Additional development in the area will make it, and the other schools in the area, even more overcrowded then they are now. That’s not eh fault of Stone Haven’s developer but the result of years of inadequate proffers and uncontrolled growth. Expecting people who lin win the Battlefleid / Brentsville / Patriot/ Stonewall area to wait another 5 years for relief, when they’ve already been waiting more than 5 years, is an admission of failure. PWCS needs to consider building an addition to Battlefield, Patriot, Stonewall, or Brentsville ASAP in addition to building the 13th high school. That will not happen unless residents of the west end start screaming loud and clear about overcrowding.

Local Special Education Action Plan

See attached.

Mrs Bell asked that this items be removed from the Consent Agenda for further discussion.  Special Ed took at $900,000 cut because of cuts to title VIB.  These cuts severely affect eh plan for Special Ed in our county.

  • Mr Cline.  We were informed that because of sequestration,Title VI(b) would be cut and were not given any indication of where additional funds for it would come, so we reduced the expenditures for the program to reflect those reductions.  We have also received information that Titel VI(B) may be restored next year, but that amount is still insufficient to meet our communities needs.  Once we have a state budget we would like to re-open the budget regarding the one year drop and how we can fill these services and restore them for the one year drop.

Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of Brown V. Board of Education.

This item was added the agenda at the request of Mrs Williams.

Mrs Williams.  I asked that a resolution be drawn up commemorating the anniversary of Brown versus Board of Education and encourage all PWCS schools to observe the date through a ceremony or remembrance (see here).

Proffer Funds for Site Acquisition and Construction

See attached.

This item was pulled from the Consent Agenda.  It had appeared that there were additional proffer funds coming available.  They aren’t.  These funds were expected and will be used in accordance with the proffer agreements.



8 Responses to “School Board Report – May 7, 2014”

  1. Ed Says:

    I’ll have to write to the board again; my 5′ 0.5″ daughter gets mown down in the hallways as they are so overcrowded.

    • pwceducationreform Says:

      My son says he sees fights almost every day because the hallways are so crowded and someone bumps into someone else and one person or the other takes offense. Teenagers with raging hormones and crowded hallways do not mix well.

  2. Concerned Mom of Two Says:

    Hi – thanks for your blog and this invaluable information. Can you please tell us where Stone Haven will be located and proposed site for 13th high school? If we scream loud and clear for additions to be built ASAP at Patriot/Battlefield which have the worst overcrowding, in your opinion, how much will they cost and how many extra teachers need to be provided? I agree the current situation is unbearable and believe the large class sizes and overcrowding has a direct effect upon our kids learning, SAT/ACT scores, chances for college entry, etc. Thanks.

    • pwceducationreform Says:

      I don’t know how much the additions would cost in today’s dollars. The addition PWCS built onto Potomac, which was for the Potomac Shores development that just started delivering homes this month, cost $15.5 million and opened in 2013.

      Stone Haven will be located in the undeveloped land between Linton Hall Rd, Devlin Rd, Wellington, and Jiffy Lube Live (along the path that University will eventually take).

      • Concerned Mom of Two Says:

        Thanks. You’re right, time for parents to start demanding this.

        On the related topic of the SAT scores, did anyone else notice Jay Matthews’ Challenge Index in The Washington Post recently wherein he ranks high schools by the number of students who take AP courses? Patriot High School was the only Prince William Co. high school to appear in the Top 20 in the local DC area (#20). I’m not a fan of his index because I’m uncertain as to how relevant the number of students who take AP courses is; I’m more interested in how well they perform on the exams. But, what I did find revealing was the average SAT scores listed for each school.

        Patriot, with a subsidized lunch rate of 13% (i.e., proxy for poverty rate), has the lowest average SAT score (1,529) on the Top 20 list. Schools on the Top 20 list include public schools from Arlington, Fairfax, & Montgomery Counties; City of Falls Church; and one public school from Washington, D.C. For comparison sake, Oakton High School in Fairfax Co., #12 on list and with a similar subsidized lunch rate of 12%, has an average SAT score of 1,801. That’s nearly 300 points above Patriot. Wooten High School in Montgomery County (#15 on list with 6% subsidized lunch rate) has an average SAT score of 1,822. The School Without Walls in WDC (#7 on list and 17% subsidized lunch rate) has an average SAT score of 1710 – almost 200 points above Patriot. Washington & Lee High School in Arlington (#9 on list and 32% subsidized lunch rate) has an average SAT score of 1,638. Let me repeat that, an Arlington County high school that has 19% more of its students living in poverty, has an average SAT score that is over 100 points greater than Patriot. You see the pattern.

        What gives? When many experts argue that SAT scores are a proxy for a family’s SES, by this measure, Patriot’s students should be capable of performing on par with similarly situated students in nearby counties. They should be outperforming students in high schools with higher poverty rates. Is it the overcrowded classrooms that burden both students and teachers? The lower salaries paid to PWC teachers? One of the lowest per pupil spending rates in the DC area? All of the above?

        Our students, teachers, & families deserve better.

      • pwceducationreform Says:

        PWCS’ SAT and ACT scores should be higher than they are. Our scores at Battlefield and Patriot should be close to the highest scoring schools in Fairfax and Loudoun, but they’re not. We even have a lower percentage of eligible students taking the exams, so it’s not like we have a larger population testing,

      • pwceducationreform Says:

        If you go to the test scores page of this blog, you’ll see the SAT & ACT scores for PWCS and the surrounding jurisdictions from 2009 – 2013.

  3. Concerned Mom of Two Says:

    Familiar with the aggregate scores on your website. Thanks for providing them for everyone.

    What was striking, embarassing, & angering about the Post Too 20 list (of which PWCS boasted about on School Fusion), however, was the individual comparisons of high schools. Readers could easily see for themselves the poverty rates & SAT scores of each individual school. Patriot came in dead last in SAT scores. For a school with a lower poverty rate than most, this should not be happening. You are right, Battlefield & Patriot should be performing the same as comparable high schools in the DC area. They are not even close. The BOCS, the School Board, & PWCS should feel embarrassed & stop describing PWCS as providing a “World Class School Education.” This was a front page story in a national newspaper. But more than feeling embarrassed, they should feel ashamed because their shortsighted decisions are harming the kids in this county when applying for college admissions. A study should be conducted to determine the reasons why PWCS lags so far behind. Or better yet, why aren’t they in discussions with neighboring counties to learn the approaches those counties take to prepare their students to perform so well on the SATs/ACTs? Instead they are more concerned with swimming pools. The priorities are flipped in this county. It’s shocking really.

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