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PWC School Board special meeting called Jan. 4 to air BOCS’ resolution for new school construction

Prince William School Board Members Shawn Brann (Acting Member, Brentsville District) and Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville District) said Dec. 30 they have issued a call for a special meeting of the Prince William County School Board (PWCS) on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 to discuss the Board of Supervisors’ Resolution for new school construction.

On Dec. 6, 2016, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors (BOCS) passed Resolution number 16-860, which provides PWCS with approximately $21.3 million in construction, site acquisition, or renovation funding. As part of the resolution, the School Board is also being asked to change current plans for the 13th high school to a larger capacity model called the “PRICE Model” in order to accommodate an additional 500+ students into the new school.

In accordance with policy, Brann asked that a motion to discuss Res. No. 16-860 be added to the Dec. 14, 2016 regular meeting of the PWCS School Board. That request was denied by School Board Chairman At Large Ryan Sawyers. The same request was submitted again for the Jan. 4, 2017 meeting and once again was not added to the agenda.

Brann and Satterwhite feel that the funding from the BOCS is a significant step forward in helping the PWCS School Board to reduce overcrowding in the schools and align with the School Board priority of reducing classroom sizes. The topic of school construction for eastern PWCS elementary schools will also be discussed at this special meeting.

“It should be frustrating to all citizens of Prince William County and all parents in Prince William County Schools that our Chairman is putting partisanship over the needs of our school system,” said Brann. “The Board of Supervisors has given us an incredible opportunity – we owe them a decision on this resolution instead of continued delay tactics.”

“To turn down or not discuss the $21.3 million from the BOCS would be to tell students around the county that we accept the status quo with overcrowded schools and classrooms,” said Satterwhite. “That is simply not acceptable. We must put kids first and continue to move forward in reducing class sizes and providing adequate classroom space for our students, that is our responsibility as a School Board.”

The Special Meeting of the Prince William County School Board will be held immediately following the regular meeting of the School Board on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 at the Kelly Leadership Center, 14715 Bristow Road, Manassas, VA 20112. The meeting is open to the public. The regularly scheduled meeting will begin at 7:00p.m.

Recent changes to PWCS School Board policy 131 state that a School Board member may add an item to the agenda with approval of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman. Previous School Board policy had allowed for any School Board member to add an item to the agenda.

Brann and Satterwhite included this background information:
The 13th high school will relieve overcrowding at three area schools: Battlefield, Patriot, and Stonewall Jackson High Schools. Currently, the three high schools are 1,651 students over capacity with 37 classrooms in trailers among them. Enrollment is expected to climb prior to the 2021 opening of the new school proposed for the intersection of Linton Hall Road and Rollins Ford Road in Bristow, VA. Brann, Satterwhite, and Mr. Gil Trenum, Brentsville School Board Member on military deployment, have all advocated for building the larger “PRICE Model” for the school instead of the Battlefield/Forest Park High School design previously approved by the School Board. With growing enrollment numbers and projections, they feel the need is there for the additional capacity.

According to the PWCS Capital Improvements Program, approved by the School Board, in 2017 approximately 2000 elementary school seats will be added with the opening of a new school, a school replacement, and three school additions, all of which are now in progress. In 2019 an additional 2000 elementary seats will open with a new elementary school and four school additions. PWCS is planning to add yet another elementary school in the eastern area of Prince William County by 2021.

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