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The newest addition to Prince William County Public Schools held its groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday April 11. The ‘Woodbridge Area’ Elementary school sits next to Fred Lynn’s Middle School at 1550 Prince William Parkway, Woodbridge.

The ‘Woodbridge Area’ Elementary school was built to help with the overflow of students found at other Prince William County Elementary Schools. The school will serve 631 and have 3 different stories.

They will officially open for students for the 2025-2026 school year.

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Orlich

“Lillian Orlich, who served PWCS students for 64 years and passed away on March 7, 2024, left a $1 million donation to SPARK, the education foundation for PWCS. Known to thousands of students as Ms. O, Lillian Orlich is a true Prince William County legend in education. Orlich retired in 2017 at 89, after serving as a teacher and counselor. She spent all but three years at Osbourn High School in Manassas City and Osbourn Park High School in Prince William County,” the school division writes in a press release.

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Fernanda Morante and Isabella Aversano, both 18, have served as student representatives to the Prince William County School Board. [Photo: PWCS]
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) call for students to step up and become new student representatives on the county school board. The deadline to apply is tomorrow, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. This opportunity gives students a direct voice in important decisions affecting their education and school community.

Isabella Aversano and Fernanda Morante, both 18, serve as student representatives on the school board. They recently shared insights into their roles and experiences.

Aversano outlined the responsibilities of student representatives, stating, “The bare bones of our duties are to write remarks for each meeting and present those.” She emphasized the importance of gathering perspectives from all 14 high schools in the county through Senate meetings, where issues affecting students are discussed.

One significant topic addressed by Aversano and Morante was the implementation of metal detectors in the county’s middle and high schools. Aversano noted varying student reactions but stressed the importance of clarifying information and addressing concerns through effective communication with students.

Reflecting on their interactions with adults on the school board, Morante expressed satisfaction, stating, “I definitely feel like they’re listening to me.” She highlighted the support received from advisors and board members, emphasizing open communication channels via email.

When asked about their impact on underserved communities, Aversano highlighted initiatives to amplify student voices across diverse groups within schools. Morante shared an example of collaborating with fifth graders to advocate for recess in middle schools, citing research supporting its benefits for students.

Both said many students have appeared at school board meetings to advocate for recess in middle school. “Honestly, I thought it was really impressive of the middle school students to go to the meetings,” said Aversano. “When these little fifth-grade girls, one of them couldn’t even see over the podium, it was adorable.’

Aversano and Morante offered advice to aspiring student representatives, emphasizing the importance of empathy, perspective-taking, and balance between responsibilities and academics. They also underscored the support network available from advisors, fellow representatives, and school officials.

Aversano and Morante encouraged students to seize the opportunity to become student representatives and make a tangible difference in their school community.

Interested students can find more information on the PWCS website.

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Photo: Prince William County Public Schools

The Prince William County School Board approved a $2 billion budget during its meeting on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. The FY 2025 budget starts July 1, 2024. Superintendent Dr. LaTanya D. McDade’s budget will give employees an average pay increase of 6%.

The division will also add 125 new teacher assistants serving students with special needs, 23 kindergarten teacher assistants, 16 reading specialists, and a stipend for Individualized Education Plans (IEP) case managers.

The Capital Improvements Program (CIP) funds new additions and facilities to address need, renovation projects for older schools, and advancing sustainability goals.

Moreover, Board budget allocations will fund additional personnel for a STEM/robotics coordinator, human trafficking specialist, Language Arts supervisor, and administrative interns at middle and high schools. Further investments are made in teachers with 19 and 20 years of experience, along with a lifted experience cap to 25 years of teaching experience.

The school’s budget now lies in the hands of the Board of County Supervisors, which transfers 57.23% of its budget to the school division. It approves the county’s overall budget in April.

The Virginia General Assembly’s budget, which includes an additional $1.2 billion in general fund support for Direct Aid for Public Education over the upcoming two years, provides $64.8 million more for PWCS than was in the Governor’s proposed budget, which reduced general fund support for Direct Aid by $294 million. Extra funding would include more help for English Learners ($14.6 million), the state’s share of 3% salary increases each year for teachers and staff ($32.7 million), and monies to maintain the state’s commitments to Virginia schools and local communities.

School Board Chairman Babur Lateef, running for Virginia Lt. Governor in 2025, urged Youngkin to pass the budget. However, Youngkin has the proposed budget, driven by Democrats who hold the majority in the General Assembly, a “backward” budget rife with tax increases. He said he would not approve the budget as it stands.

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Just four miles from Manassas Regional Airport, the busiest General Aviation airport in Virginia, students at Unity Reed High School in Prince William County are learning the aviation maintenance trade courtesy of a donated aircraft to the school. The aircraft will allow the students to gain hands-on maintenance experience in a trade that is experiencing a critical manpower shortage nationwide.

Scott Kenney, an Aviation Maintenance teacher at Unity Reed High School and Woodbridge High School, said the aircraft is a Viking Dragonfly, a two-seater plane with a cockpit less than four feet across. Summit Helicopters, a Salem, Va.-based company, donated the aircraft. Kenney said he was “very happy” to receive the donation and that it would help enhance students’ education and interest in aviation maintenance.

“[This program’s goal] is to enrich the education of the students in the field of aviation maintenance and to prepare them for any future school or career they may choose,” Kenney said.

The Aviation Maintenance Programs at Unity Reed High School and Woodbridge High School teach equipment safety, maintenance publications and records, airframes, engines, and electricity and give students insight into aviation careers. Kenney said 17 students are enrolled in the program at Unity Reed and another 15 at Woodbridge High School.

As part of their curriculum, the 32 students take Aviation Maintenance I and II courses and recommended classes like Technical Drawing, Introduction to Engineering and Design, or Construction Technology. The school has a large maintenance bay to accommodate the aircraft, disassemble the engine and avionics, and teach repair techniques for engine and cockpit components.

For Unity Reed seniors Kevin Salazar Ramirez and Eddie Quezada, using a real aircraft in conjunction with the school’s aviation program allows them to test their skills.

“The best aspects of the class are the hands-on projects like disassembling an aircraft reciprocating engine,” Ramirez said. He added that remembering some of the steps involved in disassembly can be challenging.

Both students said they intend to earn aviation maintenance technician certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration and believe the school’s aviation maintenance program can “open [future students’] eyes to the aspects of [the] aeronautics and aerospace industry.”

According to industry estimates, a shortage of nearly 18,000 aviation mechanics nationwide in 2023 could skyrocket to 43,000 by 2027. The Aviation Technician Education Council predicts the industry needs at least 20% more mechanics than are currently being trained to meet the immense demand.

Kenney said he is proud to “play a role in encouraging our students to pursue various fields of aviation” and to prepare them for Aircraft Maintenance Technician Schools or apprenticeships.

Kevin Sandell is a freelance reporter for Potomac Local News.

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A tree smashed a Prince William County School bus traveling on Linton Hall Road, at the Merrifield Garden Center near Gainesville.

There were no children on the bus. An ambulance was called to treat the driver.

We’re working to get more information. We’ll update this post as soon as we have it.

A strong cold front is bringing 50 to 60 mph wind gusts to the region.

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The Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center is the headquarters for the Prince William County Public School System [Photo: Prince William County Public Schools]
The Prince William County School Board voted to approve the proposed budget and Capital Improvements Program in a straw poll at its work session last week, all but ensuring the county’s 14th high school will be delayed despite community pushback, Insidenova.com reports.

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WJLA-TV: 7News On Your Side has exclusively learned Prince William County Public Schools must now pay for all four years of one former student’s private school education after the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) ruled the school district violated state and federal special education laws, which will cost taxpayers almost $150,000.

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