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Virginia Prince William County School Board Coles School District

The Prince William County School Board makes the policies that govern the school division. There are eight members on the School Board, one from each magisterial district and one at-large member who serves as chairman. They serve a 4-year term with a salary limit set by the Virginia Code. The policies developed include instruction, administration, personnel, and students including matters of school boundary determination, pupil assignment plans, guidelines for student assessments, and annual school calendar, an instructional calendar, a 5-year plan for instruction, and location of schools.

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  • William "Willie" J. Deutsch

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    Jacqueline M. Gaston

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    Lisa A. Zargarpur

Biographical Information

What would you propose in order to provide a curriculum best-suited for each student?

What changes would you support in the school funding system?

What are your chief concerns about state-mandated curriculum and assessment requirements?

What innovations would you propose to improve the education of our students?

How well do you believe the specialty programs in some high schools serve the school population? What changes would you support?

What changes and resources are needed to increase public pre-kindergarten programs?

How would you expand citizen involvement in the budget process and in other decision-making such as school boundaries?

What systemic changes are needed to increase the retention rate of new teachers to keep them in Prince William County schools?

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Age 51
education/Degrees B.S. in Human Development and Family Relations & Special Education Teaching Certificate M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction
family Husband is Michael Gaston Children Michael Gaston Jr age 16, Jake Gaston 13, Dylan Gaston 13
Curriculum that provides a variety of racial, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnic or ability backgrounds; equity based curriculum where students envision themselves in the lessons and are relevant in today’s world. It should be presented via multiple learning pathways and be rigorous. It should prepare students for college and career and global citizenship. It should include student centered discussions, choice learning opportunities, Independent practice of the material, & promote literacy.
The Revenue sharing agreement gives PWCS 57.23% of the county’s general revenues. This yearly allotment is guaranteed money for PWCS, although it can fluctuate. Per pupil spending in PWCS is embarrassingly low compared to surrounding school systems. Adequate funding for well-prepared teachers and school leaders, smaller class sizes, technology, & extended learning time improve student performance. Increased funding will improve student achievement and reduce achievement gaps significantly.
Students across the state are asked to achieve at the same level, and performance objectives are stressed and compared statewide. Several disadvantages include the fact that test writers are not familiar with the various classrooms nor take into account disparities in the different school systems such as demographics, funding etc. In addition standardized tests do not provide enough information about what the needs of individual students are nor are a good indicator of student learning.
Innovation means finding a way to educate all students and engage all students so they can flourish and thrive. We need to provide safe educational environments where students take risks & challenge themselves to expand their knowledge. Students need access to educational technology which create problem solvers and critical thinkers using techniques such as project based learning that foster creativity and innovation instead of just regurgitating facts. Increase our Specialty Programs in PWCS.
The PWCS specialty programs are tailored educational opportunities that fit interests of students for college and career readiness leading to higher graduation rates. They are hands on and foster teamwork, problem solving and innovative thinking. They have real life facilities as well as expert teachers who can nurture students' talents. PWCS needs to make these programs accessible to all schools and distribute these opportunities equitably around the school system and involve more businesses.
The benefits of high-quality early childhood programs lasts into the teenage years and provides a strong start to education. Programs that include academic, social-emotional, and physical enrichment ensure children are thriving and school ready and should include home visiting. We need to work collaboratively with local, state and federal agencies to foster community outreach about resources and programs. Funding is critical to providing more Head Start type programming for at risk students.
Transparency in any process is the key to creating a sense of trust which in return builds confidence and ensures successful outcomes. Community input should be encouraged and PWCS must work collaboratively with the public to ensure they feel part of the process. Communication in writing, via email or social media about upcoming meetings and planning sessions are key, also websites containing pertinent information are helpful as well as providing various ways for voicing their opinions.
Active recruitment of staff; clear communication within PWCS about the mission, goals and rationale of the school system; a positive sense of purpose among the entire staff that celebrate the positives and successes; leadership, learning and professional development opportunities; empower, value and support staff; create a culture of collaboration with a sense of common purpose; competitive salaries and per pupil spending and equitable working conditions; offer mentoring programs at all levels.
Age 49
education/Degrees Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts, Master of Education
family Husband, Yaqub. 3 daughters
I believe that educators should have the opportunity to work as necessary in team meetings to review student data and talk about what best suits the needs of their students. We must make sure that teachers have adequate access to time in their schedules to meet as well as providing the resources they need and trust their professionalism on this. Give them the flexibility to do their jobs.
Currently, PWCS receives about 57% of the county revenues from the revenue sharing agreement. We should be looking at this as a floor instead of a ceiling so that we can accommodate the growing student population through investments in infrastructure and in personnel. On a federal level, Congress has never authorized full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) so asking our representatives in DC to increase that amount will help local budgets.
The good news is that we are reducing the amount of tests our students are taking. The bad news is that we still have the idea that if we don't test it, we do not need to teach it. I'm also concerned about how much money we spend on these tests. We need to make sure our students have the skills they need for their future, no matter their college or career path. They should be able to think critically, evaluate information, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively.
1. Add more preschool opportunities. 2. Make sure we have adequate recess or breaks for our students during their day. 3. Work on social-emotional learning, especially for our youngest students. 4. Look at connecting content knowledge and skills to more real-world applications. 5. Focus on critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills.
I love that we can offer specialized programs of study to our high school students but it is frustrating that there is not an equitable distribution of these programs across the county. Student who live outside school boundaries are not as able to participate in after-school activities.
We would be able to expand preschool opportunities to thousands of students if we budgeted $6 million dollars to receive a matching grant from the state. This would open preschool opportunities to more than a thousand deserving children. Currently space is an issue so our solutions have to be creative and comply with state standards and guidelines.
There is a program PWCS uses now for boundaries that has an option for the public to create and share their vision. We should allow access to this option. The school division makes information available to citizens and seems to be working toward how it takes citizen feedback into account. People are welcome to attend meetings but for those who cannot, and I like how the PWC government has added an online citizen comment on Speak Up! The school division may want to adopt a similar program.
1. Adjust the teacher pay scale to be more in line with other districts. 2. Mentoring of new teachers should continue through a second year. 3. All teachers need adequate preparation/planning time and support from their administration and other experienced teachers. 4. Allow teachers time to develop peer networks to support each other.