Peter Candland, Gainesville District County Supervisor, recently held a town hall meeting to discuss growing number of students in classrooms.The Meeting discussed several findings in the 2014 Washington Boards of Education Report. Prince William County Public Schools have been experiencing increasing student enrollments since 2005. Student-teacher ratios for 2014 are expected to be 23.3 students in each classroom at elementary schools, 30.8 students in middle school classrooms, and 30.3 students for each teacher in high schools. These are the highest student-teacher ratios in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Marsteller Middle School at 14000 Sudley Manor Drive (Bristow) is fully accredited and the magnet school for mathematics and science among middle schools in Prince William County. Dr. Emlyn Harrison Marsteller was a physician and country doctor in the Manassas area from 1920-1960. He was also a member of the Prince William County School Board for several years. He was honored in 1964 when the middle school at 8730 Sudley Road (Manassas) was named the Marsteller Medics. The building pictured here opened in 2002 and was a ‘School of Excellence’ in 2012-2013. Students attending Marsteller Middle School are from Nokesville, Bristow, Gainesville, Haymarket, and Manassas. The student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1 is unlike other middle schools in Prince William County.

While comparing spending and relevant 2014 statistics of jurisdictions surrounding Prince William County we found several interesting categories.

Average Cost for Each Student

  • Fairfax County: $13,472
  • Loudoun County: $11,638
  • Manassas City: $11,984
  • Prince William: $10,158

Increase in Student Enrollment

  • Fairfax County: 3,366 (1.9%)
  • Loudoun County: 2,566 (3.8%)
  • Manassas City: 142 (2.0%)
  • Prince William: 2,415 (2.9%)

Debt Service

  • Fairfax County: $175,182,130
  • Loudoun County: $117,371,322
  • Manassas City: $4,956,781
  • Prince William: $74,899,758

Graduates Attending Higher Education (2012)

  • Fairfax County: 96.3%
  • Loudoun County: 92.1%
  • Manassas City: 82.0%
  • Prince William: 84.3%

2013 SAT Results (2400 Maximum Score)

  • Fairfax County: 1663
  • Loudoun County: 1606
  • Manassas City: 1457
  • Prince William: 1498

Teacher Salary & Benefits

  • Fairfax County: $97,579
  • Loudoun County: $92,589
  • Manassas City: $88,311
  • Prince William: $85,787

Schools (Elementary/Middle/High/Special Education/ Traditional K-8/ Alternative)

  • Fairfax County: 139/23/196/7/0/2 196 total
  • Loudoun County: 55/14/13/0/0/2 84 total
  • Manassas City: 5/2/1/0/0/0 8 total
  • Prince William: 57/16/11/3/1/2 91 total

Average Class Size (Elementary/Middle/High)

  • Fairfax County: 21.4/24.3/25.0
  • Loudoun County: 23.4/23.1/25.1
  • Manassas City: 21.6/24.9/27.0
  • Prince William: 23.3/30.8/30.3

Supervisor Candland estimates Prince William County Public Schools will require a 62% revenue sharing agreement agreement to meet the necessary measures to reduce class sizes and match spending levels of surrounding jurisdictions. The current percentage of funding is 57.23% of the general fund to public schools. This was increased from 56.75% for the FY2013 budget in which Supervisor Candland encouraged other supervisors to approve. Before the explosive growth in Prince William County which began in 1995, Prince William County Public Schools had routinely received 51% of overall revenue.

Supervisor Candland doesn’t want to raise taxes to create the necessary revenue to manage growing class sizes. He believes demanding increased proffers from developers, and targeted commercial growth are the first measures necessary to address the improvement of public schools. This means higher price tags on new homes. Raising the percentage of revenue sharing would mean fewer services from remaining county agencies. We don’t believe this is a serious option. We highly recommend building the Bi-County Parkway to attract the businesses Prince William County Economic Development Director Jeffery Kaczmareck feels are necessary for smart future growth. Innovation Technology Park which is anchored by the Prince William Campus of George Mason University, along with other commercial areas along the Prince William Parkway, would be perfect locations for the targeted industries of life sciences, engineering, logistics, warehousing, and short-hauling trucking companies sought by Director Kaczmareck.

So here it is. The North-South Corridor (Bi-County Parkway) connects Prince William County to important commerce and transportation in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. Supervisor Candland believes there are better places to spend transportation dollars, but we’ve yet to hear a comprehensive argument from him which explains why he doesn’t support the “Outer Beltway” as referred to by Catharpin residents protesting this regional transportation project. Our view of improving schools without raising taxes requires meaningful commercial growth must occur for this problem to become solved. In a region with some of the worst commutes in the country this means moving people and freight. The Bi-County Parkway is the answer to this problem. The direct connection to Dulles Airport from local commercial centers gives Prince William County the competitive advantage over the competition. Pete Candland needs to support the Bi-County Parkway and improvement to Route 234 if he wants to deliver for students, teachers, and parents.

We would like to hear your thoughts.