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Residents Win In Front Of Planning Commission

By Greg L | 7 April 2010 | Prince William County | 25 Comments

Tonight the Prince William County Planning Commission unanimously rejected a plan by the Prince William County School Board to co-locate a new elementary school on the grounds of Stonewall Middle School.  The School System has ten days to appeal to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, which they are quite likely to do, and which will result in a backlash by local residents against their elected School Board representatives that hasn’t been seen before.  Folks are angry that the School Board gave them pretty much no advance notice of this phenomenally dumb idea, little opportunity to weigh in before them, and had to depend on the planning commission to hear them out and make a sane decision.  If the School Board fights this, it’s another declaration of war upon the voters by the elected officials supposedly representing them.

Nothing demonstrated that level of hubris and disdain for the citizens better than the performance of the School Board’s representative Mr. Hampshire this evening.  Smugly calling residents liars, and deliberately mischaracterizing their objections alternatively as racism, demonstrations of incompetence, or simply responding with outright falsehoods, this sorry excuse for a public servant was the very epitome of the kind of disdain for the citizenry that School Board members such as Don Richardson have become legendary for.  Time and again residents attending tonight’s hearing broke out in laughter as the Hampshire tried to peddle outright lies to the planning commission, or stood in stony silence as they took yet another insult on their characters for having the temerity of disagreeing with “their betters.”

Yeah, go ahead Prince William County School Board, just go ahead and try to appeal this to the Board of Supervisors.  You want a fight, you came to the right place, and Don Richardson is target number one for the electoral retribution that is most certainly on the way.  There’s more of that if you want it.

I am utterly disgusted with the antics of our school system.  Outside of the teachers and front-line administrators who we always have good working relationships with, and a few Board members who actually seem to do more than warm a seat or use it to attack parents, the organization is fundamentally broken, in a continuous state of war against the people it is supposed to serve, and festering with an attitude of entitlement and superiority that is absolutely sickening.  Reform doesn’t begin to describe the fundamental demolition and complete reconstruction that is needed here.

If the school system keeps this up, I’m sure I’m not going to be the only person who feels this way.  Animals learn not to defecate where they get their food a whole lot faster than the Prince William County School Board.  That lesson still seems to escape them.

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  1. Anonymous said on 7 Apr 2010 at 10:24 pm:
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    that the plan of the Prince William County School Board to co-locate a new elementary school on the grounds of Stonewall Middle School.

    …That the plan is what?

    And Commission is misspelled on the headline. Kudos for getting this up quickly, though.

  2. ON THE GO said on 7 Apr 2010 at 10:39 pm:
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    Good report Greg.

    It will be interesting to see what the Board does?? If the School Board goes forward then we know we need to replace everyone of them.

    They won’t give up the fight as they feel they are right. But all the parents out there needs to be ready to lead the Parade.

    We need to stand together as this can be done to any area.

    Course here in the East we have already been through the mill, but we need to protect all of the County.

    Will keep an eye out for the notice.

  3. Don Richardson's erectile dysfunction said on 7 Apr 2010 at 11:01 pm:
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    I was there and was stunned by the contention of that buttwipe representing the school board that we in the area simply “don’t want THOSE PEOPLE coming over here.” What the hell is that about? Are they purple people on the other side of 234? Geez, they’re already busing 166 people to Sinclair now from the west side of 234 and now they want to bus an additional 600 to a new elementary school we can’t handle and will take space away from one of our existing middle schools? Then that idiot claimed there are no high power lines in the area after seeing pictures of 750 KVA lines that people showed.

    The school board doesn’t care about us. Don Richardson doesn’t give a crap about what we think. Now we’re just idiots getting in the way of “progress” from our superiors at the politburo. Who the hell do these people think they work for?

    I loved the “no net loss in open space” bullcrap, when they never even bothered to calculate the amount of open space in the proposed plan. Yeah, we’re supposed to just trust these bureacrats. liars. They’re all a bunch of flagrant liars.

  4. anon said on 8 Apr 2010 at 5:16 am:
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    750kVA isn’t a lot of power for any 3-phase feeder to carry, about 200 houses worth, so I assume you mean VOLTAGE and are referring to that line near Stonewall. 750kV? No way. Those lines are at most 115kV or probably 69kV. Not much more than what is on any major highway feeding commercial establishments. There are no 750kV lines in PW county. In fact, the standard is 765kV where they do exist. Those lines that cross I-66 at the PW Parkway are 500kV. Does that even come close to what you see at Stonewall?

    The point I’m making is: get your facts straight. I’m not for co-locating an elementary school with Stonewall but using FUD to try to win an argument is what the Dems do.

  5. Allison said on 8 Apr 2010 at 7:45 am:
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    The citizens of West Gate and Sudley are absolutely elated that the Planning Commission rejected the School Board’s plan in favor of our community.

    The arrogance and disdainful attitudes of the School Board’s representatives’ are absolutely shameful. I am extremely upset that my tax dollars are used to pay the bill of the School Board’s attorney - who insinuated that the members of our community are liars. His disparaging remarks were unacceptable and without merit.

    The Planning Staff and the School Board wasted valuable time and money trying to get this proposed site plan accepted. The inaccuracies and omissions in their various “reports,” as well as the fact that they failed to meet and ignored certain standards of the Comp Plan, DCSM, and Transportation Plan, calls into question why these people remain employed with PW County.

  6. Just the Facts said on 8 Apr 2010 at 7:50 am:
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    The Planning Commission is the only government entity in PWC standing up for citizens now. Greg writes an excellent description of this School System debacle. Remember also that the Planning Commission presented a citizen and taxpayer-friendly version of the Comp Plan update, which the BOCS threw out in favor of the developer version from the Planning Office. The Planning Commission also rejected Avendale, which would have eaten into the Rural Crescent and added more unneeded houses to our inventory. The BOCS deferred Avendale because enough votes were there to kill it and some on the BOCS want to approve it. (after the 2011 election perhaps?)

    By the way, Hampshire is a former employee of the PWC County Attorney’s Office. This is the same sort of nonsense that occurs in the Planning Office when corrupt bureaucrats learn the ropes and make contacts on the taxpayers’ dime and then work against them as employees of law firms and developers. One of the former Planning Office employees documented that Long-Range Planning Office Chief Ray Utz pressured her to get him a job in the private firm where she had worked. She refused and lasted only a short time in that office. Just more of the corruption typical of Prince William County.

    We need a new County employment rule prohibiting County employees from working for any firm that has any relations or does any business with the County for at least five years after they leave the PWC government.

    On the bright side, we owe many thanks to Planning Commission Chair Gary Friedman and the Commissioners who vote for citizens’ interests.

  7. Monster_Mom said on 8 Apr 2010 at 8:01 am:
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    The PWC school board has never considered what is in the best interests of the children and citizens of this county to be of the utmost importance. Don Richardson isn’t the wost of the lot - Grant Lattin is another waste and Denita Ramirez routinely lies to her residents. Even worse is the fact that the school board refuses to hold district employees accountable for lying to them and residents. If I stood before the board of the company I worked for a lied to them, and had those lies exposed, I’d be fired. In PWCS you get promoted.

    Granted, the state DOE isn’t any better as it goes so far as to advise local school districts to disregard state law…….but that’s a whole other issue.

  8. Kevin C said on 8 Apr 2010 at 1:34 pm:
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    Just the Facts said on 8 Apr 2010 at 7:50 am: “Planning Office Chief Ray Utz pressured her to get him a job in the private firm where she had worked. She refused and lasted only a short time in that office. Just more of the corruption typical of Prince William County.”

    Business AS USUAL in Prince William County Government.

    There is absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind that things will get worse with Melissa Peacor “watching the store !!!”

    *** *** *** ***

    Monster_Mom said on 8 Apr 2010 at 8:01 am: “If I stood before the board of the company I worked for a lied to them, and had those lies exposed, I’d be fired. In PWCS you get promoted.”

    Again, business AS USUAL in Prince William County !!!

    BTW, it’s not only in “PWC Schools” where the most TOTALLY incompetent gravitate upwards !!!

  9. Freedom said on 8 Apr 2010 at 4:08 pm:
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    Unfortunately, school board elections draw an extremely low voter turnout by the general public. However, virtually every single teacher shows up to vote, and therefore, guess who elects the school board. :(

    Another unfortunate fact concerning the PWC school board is that they do not support paying pay teachers based upon how well they perform in the classroom and the school. I happen to believe that teachers who perform well…and not based solely upon student performance, but the whole perspective of teacher performance…should receive a higher salary than those who “show up” (most of the time) and could give two hoots about how they perform their duties. I have spoken with several school board members and they don’t like the idea…the fact that it works wonderfully in private industry makes no difference to them nor the teachers’ union.

    We, the general public, must begin to take a stronger role in determining what and how the “professional educators” teach our children. What our children are taught in their schools today and next year will dramatically influence their thought processes, political leanings, and the direction of out country in the future. Can we afford to turn a blind eye? I think not; the risk…no, not risk…the absolute certainty is simply too perilous.

    with the general public, but LOTS of interest from the teachers.

  10. chicko said on 8 Apr 2010 at 5:43 pm:
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    anon is right about the power lines, 500kv is the most around here. honestly havent seen a 765v around here, maybe someone who works for dominion or something can comment.

  11. Greg L said on 8 Apr 2010 at 6:12 pm:
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    The big distribution boxes in the neighborhood are all labeled 750 kVA, so I’m assuming there’s some disconnect between kV and kVA.

    At any rate, having a bunch of these powerlines cross a school property isn’t quite the desired effect, despite what Mr. Hampshire had to say.

  12. Hazegray said on 9 Apr 2010 at 8:36 am:
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    Greg L — Who the heck is “Mr. Hampshire?” It is not clear from any previous postings…

  13. Fire Giff Hampshire said on 9 Apr 2010 at 10:28 am:
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    Mr. Hampshire is the arrogant attorney that represents the school system. We the taxpayers have paid his salary. He has insulted the residents and basically called them liars. Furthermore, he didn’t know the answers to several questions asked of him.

  14. Anonymous said on 9 Apr 2010 at 10:22 pm:
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    I agree Greg. Republicans have dominated that school board for far too long. All but one of them are Republican party members, open Republicans, or Republican-endorsed. Time to throw them all out for the lousy job they have been doing.

  15. Patty said on 10 Apr 2010 at 9:31 am:
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    Your statement about all but one are Republicans is absurd. They run as Independents: http://www.pwcgov.org/docLibrary/PDF/006699.pdf

    It truly is difficult to determine where their real affiliations lie until they are elected and we see their actions. I would be more concerned over those who are pals with the teachers unions and those who refuse to listen to their constituents.

  16. Monster_Mom said on 10 Apr 2010 at 10:46 am:
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    One unmentioned problem with the school board is that they all are elected at the same time and serve for 6 years. The net effect is that in the year before the election they all pay attention and respond to citizen questions and concerns but blow them off the other 5 years. How about a rotating election cycle - with one new school board member elected each year. That way the board would always have someone who was new and trying to learn the ropes (and therefore asking questions as opposed to just sitting mutely) and someone who was facing an election and had to do more than just nod at school district officials as they lie and distort facts.

    I question the influence of the PWEA in PWC because it is pretty much an ineffective organization. A far greater concern is the apparent unwillingness of our elected school board members to challenge assertions made by district officials and hold those officials accountable when their lies and distortions are exposed.

    The school board is supposed to serve us, the citizens of this county. They don’t. I’m not sure who they serve, other than themselves.

    Look at this stupid math program they’ve foisted on the elementary schools. It’s April and the school board has finally placed the 2009 report on the elementary math program on the agenda. The kids will be sitting for the 2010 SOL in one month. The data have been available since August - including data indicating that there are gaps in the instructional program and statements indicating that PWCS officials are unwilling to investigate detailed test result to acknowledge that those gaps exist or adapt instruction as needed. Before this idiotic math program was brought to the county we were ranked among the top 25% of districts in the state. Now we’re in the bottom 50th percentile. Every member of the school board has been aware of this for months yet they’ve done nothing.

    Pretty freaking pathetic.

    You want to hold the school board accountable? Show up at the meeting on the 21st and let them know that we will o longer accept a do nothing board.

  17. Patty said on 10 Apr 2010 at 9:20 pm:
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    Monster Mom,

    You need to get your facts straight. The School Board serves four year terms,


    They are up for election in 2011.

    The PWEA is large. They are not an innocuous group. They are the local affiliate of the NEA. Let’s not go down this road. A whole thread can be devoted to the evils of teachers unions, especially the NEA.

  18. Monster_Mom said on 11 Apr 2010 at 8:56 am:
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    Patty - I did make a mistake, and thank you for so politely correcting it. School Board members serve for 4 year terms, not six. However, my point regarding the election of school board members remains. Our school board members are all elected at the same time to serve for the same duration. The net effect being that school board members don’t pay any attention to questions or concerns raised by citizens until election year.

    As to PWEA’s influence, I beg to differ. VEA and NEA are quite large and powerful in influencing state and national education policies. The PWEA, by comparison, welds very little power and influence in the county. While the PWEA representative had a seat at the table debating the recent performance pay plan proposed by PWCS officials, their concerns where all but ignored by both the district and school board.

    The group with the power in PWCS are the educrats employed down at Independent Hill. The school board routinely defers to them, rarely challenges them, and allows them to lie, distort facts, and defame citizens without suffering any consequences.

  19. DPortM said on 11 Apr 2010 at 11:25 am:
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    Try going to a School Board meeting and seeing the “blue shirt” PWEA folks clamoring for more spending and increased taxes.

  20. Maureen said on 11 Apr 2010 at 4:11 pm:
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    I know a few of the ladies that worked very hard on this issue, spending hours upon hours researching and pulling together a cohesive argument to present to the planning commission. Way to go ladies! And thank you for all that you did to stop this.

  21. Monster_Mom said on 11 Apr 2010 at 6:22 pm:
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    DPortM - I’ve been to more school board meetings than I care to recall. PWEA can clamor all they want - no one listens to them. My beef with the school district has nothing to do with PWEA because PWEA is utterly ineffective at setting policy in this district. My beef is with the school board and their complete capitulation to everything the educrats at Independent Hill want.

    In my opinion, complaining about PWEA and blaming the problems in PWCS on them is a complete waste of time because they have very little power here. For the source of the problems in our county schools you need to look to the administrative personnel who actually run the district and the school board which appears to be unwilling or unable to challenge them or hold them accountable.

  22. DPortM said on 11 Apr 2010 at 7:17 pm:
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    I am extremely happy to hear that the PWEA is utterly ineffective. Their Alinsky-style behavior scares me.

  23. Patty said on 11 Apr 2010 at 8:08 pm:
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    You hit the nail on the head,


    Monster Mom,

    It seems to me that I remember hearing about the PWEA encouraging parents to call the BOCS to raise taxes. I also remember something reported on this blog about a robo call to parents pressuring them to contact the BOCS to raise taxes. DPortM can correct me if I’m wrong but I understand that at one of the meetings to discuss the school budget the PWEA was there in force.

    If you want to continue going down this road, I’ll start posting some of the stuff NEA spews out.

  24. Anonymous said on 11 Apr 2010 at 8:52 pm:
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    Patty, sorry, but it’s your comment about the School Board members affiliations that is absurd. All but two of them are avowed Republicans who are members of the party, campaign on behalf of party candidates, are endorsed by the Republican party, or vote regularly in Republican primaries. Don’t use the excuse that School Board members run as independents to say their affiliations are hard to determine. Wasn’t Julie Lucas a Republican (she had a Republican nomination for delegate stolen by Faisal Gill at a Republican convention)? Wasn’t that whackjob Manes Pierre a Democrat? Didn’t this site mention several Republicans and Democrats as candidates for the School Board in the last election. Please, be serious. Whether they have been co-opted by the teachers or not, that Board is dominated by Republicans. They may be RINOS, but there is no way around the facts.

  25. Monster_Mom said on 12 Apr 2010 at 7:33 am:
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    Patty - Do you honestly think that the BOCS approved a tax increase because PWEA got citizens riled up or because officials with the school district painted a less than honest picture of the district’s financial position painted by officials with PWCS? Look at the published cost per student numbers and the budget. They have no relation to one another because PWCS excludes costs like debt service from its per student cost calculation. (see http://pwceducationreform.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/the-real-cost-of-public-education/)

    Talk to your kids teachers and ask them what they think of PWEA. I asked my kids teacher’s and they all laughed. Not one of them belongs because they think the organization is a joke.

    I agree with you about NEA and VEA - both organizations have tremendous influence in national and state education issues and their positions aren’t necessarily in the best interests of our public schools. Their blanket support for the common core (which will be replacing our SOLS in the coming years) and their unwillingness to address declining teacher quality and certification are two major negatives which have (or will have) a direct impact on what our children learn and how, in my opinion.

    But NEA and VEA are not PWEA. PWEA is a local organization. When I’ve contacted PWEA to gauge their opinion on issues facing our local public schools, they’ve generally been clueless about the issues and deferred to district officials at Independent Hill.

    Fighting to improve the local schools in PWCS means closely watching the folks at Independent Hill, addressing issues, and demanding that the school board wake up and do its job. Attacking PWEA accomplishes nothing because PWEA isn’t on the front lines in decision making. Its like attacking the Redskins cheerleaders because the team had a rotten season.

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