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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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School division committee looking at alternative grading scale

King George resident Brian Jackson seems to have helped spark the establishment of a committee to investigate changing the grading scale used in the King George school division, particularly at the high school.
Parent Beckey Gallamore first publicly brought the topic up during public comment at a School Board meeting last August 13 and asked the division to look into changing it.
On February 10, Jackson’s email on the topic to Superintendent Candace Brown and other central office administrators seemed to get the ball rolling.
Two committee meetings have been held so far, on March 9 and March 30, with the next one set for April 27.  
The committee is headed up by Supervisor of Curriculum Ann Cocke and includes a mix of division staff and community members.   
The minutes of the first meeting state the committee’s purpose is to review the current grading scale and research grading scales from other divisions, then make recommendations concerning the grading scale.
With the current grading scale, it takes a 94 to earn an “A,” and an 86 for a “B.”  
But Jackson notes that in most high schools nationwide a 90 is an “A” and an 80 is a “B.”  
In both cases, an A receives 4 points and a B gets 3 when calculating grade point averages (GPAs).
Jackson said in his February 10 email to Brown, “As a parent of two middle school students who expect to attend college, I am very concerned over our county’s antiquated grading scale.  My children will soon compete for limited out-of-state admission opportunities but our current grading scale will place them at a distinct disadvantage when competing against students from school divisions using a 10-point scale and greater weights for advanced courses.”
Jackson noted that a recent Fairfax County Public Schools investigation into school grading policies reveals that contrary to what parents and students have been told, 55 percent of colleges surveyed do not recalculate grades and 89 percent compare individual applicants against their entire applicant pool.
Because letter grades are the #1 factor for college admissions, Jackson says the current King George grading scale is limiting the college choices available to county students.
“Our lower GPAs matter not only in terms of college admissions, but also acceptance into Honors programs, discounts on auto insurance, and awards of Merit Scholarships,” Jackson said.
He provided the example that Fairfax County discovered.  
“At many universities, a student simply needs a 3.5 GPA and a solid SAT Score to be eligible for an automatic, merit scholarship that may total thousands of dollars.  Overall, this GPA inequity could realistically cost King George families in terms of state college admissions, academic/ merit scholarships, college honors programs, and good student driver discounts. In this current economic crisis, it is an unfair burden to not permit King George County students to compete on a level playing field,” Jackson said.
Jackson pushed for the hard look at what’s happening across the state and nation with grading scales, saying, “I would like to begin a serious discussion about following Fairfax County’s lead and join the majority of American high schools who have implemented the more commonly used 10-point grading scale, with added weights for Honors and AP/IB classes. The Stafford County School Board has already voted to change their grading system to a 10-point scale and on 28 January, a majority of Loudoun County school board members expressed their support to change their 7-point grading scale. I am not alone in thinking that it is time for us to make the change as well.”
That discussion is now in the hands of that division committee.  No set timeline has been established for reporting.  The committee looked at the proposed 10-point grading scale, which provides grades as follows:  90-100=A, 80-89=B, 70-79=C, 60-69=D, Below 60=F.
The committee is developing surveys designed to elicit input from teachers, staff, and parents/guardians.
Jackson told The Journal, “At first blush, you may say a higher standard is desirable and it’s good that we have a tough grading scale because it raises expectations and makes our kids work harder.”
But he added, “While this sentiment may or may not be true, the point here isn’t higher standards, but rather that our present grading scale places King George students at a disadvantage when seeking college admission, merit scholarships, and good driver discounts.”
Jackson said he’d be fine with a grading scale if all the other divisions had the same scale.  
But they don’t.  
“GPA is a standard measurement of a student’s grades and academic achievement. When that standard is different from King George, it’s an inaccurate representation of the hard work a King George student does.”
Jackson noted that Fairfax County’s study produced an extensive investigation prior to a vote by its School Board to go to the new grading scale this fall at the beginning of next school year.  (The Fairfax report can be found on our website at www.journalpress.com accompanying this article online.)
Jackson also noted that the Fairfax County School board investigation found that the actual high school grades (A, B, C, or D) are the MOST important factor in college admissions.  
That finding is repeatedly acknowledged in the report with citations from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), the College Board, and the Fairfax County School Board’s own college survey conducted for the report.
Jackson found that the Fairfax report notes the following highlights of its study of grading scales:  ~ Fairfax’s  old six-point scale resulted in Fairfax students having notably lower GPAs than non-Fairfax students with similar SAT scores but graded on a 10-point scale, thereby putting Fairfax students at a competitive disadvantage for college admissions.
~ 75 school systems in 12 different states have adopted the 10-point scale in the last few years.
~ No evidence supports the current six-point scale in Fairfax.
~ On page 49, Figure 6, of the investigation report, it states that changing both the weights for advanced classes and the grading scale benefits all students, especially those with GPAs below 3.75.
~ The grading scale has no bearing on a high school’s academic standards.  A vast majority of our nation’s very best high schools use the 10-point scale (see the 2008 Gold Medal Winner High Schools).
 ~ A school district’s academic standards are measured by their four-year college attendance rates for high school graduates, mean SAT scores and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate class participation and performance.
Jackson said, “If a student is taking the same courses and delivering the same performance in our county and it’s giving him a 3.5 average, and if he were simply in Stafford County or Spotsylvania county, his GPA would be a 3.9, then that’s patently wrong.  This uneven playing field places our kids at a distinct disadvantage and could potentially cost parents money and lost opportunities for our kids - this needs to change.”

fairfax county investigation report_120 pages.pdf

KG Parks & Rec Kite Day

It is an annual rite of Spring - the Kite Fly at Litchfield Farm, sponsored by King George Parks & Rec. Everyone had fun, and unusual kites abounded!

Bid awarded for $1,502,000 for construction of animal pound

Bids for Sheriff’s office also lower than estimated 

The King George Board of Supervisors voted last week on March 17 to award a contract to Gulf Seaboard General Contractors, Inc., in the amount of $1,502,000 for construction of a new county animal pound. 
The best news is that there were numerous bidders and all the qualified bids came in substantially under the cost estimate provide by URS for the construction project, which was $2.75M, for the base bid and the alternate.
Supervisor Dale Sisson pointed that out, saying, “This is a really good-news story.” 
Chairman Joe Grzeika commented that with the amount of the bid, they would get the full build-out to include the alternate of an expanded number of dog runs to 24, instead of 16 as contained in the base bid. 
Supervisor Jim Howard stated, “This is something that we have needed in King George for a long time.”
County Administrator Travis Quesenberry also had good news regarding the bids opened that day for construction of a 42K square foot Sheriff’s Department.
Quesenberry that the bids on the Sheriff’s Department needed to be checked for completeness and accuracy, but the initial tabulation indicated that of the 14 bids received, the apparent low bid came in at $7.335M.
That bid was almost $6M less than the cost estimate of $13M.  The high bid of $8.7M for the Sheriff’s project was also well below the cost estimate.
Both facilities will be constructed at the site planned for a new government center on Route 3, east of Route 205 at Purkins Corner and next to the YMCA.
~ FUNDING    Action was taken on November 4 by Supervisors to approve a resolution for a loan from the Virginia Resources Authority (VRA) for about $25M for the two buildings, in addition to other funds rolled in to refinance a couple of other smaller loan balances.
Grzeika stated, “Again, it is the time, and it is the best use of taxpayer dollars at this time.”
Supervisor Dale Sisson said, “I would never had guessed it would be that low.” 
Grzeika agreed, saying, “That is really astonishing.”
~ OTHER PROJECTS?    The news of the low bids may mean that remaining funding can go toward one or more other construction projects planned by the county. 
Under strong consideration could be expansion of the Smoot Library estimated at $4.5M and/or a new stadium estimated at $3M. 
Sisson said as much, stating, “We have the library expansion and maybe we can apply some of it to the stadium at this point.”
Supervisor Cedell Brooks, Jr., was also interested in what the remaining funds could be spent on, saying, “By saving so much, can we use that money for other things?”
Two other planned government center buildings are also on hold.  Those include an operations center and a health and human services building.
Grzeika directed Quesenberry, saying, “Let us know what our legal abilities are.”
Quesenberry said, “We’ll check that and bring back to the board some options.  There were certain things in that bond issuance that we were restricted to use the money for.”
Grzeika noted that construction prices could now start going up, saying, “If you put out bids now, I don’t think there will be as good as prices were now.  There will be stimulus money out there that will bring it back into more normalcy.”
He added, “We hit it right at the sweet spot.  This one really was a home run.  We rolled the dice on this and it really came out in our favor.”
~ CONTRACTOR    The approved contractor for the animal pound, Gulf Seaboard, is a commercial construction company established in 1982 and located in Ashland. 
The contract is expected to be executed by the end of next week, when the notice to proceed will be given. 
The language in the contract agreement provides for slightly less than 6 months to achieve final completion of the construction project.
The would put completion of the animal pound in the end of September, with the contract providing 127 days to reach substantial and another 45 days to reach final completion.
~ SPECS    Supervisors had reviewed and approved a design in October 2007.  The animal pound will be about 5,500 square feet for the building, along with 24 outside dog runs.
The new pound will replace the existing one. 
Its construction and design will meet requirements of the state veterinarian for such facilities, with floors and walls to resist bacteria growth, 10 air changes per hour for the mechanical system, and a pressure washer system for cleanliness. 
~ BIDS    24 bids were submitted for the animal pound project with two rejected as incomplete.  Gulf Seaboard was selected as the apparent responsible and responsive low bidder out of a total of 24 companies responding.  The bids were opened on March 3.  The bids ranged up to a high of $2,230,000. 
The architectural firm which designed the animal pound, Dominion Seven Architects, recommended the contractor be awarded the bid following a complete review of the contractor’s bid and qualifications.

 

By Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

King George Little League Gives Back

March 28  Family Celebration at Sealston Sports Complex

   Games, food and lots of fun for kids and families will be the order of the day on Saturday, March 28, at Sealston Sports Complex, adjacent to Sealston Elementary School.
   The kickoff event at the new Sealston Sports Complex is being jointly hosted by King George Little League, the KG REDS Challenger Division Baseball and King George Parks & Recreation.  A formal dedication of the new county sports facility is expected to be scheduled later this spring.
   The King George community is invited to the family celebration to help Little League celebrate county athletes and the volunteers who support them.  
   The free event begins at 10:00 a.m. and will run until 3:00 p.m.  The Baltimore Orioles’s mascot will be on hand, along with members of the Baltimore Oriole Advocates.
   It will include balloons, games, various contests, face painting and other activities.  While admission is free, attendees are asked to consider bringing a canned good or other non-perishable food item for donation to the King George Food Bank.
   The organization will also be accepting donations of gently-used sports equipment to donate to the Baltimore Oriole Advocates “Cardboard to Leather” program.
   Linda Davis, vice president of King George Challengers Division Baseball told The Journal, “Every charitable organization survives through the generosity and support of the local community.  This year, we are making a concerted effort to give back to the county in this special way.  We truly appreciate its continued support.” 
   Concession items will be for sale, expected to include hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and beverages.
   If your team or group would like to participate with Little League with an exhibition or other entry in the celebration, please call Linda Davis at 540-809-8205 or P&R’s Tim Smith at 775-4FUN.

By Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

 

Thinking of running for local office in Nov. 09?

LoBuglio may challenge Howard for Supervisor seat

   As winter winds down, hints of spring spur plans for the coming year, and some in King George might consider adding a possible run for local election to their calendars.
   If you’re interested in seeking a position in public service, it’s time to start gathering 125 signatures on the required petitions now.
   There are four elected positions up for grabs in King George later this year, including two on the Board of Supervisors and two on the School Board. 
   Running for local office is not as difficult as many think.  Sure, there are a few complicated forms to fill out, but it’s not such a tough hurdle for those who wish to give back to the community with a job in public service. 
   So far, John LoBuglio is the only non-incumbent seeking signatures for his petition to consider a run for the James Monroe seat on the Board of Supervisors. 
   That seat is currently held by Jim Howard, who was first elected to the seat in 1999 and is seeking a 4th consecutive term as representative from the James Monroe election district.
Howard has a long history of public service and served on the School Board in the 1980s, after a previous term on the Board of Supervisors.
   LoBuglio gathered signatures and introduced himself to voters during the recent Home & Craft Show. 
   LoBuglio told The Journal, “Many friends and neighbors have contacted me to ask that I seriously consider running and that I would serve our community well in this capacity if the voters so elect it.”
   LoBuglio is a bachelor and has worked as a federal government employee in the Department of Defense and Navy for over 31 years.  He is a senior business financial manager on the Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program. 
   LoBuglio earned an associate’s degree in 1973 in business administration from Erie Community College in Williamsville, NY and a bachelor’s in business administration in 1975 from the State University College of NY at Fredonia, NY.
   He has been active and involved in activities in the King George community since 1989, prior to purchasing property in 1996 moving here from Northern Virginia in early 1999.
LoBuglio is a member of St. Anthony Mission Parish, a charter member of the Friends of Caledon Natural Area State Park, and the King George Animal Rescue League, Northern Virginia Gun Club and King George Republican Committee. 
   “I love the rural atmosphere that exists here and want to protect that character and guide future growth.  I’ve lived through the growth and sprawl in Northern Virginia and how it can easily become out of control by so many various factors that completely change the community character over the course of just a few years,” LoBuglio said. 
   “Having lived there, I have a deeper appreciation of why I love this community and the need to protect what this community has to offer its citizens and generations to come.  I am a conservative and try to always keep a perspective of what immediate decisions have on long range planning for future implications.  I believe in fiscal responsibility and protecting future generations from unnecessary tax burdens and constraints.”
   o    SUPERVISOR SEATS UP FOR ELECTION    In addition to the term coming up for election on the Board of Supervisors in James Monroe, the Shiloh position held by Cedell Brooks, Jr., is also up for grabs. 
   Both incumbents have said they are planning on seeking reelection. 
The terms are for four years.  Though time-consuming, the board positions are part-time.  Members of the King George Board of Supervisors are paid $5,000 per year.
   o    SCHOOL BOARD SEATS UP FOR ELECTION    For the School Board, the terms coming up mirror those in the same districts as the Supervisors. 
The James Monroe School Board seat is held by Payne Kilbourn.  The Shiloh School Board position is currently held by Sherrie Allwine. 
   Neither incumbent has publicly announced their desire to run for reelection at this time.  Nor has any resident announced an intention to run for either position.
   The terms are for four years.  Though time-consuming, the board positions are part-time.  Members of the King George School Board get $3,600 per year, with an additional $500 going to the chairperson. 
   o     REQUIREMENTS TO RUN FOR OFFICE   If you are interested in running for local elected office, you may do so as long as you meet certain basic requirements. 
You must be a registered voter.  You must also be a resident of Virginia for at least one year immediately preceding the election; a resident of the election district to be represented by the time of filing; a United States citizen; and at least 18 years old, though any person who is 17 years old and will be eighteen years of age at the next general election shall be permitted to register in advance. 
The necessary forms can be downloaded free from the state Board of Elections website, or purchased from the state Board of Elections for $10.00. 
The Registrar’s office can provide an info sheet for those interested in finding out more about running for office, which lists the state web address.  Her office will also supply copies of blank petitions for potential candidates. 
   o    BECOMING A CANDIDATE    Those seeking election for any of the local elected positions must file 125 signatures on candidate petition forms with the county registrar by 7:00 p.m. on June 9.
   Petitions can be circulated either by the candidate or another person who is registered, or eligible to be registered, to vote in the district in which the candidate is seeking election.
When each petition sheet is completed, the person circulating the petition must affirm before a notary or other person authorized to administer oaths, that she/he personally witnessed the signatures.
   Falsely taking the affidavit is a felony under Virginia law.  This means that petitions can never be left unattended, for example on a counter at a store, restaurant, business, etc.
[Those who decide to seek candidacy are encouraged to contact The Journal, so we can include the information in an upcoming article.  Please contact Phyllis Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .]

By Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

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