Semester Exams Canceled Because of Snow

Prince William students got more than just a few days off after snow blanketed the region this week.

The snow came at the same time as semester exams, and the county canceled the exams rather than risk delaying the start of the new semester.

Superintendent Edward L. Kelly said that losing Tuesday and Wednesday for snow days meant that the remaining week and part of next week would have to be spent on review for exams, rather than new lessons. "We decided to cancel the semester exams because of the concern over the loss of instructional time," Kelly said.

Some students may have had to take tests this week, but the those tests weren't given the same weight as semester exams.

Meanwhile, with more snow expected over the weekend, Kelly also announced plans for next week: Monday and Tuesday are scheduled as teacher workdays. However, if the weather forces employees to stay home, students still should be prepared to start the semester Wednesday. The teacher workdays will not be made up.

Also, any additional snow days could mean that students would have a shorter spring break, fewer holidays or a longer school year. Future snow days this year will be made up on April 3, June 21, April 17, April 18, and May 29, respectively. Any more would be tacked on to the end of the school year.

Schools Expect $4 Million Surplus

Prince William Schools expects to save more than $4 million from its budget this year, a savings that could go toward new equipment, start-up costs for specialty programs and a study of teacher compensations, Superintendent Edward L. Kelly suggests.

The School Board will vote on Kelly's proposals Wednesday.

The school system will have more money at the end of the year, primarily because the number of teachers who retired exceeded expectations, resulting in lower payroll costs.

Kelly proposes that about $562,000 go toward preliminary costs for two elementary schools to be built in the Southbridge and Braemar neighborhoods. The county plans to open those schools in fall 2001.

An additional $885,000 would go toward specialty programs and the Pennington School, a highly structured program for first- through eighth-graders that will start in the fall. An additional $250,000 would go toward a study of whether Prince William's salaries are on a par with surrounding jurisdictions and private businesses. The remaining money would go toward transportation software and radio equipment.

Kelly will present the new school year budget at Wednesday's School Board meeting. It is scheduled to be submitted to the Board of County Supervisors by March 22 and voted on by the end of April.