Manassas Passes Budget

The Manassas School Board unanimously approved a $68.6 million operating budget April 1.

The budget includes an average 6 percent raise for teachers and support staff -- a 3 percent cost-of-living increase and a 3 percent "step increase." It also includes an average 4.8 percent raise for administrators -- a 3 percent cost-of-living increase and a 1.8 percent step increase.

A starting teacher with a bachelor's degree would make $35,505, compared with $34,473 this fiscal year. And a starting teacher with a master's degree would make $39,883, compared with $38,723 this year. School officials said their main focus was to stay competitive with neighboring jurisdictions in salary and benefits.

The budget includes $200,000 to pay for all-day kindergarten at Manassas's five elementary schools. A pilot program is now in place at Round and Weems elementary schools. E. Leigh Burden, school finance director, said that figure will be offset completely by funds from the state. The school district will end preschool and ESL kindergarten programs to pay for all-day kindergarten.

In late March, the School Board added about $1.8 million to Superintendent Sidney "Chip" Zullinger's original budget, presented in early February, including $375,000 for five new school buses, $25,000 to boost summer school programs at all elementary schools and $105,000 for new substitute instructional assistants and a elementary guidance counselor.

As part of a revenue-sharing agreement, the city spends 56.2 percent of its annual revenue on the school district. The Manassas City Council will take a final vote on the budget by month's end.

Manassas Park Plan

The Manassas Park School Board has approved a $21.4 million budget, which includes 16.5 new staff positions.

Almost 42 percent of the city's revenue will go to the school district, a 1 percent increase over the current fiscal year, Superintendent Tom DeBolt said. An additional 10 percent of city revenue will go toward debt service costs for the school district, he said.

The budget funds 16.5 new staff positions, including 7.5 teachers, to meet the needs of a student population that DeBolt estimates will grow by about 140 students by the fall.

It also proposes an average 6.8 percent pay raise for all employees -- a 3.5 percent cost-of-living increase and a 3.25 step increase. DeBolt said that special emphasis was placed on making the salaries of teachers with graduate degrees more in line with neighboring jurisdictions.

The starting annual salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree would be $35,086 annually under the budget, compared with $34,000 last year. The starting annual salary for a teacher with a master's degree would be $39,386, compared with $36,550.

Two school buses would also be added to the fleet, at a cost of $65,000 each.

The Manassas Park City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the 2004 budget April 22, after which the School Board plans to approve a salary schedule.

Virtual High Information

Virtual High School @ PWCS will hold an information meeting for prospective staff, parents and students April 29 and May 22.

The April 29 meeting replaces one that was scheduled for April 24.

The one-hour meetings will begin at 7 p.m. in the Administrative Building's cafeteria at the School Board Complex on Joplin Road in Independent Hill.

The program, which is in its second year, is open to students who are enrolled in public or private schools. Registration for the summer session begins in late May. Students can register with Prince William guidance counselors or online.

Three sessions -- fall, spring and summer -- are offered each year. Fifteen online classes will be offered this summer, including English, math, history, government, science and computer technology.

For more information, visit www.pwcs.edu/pwcsvirtualhs/, call 703-791-8988 or e-mail elinemw@pwcs.edu.

NVCC Registration

Summer registration for classes at Northern Virginia Community College starts April 21.

One 12-week session and two six-week sessions will be offered. Classes begin May 19. The second six-week session starts July 1.

Register at 703-330-3770 or 703-323-3770 starting April 21. In-person registration is May 12 to 16. For more information, call 703-257-6600 or visit www.nvcc.edu.

-- Compiled by Michele Clock

E-mail items to clockm@washpost.com; fax to 703-392-1406; or mail to School Notes, Prince William Extra, The Washington Post, 9420 Battle St., Manassas, Va. 20110.