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PWEA Members Show Solidarity

Members of the Prince William Education Association have had enough. They’re looking at the possibility, laid out in the superintendent’s proposed budget, of no pay raises until at least 2015. County schools already have the largest class sizes in the state and the lowest per-pupil investment among Northern Virginia localities, despite the fact that Prince William is the 9th wealthiest county in the nation.

The county has chronically underfunded its schools, despite the area’s rapid growth, which will bring some 2,700 new students into the system this fall.

“We want to bring the pressing need to adequately fund our schools to the public’s attention,” says PWEA President Bonnie KIakowicz. “Our hope is that parents, and every other stakeholder group in the county, will step up and advocate for the support we need to maintain our world-class school system. We’d also like to offer hope to our educators for some kind of salary increase.”

 To alert the public to the needs of the schools, their students and their employees, PWEA members voted to launch a four-pronged solidarity campaign:

     • Step 1: An extensive e-mail and letter-writing campaign directed at members of the Board of County Supervisors and School Board, with members detailing some of the obstacles they face because of underfunding and overcrowding. Letters to the editor of local publications are also encouraged.

     • Step 2: Fill the rooms at School Board and Board of County Supervisor meetings, wearing blue PWEA shirts and speaking publicly when possible.

     • Step 3: Hold “Days of Solidarity” at individual schools, which could include wearing the same color, entering and leaving school as a group, or other acts of unity decided by members at the site.

     • Step 4: Begin a “work to the rule” effort, in which school employees work only the hours specified in their contracts to draw attention to all the extra hours it takes to provide an excellent education.

The first two steps are in full swing across the county; the final two steps are being implemented on a school-by-school basis, with the full support of PWEA leaders.

“Each step is a different form of job action,” says Klakowicz. “Together we have a loud, strong voice.” 

PWEA will be placing a series of four ads in local newspapers and a community flyer has been developed. In addition, grade-ins will be held at the food courts at Potomac Mills Mall and Wegmans in Gainesville on Saturday, March 10 from 11:00 to 1:30.

PWEA members at Ellis Elementary School sport red (and PWEA blue) to generate conversation about school funding.


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