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Local schools receive $20K grants from Haymarket

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Local schools receive $20K grants from Haymarket

The Haymarket Town Council voted unanimously on Jan. 7 to dole out $20,244 each to four area schools as part of a proffer disbursement worth $101,220 designed to help schools with expensive projects, bringing a round of applause from several school representatives in attendance at Town Hall.
Representatives from Bull Run Middle School, Ronald Reagan Middle School, Buckland Mills Elementary School and Tyler Elementary School all submitted proposals from late November to early December explaining how they would spend the money to improve student life.
A proposal from Battlefield High School had yet to be delivered to the Town of Haymarket prior to the vote.
Those specific schools were eligible for the checks due to be sent out last week because students from the town attend them, giving town residents a direct stake in each schools.
Wish lists from each school ranged from technology to playground equipment.
Haymarket could fund these projects because of the residential proffer paid to the town by developer D.R. Horton when the company bought and built up the Alexandra's Keep subdivision of town houses during the last decade.
Bull Run Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) president Melba Williams stated in a letter that the group wanted to spend $10,000 to expand the school's tutoring program and spend $12,598 to "cover the cost of the iPad Learning Lab with twenty iPads."
"Due to Prince William County School System's budgetary constraints, these points can not be fully addressed within the school's budget," wrote Williams. "Unfortunately, our PTSO is feeling the pangs of the economic downturn and cannot currently support these two vital points."
Buckland Mills PTO president Annie Jenks and vice president Lisa Bennett wrote that the school with more than 1,000 students could use the funds to "support our community effort to install the remaining two phases of our playground."
In an interview outside of Town Hall, Bennett, Jenks and fellow board member Melissa Vilar explained that they intended to add more swing sets, slides, and a climbing structure that could hold 50 students.
The total cost of the remaining two phases for the playground will run about $40,000 total, with the money from the town paying for roughly half that amount, according to Jenks.
Tyler PTO co-president Paula King, who lives in town, mentioned in her letter that the computers at school are 10 years old and "cannot run programs that are necessary in 2012."
She added that the PTO "has been tasked with replacing the computers at a cost of $21,732," which would fund "31 complete desktop workstations."
Ronald Reagan PTSO president Michelle Baker (who also writes freelance stories for this newspaper) and four other board members requested funding for "three scoreboards, one for the new baseball field, one for the softball field, and one for the football/multi-purpose field." Their combined cost worked out to $15,647, allowing the group to ask for an addition $4,488 for "four sets of aluminum 40-seat bleachers" that would be placed on the baseball, softball and soccer fields.
The letter also stated, "If there are additional funds available, we would appreciate help in securing funding for a classroom set of iPads."
The catch with the funds for each school is that they must keep track of their receipts so that the Prince William County school system can conduct oversight of spending.
County schools superintendent Stephen Walts wrote in a Dec. 20, 2012 letter to then-town manager Gene Swearingen that school administrators had "some concerns" about how the town would allocate its money.
"Regardless of use of the funds, we are requesting the disbursements of the Alexandra's Keep funds come through PWCS for accountability. If the money is sent directly to the PTOs, the School Division is not accountable for use of the funds and has no way of tracking expenditures," wrote Walts.
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