PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
Prince William County Schools approved the FY17 budget Wednesday, which increases staffing and offers step-increases for employees. According to PWCS, the School Board plans to increase spending by 4.6 percent over the current year. It would provide pay increases and fund investments in students. The budget also includes funds to add 150 instruction positions throughout the school division to reduce class sizes in core classes for grades 8, 10, 11 and 12. Salaries for teachers would increase by an average of 2.8 percent with the one-step pay increase.
An unprecedented safety shutdown of the Metro subway system inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of people in and around the nation’s capital on Wednesday. Federal workers telecommuted or took the day off, children missed school and countless others woke up early to take bus after bus, hail pricey taxis or slog through traffic. Many people resigned themselves to a very long day. “I’ve got to catch five buses to get to Alexandria,” said Leander Talley, 52, who loaded his bicycle onto a bus at the Springfield Metro station. “It’s like three and a half hours. It’s crazy.”
The Commonwealth Transportation Board on Wednesday authorized up to $2 million in emergency spending for “supplemental transit operations” in Northern Virginia in the event the shutdown of the Metro service in Washington lasts longer than Thursday morning. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority announced the closure of the entire system Tuesday afternoon for emergency inspections that will last until at least 5 a.m. today. The decision followed a fire Monday morning that appeared related to the same problem that caused the death of one passenger and sent dozens to the hospital when they were trapped on a train in a smoke-choked tunnel last year.
Virginia’s unemployment rate fell slightly in January to its lowest level since July 2008, as the state experienced improved year-over-year job growth and more people looked for work. The state jobless rate was 4.1 percent in January. That is down from 4.2 percent in December and 4.8 percent in January 2015, the Virginia Employment Commission announced Monday. The rates have been adjusted for seasonal factors that may cause temporary fluctuations in employment.
A starter home is supposed to be an entry point into the market: a modest property, maybe a two-bed, one-bath, a place a young couple could buy into before all the pets and kids and seldom-used kitchen appliances come along. Buy a starter home, if all goes well, and you position yourself later to trade up. A starter home helps make possible a second home, which makes possible maybe a third even grander one somewhere down the line. But what happens when the most affordable entry-level housing on the market costs $700,000? Okay, that’s an extreme example (it’s from metro San Francisco). But across the country, the list prices of starter homes have been rapidly rising, running away from what would be remotely possible on the kind of incomes that could traditionally buy you such properties.
Kelly Henderson loves her job, teaching at Newton South High School in a suburb west of Boston. But she’s frustrated she can’t afford to live in the community where she teaches: It’s part of the 10th most expensive housing market in the nation. “For people in the private sector, they’re probably saying ‘Oh poor you, you can’t live in the community where you work, what’s the big deal?’ ” says Henderson, 35. “And I guess part of the nature of public education and why it’s a different kind of job, is that it’s all-consuming — as it should be.” Like a lot teachers, she wants to be a vital part of the community where she works. She says people in high-cost communities need to remember that a teacher’s job doesn’t end at 3:00.
More than 150 friends, family and supporters were on hand March 16 as Democrat LuAnn Bennett kicked off her bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10th). “The 10th district deserves a congresswoman who reflects its values,” Bennett said at the event, held in Sterling. “When things go wrong, we have a choice: We can give in or we can fight. I’ve spent the last 21 years fighting for my family. Now, I want to help fight for you, your family and all families here in the 10th District.” Democrats have coalesced around Bennett’s bid against Comstock, who in 2014 easily defeated Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) to win the seat of Republican Frank Wolf, who had served in Congress since 1981. Among the elected officials on hand for the kickoff was state Attorney General Mark Herring (D).
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