Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Not quite paperless…

Ferry Farm Elementary School Principal Robert Freeman had green in mind when he asked teachers to stop using so much paper.

Just not the green they assumed.

Monday, second-grade teachers sent a note home to parents telling them that homework packets would stop for the rest of the year because of a paper shortage. They attributed the shortage to “the effects of the budget crunch.”

But it turns out there isn’t a shortage at Ferry Farm.

“There is no paper issue,” said Valerie Cottongim, public information officer for Stafford County Public Schools.

Freeman was instead encouraging teachers to use technology, such as smartboards, instead of printing out worksheets. And asking them to put more items on the SchoolFusion site. Each teacher has a page on that site and can use it to post the list of spelling words, math problems and other assignments. For older students, teachers can also post grades to the site. Some teachers use the technology more than others and Freeman wanted to see more using SchoolFusion.

Freeman was more concerned about conservation in the environmental sense than the economic sense, Cottongim said. Although saving paper would certainly do both, and Stafford schools are definitely looking for ways to cut back.

After a blog post about the note, some county residents have dropped off paper at Ferry Farm. While Freeman and his staff are grateful for the support, they weren’t facing a shortage, Cottongim emphasized.

If residents are looking for ways to support the schools, they are trying to find money for a new career and technical education center and a fiber optics upgrade, Cottongim laughed.


  • Rae Lynn Boyer

    Well done, Principal Freeman! Any parent of an elementary student has had their home overrun with a vast amount of paper brought home. So glad someone is trying to make our schools more Eco-friendly. The school Fusion pages are a great way to keep up with what our kids are doing at school…as long as the teachers keep it updated. Much as they have to do, it’s not to blame them for not adding one more task to their daunting list….especially when much of this is done at home….off the clock. Perhaps soon there will be more Fusion and less paper and their work load will be lessened so they can focus more on teaching than paperwork.

  • Debbi Shelton-Scites

    “Well Done” for lying to the parents in a note? How about making it a requirement to go to the website for assignments, etc… instead of a bold face lie?  

  • 4Dana

    I hope Dean apologizes to the BoS for jumping to false conclusions.

  • AAmomG


  • $44514486

    Its the BOS that should apologize for the $40M funding gap for deferred cyclical replacements over the last 6 years and the failure to fund the 5 year $50M compensation plan to get teacher salary half way betweer Spotsy snd PrWm.  
    You were the one that was miffed at being ‘required’ to supply packs of paper for MVHS.
    The fact that this is even a topic of discussion should scare the daylights out of and be a real wake up call for every parent of the nearly 27,000 students!

    Sure hope they have enough toilet paper!

  • 4Dana

    Fox 5 News just broadcast this story for the entire DC Region. They obtained a copy of the letter from the teachers to the parents, that referred to the “budget crunch”. The news story clearly stated there was no shortage, and they didn’t need paper. Exposed blatant attempt to manipulate the public.

    How embarrassing for Stafford

  • Suzy Smith

    What do the students with no computers at home do? I agree that where it is possible, use the technology, but not at the cost of an education for the students who don’t have access to computers at home.