WTOP Guide: Back-to-school changes at area school systems

WASHINGTON — As the Labor Day weekend wrapped up, many area kids who have yet to go back to school are starting a new year.

Most school systems are announcing changes ahead of students’ return, including new start and end times to the school day and an increase in school lunch prices. WTOP has collected announced changes from each school system for parents and guardians.

For students starting school in Maryland, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene made two changes to the required immunizations list for this school year, in addition to existing school immunization requirements.

All kindergarten and first-grade students must have two chicken pox vaccinations. All students entering seventh and eighth grades must have had one Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccination and one meningitis vaccination. This change primarily affects students coming from countries outside the United States.

Back to School on Tuesday, Sept. 8:

Alexandria City Public Schools
  • ACPS welcomes more than 14,700 students this year, an increase of 3.7 percent over last year with enrollment predicted to grow an average of 4 percent over the next decade.
  • ACPS has launched a new mobile app for families that features events, menus, news, sports scores and schedules, and resources for helping their students succeed.
  • The Alexandria City School Board is beginning the process of redistricting with the goal of implementing new elementary school boundaries for the school year 2016-17.
  • Three new principals: Jesse Dingle at T.C. Williams High School, Pierrette Hall at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, and Michael Routhouska at William Ramsay Elementary School.
  • A new International Academy at Francis C. Hammond Middle School is designed especially for recent immigrant students and their unique challenges in simultaneously becoming English proficient and academically prepared.
  • Jefferson-Houston School will expand its current International Baccalaureate Program to all fifth through eighth grade classes.
Arlington County Public Schools
  • Discovery Elementary School opens as the region’s first net-zero school, which means it will produce as much energy as it uses.
  • School bus stop-arm cameras begin filming motorists. Those who ignore a school bus’ deployed stop-arm will receive a $250 ticket.
  • APS Transportation has purchased two MV-1 vehicles to serve students with special needs. Each vehicle will accommodate up to two wheelchair-bound students.
  • The district announced a family and community engagement coordinator to the Department of Instruction — putting greater emphasis on meeting the needs of the whole child.
  • Setting up pilot schools to receive special professional development in the use of technology to assist in personalized learning.
  • The FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools) expands in all elementary schools this year and elimination of most early release Wednesdays for all elementary students
Falls Church City Public Schools
  • Pre-First Day enrollment is up 3 percent.
  • New MakerStudio at George Mason High School Pre-K through 12 focusing on STEaM Education.
  • Both the school district and Falls Church City begin accepting proposals for new or expanded George Mason High School and Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School.
Fairfax County Public Schools
  • New bell schedule: Most Fairfax County high schools will start at 8:10 a.m. and end the school day at 2:55 p.m. The three secondary schools will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 2:45 p.m.
  • School breakfast and lunch prices will remain the same in 2015-16, with breakfast at $1.75 and lunch at $2.90 for elementary students and $3 for middle and high school students.
  • FCPS is converting MyLunchMoney to a new school meal payment program, MySchoolBucks, enabling parents to pay for school meals without being charged a convenience fee. Any remaining balance from MyLunchMoney will automatically transfer over to MySchoolBucks, and passwords will remain the same.
  • FCPS’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services kicks off an initiative to be “Polystyrene Free by 2016.” Recyclable products, including a recycled cardboard lunch tray, will be introduced as the existing polystyrene trays and bowls are depleted, anticipated to occur in October.
  • New Student Information System Parent Accounts: The new Student Information System Parent Account is an online tool parents can use to access information about their child’s attendance, class schedule and performance, discipline incidents, and health information.
Fredericksburg City Public Schools
  • Fredericksburg City Public Schools is currently in the beginning stages of implementing the International Baccalaureate program at middle and high schools.
  • Faculty and staff will participate in professional development in the subjects of reading and math throughout the school year.
  • Walker-Grant Middle School with be implementing a new instructional schedule called Tiger Time.
  • Fredericksburg City Public Schools is currently in partnership with the Sunshine Lady Foundation and Germanna Community College to assist in promoting The Gladys Todd Academy, an Early College Program for high school students.
Stafford County Public Schools
  • Students at Stafford High School will start class Monday, Sept. 14 due to a delay in permitting at the new building.
  • Freshman orientation at Stafford High is rescheduled for Sept. 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The high school open house is also rescheduled for Sept 10.
  • The school district did not make information available about any other school changes.
Spotsylvania County Public Schools
  • New bell times for elementary and middle schools. Elementary schools will start at 8:45 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m. Middle schools will begin instruction at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 2:45 p.m.
  • Effective July 1, 2014, a booster dose of Tdap vaccine is required for all children entering the 6th grade. Only students vaccinated with Tdap will be admitted on the first day of school.
  • SCPS has contracted with Minneland to provide before and after school care at each Elementary school for the 2015-16 school year. For additional information or to register, go online to www.minnielandsac.com, send an email to sacadmin@minnieland.com, or call 540-376-7926.

Back to School on Monday, Aug. 31:

Montgomery County Public Schools
  • Bell schedule changes for all grades. Elementary schools will start 10 minutes later and middle and high school start times move back 20 minutes later.
  • The elementary school day is extended by ten minutes due to the change.
  • New bus routes affected by changing start/end times
  • MCPS welcomes 35 new principals.
Prince William County Public Schools
  • Enrollment will exceed 87,000 this year, retaining its spot as the second largest School Division in Virginia.
  • It has upward of 5,700 teachers (of which 700+ are newly hires this year), and more than 10,000 total employees.
  • Chris Yung Elementary School opens. The school is named for the PWC officer who was killed in a tragic accident while on route to help others.
  • Other schools are under construction (including the 12th HS, named for Senator Charles Colgan), or on the drawing board.
  • Many schools have received significant renovations this year, including energy saving features like those that have that helped save $12 million in energy costs over the past three years.
  • A new grant-funded program expands on already-significant efforts to serve the many military-connected families in the Division.
  • Also new this year, is the partnership with AlphaBEST, which is now running the School Age Child Care and Next Generation (middle school after school) programs, following long-running collaboration with Minnieland.
Manassas City Schools
  • Osbourn High School debuts blended learning with the e-Backpack Digital Learning Initiative — a blended learning opportunity for students. Students in grades 9-11 receive a tablet device for use at school and at home.
  • MCPS is launching a new mobile app that will give stakeholders centralized access to news, calendars, division-wide directories and more.
  • Project Lead the Way provides STEM instruction for students in grades 5-12. The program offers a curriculum to prepare and motivate students to enter careers in science and engineering.
Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Riverside High School opens this school year as Loudoun’s 15th high school and 88th school over all.
  • The One to the World initiative will be stress project-based learning in which students will take on real-world problems and share their solutions with the public. The idea is to develop deeper understanding of subject matter and how it applies to real-life situations.
  • A key component of One to the World is the district’s Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) program. BYOT encourages students to incorporate their personal smartphones, laptops or tablets into classroom activities to conduct research, create a product or share the product with others.
  • LCPS is replacing the CLARITY Parent Portal with Phoenix ParentVUE — a product integrated with its Student Information System. The purpose of Phoenix ParentVUE is to provide parents with near-real-time access to information on assignments and grades, attendance, class schedules, graduation status and more.
  • Midterm and final exams will be optional at the secondary level.
  • All nine seats on the School Board will be up for election on November 3 with six of the races being contended.
  • LCPS walk zones have been expanded to include 1,653 new walkers at 15 schools.
Baltimore City Schools
  • Lillie May Carroll Jackson School, a charter school serving girls in the middle grades with a focus on expeditionary learning
  • Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school opening with grades 4 to 6 but that will eventually expand to serve boys and young men through 12th grade
  • Banneker Blake Academy, a charter school serving boys in the middle grades with a STEAM focus (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math)
  • Bard High School Early College, a school operated under a partnership contract with Bard College, serving grades 9 to 12 and from which students will graduate with both a Maryland high school diploma and a two-year associate degree and transferrable credits from Bard College
  • City Schools will expand Career and Technology Education pathways, with five additional middle schools offering Gateway to Technology from Project Lead the Way and eight high schools adding new pathways in career fields including information technology, construction design and management, and environmental studies.
  • Through the Community Eligibility Provision under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, all students attending Baltimore City Public Schools can receive free breakfast and lunch at school this year, with no need to document income eligibility.
Charles County Public Schools
  • For one week only, CCPS is offering free breakfast for all students. The universal free breakfast is scheduled for the week of Sept. 7 and will include meals with cereal, milk and assorted fruit.
  • Lunch prices for all students increased by 10 cents this school year. There is no change in the cost of breakfast for students this year.
  • School resource officers at each of Charles County’s seven public high schools are helping to launch the “We Care” program on Wednesday, Sept. 2. The program is a safe driving initiative for teens by teens with guidance from the Charles County Sheriff’s Office and CCPS.
  • The Board of Education has scheduled community engagement forums to provide parents and community members with school system information and to solicit information about community values, concerns and goals for the school system. The Town Hall is set for 6:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28, at St. Charles High School in the cafeteria.
  • The Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC) is piloting divisional play across all sports starting this fall. There will be two divisions — the Chesapeake and Potomac divisions.
  • The James E. Richmond Science Center, located on the St. Charles High School campus, is hosting a Back to School bash on Friday, Sept. 18. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and each ticket holder can experience three movies in the digital dome theater

Back to School on Tuesday, Aug. 25:

Prince George’s County Schools
  • The price of school lunches increases for elementary and high school students. See the prices here.
  • Two new International High Schools — one within Largo High School in Upper Marlboro and another at Annapolis Road Academy in Bladensburg.
  • Ten high schools will see new improvements to athletic facilities this fall due to capital improvements.
  • Five elementary schools and two early childhood centers will have refurbished entrances to welcome students and parents.
Calvert County Schools
  • Implementation of the Elementary Advanced Learning Program, expansion of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and continued work to narrow the achievement gaps between various groups of students.
  • The system welcomes three new principals: Jessica Reynolds to Dowell Elementary, Mandy Blackmon to Southern Middle and Sabrina Bergen to Patuxent High. Principal Jaime Webster moves to Northern Middle.
  • Expanded technology infrastructure: a systemwide wireless network, additional mobile devices and online student accounts for document storage and collaboration.

Back to School Monday, Aug. 24:

Anne Arundel County Schools
  • Seven schools open a day late due to construction.
  • Schools open for grades 1-5 and 6-9 only. All other grades open Tuesday, Aug. 25.
  • 80,000 students are enrolled, the most in the system’s history.
  • 500 new teachers join the school system.
  • New curriculum for kindergarten and first-grade students.
  • Third middle school STEM magnet program opens at Central Middle School.
  • Monarch Global Academy Public Contract School adds a sixth-grade class.
  • Mary E. Moss Academy moves to J. Albert Adams Academy, serving grades six through nine.
Baltimore County Schools
  • New school Lyons Mill Elementary opens.
  • 111,000 students are enrolled in the state’s third-largest school system this year.
  • Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow (STAT), a 1:1 learning initiative.
  • Expansion of Todos Adelante program for second-language acquisition.
D.C. Public Schools
  • All charter and DCPS students can now ride free on Metrorail. Students previously were able to ride free only on Metrobus. Get more information here.
  • DCPS is opening four new schools: Van Ness Elementary School (Ward 6), Dorothy I. Height Elementary School (Ward 4), Brookland Middle School (Ward 5) and River Terrace Elementary School (Ward 7). River Terrace Elementary School is for students with multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability, medical complexity, visual or hearing impairment and autism.
  • 750 new teachers have been hired.
  • Schools will offer new AP courses and electives.
  • Cornerstones Initiative debuts.
Frederick County, Maryland, Public Schools
  • More than 40,000 students will attend school this year.
  • New school cash online program offers parents another way to pay for field trips, sports fees, etc.
  • School lunch prices have changed this year. See the updated prices here.
  • The school system debuts a new website with links to social media.
  • The website parents use to track grades online has changed to Home Access Center.
Howard County Public Schools
  • There are 1,000 more students than last school year, and 400 new teachers.
  • Parents have a new way to monitor their child’s homework, grades and other information with HCPSS Connect.
  • The system debuts “Family File,” a new emergency card procedures system to keep medical contact information up to date. It can be accessed through HCPSS Connect.
  • Howard County High Schools get new websites.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up