175K students head back to classes today

More than 124,000 students will be back in classes in Prince George's County. (WTOP/Kristi King)
A ninth and a sixth grader in Frederick County Public Schools head back to school Monday. (Courtesy of Kim Johnson)
Bladensburg Elementary School is one of the Prince George's County Schools that started Monday. (WTOP/Kristi King)
More than 124,000 students will be back in classes in Prince George's County. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON – More than 175,000 students returned to school on Monday in Maryland’s Prince George’s and Frederick counties and in Fauquier County, Va., one of the few school Virginia school systems to open before Labor Day.

It’s the first year for Chief Executive Officer of Prince George’s County Public Schools Kevin Maxwell, who recently left his job as head of Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

More than 124,000 students are expected in Prince George’s County classrooms. Of those, about 10,000 will attend kindergarten and 6,000 pre-kindergarten.

The Prince George’s County school system has had problems in the past early in the school year, with school buses not being on time and in some cases, new drivers losing their way. Maxwell tells WTOP a new GPS system for the buses will help address those issues.

“Making sure that they’re getting where they need to be on time is the goal of the GPS,” he said.

“There were some issues here in the past in Prince George’s County with getting the people to the right places, and needing directions. So that problem is solved.”

Maxwell also noted that about 350 students will have a full-day of pre-kindergarten this year at eight schools, as part of a broad effort to improve conditions for kids in areas facing economic challenges. Overall, Prince George’s County added 18 all-day pre-K classes this year.

Many schools have been refurbished, and there are two new schools — Oxon Hill High School and Avalon Elementary. A new public charter school, the College Park Academy, opens this year.

County Executive Rushern Baker has made turning around the school system one of his chief goals. The school system is the second-largest in Maryland and has been trying for years to improve test scores and underperforming schools.

Maxwell says he’s confident that changes underway will make a difference.

“Our teachers have … been working hard, as our support staff has, to get school ready to open. The teachers are ready,” Maxwell said.

In Frederick County, Md., the school system expects 40,668 students to attend classes. The enrollment is slightly higher than last year, according to the Frederick County Public Schools website.

In Frederick County, the Frederick Classical Public Charter School is set to open with 280 students in grades kindergarten through six.

In Fauquier County, where more than 11,000 students are enrolled, fees for materials, musical instruments and activities will remain the same.

The school board in Fauquier next week votes on a policy that will allow students to bring electronic devices to schools, Fauquier Now reports.

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