Approximately 81,000 students – the most ever – are expected to fill seats in schools across the county when the 2016-2017 school year begins for most students on Monday, August 22.
Those students will be greeted by expanded offerings, a new and exciting curriculum in second grade, and a new $24 million elementary school in West Annapolis.
Elementary school students in the Chesapeake and Northeast clusters will have the benefit of additional instructional opportunities as part of the expansion of the Enhancing Elementary Excellence (Triple E) program. Triple E infuses an additional, exciting area of study for students within the existing school day and allows teachers to have much-needed increased collaborative planning time. With the start of this school year, Triple E will be in place in five of the county’s 12 clusters.
At the middle school level, Central Middle School will add seventh grade to its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) magnet program and Lindale will add an eighth-grade class. Monarch Global Academy Public Contract School will also expand by adding a seventh-grade class.
Staggered start for students
With the exception of two schools that will open a day late due to planned construction projects, the first day of classes for students in first through fifth, sixth, and ninth grades will be Monday, August 22. The staggered openings of secondary schools will give sixth- and ninth-graders a chance to get acclimated to their new surroundings before the remaining students return to class on Tuesday, August 23.
Kindergarten, prekindergarten, and ECI students will also start school on a staggered schedule. Parents should see the school calendar for details.
Planned construction projects at Benfield and West Annapolis elementary schools will necessitate a one-day delay in their opening for students. Staggered start schedules at these schools will be moved by one day to accommodate the late opening.
Students at the Mary Moss at J. Albert Adams Academy will not utilize the staggered start. All students at the school will begin class on Tuesday, August 23.
In addition, Central Special School, Marley Glen Special School, and Ruth Parker Eason Special School will open for students on Tuesday, August 23. Parent conferences at those three schools will take place on Monday, August 22.
After two years of attending class at Annapolis Middle School, students and staff at West Annapolis Elementary School will return to a modernized building this fall. The 53,885-square-foot facility has a capacity for 314 students and cost $24 million. A ribbon-cutting for the new school will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, August 22, the day before classes begin.
Students and staff at Benfield Elementary School will see their modernization project completed this winter. The $34.9 million project will nearly double the square footage of the building, which can accommodate 552 students. Students and staff have remained in the school while construction has been under way.
This winter will also bring the completion of the new Severna Park High School facility. The $130 million facility, being constructed next to the existing school, is expected to open in January 2017.
All schools have scheduled Back-To-School Nights to provide parents with a chance to learn more about the instruction their children are receiving and the teachers who are providing that instruction. Detailed information on dates and times for every school can be found here.
New faces in new places
Compared to this time a year ago, the nine-member Board of Education has four new faces: Terry Gilleland, Eric Grannon, Maria Delores Sasso, and student member Carolyn Williams. All were appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan.
Gilleland represents District 31 on the Board, Grannon represents District 33, and Sasso represents District 30. The five-year terms of Gilleland and Sasso expire on June 30, 2020, while Grannon’s term expires on June 30, 2021.
Williams, a senior at Glen Burnie High School, is serving a one-year term as the Board’s 45th student member. Her term expires on June 30, 2016.
There also are new principals at 19 schools across the county. Eleven of those schools – North County and Southern high schools; Old Mill Middle School South; Belvedere, Crofton, Folger McKinsey, Fort Smallwood, Point Pleasant, and Seven Oaks elementary schools; Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School; and the Mary Moss at J. Albert Adams Academy – will be led by first-year principals. Seven schools – Broadneck and Old Mill high schools; Annapolis Middle School; Old Mill Middle School North; and Mills-Parole, Freetown, and Waugh Chapel elementary schools – have new principals who have moved from other principalships. In addition, Sue Myers has been named principal at Monarch Annapolis Contract School, which will open in August 2017.
Significant calendar changes
The school calendar approved by the Board of Education contains significant changes from previous years. Of note:
- Three one-day opportunities for parent-teacher conferences will replace the traditional two-day conference window in November. Conferences will be held on October 20, 2016; December 2, 2016; and March 3, 2017.
- The Thanksgiving break for students is no longer a full week. All schools and offices will be closed from Wednesday, November 23, 2016, through Friday, November 25, 2016, but will be open on Monday, November 21, 2016, and Tuesday, November 22, 2016.
- Schools will be open on the Rosh Hashanah (October 3, 2016) holiday but closed on the Yom Kippur (October 12, 2016) holiday.
- Monday, April 17, 2017 (the day after Easter), may be used as a potential makeup day if more than the five days built into the calendar for inclement weather closings have been utilized.
- The last day for graduating seniors is Thursday, May 18, 2017.
- The last day for students is Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
Policy and regulation changes
School employees, parents, and students will see more standardization on the county’s “redo” procedures for students who elect to improve their grades on certain assignments or assessments.
In a given course, the revisions allow a student a single opportunity to redo between three and five assignments or assessments, with the number determined by the teacher or team and approved by the school principal. The higher grade will count as the grade of record for that assignment or assessment.
Complete details on the revised procedure can be found in Administrative Regulation II-RA here.
ParentConnectxp to go live, attendance calls to begin September 12
ParentConnectxp, the online portal that allows parents to see their child’s assignments, grades, and attendance records, will be available across the school system on Monday, September 12, 2016.
Parents who do not yet have access to ParentConnectxp can sign up here.
Automated attendance calls for students who are absent and whose parents have not previously notified the school of that absence will also begin on September 12.
Security reminder for visitors to schools
County schools are equipped with A/I phones which allow office personnel to communicate with visitors to determine the nature of their visit before allowing admittance to the school office. Parents, community members, school system employees, and others planning to visit schools are reminded that AACPS security procedures require all visitors to show a government-issued identification card (such as a driver’s license) to be admitted into a school. The ID card is scanned through a system that cross-references visitors against sexual offender databases.
Visitors must not hold the front door of a school open to allow other visitors not in their party into a school.
Fueled up and ready to go
This year, nearly 652,000 hours will be spent driving more than 700 buses over 10.1 million miles to transport students to and from schools. On a daily basis, nearly 59,000 students use county school transportation services.
Bus services are offered to students living outside designated walking areas at each school. Prekindergarten and kindergarten students who live greater than one-half mile from school, elementary school students who live greater than one mile from school, and middle and high school students who live greater than one-and-one-half miles from school are eligible to receive transportation services.
Routine bus evacuation drills will be conducted throughout the school year.
Complete school bus schedules and procedures can be found here.
Fuel for achievement
The cost of school meals for students will not increase this year. School breakfasts will cost $1.50, with lunches at elementary and secondary schools costing $2.75 and $3.00, respectively. At all schools, reduced-price breakfast is free and reduced-price lunch is 40 cents. The cost of milk will remain at 55 cents per bottle.
In addition to unlimited choices of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, AACPS offers a variety of nutritious meal options to ensure students are properly fueled for the school day. Forty-seven schools will offer free breakfast to all students as part of the Maryland Meals for Achievement program. Ten schools will allow students to purchase breakfast and eat with teachers and peers in the classroom as part of the Breakfast with Class program. In addition, 35 schools will serve free early evening meals to students through a federally-funded initiative aimed at supporting good nutrition and combating youth hunger. The school system also served more than 90,000 meals to young people over the summer.
Students who wish to apply for free or reduced-price meals must complete a new SY2016-2017 Meal Benefit Application. Applications are accepted throughout the school year and are now available online at https://applyformeals.aacps.org/ .
For the eighth straight year, AACPS is utilizing an enhanced computer system, MyPaymentsPlus, to make meal purchases faster and easier. Students whose parents deposit money into an account can use their six-digit student identification number to make purchases. Parents can register to receive emails when balances are low, and can monitor their child’s purchases. Questions about the prepayment programs should be directed to the school a child attends.
AACPS menus will feature additional healthy options for all students. Choices include additional fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grain options, and more lean protein and low-fat dairy options.
Last year, AACPS served 5.5 million lunches and 3.7 million breakfasts in schools. The system receives no county funds to operate lunch and breakfast programs. Revenue for the program comes from federal reimbursements (58 percent), food sales (38 percent), and state funding (4 percent).
Complete details about AACPS’ Division of Food and Nutrition Services can be found on the division’s new and improved website.
Notices of emergency closings and delays
Changes to school schedules caused by inclement weather or other emergency conditions are announced through Connect-ED via telephone, email, and text message; posted on the school system’s website (www.aacps.org), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/aacps), and Twitter page (www.twitter.com/AACountySchools); posted on all individual school Twitter pages; and announced on major area radio and television stations, including AACPS-TV (Channel 96 on Comcast and Broadstripe, and Channel 36 on Verizon).
In addition, announcements are posted (and parents may sign up for email alerts) on the School’s Out website (www.schoolsout.com).
Board meetings on TV and website; Board votes online
Meetings of the Board of Education, which typically occur on the first and third Wednesdays of most months, are broadcast live on AACPS-TV and on Livestream on the Internet.
AACPS-TV can be found on Channel 96 on Comcast and Broadstripe, and Channel 36 on Verizon. High definition broadcasts can be seen on Channel 996 on Comcast and Channel 496 on Broadstripe.
Livestream broadcasts can be found here.
Archived videos of Board meetings can be found online at www.apacps.org/boardvideos.
Voting records of Board members are categorized by meeting date and can be found online here.