Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will enter the 2015-16 school year with a slew of changes and exciting opportunities for students. While students prepare to go back to school next week, the PGCPS team has worked all summer to ensure students have a successful year. This year PGCPS expects 129,000 students across its 209 […]
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will enter the 2015-16 school year with a slew of changes and exciting opportunities for students.
While students prepare to go back to school next week, the PGCPS team has worked all summer to ensure students have a successful year.
This year PGCPS expects 129,000 students across its 209 schools – an increase of over 1,400 students, according to data collected by PGCPS.
Sherrie Johnson, a spokesperson for PGCPS, said the school system begins preparations for the upcoming school year the day after classes end in June with bi-weekly meetings between every department in the system.
School starts on Tuesday Aug. 25 this year, but there are plenty of preparations for students before classes begin. For the past three weeks teachers, administrators and staff have participated in programs to prepare for the upcoming school year. The programs include the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), the Professional Education Induction Program (PEIP) and the Assistant Principal Leadership Institute.
“SLI and PEIP are major components of our efforts to further develop and prepare our academic leaders and new teachers,” said Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, chief executive officer for PGCPS. “We are continually building on the program to ensure that we have a high performing workforce, who understands both the importance of their role in our student’s academic success and the vision and goals I’ve set for the school system.”
Johnson said students also participate in various orientations and “camps” before the school year starts. About 80 students from around the county participated in a Camp International Baccalaureate at Frederick Douglass High School from Aug. 10 to 12.
“The 9th-12th grade students will engage in various creative and technology based learning activities geared at preparing them for the IB experience at their respective schools,” Johnson said. “It is consistent with IB philosophy of creating globally minded learners. The theme of this year’s camp was ‘Empowering IB to create a better world.’”
Orientation for students entering pre-K, kindergarten, middle or high school will be on Monday Aug. 24. Information for specific schools is available from the individual school’s office.
This year there are new and continued requirements for immunizations of students, Angela Wakhweya, the chief of office of school health policy for PGCPS, said. The changes were made through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Last year the department added requirements for students entering kindergarten and 7th grade.
“They continued this year with the addition of two additional higher grades, knowing that the (kindergarteners) and 7th graders from last school year were fully immunized and have now been promoted to 1st and 8th grade,” Wkhweya said. “But there might be some students who transferred in from out of state, private school or home school who may not be compliant,”
Kindergarten and first graders are required to have two chickenpox vaccines. Both 7th and 8th grade students are required to have one tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine (Tdap) and one meningitis vaccine. Students have 20 days from the first day of class to show proof of vaccination or a detailed plan to start the process of vaccination.
Also new this year is the opening of two international schools, Annapolis Road Academy in Bladensburg and one within Largo High School. Alison Hanks-Sloan, the principal for the international school at Largo, said each international school will house 100 students.
“PGCPS provides a variety of instructional opportunities to meet the needs of all students,” Sloan said. “Our international high schools are just one of the ways to provide support and another choice to our English Language Learner population.”
All positions at the school are filled for the upcoming school year. The staff was pulled from within the district, as well as new employees to the area. The schools are partially funded through grants.
“The Carnegie Opportunity by Design grant funded the initial design process and additional supports beneficial to developing two high schools that service English Language Learners with a competency-based approach to learning,” Sloan said. “The schools are focusing on mastery-based learning with a blend of project-based learning and college/career enrichment. The grant funds a team of support including a community manager through CASA and a team of support staff through the Internationals Network for Public Schools. The schools will be models for innovative language-centered instruction.”
Other expansions of programs include world language programs, such as Chinese, Spanish and French immersion, an expansion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology (STEM) to Oxon Hill and Thomas Johnson middle schools, the continued expansion of the Judith P. Hoyer Montessori School and the opening of 10 new pre-kindergarten sites.
Parents can also expect increases in lunch prices going into the new school year. The increase was approved by the Board of Education in June. Both elementary and secondary schools will see a $.10 rise in breakfast prices, bringing the total cost to $1.60. There will also be a $.15 increase in lunch, bringing elementary school lunch costs to $2.75 and secondary schools costs to $3.
Johnson said there are no major changes to bus routes scheduled this year, but the school system did purchase 141 new buses to replace older buses in circulation.
Lori Carter-Evans, the director of transportation for PGCPS, said the school system purchases new buses each year.
“The school system purchases approximately 140 buses each year depending on the number of 13-year-old buses that are scheduled for replacement,” Evans said. “PGCPS does not run buses when they reach 13 years in accordance with (the Code of Maryland Regulations).”
The total cost of the buses was $15.3 million, Evans said. The total is broken down into nine replacement buses ($792,801) and the lease purchase, also known as lease-to-own, of 132 replacement buses ($14.51 million).
“As new buses are delivered and prepared for student transport, they will be placed into service,” Evans said. “Not all buses will be on the road on the first day of school.”
Johnson said all new buses will be equipped with a PA system and cameras for the safety of the students and the driver.