Loudoun school board seeks advice on spending $8.5 million surplus

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) is anticipating an end-of-year surplus of $8.5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30th.

This represents 1.19 percent of the Fiscal Year 2011 school operating budget of $710,345,662. This savings has been accumulated through fuel economy, not filling vacant positions and other cost-cutting measures.

LCPS Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III will propose to the School Board that $4.018 million of this undesignated money be used to alleviate an instructional inequity in elementary schools by completing the installation of interactive white boards. Read the rest of this entry »


Mark Emery honored for after school programs in Fairfax County middle schools

Mark Emery, administrator of after-school programs for middle schools in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), was honored for his work with a 2011 Afterschool State Champion Award by the Afterschool Alliance.  Emery, who received the award May 17,  oversees the development and implementation of after-school activities in 26 FCPS middle schools.   Emery was nominated by the Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time.  He retired from his position as a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., after 25 years and currently shares his interest in science, technology, engineering, and math with FCPS students through the middle school after-school programs. He also serves as a board member of the Fairfax Partnership for Youth and the Fairfax County Boys and Girls Club, and is a former chairman of the Fairfax County School Board.

FCPS middle school after-school programs are offered five days per week at all middle schools at no cost to parents. Programs offer academic support and enrichment; social skill and youth development; physical, health, and recreational activity; and family and community involvement. The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization that works to ensure that all youth have access to quality after-school programs.

Alexandria City Public Schools to Open After Labor Day for 2011-12 School Year

Alexandria Public Schools (ACPS) students will begin the 2011-12 school year on Sept. 6 (except modified calendar schools Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School and Mount Vernon Community School). On Thursday, May 12, The Alexandria City School Board approved the proposed 2011-12 traditional academic calendar. The School Board voted unanimously to withdraw the Early Start Waiver request, submitted to the Virginia Board of Education in March, which would have allowed ACPS to begin the school year prior to Labor Day. The vote on the modified calendar for Tucker and Mount Vernon was postponed until May 26 pending further clarification from ACPS administration.

“While we firmly believe that an earlier start to the school year and an extended school calendar is what our students need and deserve to excel academically, it did not seem likely that this would get state approval this year,” School Board Chairman Yvonne Folkerts said. “Our students and parents deserve not to have to wait any longer for a decision while discussions continue; therefore the request will be withdrawn.”

Both the approved traditional academic calendar and proposed modified calendar can be viewed on the ACPS website at http://www.acps.k12.va.us/calendars/.

‘Play first’ lunch gaining ground in California school district

‘Play first’ lunch gaining ground in Pleasanton school district – San Jose Mercury News.

Should students go to recess before lunch or after lunch? The article at the link above says that seven of the nine elementary schools the Pleasanton school district have recess before lunch.

“Frank Castro, the district’s director of child nutrition services, introduced the program after speaking with other directors, visiting Hidden Hills and reading research — particularly from Montana where it is used throughout the state — about the benefits of the concept.

“I’ve always been aware of kids just rushing through lunch, throwing away food,” he said. “It’s been built into our culture that the kids just want to play.” Alisal Elementary School was the first to use the program. It began there at the end of the 2008-09 school year, and it was decided to continue it after school officials saw benefits, such as less food waste, decreased behavioral problems and better focus among students.”

School Board candidate selection process needs improvement

I posted a comment on the Vienna Patch article about the endorsement of the at-large school board candidates by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee:

It’s time to go back to the drawing board in figuring out how to select school board candidates in Fairfax County. People keep carrying on about how important “elections” are in selecting school board candidates, but this story shows that the inner machinations of the local political parties are the determining factors here. I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that a difference of seven votes or 12 votes in a political party committee meeting has any real significance in determining the better candidates.  Greg Brandon and Maria Allen have both made many thoughtful and helpful suggestions for the future of Fairfax County Public Schools.

Source:  http://vienna.patch.com/articles/democrats-endorse-two-school-board-candidates-without-majority#photo-6236183

Diane Ravitch warns against dropping the arts and shrinking the time for history, geography, civics, science, and foreign languages

“To save their necks, teachers will teach to bad tests, school districts will drop the arts, and shrink the time available for subjects like history, geography, civics, science, and foreign languages to make time for more testing,”  Diane Ravitch said. “And there will be more cheating scandals as test scores determine the lives and careers of teachers and principals, and the survival of their schools.”

Bill Gates: Selling Bad Advice to the Public Schools.

A Longer School Day, or a Better School Day?

A Longer School Day, or a Better School Day? – Gapers Block Mechanics | Chicago.

“When we start to solve schooling issues in Chicago from the position of lengthening the school day, we will create more problems than solutions because that time and money will have to be cut from something else,” according to the op-ed above from Adam Heenan.