Frederick County prepares for start of school year

By Kim Walter

As Frederick County Public Schools prepares for a new school year, parents and students should be aware of a few tips and changes.

Enrollment for the 2013-2014 school year is projected to be 13,150, an increase of 84 students over the number of students enrolled on Sept. 15, 2012, according to a release sent out by the division on Thursday morning.

Superintendent Dr. David Sovine said enrollment growth has been relatively flat over the past few years.

“As the local economy continues to improve, we anticipate our enrollment will continue to grow,” he said.

Work on additions and renovations at four elementary schools will continue as students begin the new school year.

Six new classrooms are being added at Bass-Hoover and Redbud Run Elementary Schools. Five classrooms are being added at Evendale Elementary while Stonewall Elementary is adding three new classrooms and is renovating another classroom.

The additions will position the school division to begin offering full-day kindergarten in August 2014 as well as to handle future enrollment growth. Work on the renovations and additions is scheduled to be completed by March 2014. The division has worked with the contractor to assure construction does not result in any significant disruptions to normal school day operations.

All of the school exits will remain accessible so they may be used in the event of an emergency.

According to Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy, records management and communications for the school system, the construction will not impact pickup or drop-off of students before and after school.

“Parents will likely notice the new additions and associated construction,” he said via a Thursday afternoon email. All construction areas have been fenced and are off limits to students and staff.

The division will welcome new staff members for the 2013-2014 school year as well. As of Monday, 71 licensed staff members and 28 support staff members have been hired. The new licensed staff members have an average of 5.9 years of experience and 52 percent have advanced degrees.

However, as of Monday, there were still nine vacancies for licensed staff and seven vacancies for support staff. Employment opportunities can be found on the division’s website.

School officials, along with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police, would like to remind motorists to use extra caution in school zones and around school buses.

State law requires motorists to stop for a school bus when its lights are flashing unless there is a physical barrier or unpaved area between the lane in which the bus is traveling and the lane in which the vehicle is traveling, according to Frederick County Public Schools Transportation Director John Grubbs.

Traditionally, Route 522 south of Route 50 is an area where motorists inadvertently pass school buses, he added. Since there are no physical barriers or unpaved areas between the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 522 in that area, all vehicles must stop for school buses loading and unloading students there.

“Keeping our students safe and secure is always a top priority,” Edwards said. “Motorists can help by slowing down during the times that students are being transported to and from school, [and] being alert for buses with their lights flashing.”

The division is now using a new online school payment portal called MySchool Bucks. The system is available to pay for student meals, fees, activities and other purchases online. Parents also have the ability to view current cafeteria balances, review recent purchases, receive low-balance alerts and setup recurring payments on a weekly or monthly basis.

MySchool Bucks also offers a free mobile app that can be used to access accounts within in the system.

Users will need to register for the new system even if they used the Online School Payment system in the past.

Edwards said the division decided to go with the new system due to its added functions. He said the software is already used in Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties, as well as in Winchester.

Frederick County has three high schools, four middle schools, 11 elementary schools, and two instructional centers. It’s the 19th largest of 134 school divisions in Virginia.

To find out more about job opportunities and parent resources, go to www.frederick.k12.va.us.

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com