LA PLATA, Md. (Aug. 25, 2008)—Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) began the 2008-09 school year on Monday, Aug. 25, by welcoming more than 25,000 students in kindergarten through grade 12 to its 35 schools. More than 278 buses provide transportation to nearly 21,000 county students. Prekindergarten students do not report to class until next week.
Opening its doors to students for the first time is Mary B. Neal Elementary School, Charles County's 21st public elementary school. Principal Carol Leveillee welcomed 557 students this morning as she directed traffic and helped students find their classroom assignment. Pinch, the mascot of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball team, and the Chick-fil-A cow helped Neal staff greet students to their new school.
Students at the six county high schools were also welcomed by CCPS staff and Charles County's Sheriff's Office deputies, who handed out safe driving flyers to students as they arrived to school. The flyers outline teen driving laws and are part of a "We Care" campaign that will continue throughout the school year.
At La Plata High School, Sheriff Rex Coffey and Superintendent of Schools James E. Richmond spoke with television and newspaper reporters to help publicize the campaign efforts. The campaign involves spot checks on high school parking lots to ensure students are wearing their seat belts and are not transporting too many passengers or driving while talking on a cellular phone.
County high school seniors also face a change as they start school this year. Students in the Class of 2009 are required to pass end-of-course assessments, High School Assessment (HSA) exams, in algebra, biology, English II and government, in order to graduate. Students have numerous opportunities throughout the school year to take and pass the tests.
Some students also have the option of participating in the Bridge Plan, which was implemented in CCPS this summer with the participation of 69 students. The Bridge Plan was developed by the Maryland Department of Education as an alternative option for students who have met other requirements for a high school diploma, but have not passed the assessments with testing. The plan involves students working with high-level projects to convey the subject matter of the testing area. The Maryland State Board of Education instituted the HSA requirement in 2004.
CCPS has 223 new teachers this year. On Monday, only four teaching positions remained, and offers have been made in two of the four positions. The school system employs more than 3,444 people. There are 2,021 teachers, 1,114 support staff, 76 technical employees and 233 administrators.