Welcome back to school on Aug. 31
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) officially starts the 2015-16 school year on Monday, Aug. 31 as students in grades kindergarten through 12 report back to the classroom. Teachers at 36 schools will welcome back more than 26,000 students. CCPS has a back to school page on the school system website, http://www.ccboe.com/backtoschool2015.php that includes important information for students and parents.
To prepare for the first day of school for students, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kimberly Hill sent a welcome message on Aug. 28 to all parents and staff to highlight the start of another year of teaching and learning. Dr. Hill is also hosting a live Twitter chat next Thursday, Sept. 3, from 4 to 5 p.m. in which parents, students, staff and the general community can offer feedback on the first week of school.
To participate in the chat, follow CCPS on Twitter @CCPS or at https://twitter.com/ccps and use the hash tag #ccpschat in your message. CCPS plans to use Twitter chats throughout the school year to provide another outlet for community engagement.
School system highlights facility plans, renovations
Board of Education, county and community officials recently reviewed capital improvement projects during a bus tour highlighting repair work at county schools.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill hosted the morning tour on Aug. 20 to provide information about Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and to share how projects are funded through multiple sources.
First stop was at T.C. Martin Elementary School, a 570-student school that opened in 1967 and expanded in 2009 to include four new full-day kindergarten classrooms. Parking lot renovations completed this summer streamlined student and bus drop-off areas and provided bus and permanent parking spots. CCPS also completed installation of new playground equipment this month.
Tour guide and CCPS Supervisor of Planning and Construction David Clements talked about the student population growth and special program needs. He said CCPS has the third fastest growing special education population in the state, creating a need for more specialized classrooms to accommodate programs.
Clements highlighted two large projects in the predesign stage the renovation and expansion of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School in Waldorf and the planned construction of Elementary School 22 off of Billingsley Road. Construction of the new school, Clements said, will relieve overcrowding of nearby elementary schools on the west side of U.S. 301 and the renovation of Dr. Mudd will update the school, which opened in 1967, while adding capacity to help relieve overcrowding in some Waldorf schools east of U.S. 301.
Dr. Mudd has been passed over for renovation during the past decade due to new school construction. The school system began to shift its focus from new construction in 2013 when it contracted a facilities study to compile data about school capacity, student enrollment, physical building conditions, mechanical system conditions and site characteristics. The purpose of the survey was to assess the physical condition of each school building to determine its ability to provide students with an equitable and modern educational program.
The school system is working with the county to develop a long-range building program to address growth while renovating and expanding aging schools. Projects like those underway at Gale-Bailey Elementary School and Benjamin Stoddert Middle School are part of a strategy to move school facility improvements forward through alternate funding sources while reducing future financial burdens on the county. CCPS hopes to improve a school every three to four years in addition to major state and local CIP projects.
Stoddert was the second stop on the tour. The school opened in 1976 and is recommended for renovation and expansion within a decade. Clements said CCPS is using various funding sources to make upgrades that can be incorporated in a larger renovation, reducing future renovation costs. At Stoddert, the hallways are brighter due to a 2014 Energy Efficiency Initiative (EEI) lighting retrofit. EEI is funded through the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and SMECO rebates. Retrofitting reduces the annual maintenance on the lights and generates savings of approximately $20,000 per school per year. Additionally, at Stoddert, a gymnasium renovation included the new EEI lighting, bleacher replacements, painting, and replacement of the flooring surface. Future renovations include installation of new energy efficient heating and air conditioning equipment to replace original equipment.
At Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School in Waldorf, improvements include the addition of five full-day kindergarten classrooms, including two with special education facilities, EEI lighting retrofits, replacement of an aging underground fuel tank, rooftop HVAC units and boilers.
The Maryland State Department of Education and Board of Public Works have approved acquisition of land off Billingsley Road for a new elementary school along with approval of the planning process. The school now moves to the design stage with expectation of opening in 2018.
The final bus stop was at Gale-Bailey in Marbury. Opened in 1969, Gale-Bailey is an example of the CCPS Planning and Construction and Maintenance departments working to gradually improve a school using multiple funding sources.
Included in Gale-Baileys improvements are a 2009 kindergarten addition and partial renovation funded by state and local CIPs. CCPS funded new kitchen service lines and flooring coupled with cafeteria improvements that include a modernized food service area and equipment with State Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) and the CCPS capital maintenance budget. QZAB provides federal funds for capital improvements and repairs at existing schools where at least 35 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Additionally, QZAB funds provided for a new sanitary system meeting updated environmental standards and CCPS will use operating and maintenance funds to replace the roof and rooftop air conditioning units later this school year. EEI funds will be used to retrofit lights this school year.
Stone receives School of the Year award for character education
Thomas Stone High School was recently named a 2015 School of the Year award recipient by the Maryland Center for Character Education (MCCE) at Stevenson University. Schools are selected for recognition based on their efforts to promote ethical values and a caring school community, fostering students self-motivation, and engaging school staff, families and community members to help with character-building efforts.
In place at Stone is Cougar PRIDE which serves as the foundation of the schools Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program that implements character education principles into the school community. Cougar PRIDE is the standard in which the school community conducts activities and focuses on five principal characteristics: prepared, respectful, involved, diligent and eco-friendly. To help promote positive ethical values and good character, the Stone community highlights a different core value monthly to highlight character education. These values include responsibility, respect, gratitude, caring, perseverance, unity, integrity, service and citizenship and are incorporated into schoolwide activities.
Another part of Cougar PRIDE is providing students with opportunities to serve their community. Students often visit nearby elementary and middle schools to talk with and read to students and serve as mentors to younger learners. Last year, Stone students worked together to create a vegetable garden at the school and design a new court yard area. Students and staff also support several community organizations such as Relay for Life with the goal of having a positive impact in the lives of others. Stone hosts a Fall Festival coordinated by students in which the school is decorated with festive items and children can collect candy in a fun environment.
Additionally, Stone launched a Cougar of Courage social media campaign using Twitter to highlight students who are self-motivated, excel in academics and display exceptional character. The campaign featured photos of teachers and the students they nominated for recognition, and helped to encourage other students to model positive behavior. Students also receive Cougar Paw Points for demonstrating good character, which are entered into weekly drawings for prizes.
This is not the first time Stone has been honored by the MCCE for its character education efforts. In 2012, the school received a School of the Year designation and received a School of Character honorable mention award in 2011. In 2010, the MCCE honored Stone with an Emerging School of Character award and in 2009, Stone received the Maryland School of Character award.
Stone will be recognized during an awards program scheduled for Oct. 8 at Stevenson University and will receive a School of the Year banner and certificate of recognition. The Maryland Schools of Character awards program is sponsored collaboratively through the MCCE, the Character Education Partnership and the Maryland State Department of Education. For more information on character education, visit http://www.mdctrcharacter.org/.
CCPS looking for Communications Advisory Committee members
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is looking for volunteers to serve on the school systems Communications Advisory Committee. The 15-member committee will be composed of parents, teachers, communications staff and a student.
The Communications Advisory Committee will meet three times each school year. Dates for this years meeting are Tuesday, Oct. 27, Tuesday, Jan. 26 and Wednesday, April 27. All meetings are scheduled from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building in La Plata. Committee members will review the external communications from CCPS to parents and the community and provide suggestions and input on publications, the website and television programming.
Please send an email or letter of interest including your name, contact information and the school your child attends by Sept. 4 to Katie OMalley-Simpson, Director of Communications, Charles County Public Schools, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.