FCPS to Welcome Students Back to School on August 16 - Several New Safety/Security Enhancements to be Implemented in 2017-18

FCPS to Welcome Students Back to School on August 16 - Several New Safety/Security Enhancements to be Implemented in 2017-18
Posted on 08/14/2017
Dr. Sovine and Sheriff MillhollandFor Immediate Release
August 14, 2017
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

Frederick County Public Schools will open for the start of the 2017-18 school year on Wednesday, August 16. Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, “I, along with our teachers, administrators and support staff, am excited to welcome more than 13,400 students for the start of the 2017-18 school year later this week. One of the things I’m looking forward to this year is the launch of our pilot preschool program. We were able to implement the program thanks to grant funding made available by the state Department of Education. The program will provide us with the opportunity to equip some of our youngest, at-risk students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful as they begin their school journey as kindergarten students next year.”

Sovine adds, “One concern I have heading into the new school year is overcrowding and class sizes. Entering the 2016-17 school year, we were predicting student enrollment of 13,117 as of September 15, 2016. By mid-September, enrollment was at nearly 13,250 and we finished the year with close to 13,450 students. There’s no doubt we will continue to experience enrollment growth this year which will continue to create challenges in terms of pupil-teacher ratios and overcrowding at a number of our schools, particularly our three high schools. The School Board has been actively planning to address our current and future space needs, but hasn’t been able to secure the funding needed to proceed with critical capital projects that are needed to help address enrollment growth now and in the future.”

School safety and security is an area in which students, parents and members of the community will see progress in the upcoming school year. Sovine says, “Our school division is committed to providing and maintaining a safe environment for students and staff. We enjoy an outstanding relationship with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and will be implementing several school safety and security enhancements this year including the Raptor Visitor Management System and COPsync911."

The Raptor Visitor Management System was installed at each school as well as the Frederick County Public Schools Administration Building over the summer. Beginning September 5, everyone visiting a school will be required to present a valid, government-issued ID which will be scanned through the Raptor system and checked against registered sex offender and other databases that may include custody orders and those individuals prohibited from visiting school grounds. Those who are cleared by the system will be issued a badge bearing their name and photo as well as the date, time of entry and destination. Sovine says, “The Raptor Visitor Management System has been used successfully in many other school divisions across the country. Once a visitor provides school staff with their ID, the scanning process takes less than a minute which is time well spent to help ensure a high level of security within our buildings.

COPsync911 is another security enhancement that is being made at all schools as well as the Frederick County Public Schools Administration Building this year. Sovine says, “The idea of utilizing COPsync911 originated with Sheriff Lenny Millholland and he has played a critical role in helping to implement the use of the system within our school division. Thanks to our partnership with the sheriff’s office, all of our schools now have the ability to use COPsync911 to inform first responders when an emergency situation arises at a school. Once activated, COPsync911 notifies the 911 dispatch center and the closest law enforcement officers at the same time which allows officers to arrive at the scene sooner. An additional benefit is the system also enables the school to have real-time, live communication with law enforcement and the dispatch center.”

Frederick County Public Schools Transportation Director John Grubbs says, “As we approach the start of the school year, we’re asking motorists to slow down and be aware of their surroundings during those times when students are being transported to and from school. Under Virginia law, motorists are required 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.”

Traditionally, Route 522 south of Route 50 is an area where motorists inadvertently pass school buses. 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.

Parents also are being reminded about the school division’s online school payment portal MySchoolBucks. The system is available to pay for student meals, fees, activities and other purchases online. It also allows parents to view current cafeteria account balances, review recent purchases, receive low-balance alerts and setup recurring payments on a weekly or monthly basis. Payments can be made through MySchoolBucks 24 hours a day using VISA, MasterCard or Discover. A link to MySchoolBucks can be found under Quick Links on each individual school’s homepage. MySchoolBucks also offers a free mobile app which can be used to access accounts within the system. There is no transaction fee charged to utilize MySchoolBucks.

Frederick County has three high schools, four middle schools, 11 elementary schools, and two instructional centers. It’s the 22nd largest of 134 school divisions in Virginia.