FCPS to Welcome Students Back to School on August 15; Additional Safety and Security Measures to be in Place for 2018-19

FCPS to Welcome Students Back to School on August 15; Additional Safety and Security Measures to be in Place for 2018-19
Posted on 08/10/2018
DecorativeFor Immediate Release
August 10, 2018
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

Frederick County Public Schools will open on Wednesday, August 15 for the start of the 2018-19 school year. Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, “We are anxiously awaiting the start of the new school year and the opportunity to connect with our students and their families as we work to achieve our mission of ensuring all students an excellent education. I’m certain we will celebrate many student and staff success stories during the upcoming school year while also facing some challenges associated with growth and overcrowding in some of our schools. Whether celebrating successes or working to address issues as they come to light, we will remain focused on doing what’s best for students and working to prepare them to become successful, engaged citizens.”

Sovine adds, “We anticipate continued enrollment growth in the upcoming year which will likely create some challenges in terms of pupil-teacher ratios and overcrowding at a number of our schools, particularly our three high schools. To help deal with enrollment growth, the School Board included funding for additional teaching positions in its budget for this year. While those positions will help us address some of the enrollment growth we’re experiencing, we still anticipate some challenges as we continue working to secure the resources necessary to complete some critical capital projects that will enable us to help address enrollment growth now and in the future.”

Students, parents and members of the community will see some enhancements to school safety and security in the upcoming school year. Each school is now equipped with a buzz-in entry system that will be operational on the first day of school. The system requires visitors to identify themselves and the reason for their visit before being granted entry into a school building.

Sovine says, “In March, we decided to proceed with plans to install buzz-in entry systems at each of our schools that were not already equipped with them. A total of about $146,000 was invested to install the systems at each of our three high schools, the three middle schools that previously didn’t have buzz-in entry systems (Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School, James Wood Middle School and Robert E. Aylor Middle School) and the Dowell J. Howard Center. The project, which was partially funded through a state grant, is part of an ongoing effort to incrementally improve safety and security in order to keep our students and staff safe.”

During the 2017-18 school year, Frederick County Public Schools began using the Raptor Visitor Management System and worked together with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to implement COPsync911. The Raptor Visitor Management System requires school visitors to present a valid, government-issued ID which is scanned and checked against registered sex offender and other databases that may include custody orders and information on those individuals prohibited from visiting school grounds. Those who are cleared by the system are issued a badge bearing their name and photo as well as the date, time of entry and their destination within the school.

COPsync911 enables all schools to quickly 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 that the system enables the school to have real-time, live communication with law enforcement and the dispatch center.

Sovine says, “We benefit from a great relationship with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Lenny Millholland. Keeping our schools safe remains a point of focus and I’m very pleased to have Sheriff Millholland and his staff working side-by-side with us as true partners in that effort.”

Frederick County Public Schools Transportation Director John Grubbs says, “As is the case each 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.

Frederick County has three high schools, four middle schools, 11 elementary schools, and two instructional centers.