Education Notebook - 06/12/02

Education Notebook - 06/12/02

Schools Get Full-day Kindergarten

Two elementary schools will be able to begin full-day kindergarten classes next year by utilizing the schools’ English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) funds. Brookfield Elementary, located in Chantilly, will pilot two full-day kindergarten classes while Lake Anne Elementary, in Reston, will pilot one “dual-language immersion” kindergarten.

In both cases, the classes will be made up of half ESOL students and half English-speaking students from the areas served by the schools. In the case of Lake Anne, which is a Spanish immersion school, the class will be taught in part English and part Spanish just as any other immersion class. The creation of the classes has no effect on the budget that was just adopted in late May.

At Brookfield, the students will be selected by lottery. The school is trading off a federally funded Excel position and a half ESOL position for a certified kindergarten teacher. Since Brookfield was a proposed Project Excel school that was cut from the budget, the kindergarten classes will still be able to receive the Waterford computer learning program.

At Lake Anne, parents can register their rising kindergartner for the dual-language class. The applications will be separated by language, the class is reserved for Spanish-speaking and English-speaking children, and run through a random lottery. There will be an equal number of students from each group. Half a kindergarten teacher will be provided by ESOL, as will staff development.

Both pilots will be reviewed after one year.

<sh>No Fees for Classes

<bt>The Fairfax County School Board unanimously agreed Thursday, June 8, to make public a memo from the board’s counsel regarding the legality of charging fees for some courses, specifically foreign language immersion, JROTC, fourth-grade strings and Advanced Placement (AP)/International Baccalaureate (IB) tests.

According to the memo, as a general rule, the School Board cannot charge fees except under limited conditions spelled out in the Virginia Code and by the state Board of Education.

“The Code permits the imposition of tuition or fees in only a few instances, such as tuition for students from other jurisdictions, from military, and of non-school age. It also allows fees for summer school, ‘consumables’ such as workbooks, and other activities allowed by state Board of Education regulation,” the memo reads.

The state School Board permits fees for class dues, voluntary student activities, night school, post-graduate classes, summer school, rental textbooks, musical instruments, library fees, field trips, and supplies and materials, the memo said.

The memo concludes that foreign language immersion, fourth-grade strings and JROTC could be considered voluntary activities, however, they are part of the curriculum and that the state Board of Education’s regulations would not support charging fees for those courses. More specifically, the immersion program is “a vehicle for required SOL [Standards of Learning] instruction” and foreign languages are required to be offered in secondary schools. While fourth-grade strings is a voluntary course, music is a part of the required elementary-school curriculum. However, the school district can charge for the instrument rental. In the case of JROTC, the state code requires career and technical education programs that promote knowledge of the military be provided. In addition, students receive a course credit for the program. As for the AP/IB testing, 40 percent of the school districts in the state already charge a fee for the mandatory tests.

<sh>Targets Adopted

<bt>The three strategic targets aimed at closing the achievement gap between minorities and whites were adopted Thursday, June 8. Seven of the original 10 targets were adopted back in April by the Fairfax County School Board, however three were postponed at that time for budgetary reasons.

Despite two work sessions, two of the three remaining targets still came under fire by members of the board looking to amend language or substitute a new target altogether.

The target which calls for reducing the gap in participation of black and Hispanic students in the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs by 10 percent while increasing overall enrollment and having at least two-thirds of the students scoring at an average level passed unanimously with School Board member Jane Strauss (Dranesville) absent from the meeting.

School Board member Christian Braunlich (Lee) attempted to do away with the target decreasing the gap between minority and white students’ SAT test scores by 10 percent while aiming to have overall scores top previous year’s totals. Braunlich, instead, suggested replacing the target with one calling for the percent of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students achieving proficiency level necessary to exit the “A” level, or essentially the beginner level, after one year to increase by 10 percent.

“If we make it a target, we will focus on it,” Braunlich said. “We need a target for these students.”

The motion failed by a 4-7 vote with Republican-endorsed members, Rita Thompson (At Large), Mychele Brickner (At large), Braunlich and Tessie Wilson (Braddock) voting for the substitution. A motion by Thompson to make the amendment target 11, thereby allowing both targets, also failed by the same margin.

The third target, which would increase the number of black and Hispanic students in the gifted and talented program passed after some debate by an 11-0 vote. An amendment by Braunlich attempting to remove the phraseology requiring the participation by black and Hispanic student to increase annually and over a five-year period move towards the percentage of black and Hispanic students in the general population failed by a 4-7 vote.

<sh>Schools Events Calendar

<bt>Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m.

Fairfax County School Board special meeting, student awards. Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church.

Wednesday, June 12, 7:30 p.m.

Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities meeting. Belle Willard Center, 10310 Layton Hall Drive, Fairfax.

Wednesday, June 12, 7:30 p.m.

Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee. Walnut Hill Center, 7423 Camp Alger Ave., Falls Church.

Wednesday, June 12

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology prom. Tysons Sheraton Premiere.

Thursday, June 13-Tuesday, June 18

Fairfax County Public Schools high school graduations.

Friday, June 14

Fairfax County Public Schools, last day of school except modified calendar schools. Date subject to change if more than three school days are lost because of inclement weather.

Friday, June 14

Centreville High School prom, Westfield Marriott; Lake Braddock Secondary prom, Reston Hyatt; Robinson Secondary prom, Fairview Marriott; West Springfield High School prom, Tyson's Marriott; and Woodson High School prom, Fair Oaks Waterford.

Monday, June 17

Nurturing Parenting Program. Department of Family Services, Prevention, of Fairfax County is holding a Nurturing Parenting Program for Hispanic Families, for parents and their children up to 4-years-old, to teach nurturing skills and to reinforce strengths, values and culture. No cost,

but registration is required. For more information, call 703-324-7405 or 703-324-7723. St. Anthony's Catholic Church.

Tuesday, June 18

Fairfax County Public Schools, last day of school for modified elementary schools.

Tuesday, June 18, 7:30 p.m.

Advisory Committee for the Gifted and Talented meeting. Devonshire Center, 2831 Graham Road, Falls Church.

Wednesday, June 19, 7 p.m.

School Health Advisory Committee meeting. Devonshire Center, 2831 Graham Road, Falls Church.

Thursday, June 20, 7:30 p.m.

Fairfax County School Board regular meeting. Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road. Falls Church.

Saturday, June 22

Falls Church High School, Class of 1982, 20-year reunion. For more information, call First-Class Reunions at 888-327-1984 or on the Web at Fairview Park Marriott, Falls Church.