Education Notebook - 05/15/02

Education Notebook - 05/15/02

TJ Prep Tests

A test preparation workbook and test-prep classes will be available, beginning this September, to students looking for a little help on the admissions test for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

The cost of the workbook is $21, with no charge for income-eligible students. The test-prep classes, offered through Adult and Community Education (ACE), will be offered at up to eight middle schools, one in each cluster: Herndon, Jackson in Falls Church, either Poe in Annandale or Holmes in Alexandria, Whitman in Mount Vernon, Key in Springfield, Irving in Springfield, Rocky Run in Chantilly and Hughes in Reston. Additional schools will have the option to contract with ACE to provide the course, with that school guaranteeing an enrollment of 25 students.

The cost for the course is $196 for 16 hours of instruction after school, with a sliding scale tuition for eligible families.

Late bus transportation will be available from the sites were the classes are being held.

Jefferson was not created to be the gifted and talented high school for the county, said School Board member Jane K. Strauss (Dranesville), but for students with an interest in science.

"If a kid is struggling, why would you encourage them to go to TJ?" said School Board member Ernestine Heastie (Providence).

The idea of offering a test-prep course was first suggested by School Board members as a way to level the playing field in the competition for admission to the school. The board rejected two proposed test-prep options in March.

<sh>Employee Incentives

<bt>Fairfax County Public Schools employees will be receiving a variety of incentives instead of compensation.

In April, the School Board agreed to shorten the school year by two days making June 14 the last day of school. In addition, year-round employees will have July 5 off since they are unaffected by the early closure.

Additional initiatives for employees will include a defined workday for teachers; ensuring Monday early closing planning time for teachers; 40-minute planning time for each classroom teacher built into the school day; permitting employee association partnerships with schools; renaming the Continuing Education Board to Professional Development Council and restructuring the organization; access to employee self-service technology; allowing teachers who teach in free-and-reduced-price lunch schools to receive the full nationally board-certified teachers stipend of $3,500 while all others will receive half at the begin of the program and the remainder at completion of the approved project; allowing teachers to request an administrative transfer at any time; lengthening the assistant principal contract to 11 months; and requiring two-weeks notice of permanent shift changes.

Beginning in FY 2004, the school system will add a step 18 to the unified scale and will contribute .5 percent of the employee contribution rate to the Virginia Retirement System.

Brad Draeger, school system's assistant superintendent of human resources, said the VRS contribution will add $70 million to the budget baseline next year and once the system commits to paying, it can't change its mind.

"We've made it clear to the associations, we're dealing with a limited pot. If they want us to go in this direction, that means there is less for a COLA [cost of living adjustment] or increase in step," said Daniel Domenech, schools superintendent.

<sh>Schools Events Calendar

<bt>Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m.

Fairfax County School Board special meeting, support employees of the year. Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church.

Monday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.

Fairfax County School Board work session, finance and budget. Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church.

Tuesday, May 21, 7:30 p.m.

Fairfax County Public Schools Advisory Committee for the Gifted and Talented. Walnut Hill Center, 7423 Camp Alger Ave., Falls Church.

Wednesday, May 22, 5:30 p.m.

Fairfax County Public Schools retirement reception. Fairfax High School, 3500 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax.

Thursday, May 23, 8:30 a.m.

Fairfax County Public Schools Professional Technical Studies Advisory Committee. Walnut Hill, 7423 Camp Alger Ave., Falls Church.

Thursday, May 23, 7:30 p.m.

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

Friday, May 24

Lee High School prom. Army Navy Country Club.

Saturday, May 25

Langley High School prom. Westfield Marriott.

Monday, May 27

Memorial Day holiday, all students and employees.

Monday, May 27

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.