The school system calls the schedule at two of its elementary schools a “modified calendar,” but it’s basically year-round school. The kids get extended breaks now and then, of course. But even then, they take classes. Known as “intersessions,” the classes between sessions can be remedial in nature or enrichment. According to a report by Superintendent Rebecca Perry during last week’s School Board meeting, 94 percent of the students at Mount Vernon Community attended intersession classes — 10 remedial courses and 21 enrichment courses.
“One course, which I really wanted to take was called ‘Artful Adventures’ that included field trips to local museums,” Perry said. “So it was a lot of fun and very educational too.”
At Tucker Elementary School, Perry said, 93 percent of the students participated in intersession classes. The most interesting classes she noted were: Kids’ Science, Kicks for Kids and Greek Mythology. Even Zeus could not have put together a better intersession roster.
College Costs Quintuple
It’s not every School Board meeting that the word “quintupled” is used. In fact, it’s pretty rare for anyone to use the word, which means a fivefold increase. But this did not deter Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Director Susan Yowell, who used the word in a presentation about the Scholarship Fund’s 20th anniversary.
“College costs are skyrocketing and the cost of our public in-state universities have quintupled over the past twenty years,” Yowell told board members. “It seems that no matter how much we increase our scholarship award amounts, we’ll probably never fill all of the unmet need of our students.”
Democracy in Alexandria
Election Day is one of the biggest days of the year for political junkies. But for many schoolchildren, it means that they get to sleep a few hours later. On Nov. 7, all 10 schools that are used as polling places will open two hours late to accommodate the dual purpose of the day: democracy and education.
“I know that there are always concerns,” said Superintendent Rebecca Perry. “There will be heightened security around and near any of our schools that are used as polling places.”
At John Adams Elementary School, voters walk by several first-grade classrooms to get to the polls. This was a source of concern for School Board member Ronnie Campbell, who lives in the Adams Precinct. She asked Perry if voters could be directed to use an outdoor entrance.
“We will look at John Adams again,” Perry said. “Maybe we’ll need to move some of those classes that morning.”
Enrollment Continues to Decline
According to the school system’s September enrollment figures, which are just now being finalized, the division’s enrollment figures continue to decline. Assistant Superintendent Leslie Peterson, who compiles the enrollment data for the division, told School Board members that the decline has been even steeper than expected.
“Unfortunately, we came in under our projection,” Peterson said. “But that’s less than one percent off of projections.”
The school system projected 10,134 students in the system this school year, but the September enrollment numbers indicated that the city’s schools have 10,057 students. The elementary schools had 22 fewer students than projected, the middle schools had 11 more students than projected and T.C. Williams High School had 66 fewer students than projected.
“Even Fairfax County has lost some students,” said Superintendent Rebecca Perry. “It’s kind of a Northern Virginia phenomenon.”