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Welcoming Students

Getting schools ready from technology to nutrition.

It’s that time of year again: Shopping carts are full of pens, paper, notebooks and other school supplies; students are dreading the end of sleeping in and relaxation; and parents are secretly — or maybe not so secretly — jumping for joy that their children are headed back to school.

So what do parents and students need to know about Arlington Public Schools for the 2013-2014 school year?

Official enrollment numbers are taken on Sept. 30, but this year’s enrollment is projected to rise roughly four-percent, from 22,613 students to 23,496 for Pre-K-12. Approved staffing ratios for Arlington, as dictated by The Washington Area Boards of Education, range from 20 to 25 students per teacher depending on grade level. APS is made up of 22 elementary schools, five middle schools, four high schools and six additional programs.

Arlington Mill High School, previously a Continuation Program, is a new accredited high school with a full diploma-awarding program through both day and evening classes for career and technical coursework.

The school system uses approximately 3,000 Macs and 9,000 PCs. The district also has around 4,000 iPads and 1,100 tablets. A new Students Information System as well as Synergy’s ParentVUE and StudentVUE have been launched to give parents or guardians the ability to update student information online. Families and students will be able to view student schedules, class attendance and assignments, grades and report cards through the new program.

Taking technology to a new level, APS is the only school system in Northern Virginia to have launched a free mobile app. Available for Android devices, iPhones and iPads, the app is customizable to one’s school and preferences. The Arlington Public Schools app features news and headlines, upcoming events, sports scores and integration with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Parents can also get access to APS services including MySchoolBucks, the Extended Day portal, lunch menus and the school calendar.

The school district’s healthy lunch program requires students to choose one fruit or vegetable serving to accompany their meal. APS cafeterias combine to make Arlington’s largest restaurant serving 12,000 customers daily. The district has increased the amount of local products in the school lunch program to 86 percent of produce coming from local farms, according to the APS Food Services report. For students with allergies, one of the goals this school year is for the district to provide food labels and common allergen information on the APS website.

In accordance to APS policy, drink machines must contain a combination of water, reduced fat milk, 100 percent fruit/vegetable juice as well as fruit-based drinks with at least 25 percent juice and no added caloric sweeteners. Snack machines also have a number of requirements to meet including no trans-fat, low sodium and not more than 35 percent calories from fat with a few exceptions for nuts and seeds.

For more information on what to expect this school year, visit the Arlington Public Schools website at http://www.apsva.us/.