CCPS has smooth start to school year
DENTON — Caroline County Public Schools got the 2017-18 school year started on the right foot, officials reported later that evening at the Caroline County Board of Education’s meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 5.
“Overall, it was very smooth,” said Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens, who visited six of the system’s 10 schools on the first day, with plans to visit the remaining four on the second day. “There were lots of smiling faces, though some (students) looked a little on the sleepy side trying to come off summer break.”
Board of Education Vice President Tolbert Rowe said he witnessed one reluctant kindergarten student who preferred clinging to a pole outside his elementary school to attending class, but other than that, most of the students and staff hit the ground running.
“After about the first half-hour in any building today, it looked like any day (of the school year),” Rowe said.
Board member Kathy Dill said she visited two elementary schools and a middle school on opening day, and agreed the students looked ready to go.
“They said, ‘Bye Mom, bye Dad, get out of here — I got this,’” Dill said.
Dr. Derek Simmons, director of student services, said 5,311 students showed up to school in Caroline County for the first day, of 5,533 enrolled, a 96 percent attendance rate.
Simmons said that was 100 more students who attended the first day of school than last year. The school system will do two more counts, one on the 10th day of school, and an official one Sept. 30.
In the meantime, pupil ser vice employees will follow up on the 222 enrolled students who did not come to school the first day, Simmons said.
Some may have moved out of the jurisdiction and enrolled elsewhere, Saelens said, while others may have been the victim of “yellow bus syndrome,” in which their guardians do not realize school started until they see the buses running.
“It sounds impossible, especially now, with social media, but it does happen,” Saelens said.
Simmons said one high school already had a home visit scheduled the next day for a student who simply refused to attend the first day. He said the school sends on home visits a teacher or guidance counselor to whom the student feels connected.
“We’ve heard from students who gradually dropped out that they just didn’t feel like anyone cared,” Simmons said, adding the pupil services team is working on more strategies to break truancy patterns in younger students before they reach high school.
Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Ser vices Milton Nagel said the school system hired 54 new teachers over the summer. Until a late resignation a week before the first day of school, the classroom positions were fully-staffed, he said.
Nagel said the school system will fill that open position, and is still looking for two school psychologists.
The school system also hired 26 new support services staff members, he said, and is currently processing more hires.
A new visitor management system has been installed in all 10 schools, Nagel said, requiring all visitors to present a valid state-issued driver’s license or ID card, which will be scanned and checked in national and local databases to identify anyone who is not allowed inside schools.
Once entry is approved, the system will issue a badge with the visitor’s name, date and the purpose, Nagel said, which must be returned to the office before the visitor leaves to be logged out of the system.
Preston Elementary kindergartener Juliette Schriefer ready for her first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Preston Elementary kindergarteners William Warnick, left, and Freddy Novak ready for their first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Kyleigh Walker stands with her mom Pamela before her first day of kindergarten at Preston Elementary Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Jackson Zimberoff, left, and Autumn Delano stand wait to start their first day of kindergarten at Preston Elementary Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Callie Boyd waits to enter the school at her first day at Preston Elementary Tuesday, Sept. 5.