Preparations Underway for Start Of New School Year on Monday

August 29, 2012 9:59 PM0 comments

The City of Falls Church’s world-class school system geared up this week for the official opening of the school year next Tuesday. Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones stated Monday that enrollment will be up sharply at all levels, with an overall growth of 3.5 to 4 percent over the student numbers when classes wrapped up in June.

The City of Falls Church’s world-class school system geared up this week for the official opening of the school year next Tuesday. Superintendent Dr. Toni Jones stated Monday that enrollment will be up sharply at all levels, with an overall growth of 3.5 to 4 percent over the student numbers when classes wrapped up in June.

“We are scrambling to find ways to keep class sizes down,” she told the School Board at a work session Monday night. In a guest commentary published elsewhere in this edition, Jones stated, “Our School Board has been vigilant in their support of keeping our class sizes small. This year, we’ve added seven brand new positions across our four schools. In total, we welcome 50 new, magnificent support and certified staff.”

An upbeat convocation assembly of all staff at the George Mason High School auditorium Tuesday morning welcomed the new staff, and also honored those who reached milestones in their educational careers with the school system. The greatest longevity milestone recognized was the 35 years of service by Clara “Mama” Loza, the commander of the GMHS cafeteria.

The assembly was greeted by Falls Church Mayor Nader Baroukh, School Board chair Susan Kearney, Amanda Blanchard, head of the F.C. Education Association, and Jones.

Teachers and other staff have been on site at their respective school campuses all this week, undergoing professional training and setting up their classrooms in anticipation of the first day of classes Tuesday. A new student and parent orientation session was held yesterday morning, and “meet the teacher” sessions scheduled through the week.

The fall sports program begins at George Mason High tonight when the Mustangs host nearby rival J.E.B. Stuart high at the Mason field at 7:30 p.m. Golf and volleyball competitions begin next week.

At Tuesday’s assembly, no mention of the School Board’s serious and still unresolved flap with the City Council over provision for the $500,000 package of technology improvements, mostly new laptops and iPads for students. Jones, Kearney and Baroukh all appeared there only hours after a contentious School Board work session the night before (see story, elsewhere this edition).

Monday morning, even with funding issues not yet resolved, Jones signed an agreement with Apple for the technology upgrade package, and she stated Tuesday morning and in her commentary in this edition that the schools’ “path to excellence” involves two priorities, “Outstanding academic achievement for all children, and technology integration to prepare our young people for the ever changing world in which they will work and live.”

Jones also announced that the tennis courts on which the State Champion George Mason High School tennis teams practice and play will get immediate repair. Jones said she walked the courts, herself, after a rainfall on Sunday and made the decision to redeploy school maintenance funds to the renovation. “We’ll make it work,” she said, noting that she “didn’t relish the idea that the VHSL could want to make the decision for us.”

In addition, Jones announced that the insurer of Mason’s tall backstop at its baseball diamond, destroyed by the “derecho” storm in June, will cover the cost of a replacement.

Meanwhile, the School Board began its search this week for a replacement on its board to be appointed until the next regular election in November 2013. The board will appoint someone to fill in for Rosaura Aguerrebere, who resigned Aug. 24. The deadline for applications is Sept. 10.

The new school year’s first meeting of the George Mason High Parent-Teacher-Student Association (PTSA) will be next Wednesday, and a “Back to School Night” event, including a bake sale, will be next Thursday.

In addition to Clara Loza’s 35 years, other honored at Tuesday’s assembly for their long careers in the F.C. system included: for 25 years, Dorothy Clinton, Heidi Lang and Robert Nissen, for 20 years, Charmaine Barr, Eleanor Hawkesworth, Mary Klink, Gloria Londono and Maria Shields, and for 15 years, Maryel Barry, Renata Carvahlo, Barbara Cooper, Ray Epps, Diana Fredenburg, Marcia Schumann, Kathleen Johnson, Anne Sommers, Nick Werkman and Mary Jo West.

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