This past school year, Centerville Elementary School (CES) reached a milestone when we sent our fifth graders onto middle school. Most of these students had started as kindergarteners in 2005 when CES first opened its doors to an eager community of some 710 students and their families.
Since those early days, residential construction has continued in the area, and more people have discovered what a wonderful place Urbana is to raise a family.
As our new neighbors arrived, CES’ enrollment continued to climb. This coming school year, we anticipate serving as many as 1,000 students.
A question I get asked from time to time is, “How do you manage all of those students?”
First, Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) wisely designs its new schools with larger “core” facilities to accommodate future growth like ours.
For example, CES has two music and art rooms rather than just one of each, and our cafeteria is more spacious than those in older elementary schools.
Partnering with Frederick County Parks and Recreation provided us with a full-size gymnasium that students use during the day for physical education and the community enjoys for recreations in the evenings and on weekends.
Because these core areas were planned to handle a larger enrollment, CES has not had as much difficulty managing our capacity challenges as we might have.
Second, FCPS has answered our need for more instructional space by supplying portable classrooms.
This support and the school system’s focus on maintaining staffing formulas for classroom teachers have allowed us to keep our class sizes in the 20s since we opened.
FCPS has also ensured that other staffing needs have been addressed. With changing needs and more students on the roster, we’ve increased teachers, another secretary, instructional assistants, interventionists and starting this year a second assistant principal
In May, thanks to staff, parents, and community agencies, working together to create awareness about our concerns, the Board of Education approved additional bus service for CES to alleviate traffic congestion at arrival and dismissal.
The extra buses have greatly reduced traffic and increased safety for our students. Many thanks go to those who worked on this project over the years and to all who remained patient.
Beyond safeguarding student safety, our primary goal in adjusting to growing enrollment has been to improve academic achievement.
So how has CES performed since we’ve opened our doors? I am proud to say, quite well.
Our most recent state testing data, the 2011 Maryland School Assessment results, show that even with our nonstop growth, achievement continues to rise.
In 2006, our first year of testing, 88 percent of tested students passed with a score of proficient or advanced in reading and math.
Today, 98 percent of tested students have passed reading and 95 percent in math.
We also proudly increased the percentage of those passing with an advanced score from 27 percent for reading in 2006 to 54 percent in 2011. Those numbers rose in math as well, from 28 percent to 47 percent.
While CES has experienced some growing pains, we have never lost sight of our goal to provide our students a quality education.
Thanks to the extraordinary staff, the commitment of our parents and community members, and the strong support we receive from FCPS, I’m sure we will continue to thrive.
Editor’s Note: Stephen Raff is the principal at Centerville Elementary School. Contact Raff at: Stephen.Raff@fcps.org.