Bailey’s Crossroads Rotary Club President Harry Henderson (in the middle) presents a ceremonial check for $25,100 to FCPS during a community meeting at Stuart High School April 22.
Last week, Garza appointed Penny Gros, the former principal at Glasgow Middle School, to be the new principal at JEB Stuart High School. Shawn DeRose, a former assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology who had been assigned to Stuart last year to provide additional leadership support, was named acting principal at Stuart.
Stuart Principal Prosperanta Calhoun, who had been struggling with a number of issues, was reassigned to a new position created for her at the FCPS central office earlier this month.
Garza said DeRose is a top candidate to be the permanent principal at Glasgow. He was appointed “acting principal,” rather than “interim principal,” because interims can’t apply to be the permanent principal.
DeRose “has my complete support to make whatever decisions he needs to make,” Garza said. “We have a lot of confidence in Mr. DeRose.” She conceded that the staff changes were abrupt, but said, “this is a critical time of year. We want both of these individuals in place now so they can be part of those decisions.”
Both DeRose and Gros “really care about this community,” Garza said. “It makes a big difference when you have a great principal.”
Garza said she is grateful that the community supports this change. “I am absolutely and completely confident good things are ahead for this school system and this pyramid,” she said. “Stuart has the potential to be “among the most high-achieving schools in this system.”
Fabio Zuluaga, the assistant superintendent for Region 2, said the process for hiring a new principal at Glasgow will start April 23. He plans to explain that process to Glasgow parents at a meeting April 23, 7 p.m., in the school’s library.
“Stuart is a very good high school. We want it to become a great high school,” Zuluaga said. “It has incredible potential.” Some areas that need to be addressed include the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which offers a rigorous curriculum to high-achieving students, and English as a second language, he said.
DeRose said he wants to focus on literacy and collaboration and look for “better ways to engage students in the classroom.”
Gros told parents that a new system that will be implemented next fall across FCPS will give parents real-time online access to teachers’ grade books. Teachers at all schools will be required to use the new system.
Stuart has faced a large increase in immigrants this year, many of them with no English language skills and little experience with formal schooling at all.
To respond to those students, FCPS is developing an English Language Academy at Stuart and Lee high schools, and possibly Herndon, the schools hardest hit by the recent wave of immigrants. The academy will provide accelerated, intensive English language instruction and more support for students.
FCPS is looking at ways to address overcrowding at Stuart and Glasgow, Garza said, noting, “We recognize growth is a concern in this community.”
In June FCPS plans to submit a zoning waiver to the county to pave the way for adding another story to Stuart, she said, and expects to add modular classrooms at Glasgow “in the near future.”
FCPS officials are reviewing the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) and looking at capacity and boundary issues in each region, starting with Region 3. A meeting for the Region 2 community, which includes Stuart and Glasgow, will take place in the fall.
Garza said she is “very disappointed with the Board of Supervisors” for not fully funding the school board’s budget request. As a result, FCPS will have a shortfall of $7.5 million. Nearly half a billion dollars have been cut from the operating budget since 2008.
That means teacher salaries will continue to fall behind those of neighboring jurisdictions. This part of the county has been hardest hit, Garza said, as teachers are leaving for better-paying jobs in Arlington and Alexandria.