New elementary, lunch prices, COVID: Everything to know about Anne Arundel schools ahead of the 2023-24 school year (2024)

Anne Arundel County Public School students will begin returning to classes on Monday as the 2023-24 school year kicks off.

While the school system’s more than 4,000 teachers returned to work on Aug. 18, the district will stagger the return of its over 83,000 students across 128 schools during the first week. School will be in session for a week before having off on Sept. 4 for Labor Day.

A lot has happened since school was last in session. The Board of Education was busy, approving the expansion of Triple E, a project-based learning program, finalizing an agreement with the county school teacher’s union to increase starting teacher salaries by $8,000 and voting down a controversial flag ban proposal.

A Maryland accountability board approved the school system’s first implementation plan for Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a 10-year education reform initiative. Superintendent Mark Bedell proposed a two-phase redistricting plan that would keep every north county school from surpassing its state-rated capacity.

Here are some other issues to know about as the school year begins.

No price hikes for school meals

The board voted in May to not increase school meal prices for the ninth consecutive year.

Lunch for elementary students is $2.75 while lunch for those in middle and high schools is $3.00. Breakfast for all grade levels is $1.50.

School spokesperson Bob Mosier said the district is “very proud of that ninth year in a row” as it has worked to build relationships with vendors to keep prices low.

New bus notification system

Families will now be able to receive email and text notifications about their student’s bus route delays and cancellations, Bedell announced Friday.

To use the system, users will provide their bus number and school information for the notifications they want to receive. The notifications will be sent at 7:30 p.m. the night before regarding delays or cancellations for the following day. Announcements will also be sent throughout each day.

“This new system is a win not just for our families but for our larger community,” Bedell said in a news release. “Last year, notifications were sent only to families of students in our schools, but this platform allows people such as day-care providers to be apprised of interruptions to bus schedules that will impact their lives as well.”

AACPS labor shortage persists

While the labor shortage that’s plagued the school system since 2021 is beginning to decline, the district is still experiencing a shortage of teachers, bus drivers and school support staff.

As of Wednesday, the district is still short 168 teachers, 41 crossing guards, 98 food service workers, and 23 custodians.

However, for the first time since 2021, the district is expected to start the school year with a fully operational bus system after reaching the minimum 600 drivers needed to fully operate each bus route at the end of the 2022-23 school year.

The district may still face challenges with buses, however, because there aren’t currently any backup drivers who can fill in if a driver calls in sick, Mosier said.

As of Wednesday, 63 drivers are in training, and zero additional drivers are needed.

“We are in a far better position at the start of this school year than we were a year ago, but there are, unfortunately, still going to be interruptions,” Bedell said in a statement on Friday. “We will do everything we can to minimize those and to inform families and the community when they occur, but we will all need to exercise patience throughout the year.”

Last year, Maryland’s Department of Education reported over 2,000 teacher vacancies statewide as of September 2021, with around 385 of them stemming from Anne Arundel, The Baltimore Sun reported. Additionally, students missed more than 3,100 instruction days in the first month of the 2022-23 school year due to bus disruptions.

More redistricting and new schools coming

Three new replacement schools for Quarterfield, Hillsmere and Rippling Woods elementaries will open this fall. The district is building several new schools including a replacement for Old Mill High School.

In July, Bedell recommended a plan that would redraw boundaries at 48 of the 58 schools in the northern section of the county. The school board voted on Wednesday to move Bedell’s redistricting recommendation to the public hearing phase.

The proposed plan would make a few changes the northern feeder systems and alter geographically assigned schools for about 6,400 students. Sixteen of the redrawn boundaries include changes in middle-to-high school patterns.

Rising COVID-19 cases may be a concern, but not yet

As the U.S. is seeing a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is keeping track of a new variant, the number of positive cases and hospitalizations in Maryland remain low but are rising.

On Tuesday, the state health department reported a seven-day positive case rate of 3.53 per 100,000 people statewide and 2.59 per 100,000 people within the county.

“Parents should not be concerned about sending their kids back to school,” Megan Pringle, the county health department spokesperson said. “We do know we will experience ebbs and flows with COVID-19 and other seasonal respiratory illnesses, which is why we recommend that families take precautions.”

In addition to having at-home test kits, the health department recommends that families get up to date on the COVID-19 vaccinations and getting a flu vaccine. Additionally, they recommend that those who are sick stay home and mask once they’re able to leave quarantine.

Standardized testing scores increased

Last year saw an increase in scores standardized testing scores in seven of eight testing areas, with the county seeing a 10.1% increase in Algebra I scores, a news release states.

The district saw proficiency rates for English Language Arts rise by 3.2% in middle and high school and 0.8% in elementary. Math scores for elementary and middle schoolers are up 2.4% and 2.2%.

However, eighth-grade science scores fell 10.1%.

“Our curriculum audit and strategic plan, both now underway, will address these areas with a laser-like focus so that we can be in a position to move up and move up each and every year,” Bedell said in a news release.

New elementary, lunch prices, COVID: Everything to know about Anne Arundel schools ahead of the 2023-24 school year (2024)

FAQs

How much are Anne Arundel County school lunches? ›

The Board of Education of Anne Arundel County has unanimously approved a plan to not raise school meal prices for the 10th consecutive year. The plan for the 2024-25 school year, approved Wednesday, keeps costs flat: breakfast at $1.50, elementary school lunches at $2.75, and middle and high school lunches at $3.

How much does Anne Arundel County spend per student? ›

AmountAmount per Student
Total Expenditures:$1,465,525,000$17,648
Total Current Expenditures:$1,281,301,000$15,429
Instructional Expenditures:$832,698,000$10,027
Student and Staff Support:$122,444,000$1,474
17 more rows

Is school lunch free in Maryland? ›

If a family's household income is the same as or less than the amounts outlined in the Income Guidelines chart below, the children in that household may qualify for free or reduced-price* school meals.

What is the bonus for Anne Arundel County Public Schools? ›

Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Bedell, with the full backing of the County Board of Education, announced that permanent AACPS employees of the school system will receive a $1,000 Employee Appreciation Bonus in January 2023.

How much is school lunch in Maryland? ›

Meal Prices for SY 2023-2024
BreakfastLunch
Elementary Schools$1.75$3.00
Secondary Schools$1.75$3.25
Reduced Price Meals$0.00$0.00
Milk$0.50$0.50
1 more row

How to pay for school lunch in Anne Arundel County? ›

Pay at School

Each school cafeteria accepts cash or checks to pay for meals. Food & Nutrition Services accepts these payments daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly.

What is the wealthiest school district in Maryland? ›

Maryland — Howard County Public Schools

Howard County is situated to the west of Baltimore. With a median household income approaching $118,000, it's clear why this area is home to Maryland's richest school district.

What is the lowest funded school district in Maryland? ›

CECIL COUNTY — Among the 24 public school systems in the State of Maryland, Cecil County Public Schools ranked as the lowest funded — based on per-student funding — in FY23, falling just $42 behind St. Mary's County, according to the Maryland Department of Legislative Service's rankings.

What is the most diverse school in Anne Arundel County? ›

Glen Burnie High School

#1 Most Diverse Public High Schools in Anne Arundel County.

Who is eligible for free or reduced lunch in Maryland? ›

Households with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible in the reduced-price category but will receive free meals. All children determined as eligible in the reduced-price category receive free meals due to State funding under the Maryland Cares for Kids Act.

Is school lunch free in MA? ›

All schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program provide free school meals. This includes all public schools and charter schools, and some private schools in Massachusetts. Lunch is free for all students and is served in every school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.

How to apply for free lunch in Maryland? ›

How do I apply for this program? To apply for free or reduced price meals, contact your child's school. A listing of your state's school systems can be found on the Maryland Department of Education website.

What is the salary of the superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools? ›

Under the terms of a contract approved Friday by the Board of Education, Bedell will earn $305,000 annually.

How much does Anne Arundel school superintendent make? ›

What is the average salary for a Superintendent at Anne Arundel County in the United States? Based on our data, it appears that the optimal compensation range for a Superintendent at Anne Arundel County is between $81,110 and $125,314, with an average salary of $113,984.

How many elementary schools are there in Anne Arundel County? ›

AACPS primarily consists of 79 elementary schools (Pre-K or K, through grade 5), 19 middle schools (grades 6–8), and 13 high schools (grades 9–12).

How much does school lunch cost in America? ›

School Meal Prices and Unpaid Meals
LunchBreakfast
Elementary$2.83$1.75
Middle$3.00$1.75
High$3.05$1.80

How much is PG County school lunch? ›

Elementary (Pre K through Grade 5)
DailyMonthly
Full Price Breakfast$1.60$32.00
Full Price Lunch$2.75$55.00

What middle schools feed into Arundel High School? ›

Arundel High School only has one feeder middle school, Arundel Middle School.

How much are Cabarrus County school lunches? ›

All students at CEP schools receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch at no charge.

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