Schools in DC area, Maryland, Northern Virginia?

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 7:30am
ajas_folks's picture
Joined: 04/28/2000 - 09:00

Would appreciate any/all help from those curently living in this area &/or those who have recently lived in this area.

Would like to do public school. Kids are currently K & 3 this year. Though the younger could qualify for grade 1 in Virginia. Need to be in good elementary AND middle school district, as we might actually be there long enough to see middle school for older child.

Happy to receive e-mail on this if you prefer not to post here.

DH will be commuting into DC (Arlington), so we need to have his life not horrid with extra-long commute.

Thanks for any help & advice.

Mother to 2:
DD age 5, NKA, treated as though PA/TNA
DS age 8, PA, possible TNA, Latex, legumes?
(PA diagnosed & ana reaction 1999)
Member here since 2000

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 9:52am
njm's picture
Joined: 03/16/2003 - 09:00

DS will be starting Kindergarten at Oakton Elementary (Fairfax County) next month. I don't have too much experience with them but I've talked with the principal and she seems supportive and knowledgeable. She had another mom with two PA kids at Oakton Elementary contact me. The other mom was very positive about her experiences. Both her children's classes are designated "nut-free" and her kids sit at the "nut-free" table in the cafeteria. PB&J Uncrustables are served in the lunch line but she allows her kids to go through the line to buy milk since these are pre-packaged and there's no cross-contamination risk. I'll be meeting with my DS' teacher, the principal, and the school nurse the last week in August to discuss 504, etc. so I'll know more then.

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 10:11am
Donni's picture
Joined: 11/06/2000 - 09:00

Northern Virginia traffic is bad. There is some public transportation--metro (subway)--but it isn't always reliable and has become expensive. Well, not as expensive as parking unless the company has designated, paid-for parking. To avoid a long commute (time-wise), try to locate near where your DH will be working. If you can visit the area and drive in rush hour traffic from both Northern Virginia to Arlington and from Maryland to Arlington, you'd have a better idea of what to expect.
Schools? I know nothing about Northern Virginia schools. I know few people who have kids in DC schools--those I know have them in private high schools. Maryland? Even the "better" schools in the "better" counties are taking a nose-dive. I'm in an unusual community in Laurel which is in two counties so depending on which county your home is in, you might get a choice of which school to send your kids. Frankly, the elementary school is terrific but our current plans are to move prior to middle school.
I hope someone can better answer your questions with personal knowledge about the schools, especially middle schools.

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 10:46am
ACP's picture
Joined: 10/10/2006 - 09:00

I live in Fairfax County & have kids in MS & HS. (Oakton High School & Rachel Carson Middle School.) I am particularly happy w/ RCMS, academically, socially, & (so far) food allergy-ly (although my child seems not to react as easily as some folks do). We live near the Monroe Street Liss & Ride, so there is pretty easy access to public transportation (although neither DH nor I commute in towards Arlington/DC, so we only occasionally use the buses.
Fairfax County has a pretty good Gifted & Talented program, if that is something your kids would likely participate in. To get in the 1st year, you may need to get them tested independently... there is a local state university that can do it & it isn't quite so expensive.
Many of the high schools in the western part of Fairfax County will be part of a redistricting study this coming year, so pay attention to that if you look at houses around here.
Traffic here really is brutal, as was previously mentioned. You will need to pay close attention to that. But there are many neat opportunities that are easy to take advantage of around here too.
Anyway, if you want more info, especially if you come to the area for a house hunting trip, please let me know! I have lived here in Northern Virginia since 1984, so I am getting to be pretty close to a native by now.

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 12:20pm
temple's picture
Joined: 03/10/2007 - 09:00

I have lived in Maryland all my life.
I grew up in Montgomery County and attended the public schools there (I currently teach for MCPS). Montgomery County is well known for their public school system.
Howard County is also another great area with an excellent school system (and not too far from Johns Hopkins). I taught there for 9 years.
I currently live in Frederick County and have heard good things about the schools. My boys are only 3 and 13 mos. so I don't have any information firsthand about FCPS.
Do you have an idea of where you'd like to live?

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 11:01pm
BENSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/20/2000 - 09:00

Hey temple--my kids go to mcps. What school do you teach in? (I was going to email you, but didn't see an email address. If you don't mind sharing the information, you can email me if you don't want it posted online.)
As for schools, Ben does not sit at a peanut-free table or have any special written plan. Montgomery County's policy is to give the epi first and ask questions later, so I don't think you can have a plan that says, for example, to give benadryl for mild reactions. There was a peanut-free table at Ben's school last year because another parent had requested it. I've never asked for a peanut-free classroom, but one year when they were going to have reeses for a halloween party, I asked the teacher to hand them out at the end and not let the kids eat them in class, and she did. So I've always just handled things on a case by case basis. I bring in a box of some snack in the beginning of the year for the teacher to substitute for birthday treats. Oh, and the policy for the county is that all food brought in to distribute in the classroom be store bought with a label. No homemade treats.

Posted on: Wed, 08/08/2007 - 11:40pm
ACP's picture
Joined: 10/10/2006 - 09:00

Ah, BensMom, that is an important point. Fairfax County schools have also moved to the same policy -- they give the Epi anytime ther is a suspected ingestion/reaction & they ask questions later. That was a change from the less precise, more individually specified, parent/doctor written procedures that were used a few years ago. Perhaps the Epi-first-questions-later approach seems a bit extreme, but I have grown comfortable with it over the years... better safe than sorry, etc.
The other thing that I have noticed in the 2 elementary schools, 1 middle school, & 1 high school is that the quality of the clinic aide seems to vary quite a bit from school to school. The current clinic aide in our MS is pretty lousy, didn't notify me when the Epi was about to expire (something our ES clinic aide did... it was very reassuring to know that she was so organized!), wasn't there when I came by to pick up my child's meds, etc.

Posted on: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:20am
temple's picture
Joined: 03/10/2007 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by BENSMOM:
[B]Hey temple--my kids go to mcps. What school do you teach in? (I was going to email you, but didn't see an email address. If you don't mind sharing the information, you can email me if you don't want it posted online.)
I am a special education teacher with the Infants & Toddlers Program. I am based in Olney (my office is next door to Rosa Parks MS), but we are primarily a home based program. The kids I see live in Laytonsville, Gaithersburg, and Montgomery Village.
I grew up in Burtonsville...went to Cloverly, Banneker, and Paint Branch.
Where are you?

Posted on: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:25am
BENSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/20/2000 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by ACP:
[b]The current clinic aide in our MS is pretty lousy, didn't notify me when the Epi was about to expire (something our ES clinic aide did... it was very reassuring to know that she was so organized!), wasn't there when I came by to pick up my child's meds, etc.
At our schools, when you give them the epis at the beginning of the year, they check the expiration date, and if it isn't good through the end of the school year, I think they make you get a new one--they won't take one that expires mid-year. I always get them refilled in August and make sure they're good for the whole year. But yeah, I agree with the varying capabilities of the health techs.

Posted on: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 12:26am
BENSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/20/2000 - 09:00

temple, I'm not close to you, but I'd rather not get more specific on a public message board. I'd be happy to tell you if you want to email me.
[This message has been edited by BENSMOM (edited August 09, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 08/09/2007 - 3:33am
PeanutFreeInMD's picture
Joined: 04/23/2007 - 09:00

I'm in Frederick County also. I think it is a bit too far for your husband's commute to Arlington, Va though. My husband works in Gaithersburg (Mont. County), and that is a far enough drive itself, plus all the traffic!


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