What’s New for the 2017-18 School Year

Posted on 07/21/2017
What’s New for the 2017-18 School Year

The 2017-18 school year will kick off on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. As students stream back into classrooms, they will encounter some new programs and initiatives. Here’s what’s new in FHSD:

Biomedical Innovations - In this capstone course, students design innovative solutions for the health challenges of the 21st century, and have the opportunity to work on an independent project with a mentor or advisor from a university, hospital, research institution, or the biomedical industry.

Pre-AP Calculus - This course combines the trigonometric, geometric, and algebraic techniques needed to prepare students for the study of calculus, and strengthens students’ conceptual understanding of problems and mathematical reasoning in solving problems. Facility with these topics is especially important for students intending to study calculus, physics and other sciences, and/or engineering in college.

AP Human Geography - The Advanced Placement Human Geography course introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. Students learn to employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human socioeconomic organization and its environmental consequences. Students also learn about the methods and tools geographers use in their research and applications.

Advanced Weight Training - This course has three main objectives: development of an understanding of weight training physiology, development of the skills necessary to maximize performance of strength training techniques, and to continue progress toward an individual's strength and fitness goals.

District Technology Refresh
The refresh cycle for District technology devices has been put on hold for the past two years. As a result, many District devices are reaching the end of useful life, causing negative impacts on the instructional process. For the 2017-18 school year, many of the oldest devices in the District will be replaced; older devices will be replaced primarily with more cost-effective Chromebooks. This has the added advantage of allowing the District to provide more devices to more schools.

The re-implemented technology refresh cycle is a scaled back version of what was proposed under Prop Howell. The increase in the technology budget for the new computers was offset by reductions in other budget areas.

Student Email Accounts
The first change is the retirement of student FHSD Microsoft Office 365/Outlook email accounts. Currently, students have two FHSD email accounts, which has created some confusion for students and teachers. To streamline this, the FHSD Google accounts (@g.fhsdschools.org) will become the sole email accounts for students. The Office 365/Outlook email accounts will be deactivated on July 26, 2017. If students have any information or emails that they wish to keep, they will need to download them prior to July 26.

Student Password Resets
The second change is a student account password reset. On July 27, 2017, all student account passwords will be reset to a default password. The default password resets for all middle and high school students will be the following: Fhsdxxxxxx. The 'F' is capitalized, and the 'xxxxxxx' is the student’s District Student ID. This password reset will also carry over to the student’s FHSD Google account. At the beginning of the new school year, students will still have the ability to change their password as they desire, as long as it complies with the password requirements (eight characters or more, at least one capital letter, and a special character).

New District and School Websites
The District and school websites all have a new and improved look. FHSD has signed a new contract agreement with the current website vendor, SchoolMessenger, to provide a new template for all 25 District websites. The other good news is that the District was also able to negotiate a lower rate, saving money and improving all websites at the same time.

The new website template has a responsive web design (RWD), meaning that webpages can be viewed in response to the size of the screen used by the viewer. Text, graphics, and images will all be displayed correctly, no matter what device patrons are using. Analytics confirm that more than half of the visitors to FHSD websites are using their smartphone or mobile device for access, and RWD will make the new templates easier to view and navigate. The new websites are intended to provide a better user interface with improved visuals and navigation, all while costing the District less money – a “win-win” scenario for everyone!

Storm Damage = New Roofs
On May 11, 2016, a severe thunderstorm with large hail caused significant damage throughout the District. The roofs of 15 different District buildings suffered damage, and in many cases, the entire roof structure is in need of repair. The good news is that the FHSD property insurance carrier will pay the $8 million cost of repairs. The repair work started at several buildings as soon as school let out for summer, and is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. Click here to watch a short video of the roof repair.

Activity Fees
The FHSD Board of Education has approved the recommendation of the Extracurricular Task Force to establish an activity fee structure for the 2017-18 school year. Students participating in a sport, activity, or club - in which a sponsor or coach is paid a stipend - will be required to pay a yearly activity fee. Students will be assessed one fee regardless of how many sports/activities/clubs they participate in during the school year. An application for financial assistance/waiver will be available for students, as needed.

Activity Fee Structure*


Yearly Fee

Yearly Maximum per Level per Family










*Additional team and club assessments will still apply.

Based on participation data from previous years, the activity fee would generate approximately $200,000 annually that will go to the general revenue fund. This revenue will help to prevent further reductions in the number of extracurricular activities, or the number of contests during an activity or sport season.

High School Activities Transportation
FHSD high schools will continue to transport students to all “away” contests and events, but will only offer return transportation if the event venue is 16 or more miles from the school. Usually, very few students ride the return bus because most participants return with family or friends. Eliminating the return transportation from these “away” contests will save the District approximately $100,000, and helps to prevent cuts to other activities. There will be some exceptions when return bus transportation will be required for closer activities, and all events will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Transition Day Transportation
“Transition Day” in the Francis Howell School District is an opportunity for incoming sixth and ninth graders to familiarize themselves with their new school. This year, Transition Day will be held at all FHSD middle and high schools on Friday, Aug. 4.

As part of the continuing efforts of FHSD to reduce expenditures and remain good stewards tax payer dollars, the District will not provide bus transportation for this optional event this year. Eliminating transportation for Transition Day will save approximately $43,000.

FHSD continues to make budget reductions to minimize the deficit and maximize financial reserves. The District has made $20 million in budget cuts over the past five years, and has reduced staff by the equivalent of 190 full-time positions since 2008.

Earlier this year, the FHSD Board of Education directed District administration to launch three different task forces (Transportation, Extracurricular, and Non-Tax Revenue Sources) to investigate expenditure reductions and increasing non-tax revenue. The different task forces are comprised of both staff and community members, with a special focus on identifying individuals who have areas of expertise that correspond with the work of each task force.

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