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Officials say first day of school goes well

By Staff | Aug 23, 2010

Despite a soggy start to the school year Monday, principals and district officials reported smooth sailing for the first day with very few hiccups.
The Lee County School District kicked off the 2010-11 school year as students returned to the classroom. District spokesman Joe Donzelli said Monday afternoon that the schools he visited and the officials he talked to over the telephone all indicated that they had a “very smooth” opening.
“Even with the weather this morning, things seemed to go relatively smoothly,” he said. “The only real downer of the day was the weather.”
Donzelli said the buses were running a little late Monday afternoon, and one student headed to Manatee Elementary got on the wrong bus in the morning.
“We had one little girl that got on the wrong bus,” he said. “The bus driver realized she had a child on her bus that wasn’t supposed to be on her bus.”
According to Donzelli, the driver radioed in the situation, offered to drop the student off at the correct elementary school since it was nearby and did so.
The district did receive phone calls about the length of some bus rides. Donzelli explained that the length of some rides could shorten in the coming weeks as drivers learn which stops are not being used and can be skipped on the route.
Donzelli said the routes take into account “phantom riders” in the beginning.
“We got a few calls on that today,” he said.
“Aside from the rain, everyone is really pleased and happy with how the day went,” Donzelli added.
Mariner High School Principal Brian Mangan was one pleased official.
“It went really well,” he said.
“The buses in the morning were either on time or just a couple minutes after the time they were expected,” he said. “Parent pickup was running smooth.”
“Even with the rain, we got everyone out of here,” Mangan said.
Teachers at Mariner High handed out textbooks Monday, but because of block scheduling, the rest of the textbooks will be handed out Tuesday, he said. The high school is also in the process of providing lockers for an annual fee of $5.
Mangan added that the students are adopting to the new dress code.
Cape Coral High School Principal Eric McFee also reported an easy first day.
“It was a great day,” he said. “We could have done without the rain this morning, but it was a very smooth day.”
McFee reported no major busing issues. Most students at Cape High had received their textbooks, lockers and parking passes a few weeks ago, leaving Monday open for staff to work with those students who had not.
“There were a lot of freshman walking around like deer in headlights,” he said.
But teachers were a little more forgiving about tardiness because it was the first day, McFee explained, and the students overall were really cooperative.
At a staffing meeting at the end of the day, the feedback was “all positive.”
“It’s just the first day of school and everybody bucks up,” he said.
The district is expecting nearly more than 83,000 K-12 students in 114 schools, according to Donzelli. Early numbers show that more than 75,000 students showed up the first day, and history proves that the number will increase over the next two weeks.
“For a while, we saw enrollment slide back a bit, but now we’re anticipating seeing some growth in that area,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Browder. “We’re excited for the new year — I know it will be another great year for Lee County Public Schools, its students and families.”