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Classes commence Monday at Lee County schools

By Staff | Aug 6, 2011

mmccoy@breezenewspapers.com

Due to the Lee County School District’s outstanding academic achievements, along with being an “A” district, school will start two weeks early this year on Monday, Aug. 8.

Joe Donzelli, communication director for the Lee County School District, said they are hoping that 85 percent of their projected enrollment of approximately 82,000 students will attend school on the first day. He said anything more than that is definitely positive.

Donzelli said rather than putting a number out there concerning enrollment, the district projects what percentage they believe their yearly enrollment will be.

All students must visit a school assignment office before they walk into school on Monday to be assigned to a specific school.

Cape Coral Student Assignment Office Manager Debbie Green said they have seen an increase in traffic at the office since last Thursday with an average of 120 people a day.

This week, they experienced yet another increase with 150 families seen on Monday at the Cape Coral Student Assignment office, 147 on Tuesday and 103 families visited the assignment office before 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

“They are showing up at the last minute,” she said.

Green anticipates a banner day on Monday.

“Next week is going to be extremely busy,” she said.

Green said the traffic they are experiencing at the assignment office is pretty common when compared to previous years. She said they experienced busier years during the 2005-2006 boom.

“It was an even heavier flow,” of people, she said.

Green said it is not a major issue if students are not registered for school on the first day.

“It is not the end of the world if you are not registered for school on Monday,” she said. “Students will not be considered absent until registration is in place.”

Green encourages parents to be patient and keep smiling when they visit the office.

Parents who are registering their child for the first time in the district need an original birth certificate, a Florida certificate of immunization, records of a physical that was done less than 12 months ago and a utility bill for proof of address.

The Cape Coral Student Assignment is located inside High Tech North, 360 Santa Barbara Blvd. North. The office hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information visit www.leeschools.net/school/ under student assignment or call 239-242-2059.

The students will receive a variety of paperwork to bring home to their parents on the first day of school, which will include an application for free and reduced lunches.

Lee County School District Food and Nutrition Service Director Wayne Nagy said 27,650 applications have already been approved for free and reduced lunches as of Wednesday.

“We have a lot of people doing the online application,” he said.

The application can be filled out online at rocketscan.leeschools.net .

Nagy encourages parents to use the online application because it quickens the process of their child receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Only one application needs to be filled out per family.

Nagy said children who are not a part of the free and reduced lunch program can register for a payment plan online at www.mylunchmoney.com. He said the program allows parents to put money into an account at whatever increments they wish. Once the balance reaches a low amount a note is sent to the parents.

“The money will be taken out automatically at the point of sale,” Nagy said, which occurs when the students purchase lunch at school.

The payment plan also allows the parents to monitor what their kids are eating for lunch.

Nagy said they have used the program for the past two years and it has been very successful.

A form about the payment plan will also go home with students on Monday.

Nagy said this year they will offer breakfast at no cost to the students. He said they found out the program was very beneficial last year for parents due to the economy.

“There are a lot of families that need additional assistance to make sure their children have nutritional meals,” Nagy said.

The free breakfast, he said, provides an opportunity for all of the students to start the day on equal footing. He said when students are hungry it affects their health, development, behavior, self-esteem, attendance and academic performance.

By providing breakfast, Nagy said it provides the students with an opportunity to succeed in school.

Since school starts earlier this year than previous years, parents will be given an extra week to purchase their children’s school supplies due to the annual Sales Tax Holiday taking place Aug. 12-14.

This year the three day Sales Tax Holiday will include eligible items of clothing, footwear and certain accessories that are price marked at $75 or less, along with certain school supplies for $15 or less.

A list of all exempt items can be found at www.myflorida.com/dor .

Due to the efforts of Cape Coral Councilmember Kevin McGrail, School Board Member Don Armstrong and Lee County School District Transportation Director Robert Morgan, the majority of students riding buses in Cape Coral will now wait at a lighted stop with more students.

McGrail said although 80 percent of the bus stops in Cape Coral are now lit, they are still at a 20 percent shortfall in the northwest Cape.

McGrail said although their goal is to have 100 percent of the bus stops lit before the end of the year, he hopes to have them lit before the end of the calendar year.

With a fair amount of consolidation in bus stops, he said the average neighborhood bus stop will now have between three to five children, which is an increase from last year’s one or two students.

The largest bus stop near Coral Lakes Gated Community will have an upwards of 20 children waiting for the bus. Other large bus stops, McGrail said will have between 12 to 15 kids.

The increase in students at each bus stop occurred because the bus stops are not located as “deep” in neighborhoods anymore. McGrail said the bus stops are now closer to the boulevards where street lights are located.

“The children will not cross any boulevards to get to their bus stops,” he said. “No crossing of major streets to get to bus stops.”

Two town hall meetings will be held to give parents an opportunity to voice any concerns about their child’s bus stop.

The first meeting will be held on Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Cape Coral Lee County Regional Library, 921 SW 39th Terrace, and again on Aug. 20 at the Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd. N.

McGrail said the town hall meetings provide an ample opportunity for parents to plead their case of why a bus stop may need to be changed.

The first chance parents have to ask for bus stop changes occurs on Aug. 17.

This year Caloosa Elementary School, Cape Elementary School, Hector A. Cafferata, Jr. Elementary School, Pelican Elementary School, Skyline Elementary School and Trafalgar Elementary School will begin at 8 a.m. and let out at 2:15 p.m. Diplomat Elementary School, Gulf Elementary School and Patriot Elementary School will begin at 9:15 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

All of the middle schools in Cape Coral will begin at 9:45 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

Cape Coral High School students will begin their day at 7:10 a.m. and finish at 2:05 p.m. Ida S. Baker High School, Island Coast High School and Mariner High School will begin at 7:15 a.m. and end at 1:45 p.m.