Lee students return to the classroom
The buses were out in full force Thursday as more than 95,000 students throughout Lee County returned to class for the first day of the new school year.
Even though teachers have been back at work for a week, and administrators have worked for much of the summer, it usually takes that first day to tighten any loose links.
School board member Steve Teuber said things went as well as expected.
“All the schools seem to be opening with success and everyone is excited. We’re constantly listening to what the parents need,” Teuber said.
School board member Mary Fischer was at Gulf Elementary helping to serve lunch. She said there was “electricity in the air,” and it wasn’t lightning.
“Things are going very smoothly and everyone is very excited. I had a little girl come up to me and say she loved her teacher,” Fischer said.
Local administrators said that with the exception of a few bobbles (and one instance where a child went to the wrong school) and some traffic issues, everything went very well.
“Everything is going great. It was busy, but the buses are here, the kids are here and things went smoothly. We even said this was one of the best first days ever,” said Challenger Middle School principal Teri Cannady. “There was more traffic because many parents don’t put their kids on the bus the first day.”
Things at the City of Cape Coral charter schools weren’t much different than with the Lee County Schools, just on a smaller scale. Oasis Elementary assistant principal Chris Fennell said they had a wonderful start to the year.
“Getting everyone in can be a little slow, but today went very smooth,” Fennell said. “It’s no different than the public schools. It’s the same process as any public school and we’ve always had a good family feel. There’s always a warm presence and atmosphere and the teachers make that happen.”
Administrators said the weekend open houses were key to things starting so well, as teachers got to meet their students and students got to know their school.
“We were very organized and the staff knows the procedures. We had 950 families come for open house, and the students knew where to go,” Cannady said. “Everyone is excited and we’re looking forward to our best year ever.”
“Open house is very helpful. The parents get to meet and greet the teachers. That’s huge for the kids to know where they need to go in the morning,” Fennell said. “That atmosphere is great to creating that comfort and ease the anxiety starting school off.”
Teuber said another help has been the streamlining of the paperwork process for families, especially those with multiple children.
“Parents have three kids in three different school and they have to fill out three sets of paperwork. It’s cumbersome. We approved last Tuesday a mainframe upgrade that gives us more power to put everything taking time away from the parents and allowing them to do it on a computer,” Teuber said.
Among the biggest issues on the first day are the bus routes but, with few exceptions, those also went well.
“I’ve only heard one person say their bus did not come, but other than that, things are going very smoothly,” Fischer said.
“We have 725 buses running routes on three tiers and there are a lot of logistics. Traffic is changing. Even in August when we don’t have as many tourists, we have traffic that causes delays,” Teuber said. “If the bus is late, parents wonder if they’re at the right stop.
“The district seems to be going in a positive direction. We’ve raised the bar for everybody and they all seem to be eager to step up and help us become a world class school district,” Tueber said.