Hundreds of thousands of public school students across the Charlotte region returned to classrooms Monday morning for the start of the 2012-13 academic year -- without any apparent major problems.
Today is the first day of class in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and most other North Carolina public school systems. Students in the areas private schools, the N.C. mountain counties and in South Carolina started last week or even earlier this month.
About 140,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg students are among those who started school today. The weather was no problem. Conditions were dry, and temperatures were in the upper 60s across the Charlotte region at 8 a.m. Before sunrise, the Duke Energy building in Charlottes uptown was bathed in red and white -- the colors of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Most of the systems nearly 950 buses began leaving the lots around 5:45 a.m.
Among those at the bus stop early Monday morning was Heath Morrison, CMS new superintendent. The systems new boss was out early, meeting students waiting for the bus about 6 a.m. at Alvarado Way and Sandy Saddle Road in southeast Mecklenburg County.
Morrison told NewsChannel 36, the Observers news partner, that he chatted with students about the courses they are taking this year.
Of course, a lot of those students told the superintendent that theyre looking forward to coming back to school, Morrison told WCNC.
As for himself, the superintendent said, Im pumped up and ready to go.
Bus 125 arrived a short time later and picked up students headed to Ardrey Kell High School. As Morrison noted, the bus was on time for its stop.
A short time later, Morrison walked with parents and students headed to Hawk Ridge Elementary School in southeast Mecklenburg County. A little before 8 a.m., he was at Smithfield Road Elementary in south Charlotte, reading books to students.
Later Monday morning, he met with students at Sedgefield Middle School and visited the cafeteria at Chantilly Montessori Elementary School.
Morrison has a busy schedule for the rest of the day, planning to meet with students, staff and parents across the county.
In Gaston County, Superintendent Reeves McGlohon told WCNC-TV that its been a wonderful start for the systems 32,000 students.
Our goal is to start off looking like its the middle of the school year, rather than the beginning, he said.
Its the same story elsewhere in the area Alexander, Anson, Burke, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Iredell, Lincoln, Montgomery, Mooresville City, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties. The recession put a dent in school construction across the region, so for most students and staff members, the biggest change this year will be the curriculum.
North Carolina is moving to the Common Core standards, a new instructional method that stresses problem-solving instead of rote memory.
Another change will be in the school cafeterias. A new federal law requires food services staff members to provide students with more dark-colored vegetables and fruits.
Maybe the biggest change will be on the streets, as morning commuters will resume sharing the roadways with school buses and parents who drive their children to school. Law enforcement officials also warn the public to be careful about students walking to school.
The same is true at the end of the day. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says more school-aged pedestrians are killed between 3 and 4 p.m. than any other time of day.
Children are often eager to get off the school bus, because they are excited to tell their parents about all the fun they had at school that day, Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter said.
CMS officials and their counterparts in other counties have urged parents to make sure their children arrive at bus stops about 10 to 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick-up time. Buses might be running earlier or later in the first days of school.