Even a broken water main that closed part of Independence Boulevard didn’t create major delays as 1,052 Charlotte-Mecklenburg school buses took students to school Monday, Superintendent Ann Clark said at a late morning update on the first day of school.
But the buses will rumble again this afternoon, mixing with traffic that’s expected to be diverted from outbound Independence as the road remains closed into the evening. Especially at middle schools with the latest hours, where buses have to complete runs for elementary and high schools first, there may be delays.
Clark said the district will send ConnectEd messages to parents to let them know about significant delays. The last scheduled drop-offs are 6 p.m., but some students generally get home later on the first day.
“Maybe we’re not a welcome sight to many of our commuters,” Clark acknowledged. She said the biggest delays she heard about were at Croft Community elementary school in north Charlotte, where “a bridge issue” delayed buses and parents.
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Clark met the news media at Statesville Road Elementary School, which has a new building to replace the 60-year-old facility just down the street.
“Just the smell of the paint is giving me life,” said Statesville Road third-grade teacher Jordan Todd, who said students were so proud of the new classroom that when one dropped a crayon that marked the floor, another insisted he clean it up.
Clark reminded parents to be sure their children are up to date on required immunizations. This year also brings a new requirement: All students who are new to North Carolina public schools must get a health assessment and send a form to school proving they’ve done so.
CMS is expecting almost 147,000 students, though officials counts aren’t taken until the 20th day of school. They and most of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students began the 2016-17 year Monday.
Clark said early reports indicate enrollment may top projections. She said none of the 15 northern schools she visited Monday morning reported low enrollment, and several were above what they expected.
Clark said CMS had 80 teacher vacancies Monday, out of roughly 9,000 teachers. Hiring and teacher assignments will continue through the early weeks of school, as enrollment counts are taken and the district adjusts staffing.
The district also continues to hire and train bus drivers. Monday morning CMS put 44 “lead drivers,” who are trained to drive but normally work in offices, on the road.
Only one of the district’s 168 schools, Briarwood Academy elementary school, opened without a permanent principal. That school’s principal was recently transferred to another CMS school.
Some private, charter and year-round schools started earlier, but the state’s school calendar law made Monday the first day for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and most other districts.
School districts dominate public school enrollment, but approximately 89,000 North Carolina students will attend 167 charter schools. Those include six new ones opening in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.
Most districts and many individual schools use social media for live updates on the first day.
Opening day contacts
▪ Back to school information: www.cms.k12.nc.us/mediaroom/backtoschool
▪ Transportation hotline: 980-343-6715
▪ Twitter and Facebook: @CharMeckSchools
▪ Back to school information: www.cabarrus.k12.nc.us/bts
▪ Phone: 704-786-6191
▪ Twitter and Facebook: @CabCoSchools
▪ Back to school information: www.gaston.k12.nc.us/backtoschool
▪ Transportation: 704-866-6181
▪ Twitter @GastonSchools, Facebook @GastonCountySchools
▪ General information: www.iss.k12.nc.us
▪ Phone: 704-872-8931
▪ Twitter @issschools, Facebook @IredellStatesvilleSchools
▪ General information: www.lcsnc.org
▪ Phone: 704-732-2261
▪ Back to school information: www.ucps.k12.nc.us/Page/6018
▪ Phone: 704-296-9898
▪ Twitter @UCPS_MonroeNC, Facebook @ucps.nc