School gets down to business

Rainy weather and wet streets will add to the challenge today, as students, parents and staff return to the classrooms for Day 2 of the academic year for most North Carolina public schools.

From all accounts, Day 1 went well.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools were dogged by a few late-running buses, as is customary on the first day of classes.

CMS officials say the last students were dropped off at 7:55 p.m. Monday. Those buses operated from Oakhurst Academy and Alexander Graham Middle School. And Superintendent Peter Gorman said he realizes that while the first day went well for much of the system, it was not a good day for students and parents who encountered problems.

“We had a good day,” Gorman said Monday evening. “Of course, if your child didn't get a schedule, or if his or her bus was late, you had a lousy day.”

CMS officials said what they always say – the bus problems will improve steadily during this week and next week. That is because drivers will become more familiar with their routes.

But today's rainy weather and wet streets could provide students and bus drivers with a few extra hurdles.

No major problems were reported from any of the surrounding school systems on the first day of classes. It also was a smooth first day for UNC Charlotte, although traffic congestion was reported a couple times during morning class changes. Winthrop University in Rock Hill begins its fall semester today.

School system officials said they had to deal with some obstacles on the first day.

“We had one case of a child who only knew his first name,” Gorman said. “He didn't know his last name, or where he lived. His mother had dropped him off at the school. To make matters worse, he doesn't speak English.”

CMS used an interpreter to determine the child's identity.

And a lockdown was ordered at Allenbrook Elementary School in west Charlotte, after shots were fired near the school. The incident happened after most students had left the campus, and the shots were fired in a neighborhood behind the school – not near the campus. Students who were still on campus for the after-school care program were kept in their rooms until police gave the all-clear signal.

“All we want to do is teach reading, writing and arithmetic … and we have to go on lockdown because of something like this,” Gorman said.