Over 38,000 students showed up for class today in Marion County Public Schools, where the biggest damper to the day turned out to be a mid-afternoon rain shower during elementary dismissal.
Normal first-day challenges – late buses due to higher-than-expected rider counts, unregistered students, and new residents unfamiliar with school attendance areas – took time out of the first instructional day of the 2014-2015 school year. These issues are normally resolved within the first few days of class.
Today, 38,030 students showed up for their first day eager to begin a new year after summer vacation. This number is 442 students more than last year’s first-day count and about nine percent under the projected peak enrollment of 41,891. Stagger-start kindergarten during the first three days will raise the overall attendance figure which will continue climbing over the next two months for the official state count in October.
While most students made it to class district-wide without incident, some buses were delayed because of normal first-day procedures including longer-than-anticipated pick-up times at new bus stops and drivers placing colored armbands on students for proper identification. Transportation issues are a common and expected occurrence during the first two weeks of class. Once drivers become aware of students and students learn their bus route numbers, stop times and locations, these problems dissipate.
As of 3:30PM, the district’s transportation hotline – 352.671.7050 – fielded 1,822 phone calls, 22 more than last year’s first-day count. This hotline offers immediate help to parents with bus questions and concerns and operates 6AM-6PM each school day. As well, the district’s Technology Help Desk answered 378 calls from classroom teachers and other school technology users plus another 150 self-service resolved calls.
Despite public education efforts, school administrators sent 383 seventh graders out-of-class because they did not have proof of their state-required immunizations -- 20 percent lower than last year’s 477. This number is also the lowest in recent years.
Even with these immunization concerns and transportation issues, district-wide, today ran remarkably smooth for a first-day opening.