FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Backpacks in place, class schedule in hand, hundreds of thousands of students across South Florida headed back to class Monday on the first day of the new school year.
At the Broward County’s school district’s bus depot in Oakland Park, drivers fired up their buses and began their routes – the first buses leaving the facility just after 5 a.m.
Not only is it the first day back to school for students, it’s also the first day that school Superintendent Robert Runcie will preside over the start of the school year in Broward County. Runcie stopped by the bus depot to check in with the drivers before welcoming teachers and students back for a new year.
“We made a firm commitment to put more teachers back into the classroom. So we were able to make cut in our administrative and central office areas, hired an additional 650 teachers. In addition to that we were also able to find resources to put another 150 specialists in our schools, basically your art, music and physical education specialists. So we put quite a bit of staff back into our schools,” said Runcie.
Runcie said he plans to visit a number of schools throughout the day to say hello to teachers and their classes.
At Stirling Elementary, Runcie met with the group behind the Broward “Million Father March” which encouraged fathers, and those in a father figure role, take their kids to school on the first day.
At Orangebrook Elementary, parents lined up with the children as players from the Miami Heat, along with employees of Office Depot, gave out 900 ‘sack packs’ filled with school supplies.
“The message is to support education, you know, children need to learn to educate themselves so they can impact society the most,” said the Heat’s Norris Cole.
With the start of school, the kids weren’t the only ones who had to adjust their daily schedules.
“You gotta do last minute shopping, wake up early in the morning, she had to get used to coming early in the morning, it’s a pretty good experience,” said Natasha Thomas.
But it’s not all good news. Four of the county’s charter schools are not open this year. A few days ago, parents got word that Academic Solutions High School, Broward Math & Science Schools, Pivot Charter School and iGeneration Empowerment Academy of Broward County would not be available for the 2012-2013 school year.
The district said each school failed to submit documentation of certain provisions they had to meet before the July 20th deadline. The schools in question were given several reminders of the deadline and notified that “Failure to provide the required documents within the specific timeframe terminated the charter agreement.”
Approximately 120 students were affected and this year they will be attending their local public schools.
The Broward County school district, according to their website, has over 258,000 students and approximately 150,000 adult students in 234 schools, education centers and charter schools.