MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The long, hot days of summer are a thing of the past for hundreds of thousands of Miami-Dade school kids as they headed back to class Monday for the start of the new year.
Over the weekend, as many parents shopped for last minute supplies, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho kept busy with a tour the iPrep Academy where classrooms are outfitted with laptops for every student, and even a workout facility in place of a physical education class. He also met with some teachers and students who said they were looking forward to the new school year.
Monday morning, Carvalho stopped by a bus depot in north Miami-Dade to check in with the drivers and stress safety while they were out on the road. More than 60,000 children in the county used school buses as a means for transportation.
“We ran trial runs last week, they went off without a hitch,” said Carvalho. “This is a massive endeavor. We operate the largest school bus fleet in the world. So be patient on the first day of school, actually the first week of school. We expect our transportation system to run to on time but there is always the possibility for a delay.”
Whether they road the bus, drove, rode their bicycles, walked, or were driven to school with friends or parents, first day jitters were not uncommon.
“I’m worried I won’t be in the same class as the people I was in last year,” said fifth grader Samuel Delgado.
Beatriz Delgado’s fifth grader and pre-kindergartner both came to Twin Lakes Elementary in Hialeah freshly outfitted in school uniforms. Little Simon was looking forward to this moment all summer.
“The best part is go to school,” said Simon.
Not everyone shared Delgado’s enthusiasm.
“I fought with him to get out of bed. We’ve been at it since 6:30. He’s like ‘I’m tired, can we wait, can we go late,” said Iliana Mediana, mother of another Twin Lakes fifth grader.
While everything went fairly smoothly for the first day of the ‘kids are back in school traffic’, it was far from perfect.
“Hiccups are natural, this is like reawakening the sleeping giant from the summer nap,” said Carvalho. “When you introduce 1,250 buses on the streets, you combine that with rush hour traffic, there are going to be a couple of delays.”
Carvalho added that if parents want their children to have a good year, there are a couple of things they can do.
“Get them to school on time, feed them before they come here, speak with them about respect, responsibility and restraint and make them feel good about the process of education,” said Carvalho.
Miami-Dade is the fourth largest school district in the nation. Approximately 355,000 children attend nearly 400 schools in the county.
The new school year brings many changes, including a new Florida standards assessment test.
The Miami-Dade School District leaders said teachers have received training to meet the new requirements.
Parents will be able to apply online for free and reduced lunches for students.
This year students are being encouraged to b-y-o-d: bring your own device. That means cell phones, tablets and laptops. Every school in the district now has wifi.