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Students return to the classroom in Lee

August 20, 2014
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Lee County's first day of school went off without a hitch this week, minus the typical hiccups.

On Monday morning, students enrolled in the School District of Lee County headed back to class. Amity Chandler, the district's spokeswoman, said about 90,000 children are currently enrolled.

"Now, those numbers will fall as they're marked as no shows," she said.

Article Photos

Michael Pistella

Oasis Elementary Principal Steve Hook
welcomes third-grader Cecilia Menendez back to school on the first day Monday. Hook has been principal at Oasis since 2005.

Officials anticipate the final enrollment figure to level off at approximately 88,000.

Chandler noted that an about 2 percent growth is expected over the school year.

"Most students this year from last year for certain," she said.

Last year's final figure was 88,549, which included the charter schools and special centers.

"Everything went smoothly," Chandler said of the first day.

Issues reported across the district were usual back-to-school road bumps, to include backups in the schools' parent pick-up lines and limited parking as parents walked their children to their class.

"Just the common stuff," she said.

With 740 current routes, school buses have been running an average of 30 minutes behind.

"We did have some extremes," Chandler said, explaining that one bus was 40 minutes late but another was only 10 minutes late. "It'll take about a week for buses to get onto their regular time schedules."

It will take about two weeks for the bus routes to get sorted out.

"It's very important parents have their addresses updated with the district," she said.

About a dozen children were assigned to the incorrect school bus due to this.

"Out of 65,000 riders, that's not too bad," Chandler said.

If a child misses their stop, the bus will run its route then take the youth back to the school.

According to Chandler, one child was on the right bus but switched buses to hang out with a friend on the other bus. Another child snuck off the bus at a recreational center stop to spend time with friends.

"It happens," she said. "Those are the things that keep us giggling through this first week."

For parents requesting a bus stop change or courtesy stop, it will take some time.

"What we need from parents right now is patience. It's going to take a couple of days to review it and get it set up," Chandler said, noting the number of bus routes. "It takes a while to adjust routes."

Officials expect routes will be approved and changed through September.

Parents are reminded that it is their responsibility to get their children to and from the bus stop.

"It is the child's responsibility to know which stop is theirs, especially if there's not an adult meeting the child," she said. "Talk to the child about landmarks, about other children that get off at that stop."

Chandler pointed to the buddy system for children who do not have older siblings.

"Particularly for elementary children," she said. "They lose track of time and space quite easily."

For families who did not get their first choice for school assignment, there are waiting lists.

"The waiting lists are moving right now," Chandler said. "(The) Student Assignment (Office) will notify them in the first two weeks if they have a seat available for them."

"There's no reason to flood the phone lines and see where they are on the waiting list," she added.

After the first two weeks of school, the lists are cleared.

"Then it''s on a first-come, first-served basis for seats," Chandler said.

Parents can contact the Student Assignment Office at that point about switching schools.

Chandler pointed out that the district has a new "Lee County Public Schools" app available at the iTunes App Store or Google Play for free. Powered by ParentLink, it provides parents with easy access to student and district information, as well as announcements and details from their child's school.

Parents should ensure that their child's school has accurate information on file.

"That feeds the bus routes, that feeds the emergency contact information," she said.

For more information, visit online:

Parents can also contact the district at (239) 334-1102 or their child's school for information.

The district consists of 50 elementary schools, 22 middle schools and 14 high schools, as well as 17 special centers and 24 charters schools. According to the district's website, Lee County Public Schools is the ninth largest district within Florida, and it is the 37th largest school district in the United States.



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