Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BELLS RING IN NEW CLASSES; A New School Year Has Its Challenges

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

BELLS RING IN NEW CLASSES; A New School Year Has Its Challenges

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Flashing strobes atop school buses mixed with brake lights on cars early Monday as the first day of school dawned with a traffic jam east and west of Mandarin High School.

As students and buses rolled onto campus, staff members in the front office, including Principal Crystal Sisler, helped guide new ninth-graders to their first destination - homeroom.

"And we are right here if you ever get lost," she told another student with questions.

An estimated 3,000 students were expected to crowd into the high school on the first day. By 7:30 a.m., all but a few had found their homerooms.

The school's two resource officers got help from four campus security guards, with a fifth requested. Even one of the new security policies - transparent or see-through mesh backpacks to allow educators to see what's coming in - didn't appear to be a problem.

"It does appear that a very large number are following the rule," Sisler said. "It is the first year, so we will be very lenient and it will probably be at least two weeks before we start writing up."

As the sun rose higher around 8:15 a.m., the traffic jam moved east to Greenland Pines Elementary School, as its 1,320 students walked or were driven to class.

Principal Chiquita Rivers was busy pointing lost students to classrooms as parents signed in at the new security desk.

The school has a few more students than last year, and doubled up teachers in some third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms so the teacher/student ratio meets the state-mandated classroom size amendment.

"We are using all of our classroom spaces and a resource room if we need it," she said. "If all of the students show up, we will have to add co-teachers to accommodate the class size amendment." Mandarin Middle School counted 1,600 students registered this year, about the same as last year, said Principal Joy Recla.

"The school buses were great and the traffic seemed to be working itself out," Recla said. …

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