Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL; Nassau County Has Smooth Start to New School Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL; Nassau County Has Smooth Start to New School Year

Article excerpt

Byline: HEATHER LOVEJOY

Another first day of school is in the books.

"Knock on wood," said Sharyl Wood, a spokeswoman for Nassau County schools. The public school year started smoothly on Monday, with no major hitches, she said.

There were changes in class scheduling at some high schools, but for the most part, Nassau County students returned to familiar routines. Despite budget hurdles, Wood said, no programs affecting students were eliminated. While some nearby counties have cut sports and arts programs, Nassau did not, she said.

One snag was car traffic around some schools, but she said that's typical for the first week. It should decrease quite a bit because many parents drive their kids the first week, even if they would normally walk or ride a bus, she said.

Overall, setting the bus system in motion was a breeze compared to last year, when schedule changes caused confusion. It seems everyone has the knack of it this year, Wood said.

Southside Elementary School in Fernandina Beach had to fine-tune some minor busing issues after the first day, she said, but that was expected because the school gained a grade level. While previously housing only kindergarten and first-graders in Fernandina Beach, Southside now accepts second-graders because the school district closed Atlantic Elementary at the end of last year.

The closure was a move to save money, possibly $900,000 a year, according to Wood. Third-graders who would have attended Atlantic now attend Emma Love, which also houses fourth- and fifth-graders.

At Yulee High, students started a new four-by-four block schedule and were welcomed by a new, first-year principal, DeArmas Graham.

Graham was on familiar grounds, having been promoted from assistant principal at the school. He said the first day was "great," citing his personal philosophy that "all students need to be inspired to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a technologically diverse world. …

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