Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Ready for Crowds in Early Start

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Ready for Crowds in Early Start

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Children may be bummed, and parents may be rejoicing.

During the next three days, public school students in Mandarin and Northwest St. Johns County will return to classrooms after a shorter-than-usual summer break.

At some schools, different faces will occupy the top office, while almost 3,000 Mandarin students will have to get used to a different look on campus.

More than 125,900 Duval County students go back to their 103 elementary schools, 24 middle schools, 17 high schools and 10 specialty schools today. Meanwhile, an estimated 21,100 St. Johns students head to 15 elementary schools, six middle schools, four high schools and four specialty schools Friday.

That's earlier than usual for St. Johns students, who are being reminded that the first day is a full day, said Jim Springfield, the district's executive director of human resources.

"We had originally planned on doing a half-day because it would be a good day for students to come in, meet teachers and find their way around the school," he said. "But the superintendent said parents were calling to say a half day was tough for finding day-care, while teachers wanted a full day, so he made a decision with board approval."

And while Duval County schools started on the same date last year, kindergartners will end their school day at the same times as everyone else, instead of at 1:30 p.m.

Loretto Elementary School Principal Caroline Rademacher said school district officials made the change for a number of reasons, and every parent should know about the time change.

"The curriculum for kindergarten students has increased, plus we were one of the few counties in the state that had a partial day. Cost was also a factor, since we were double-running buses," she said. "We sent postcards to all of our parents, and we have information packets for all of them. It is posted as they come to register their kindergarten children."

The biggest changes meeting students this week will be in Northwest St. …

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