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Ocala
Monday, September 26, 2022

MCPS kicking off 2022-2023 school year with new leaders, options, and opportunities

With the new school year kicking off on Wednesday, August 10, Marion County Public Schools is highlighting its new leaders, options, and opportunities.

A projected 43,778 students will be attending local schools during the 2022-2023 school year, according to MCPS. Attendance typically peaks in October when official student counts are taken for funding reasons.

Students at all 52 MCPS schools will receive free breakfast and lunch meals thanks to MCPS taking part in the Community Eligibility Provision. No application is required to participate, and the program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture.

A new school, the Fordham Early Learning Academy, will be opening its doors for the first time to welcome the community’s youngest learners, including four-year-old students. Located just to the north of Ocala, the school is named for former MCPS teacher and administrator Edmond Fordham and honors his legacy to public education. The school, which is under the direction of Jennifer Beck, will add first and second grades in the coming years.

New teachers started their orientation earlier this month while returning teachers headed back to their classrooms on August 3. To date, the district has hired over 400 employees, including 320 new teachers at every grade level. Despite the new hires, there are still approximately 150 teaching positions that remain open, according to MCPS.

Around the district, 14 schools have new principals this year thanks to leadership changes made by Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett. Of these, four are first-time principals, and some are home-grown leaders who graduated from Marion County Public Schools:

  • Anthony Elementary School (9501 NE Jacksonville Road in Anthony) – Gay Street.
  • Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary School (1900 SW 5th Street in Ocala) – Rob Hensel.
  • East Marion Elementary School (14550 NE 14th Street Road in Silver Springs) – Sarah Dobbs (first-time principal).
  • Forest High School (5000 SE Maricamp Road in Ocala) – Lamar Rembert.
  • Fort King Middle School (545 NE 17th Avenue in Ocala) – Michael Carter (first-time principal).
  • Harbour View Elementary School (8445 SE 147th Place in Summerfield) – Joy Baxley.
  • Howard Middle School (1655 NW 10th Street in Ocala) – Suzette Parker.
  • Lake Weir Middle School (10220 SE Sunset Harbor Road in Summerfield) – Jason Jacobs (first-time principal).
  • Marion Technical College (1014 SW 7th Road in Ocala) – Gary Smallridge.
  • North Marion Middle School (2085 W Highway 329 in Citra) – Matt Johnson.
  • Romeo Elementary School (19550 SW 36th Street in Dunnellon) – Jennifer Houle.
  • Shady Hill Elementary School (5959 S Magnolia Avenue in Ocala) – Dr. Anna Streater-Mcallister (first-time principal).
  • Sparr Elementary School (2525 E Highway 329 in Anthony) – Renee Johnson.
  • Wyomina Park Elementary School (511 NE 12th Avenue in Ocala) – Victoria Hunt.

Most elementary schools operate from 7:40 a.m. to 2:05 p.m. daily. Middle schools range from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. High schools vary from 7:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.

Elementary schools also offer “stagger start” for kindergarten students, meaning one-third of students report to school on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. On Monday, August 15, all kindergarten students will report to class. According to MCPS, the staggered times offer the first-time students more personal time with their teacher to make the adjustment to school easier.

Students, especially seventh graders, must have their immunizations up-to-date by August 10, as required by Florida law. Otherwise, they are not allowed in class on the first day.

Last year, only 95 seventh graders, a record low, lacked proper immunizations and were not allowed to attend first-day classes. Outreach efforts to reduce this number started back in the spring with in-school clinics, and those efforts continued this past weekend with phone calls and immunization clinics for incoming seventh graders.

To date, parents have submitted 9,485 applications for their students to use “School Choice” and other reassignment options for out-of-area schools. Criteria are strict and not everyone who applies receives approval.

Marion Afterschool Programs enrollment is already at 2,568 students. The popular program offers adult supervision of students before and after school.  As of today, all MAP sites already have waiting lists before school even starts.

Meal prices remain unchanged: $1.75 for students (middle and high schools) and $4 for adults. More than 62% of students district-wide are eligible for free and reduced meal plans.

Technology continues to be interactive for enhanced communication. For example, parents can sign up for and use “Family Access” for complete 24/7 access to student grades, attendance records, and other important academic information. Parents can register at one school with a valid photo ID and access all their children’s records with a single convenient sign-on.

Families and students can view the MCPS complete calendar and other valuable information on the Marion County Public Schools webpage.

Regarding bus transportation, many buses are late the first few days of school due to unexpected student riders and loading times. Bus drivers also utilize colored armbands to help identify bus riders and routes.

Local drivers should stop for flashing red lights on school buses and slow down for flashing yellow lights in school zones. Otherwise, the blue lights of law enforcement may hand out hefty fines. Most importantly, observing these lights helps keep the students safe.

Here are some things to consider about the MCPS bus transportation program:

  • The “Here Comes the Bus” free mobile app offers families the ability to track their child’s bus location on any mobile device in real time thanks to GPS service.
  • It is the 69th largest public schools bus fleet nationwide.
  • 45% of students ride buses.
  • 236 buses are on road daily.
  • 100% of the buses are equipped with GPS.
  • 82% of the buses have seat belts.
  • 90% of the buses use digital cameras.
  • There are a total of 957 bus routes.

For more information, please contact the MCPS Public Relations Office.