The 2022-2023 school year officially kicked off on Wednesday as 39,753 students across Marion County filled local classrooms.
According to a press release from Marion County Public Schools (MCPS), the first day of school was “a great success according to stakeholders including students, employees, and families.”
Attendance on the first day was over 90% of this year’s projected enrollment of 43,778 students, and it was an increase of over 1,600 from last year’s opening day count.
Stagger-start kindergarten during the first three days will help raise this overall attendance figure as soon as Monday, August 15, when all kindergarten students will show up together for the first time.
Fordham Early Learning Academy, the district’s newest school, opened its doors for the first time to 42 students. While enrollment at the school is currently limited to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten levels, first and second grades will be added in the coming years.
In middle school, only 87 seventh graders showed up for class without the required immunizations. This is a new record low for the district thanks to ongoing efforts that started months ago to help students obtain the state-required shots.
MCPS stated that there were no major issues during opening day, and operations were described as being smooth, organized and efficient. There were occasional 911 calls for students with medical conditions and minor fender benders with no injuries.
As for school buses, 95% showed up on time or within the first 10 minutes of class, which gave students enough time to eat breakfast. Some buses were delayed due to higher-than-expected student counts at bus stops, new drivers on new routes, families unfamiliar with bus stop locations, and drivers placing colored wristbands on younger students to designate them as bus riders during afternoon dismissal.
Transportation delays are a common and expected occurrence during the first days of school. MCPS anticipates that these concerns will dissipate once drivers become aware of students, and students learn their bus route numbers, stop times, and locations.
“Here Comes the Bus,” the district’s GPS-enabled free mobile app, provides instant bus locations to users who register for the app with their student’s information. As of today, 42% of families use the app, according to MCPS.
By mid-afternoon, the district’s Transportation hotline (352-671-7050) received 1,413 phone calls. This hotline offers help to parents with bus questions and concerns, and it operates each school day from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Additional district staff will help answer this hotline during the first week of school to better serve callers. The district’s Technology Help Desk also answered 192 calls from classroom teachers and other school technology users.
Across the district, thousands of students, parents, families, and employees welcomed the first day of school with energy and excitement. In most aspects, opening day ran smoothly, including 14 schools with new principals at the helm.
For more information, please contact the MCPS Public Relations Office.