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Sunday, October 1, 2023

School kicks off on August 10 for over 44,000 students in Marion County

This Thursday, August 10, marks the first day of school, and it could be the biggest enrollment year for Marion County Public Schools in its 154-year history.

According to MCPS, a projected 44,487 students are expected to start and further their educations in Marion County classrooms this year, which is the district’s highest projection. The breakdown includes 20,620 elementary school students, 10,221 middle school students, 13,225 high school students, and 421 students in special learning centers.

MCPS states that bus transportation is a major challenge for a school district that is geographically larger than the state of Rhode Island. A total of 254 bus routes are being offered in Marion County on opening day, which is 16 more than last year, and it includes 132 bus routes for students with special needs.

Approximately 34,000 students are eligible to ride the bus with an average daily ridership of around 22,500.

Brand-new teachers have been on the job since their “Great Beginnings” workshops kicked off on July 31. Returning teachers returned to campus on August 2 for professional learning opportunities.

With the start of the school year mere hours away, 302 new teachers are putting finishing touches on their classrooms with an overall district-wide teaching force of around 2,800 professionals. The district’s 6,100-plus employees are 50% instructional, 46% support, and 4% administrative, according to MCPS.

Academically, this school year is launching a new aviation program at Sparr Elementary School. Nearby Reddick-Collier Elementary School will start its own equine industry program (which leads to a complementary first-of-its-kind program at nearby North Marion High), and Lake Weir High School will offer the International Cambridge Program for the first time.

With more than 7.1 million square feet of space to manage, custodial crews have waxed floors, cleaned classrooms, and readied restrooms for the first day of school. Technical crews installed new flooring, replaced roofing surfaces, and they cleaned and inspected over 3,800 air conditioners and 37 generators to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Food service workers at 55 district schools are ready to serve free breakfast and lunch to every student who wants food, regardless of income, thanks to the Community Eligibility Provision from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Four schools have different principals, including two with first-time principals: Donald Manning at Reddick-Collier Elementary and Reuben Williams at Liberty Middle. The remaining schools with different principals include Fessenden Elementary (Stacie Newmones) and Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks (Melissa Conner).

School bell times will remain virtually the same as last year with a few exceptions:

  • East Marion Elementary (7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
  • Emerald Shores Elementary (7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.).
  • Dunnellon Middle (9:10 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.).
  • Lake Weir Middle (8:35 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.).
  • Belleview High (9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.).
  • Marion Technical Institute (7:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.).

This year, MCPS will emphasize daily attendance at school with a special attendance campaign set to kick off in September. “Showing Up Together!” will educate students, families, and the community about the importance of being on time, every day, so students can maximize their learning.

For more information, contact the MCPS Public Relations Office at 352-671-7555.