Monday marked the first day of the 2013-2014 school year for area children. By all accounts, the transition from summer fun to hitting the books was relatively pain-free.
Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Linda Watson began her day with transportation department staff as the new two-tier bus schedule went into effect.
“It went pretty well,” Watson said. “We had a few glitches but we’re working them out. The phones were ringing off the hook starting at 7 a.m. We had parents who called to verify bus stop locations and pick-up times. We heard comments from parents that it was just a matter of getting used to the new schedule.”
Watson said most buses were on time during their morning runs.
“We missed some students who were late getting to their bus stop and for other reasons,” Watson said. “So we sent buses back out to pick them up. We’re not having anyone miss the first day of school because they were late to the bus stop.”
Watson said she ensured that the district administration building was ready for action.
“I made sure that someone was at the administration building at 7 a.m. to answer phones,” Watson said. “I made sure my office was staffed at 7 a.m. as well.”
Watson said that after checking on the bus situation she visited schools and talked with principals.
“I visited the cafeterias to make sure everything was running smoothly,” Watson said. “We will be rolling out the Breakfast in the Classroom program (Tuesday) morning at Oak Park Elementary and Broadmoor Elementary. The other elementary and middle schools will be added over the next several weeks.”
Dollarway School District Superintendent Bobby Acklin rated the first school day on his watch a success.
“We’re off to a good start,” said Acklin, who was appointed to replace Frank Anthony as superintendent in June. “It’s very important for the first day to go smoothly. It sets the tone. If everybody can go home reasonably satisfied and not too stressed for lack of planning then we are off to a good start. That’s why I was so nervous heading up to the first day. You really want it to be good for the kids and the parents.”
Acklin said he began the day riding one of the buses and ended up at Dollarway High School, where he sat in on the welcome assembly for students.
“I wanted to get a feel for what the kids are going through,” Acklin said. “After the high school I went to Robert F. Morehead Middle School, then to Townsend Park Elementary and Matthews Elementary.”
White Hall School District Superintendent Larry Smith was pleasantly surprised by how well the first day of school had gone.
“It’s been so smooth I can’t believe it,” Smith said. “I don’t want to jinx anything but it’s been very, very quiet so far today. We got everybody in and everybody fed. I was over at White Hall High School and watched them go through the lunch line. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a first day as quiet as this one. I’ll take it; in fact, I’ll take 177 more just like it.”
Watson Chapel School District Superintendent Danny Hazelwood said that while overall the day went well there were a few problems that had to be worked out.
“I think we had a great first day,” Hazelwood said. “The biggest headache we had was people who challenged us on our district residency law. We had parents who wanted to get their children in here who don’t live here. Aside from that we had the usual traffic congestion problems at Watson Chapel Junior High School. Typical first-of-the-year problems to work out.”
Hazelwood said the progression of the school day went as planned.
“I am extremely happy with our staff and administrators,” Hazelwood said. “All of the preparation paid off and I am proud to be starting off another school year.”