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Opening Day Runs Super Smooth and Efficient


Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, Public Relations Director

352.671.7555 ◊ FAX: 352.671.7735 ◊ CELL: 352.840.3265






MARION COUNTY – Over 38,000 students showed up for class today in Marion County Public Schools, and that number is expected to reach 42,861 in coming weeks.


Normal first-day challenges, including some late buses due to higher-than-expected rider counts, unregistered students, and new residents unfamiliar with school attendance areas, took time out of the first instructional day of the 2019-2020 school year.  These issues are normally resolved within the first few days of class.


Today, 38,889 students showed up for their first day eager to begin a new year after summer vacation.  This number is 2,189 students higher than last year’s first-day count and just under 10 percent of the projected peak enrollment of 42,861. Stagger-start kindergarten during the first three days will raise the overall attendance figure which will continue climbing over the next two months for the official state count in October.


While most students made it to class district-wide without incident, some buses were delayed because of normal first-day procedures including longer-than-anticipated pick-up times at new bus stops and drivers placing colored armbands on students for proper identification.  Transportation issues are a common and expected occurrence during the first days of class.  Once drivers become aware of students and students learn their bus route numbers, stop times and locations, these problems dissipate. 


As of 4PM, the district’s transportation hotline – 352.671.7050 – fielded ­­­­1,036 phone calls, 33 percent lower than last year’s first-day count.  This hotline offers help to parents with bus questions and concerns and operates 6AM-6PM each school day.  Additional district staff will help answer this hotline during the first week of school to better serve callers.  Meantime, the district’s Technology Help Desk answered 242 calls from classroom teachers and other school technology users -- the exact number as last year’s first day. 


It looks to be another super busy year for Marion Afterschool Programs, formerly known as Extended Day services, for working parents.  This year’s student count is just under 3,000, and 30 of 38 sites already have waiting lists.  MAP students receive childcare/tutoring services before and after class.


Thanks to repeated education efforts, middle school administrators kept just 114 seventh graders out of class because they did not have proof of their state-required immunizations – a 35 percent drop from last year’s 178.  Over the last few months, in-school immunization clinics and targeted telephone reminders to parents helped reduce that number to the lowest in district history.


Even with these immunization concerns and transportation issues, district-wide, today ran incredibly smooth for a first-day opening, including 10 schools with new principals.  As well, many administrators commented their carline operations went smoother than on any previous opening day.

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