CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Alarm clocks that haven’t been necessary since early June are sounding this morning across the Charlotte region, signaling a return to the classroom for the start of the 2012-13 academic year.
Today is the first day of class in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and most other North Carolina public school systems. Their peers in the area’s private schools, the N.C. mountain counties and in South Carolina started last week or even earlier this month.
For most children, however, today is the day.
That includes about 140,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg students. The first bus departed the bus lot at 4:30 a.m., with the first stop – for a Metro School student – scheduled for 5 a.m.
Most of the system’s nearly 950 buses will leave the lot between 5:45 and 6 a.m.
It’s the same story elsewhere in the area – Anson, Burke, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Montgomery, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties. The recession put a dent in school construction across the region, so for most students and staff members, the biggest change this year will be the curriculum.
North Carolina is moving to the Common Core curriculum, a new instructional method that stresses problem-solving instead of rote memory.
Another change will be in the school cafeterias. A new federal law requires food services staff members to provide students with more dark-colored vegetables and fruits.
Maybe the biggest change will be on the streets, as morning commuters will resume sharing the roadways with school buses and parents who drive their children to school. Law enforcement officials also warn the public to be careful about students walking to school.
The same is true at the end of the day. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says more school-aged pedestrians are killed between 3 and 4 p.m. than any other time of day.
“Children are often eager to get off the school bus, because they are excited to tell their parents about all the fun they had at school that day,” Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter said.
CMS officials and their counterparts in other counties have urged parents to make sure their children arrive at bus stops about 10 to 15 minutes ahead of the scheduled pick-up time. Buses might be running earlier or later in the first days of school.