Before the sun was up Monday, more than 147,000 CMS students were getting ready for their first day of the new school year.
Even CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox was there in the dark at the transportation lot as more than 1,000 CMS busses returned to the roads.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention we did have a few snafus with transportation with some late busses rolling,” said Dr. Wilcox.
At a late-morning press conference Dr. Wilcox explained a handful of CMS busses were delayed, but at the time, he didn’t have specific details.
CMS parent Morgan Strong, however, whose daughter attends River Gate Elementary said they waited at the bus stop for over an hour.
“You know, I tried to call the transportation office, but of course their line was completely busy. I was just not even sure that the bus was going to come,” she said.
That’s when Strong said she decided to drive her daughter instead, but before they made it out of their community, Strong said she noticed a bus on a different street and her daughter hopped on there.
“It was already 10 minutes or so after school had started when she got on and I believe they still had a few more stops to make,” said Strong, adding that her daughter was disappointed and frustrated she was late for her first day.
“Please remember we’re running almost 1,100 routes, picking up about 100,000 kids and stopping over 60,000 times in the morning to get those kids,” said Dr. Wilcox when asked about the delays.
Parents and students were also delayed at a handful of elementary schools Monday morning.
Many families arrived to see lines wrapped around the school, as CMS enforces its visitor check-in policy where all visitors must scan their ID for a badge.
Some parents took to social media to express their disappointment, saying it prevented them from walking their young, timid elementary-school-aged children to class on their first day.
When asked about it, Dr. Wilcox said the process is there to help schools stay safe, as they work to keep track of all visitors on campus.
"Honestly, I think there’s not a parent in this district who wouldn’t understand that we have to keep kids safe. We live in a very different world in the 21st century and so while I know it was an inconvenience and I apologize to the folks who were inconvenienced I think it was the right thing to do,” said Dr. Wilcox.
At the end of the day, CMS tweeted the last students got off buses around 8 p.m.
CMS issued the following statement Tuesday morning:
CMS Transportation is working hard to reduce delays for day two of back to school week and to get students to school and back home safely.
Families should see improvements every day and the district appreciates the patience of families and students as we keep focus on safety first. We look forward to continuing improvements throughout the first week.
Our goal is to allow students, families, teachers and students to focus on what matters most - teaching and learning. We will share more information as available.
Despite a handful of minor snafus, CMS and parents alike said Monday was a great first day back.
“Teaching and learning was going on across our district on Day One,” Dr. Wilcox said. “Our school buildings were ready, thanks to huge efforts by our custodial and facilities staff, as well as the work of volunteers – thank you to everyone who helped us get ready for school.”
The district still needs to fill several jobs. On Monday, there were 42.5 open teacher positions and 66 bus driver vacancies.
NBC Charlotte's Savannah Levins contributed to this report.