Back to school

Mary Katherine Murphy Staff reporter

September 4, 2013

Some 6,000 students bid farewell to summer as they returned to a schedule of early mornings and hours in the classroom on Tuesday, the first day of Scotland County Schools’ 2013-2014 year.

This school year will be the system’s shortest, with only 166 instructional days. To compensate, 20 minutes have been added to the end of the day at all schools. Despite a shift in bus schedules to accommodate the slightly longer school day, no major transportation glitches were reported on Tuesday.

“There always are some issues the first day, we did have a few where the buses were running late and a few had to be brought back, but everybody’s home safely and I was very pleased with the first day of school,” North Laurinburg Elementary School principal Rodney Byers said on Tuesday afternoon.

After making the rounds of Scotland County’s schools to oversee their first day back in session, Superintendent Rick Stout commended school staff for getting the year off to a propitious beginning.

“By all accounts, the first day went incredibly well,” he said. “I would like to credit the hard work and dedication from all Scotland County Schools employees for making things run as smoothly as they did. It’s this kind of collaborative effort that will lead to a successful school year.”

Though the year’s schoolwide enrollment will not be official for another few weeks, school officials do not anticipate a significant change from last year’s ADM of 6,100. Individual schools’ enrollment changes varied. Byers estimated an increase of about 20 students from last year’s enrollment of 265 at North Laurinburg.

South Scotland Elementary School, with an enrollment of some 487 including pre-kindergarten students, added a new second grade class this year and now has four classes each at the kindergarten, first grade, and second grade levels.

“We had an excellent first day,” said Angela Gallagher, South Scotland’s principal. “The teachers were ready, we got off to a running start, we didn’t have any problems, and transportation was great.”

Gallagher said that, for the third year, South Scotland’s teachers started both returning and new students alike off quickly with the Leader In Me program, an instructional model based on “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Carver Middle School principal Amber Watkins said that parents should be aware of any policy or procedure changes at their children’s schools by reading the student handbooks sent home today.

“There are a couple of new policies and procedures here and students did receive a handbook,” she said. “I asked parents to review that with their students this evening.”

Watkins added that Carver’s student numbers have diminished from last year - with a smaller sixth grade class coming in, the school will have some 460 students this year.

Principals reported that, although the summer weather is still very much upon us, students did not seem despondent to get out of the heat and back in class.

“I got in and met all the kids - they’re very excited,” said Byers.

“We had a wonderful day, exceptionally smooth,” said Chuck Dulin, principal at Pate-Gardner Elementary School. “We could not have asked for everything to work so smoothly, transportation, our kids are great. They came in excited and happy to be back at school.”