By Candace Birkelbach
Killeen Daily Herald
The first day of school usually entails tons of chaos and excitement, but the administrators for Killeen Independent School District feel they are ready for the challenge.
Administrators from KISD started preparing for the first day of school immediately after school ended in May, said Barbara Adams, chief of staff for the superintendent's office.
"A lot of people think we take the summer off, but we really spend those months preparing for the next school year," Adams said. "We spend the summer working on providing new buildings, renovations, hiring staff and professional learning workshops."
Adams said having the enrollment center open during the summer helps schools run smoother on the first day because new students are already in the computer system. This year 4,988 students registered at the enrollment center, compared to 2,941 last year.
"We feel pretty good about the first day and have checked our list twice, but there are no guarantees," said Jim Hawkins, KISD superintendent. "The true test will be to make sure students had a wonderful experience on their first day and are ready for Tuesday."
Hawkins said the district had more "Meet the Teacher" nights in order to help students on their first day.
Adams and Hawkins said that they anticipate transportation issues that typically occur every year on the first day.
Bus drivers have been practicing their routes, learning stops and checking for any possible problems prior to school starting, said Marty Smonko, operations specialist for KISD. New bus drivers will have a mentor present on their routes for the first few days of school to ensure they are capable of handling the bus on their own, Smonko said.
He said the longer registration period allowed more new students to get into the transportation system and will cause fewer problems on the first day.
The main priority for the transportation department is to make sure the younger children get on the right bus and are released to the right individual, Smonko said.
"All pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students must carry a pouch that has their information on it including a list of people that are allowed to pick them up at the bus stop," he said.
Traffic is also a concern at schools because many parents drive their children on the first day and the routine does not settle for about two weeks, Hawkins said.
Hawkins said he encourages students to be early and be patient on the first day.
Adams said each campus has been working very hard and she has seen teacher's cars in parking lots late in the evening on the days leading up to the commencement of school.
"The teachers are just as excited as the kids and many don't get any sleep the night before," Adams commented.
She said the school nutrition workers at the schools also are working to get the kitchens and food supply ready for students.
"We feel really comfortable with the systems we have in place," Adams said. "If everyone pays attention to their jobs of the fist day we will be successful."
Contact Candace Birkelbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7553