FORT WORTH, Texas - Most kids and teachers in North Texas go back to school this morning.
Nearly 100 school districts welcomed students back on Monday including Fort Worth, Arlington, Frisco, Irving, Plano, and Allen.
In Fort Worth, Mayor Betsy Price is part of a welcoming committee for students returning to class.
This upcoming school year is important for the district, which is facing an urgent need to improve student performance at some schools like John T. White Elementary and four other campuses. The five schools have been designated leadership academies.
“We are immediately improving teacher quality to each one of these schools. We are extending the school day by an hour so all students will have an additional hour of reading and math. And thanks to our philanthropic community the Rainwater Foundation has come and extended the school day with enrichment, with arts and athletics. Students will be served dinner at 5:45. It’s going to be a complete day from 8 a.m. all the way to 6 p.m.,” said Kent Scribner, the Fort Worth ISD superintendent.
If student achievement does not improve at those struggling schools the Texas Education Agency could be called in to take over running of the Fort Worth ISD in 2018.
The district is the fifth largest in Texas with more than 87,000 students and about 10,000 faculty and staff members.
The Frisco school district starts with a new superintendent. Dr. Mike Waldrip used to teach in Frisco and comes from Coppell where he was also the superintendent.
Frisco is one of the fastest-growing districts in the country but suffered a setback when voters rejected a tax increase. That means four new schools are completed but there’s no money to open and operate them.
“We do have significant growth that’s continuing in Frisco ISD. The plan is and has always been to stay ahead of that curve, trying to plan facilities and programs to keep up with that growth,” Waldrip said.
To make up for the budget shortfall the district decided to implement a student activity fee -- $100 for middle school athletics and twice that for those in high school.
Meanwhile in Plano, it will be a very exciting and unique first day of school. Teachers and students in Plano ISD are looking forward to learning about the solar eclipse.
“I’m very excited not only to welcome my new students for a new year but this is the first eclipse we’ll be able to see since 1979… when I graduated from high school,” said Terry Stout, a science and engineering coordinator at Daffron Elementary. “I’m very excited about that and we have a lot of activities going on for the school not just for the first day but teaching with the eclipse.”
Stout’s third graders will watch the eclipse through special viewing glasses provided by the school’s PTA. They’ll record their observations in an eclipse journal and write down what they see, how they feel and where they were. They’ll be able to take it home as a keepsake.
Stout said teachers are prepared to make sure everyone’s eyes are protected but parents did have an opportunity to opt out because of safety concerns.
It’s also move-in day for students at the University of Texas in Arlington. UTA’s total campus and online enrollment is expected to top 58,000 this year and more than 10,000 students live in or near campus housing. The dorms and apartments opened Monday morning.
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