Staff Report

The 2019-20 school year kicked off in both Charlotte and Sarasota counties Monday. Families at Charlotte County’s Myakka River Elementary arrived early and lined up eagerly awaiting the gates to open.

Myakka River Elementary School is projected to have its highest enrollment in several years this year.

“As always, our goal is to be the best,” said Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Dionisio. “Every day our staff tries to achieve this goal and in turn provides an outstanding education for the students of Charlotte County. We (also) continue to add additional security and mental health personnel at the school sites and will continue to do everything possible to keep our children safe.”

CCPS spokesperson Mike Riley said that all the county’s public schools are compliant with the state’s new security laws.

“We are currently working on improved security fencing at a couple of schools,” Riley said. “Both teachers and staff have received training over the summer dealing with active shooter drill‘s and security measures that are now in place. We added additional law enforcement officers at each high school along with additional school psychologists, social workers and guidance counselors throughout the district.”

Charlotte County School Board member Cara Reynolds, mother of three CCPS students, is excited for the new school year.

“In my house, the big back to school day comes with a lot of excitement in the weeks leading up,” Reynolds said. “About three weeks ago, we got new school shoes, clothes, and lunch boxes. Two weeks ago, I shopped for all the schools supplies and stocked up on extras so we have them handy as the year progresses. Summer is full of free time and fun, but this mom likes early bed times and a daily routine just as much.”

One big change this year is an extended school day.

Due to the passage of the sales tax referendum, the district this year added 30 minutes of instructional time, so class now begins 15 minutes earlier and ends 15 minutes later for all schools.

The earliest start time is for high school students, at 7:10 a.m., and the latest is for middle school, at 9:10 a.m.

Sun reporter Daniel Sutphin contributed to this story.

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