Fade out the summer camps and swimming pools. Fade in the morning bells and homework assignments.
Monday marks the first day of school for most kids for the Wake County Public School System, the end of the extended brain break called summer vacation.
The ritual migration of juveniles gets underway at dawn, when about 159,000 students in the state’s largest school district will be on the move by means of buses, carpools, bicycles and old-fashioned propulsion on two legs. The traditional-calendar students who start Monday join fellow Wake pupils already attending classes on year-round calendars and other schedules.
The morning and afternoon transportation shifts could delay commutes for time-conscious cubicle workers. Late buses driven by new drivers on new routes could disrupt office schedules for frazzled parents.
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Monday is also the first day of the traditional calendar for Durham Public Schools, Johnston County Schools, Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
All of us could be affected by the back-to-school transition when we get caught behind a school bus that repeatedly stops to disgorge kids on the afternoon run. It’s expected to take several weeks for the returning pupils to figure out their bus stops and get accustomed to their new routines, as Pokémon Go learns to share mental bandwidth with the school agenda.
Now, a word about school buses that just sit there in the middle of traffic showing off their red flashing lights: That’s your cue, dear driver, to come to a dead stop. This year, Wake school officials will equip 17 buses with stop-arm cameras to collect evidence on violators. The filmed evidence will be provided to law enforcement authorities.
The cameras are rotated on different buses, based on reports of violations. Consider yourself forewarned.
Each year, the vast public education transportation ritual magnifies in scale. With six new schools this year in Raleigh, Morrisville and Apex, and more than 1,800 more students than last year, there will be more car pools, walkers and bus riders to contend with. Plus more than 19,000 staff members, including more than 10,000 teachers, will join us on the road.
Wake school officials also point out other changes. For the first time in six years, the cost of school meals has gone up.
The 25-cent increase brings the cost of elementary breakfasts to $1.25 and lunches to $2.25. High school breakfasts will increase to $1.50 and lunches to $2.50.