Duval County ready for 128K students; but are parents?

Some students are already back in class, but Monday will be the first day of school for 128,702 children in Jacksonville.

Teachers are already back, getting ready for the new school year. With an anticipated 48,000 bus riders and 3,600 routes this school year, parents and students are encouraged to get their questions answered about timing and bus stops now.

The district has put all the information on the district's website (search by school name) and has a hotline (904-381-RIDE) available through Aug. 25 to answer transportation questions. That is especially true for students with particular needs or special circumstances.

"The first day of school is always a little hectic for everyone, trying to get out the door and get them to the bus stop," said Don Nelson, assistant superintendent of operations.

Students are asked to be a the bus stops 10 minutes early the first day, just to be safe.

Parents of students starting kindergarten must have a letter returned or their child can't ride the bus. Those first-time students who do board the bus will receive red tags marked, "Kindergarten" that can go on a backpack or lanyard, and those children can set on the front of the bus, near the driver.

District officials said 200 of the 875 buses that transport Duval County students will be brand new and air conditioned. Those buses will mostly serve the Westside.

"Every school year, it's the opening act of a 180-day play that we have each year," Nelson said. "I think everyone who does this day-in and day-out just enjoys themselves. There's nothing better than being at a school with the children."


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