DN: First day at city schools has smooth start, few snags reported

Stephen Rex Brown, Erik Badia, and Ben Chapman, New York Daily News, 9.5.2014

Class got off to a relatively smooth start at city schools Thursday, kicking off another year for the country’s largest and most diverse public education system.

Despite a number of issues arising in the last weeks of summer vacation, opening day was largely free of problems, Education Department officials said.

“I love the first day of school,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who took a whirlwind tour of schools across all five boroughs with Mayor de Blasio and other officials.

“The reality is, we have energy, and we have enthusiasm, and we have people who want us to succeed,” added the veteran educator, 71, now entering her 49th year working in city schools. “With age comes wisdom. I know the difference between what was and what could be.”

More than 1 million kids turned out for classes Thursday, with more than 51,000 kids coming to the city’s newly established universal prekindergarten programs.

‘I love the first day of school,’ said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (left), who took a whirlwind tour of schools across all five boroughs with Mayor de Blasio and other officials.

The creation of the city’s new pre-K system saw a series of recent problems, with classes at dozens of providers either delayed or canceled, affecting more than 1,000 kids.

But on Thursday, most pre-K educators and parents reported smooth sailing.

“I expected maybe some little problems, some hiccups, but it went very smoothly, it was wonderful,” said Lyudmila Revutsky, 61, who runs Generation 21 pre-K on 19th Ave. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

“Sometimes with new parents, and a class full of new young children it can be difficult, but today was great, no problems,” said Revutsky, who opened her first child care facility in Brooklyn in 1995.

“Today’s first day of pre-K was a huge success,” the Campaign for Children said in a statement. “This is a momentous achievement for the children and families of New York.”

But there were reports of several incidents that blemished the mostly smooth day. Two schools in Queens and the Bronx reported that students went missing. Both kids were found almost immediately.

There were also reports of school bus accidents in Manhattan and the Bronx, and a small fire at a school in Queens. At Public School 63 in Harlem, a parent allegedly assaulted a school safety agent.

Registration centers for new students in the Bronx saw long lines in the heat. One registration center got so crowded that officials had to bus parents to a second location.

Despite those snags, educators said things seemed to go as well as could be expected.

“Our kids came in apprehensive, as they do,” said Cara DeAngelo, principal of the Marsh Avenue School for Expeditionary Learning School in Staten Island. “But by second period they were smiling, which is good.”




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