It's that time of year again. Thousands of students headed back to school today.
For those without children in schools, that meant slowing down in school zones, paying heed to yellow school buses and added traffic on the roads.
At Peters Elementary in Plantation, cars slowed to a crawl around the school's campus as parents parked wherever they could (including neighboring residential areas) to walk their kids to class on the first day.
Fifth-grader Jealina Jeanty walked with her mother minutes before the bell rang and said she was looking forward to making the merit roll this year, reserved only for the top performing students.
As she rushed through the school's gate to avoid being late, she said she was also excited for other fun activities like field day.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie started his day at one of the bus terminals meeting drivers and riding a school bus with students to Silver Lakes Elementary in Miramar.
"Transportation is critical to the start of our school day, we have a third of our students that ride our buses to get to school," Superintendent Robert Runcie said Monday.
School officials said bus service imrpoved this year -- compared to last year's disastrous service where thousands of students were left stranded or waited for hours to be picked up.
"Not only is it a turnaround from last year, but [bus drivers] are saying this is the best prepared they've been," said Runcie. "It's really great to see the results so far and I think that's a testament to the hard work of our transportation department."
For parent Ajay Joshi, of Plantation, this year proved better than last: his son's bus arrived early. Last year the bus never came.
"They didn't show up for the first two to three days last year," said Joshi. "We ended up dropping our kids at school." He said parents waited up to 50 minutes for the bus. And even when the bus finally showed up a few days later, it was half an hour late.
"It was frustrating," he said, as he stood at the bus stop on the corner of Plantation Road and NW 68th Street in Plantation Monday morning.
This time around, his son Anjan, boarded the bus a few minutes early.
"I feel very happy, it's not that depressing this time," said Anjan, a fourth-grader at Nova Eisenhower Elemetnary in Davie. "I can go on a bus this year."
However, it was another story for Cooper City parent Debbie Hausman. She said had to take her daughter to school because the bus didn't show up on time.
"The whole system is a mess," said Hausman, who has a daughter with special needs at Cooper City High."You're dealing with special needs students."
Runcie said that with more thousands of students in transport, there was bound to be kinks to work out but that issues didn't seem to be widespread.
"We have over 1,000 routes, you're going to find something," he said.
But at least for Anjan, who is trying to get on the “good books” of his teachers this year, his worst first day of school fears weren’t realized.
“I was not looking forward to being late to school,” he said.
In Palm Beach County, the first day of school was full of firsts.
Palm Beach schools added 24 new full-time police officers at the elementary schools as well as 30 police aides at schools with more than one entry point.
Eleven new charter schools opened their doors in Palm Beach County as well.
And a new eco-friendly school opens its doors for the first time.
Superintendent Wayne Gent started the day at Galaxy Elementary in Boynton Beach, a school rebuilt as one of the greenest in the state.
Stay tuned for more coverage on the first day. Questions, issues? Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-747-3033, Twitter: @karen_yi