CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) welcomed about 150,000 students for the first day back to school on Monday.
Monday morning, new CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said "so far, so good" when it comes to the opening of schools. He says he was a little nervous on this first day of class as Charlotte's new top educator.
"There are so many moving parts," Wilcox said. "You just want to make sure you did all you had to in order to open school. I know we have a great team. We are going to be in great shape."
Monday morning, Wilcox reported there were still about 40 teacher vacancies. He says those vacancies will be filled with qualified substitute teachers.
"We're telling our teachers to be firm, be fair, be consistent," Wilcox said. "We should be OK."
Wilcox started his day greeting bus drivers as they left to pick up students. Nearly 1,100 buses were picking up students to take them to school. The new superintendent wants drivers to pack patience as they will have to share the roads with the school buses. Wilcox says it should take bus drivers about two weeks to sort out their routes.
Monday evening the district reported there was a backup taking students back home. The hope is to get students riding the bus home by 6 p.m. CMS reported some issues with the traffic flow at schools that helped cause backups.
While CMS works on the transportation issue, the new superintendent wants this school year to be about customer service.
"We've got to treat all our kids with dignity and respect," Wilcox said. "We've got to understand that some young kids come to us and don't feel good about us and we've got to win them over."
Charlotte's new top educator will spend the day visiting schools to see if teaching and learning is happening inside the classrooms. New schools opened this year and the district is offering more options for students.
Wilcox said Monday morning he hopes teachers give out homework on the first day of class. He also hopes less paperwork - and more teacher and student engagement - is happening.
"Are they starting with instruction right away?" Wilcox said. "Are they engaging and capturing kids' minds, or are they taking them through a mind-numbing succession of syllabus after syllabus after syllabus?"
Wilcox says that overall the first day went smoothly. He says there are some things that can be tightened up, but is pleased with how the district handled the first day of school.