CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Teachers and children in the Charlotte area wrapped up their last weekend of summer and headed back to class Monday.
Other districts starting class Monday include Cabarrus County Schools, Gaston County Schools, Union County Public Schools, Anson County School District, Burke County Public Schools, Caldwell County Schools, Alexander County Schools, Cleveland County Schools, Lincoln County Schools, Catawba County Schools, Iredell-Statesville Schools, Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Stanly County Schools, Richmond County Schools, Hickory Public Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools, Kannapolis City Schools and Mooresville Graded School District.
CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says safety is the district's top priority. Wilcox says more cameras and stronger locks will come to schools to keep students safe. Wilcox also says more changes will be visible on some campuses.
"There will be some fencing. There will be a number of different things. I don't want to get into a great detail right now because we haven't finished that, but we got our arms around the projects," CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said.
Mecklenburg County gave CMS millions of extra dollars to pay for security improvements. CMS had to first submit a plan of how the money would be spent before receiving it. The school district says it will submit the plan in a few weeks.
CMS is expecting about 148,000 students. Another way the district is helping to keep students safe is adding more counselors and social workers. About 60 additional staff will be on hand to deal with the social and emotional needs of students.
"Having more counselors, social workers and psychologists means that student who may struggle with their feelings of disappointment or upset and who maybe prone to act out physically will have a better opportunity to learn how to solve their problems using their words," CMS Executive Director of Student Services Dr. Cotrane Penn said.
Schools in Rock Hill, Lancaster, Fort Mill, Chester, York, Clover, Chesterfield, Ashe County, Avery County and Watauga County returned to the classroom the week prior.
Currently, the weather is looking dry and warm Monday as students head back.
Rain shouldn't be an issue on the first day of school but if you have any kind of after school practice, expect summer-like weather. Highs will reach the low 90s.
The second and third days of school won't be much different. Highs will stay in the low 90s. It will be warm and muggy, but rain chances will stay low.
A heavier traffic volume is expected in the Charlotte area. CMS says buses will have about 33,000 bus stops and will travel about 125,000 miles a day. More than 1,000 buses will be picking up about 100,000 students this school year.
An app now allows parents and students to track their bus' arrival time.
Here Comes The Bus app is designed to know exactly where your child's school bus is, avoiding any confusion.
"Parents will know whether or not their child made it on the bus, and if they did, at what time," the app claims.
"The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is asking the entire community to allow extra time starting Monday while traveling," Keith Trietley with CMPD said Friday. "CMPD officers will be deployed in and around various schools zones throughout the community as school begins."
Several changes are in place for the upcoming school year.
Mecklenburg County commissioners approved a tax increase that would fund universal Pre-K for children on June 19. The 3/4 cent tax increase will generate about $9 million to help about 600 kids in need of getting into a Pre-K center.
The tax hike would mean a taxpayer who owns a home valued at $250,000 would pay $18.50 more a year in property taxes. Officials say 33 new Pre-K classrooms will be established which will allow some parents to get off o the waiting list in time for the 2018-2019 school year.
Visit our back-to-school page for all school-related coverage.
Some school districts are also working to make sure that empty teacher positions are filled before the first day of class.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools still has more than 450 teacher vacancies to fill. CMS has launched a new six-week crash course for those looking to teach without previous expertise.
CMS isn't the only district still needing to fill empty positions. Lancaster County Schools went from needing to fill 300 open teacher positions for the 2017-2018 school year, to now needing to fill about 20 positions.
In past years, Lancaster County School District has relied on substitute teachers and doubling up classrooms. In those cases, the shortage was felt by other teachers.