SOUTH FLORIDA -

Kids across South Florida headed back to school Monday.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie watched as buses rolled out of the depot early Monday morning. After last year's problems on the first days of school, the district hired more bus drivers and improved its routing process.

"Overall, I think it was a good day," said Runcie, who visited seven schools on the first day of classes. "Last year, we had some challenges and that was driven by several factors, which we successfully addressed."

"It was kind of crazy last year but I think it's a little more organized this year," said Kerry Ammon, a bus driver.

But Kim Pappas, whose 6th grader attends Ramblewood Middle School in Coral Springs, said the first day brought back a familiar problem.

"There's only two bathrooms that are working. Two bathrooms are boarded up," she said. "They had all summer to fix these bathrooms. It's not fair to these kids or this staff."

Portable bathrooms were brought for the 1,300 students. School board officials said a construction delay kept the bathrooms closed.

For others, the first day was uneventful. Aiden Ryscik brought his Iron Man lunchbox for his first day of kindergarten at Fox Trail Elementary.

"I really like school," he said. "Today, I am going to listen to my teacher."

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In Miami-Dade County, bus drivers arrived before 5 a.m., grabbed their keys, and left to pick up thousands of students.

"Expect to meet the children with a smile," said Rebecca Robinson, a bus attendant. "Excited to be back with the kids."

"I'm ready to study and ready to get good grades," said Damian Tolon.

Jacqueline Cheli felt anxious for her son.

"Very nervous," she said. "Every time I tell him, 'You are going to school,' he's like, 'I'm a big kid now?' I'm like yes, you are growing up each and every day."

At Flagami Elementary School, students returned to improved classrooms thanks to the Miami Heat.

"Flagami went from a B-level school to an A-level school, so we like to go ahead and reward the good grades and all the hard work the teachers are doing in the classroom," said Esquire with the Heat Extreme Team.

Mast opened at Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus, the first and only high school on a college campus in Miami-Dade County.

"This is about bringing high-quality experiences to every single zip code in Miami-Dade," said Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

"This is going to be a new opportunity for parents from this community to have additional high-quality public education," said FIU President Mark Rosenberg.

PHOTOS: Kids head back to school

Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:35:30 AM EST   Updated On: Aug 19 2013 02:42:52 PM EDT

Photos from the first day of school.
Vol. I | Vol. II | Vol. III |

Robert Echvarria
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